Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Seoul National Science Museum

Our family is HOT - look at that thermal imaging!
And no, we didn't have another child...a random kid decided to photo bomb on the left.  : )

As promised with my above photo teaser on the last palace post
here's some info about our fun afternoon at the Seoul National Science Museum.

I wrote up a full article with directions and pictures for Korea Ye!  Click Here to read it.

In addition, here are some more fun photos from the end of our very full Saturday.


Michael posing with the museum mascot and feeling the ocean pressure on a whale.

 A cool visual experiment - which Einstein is looking at you?

 Some new friends from nature that we encountered...

and some old friends...really, really old.

Something shiny for my sister, Emily, the Geologist...

And something for the kid in me that wanted to be a Paleontologist...yep, I did.

"No, Daddy!"

Having a little too much fun here...

Our final family photo of the day...dang flowers!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Korean Cuisine - the 2nd Course

I previously shared some culinary delights from Korea, and I thought I'd add on a second course of foods and recipes for all my foodie friends out there - enjoy!

Patbingsu - 팥빙수 (also patbingsoo or just bingsu) is a popular Korean summer treat consisting of shaved ice with sweet toppings, such as fruitcondensed milkand red beans - my favorite so far has been the mango one pictured.

Bindaettok 빈대떡 (also called nokdujeon) - is a Mung Bean Pancake usually made with ground mung beansgreen onions, and kimchi, and is served with a whole slew of Korean side dishes.  We had a tasty one at a restaurant in Insadong.

Gimbap or kimbap김밥 - is a popular Korean dish made from steamed white rice (bap) and various other ingredients, rolled in gim (sheets of dried seaweed) and served in bite-size slices. 

Korean Fried Chicken치킨 - Korean fried chicken differs from American fried chicken in that it's fried twice, resulting in the skin being thinner, crunchier, and less greasy.  It's often served with pickled radishes, seasonings, and sauces, and is popular for delivery, as well as at Chicken and Beer restaurants. Koreans usually call the pairing chi-maek (치맥), an abbreviation of chicken and maekju (맥주, beer).

Naengmyeon냉면 - Cold Noodles, with buckwheat in them, served in a savory broth and topped with various vegetables and meats.  This is a popular dish during the hot summer months in Korea, and may take some getting used to, but it is a refreshing option to the hot soups also available at this time of year.

Jajangmyeon - 자장면 - go to a Korean "Chinese restaurant" and you will find this noodle dish with black bean sauce, vegetables, and pork. It's very tasty, often served with a pickled vegetable side dish, and is a popular meal choice on Black Day (April 14th) for those who did not give/receive any gifts on the previous two Valentine's Day holidays (Valentine's Day, on February 14th, and White Day, on March 14th).

Orion Choco Pies - 쵸코파이 -  a gwaja (과자), which means “confectionery snack” -  that is highly addictive.  It's a chocolate covered spongecake snack with a marshmallow center - the Korean version of the Moon Pie.

YNot Takeout - For awhile, we were lamenting our lack of ability to order take-out (a language barrier can seriously cramp your pizza and Chinese ordering abilities!), but then we found YNot Takeout and are now in food ordering Nirvana - pizza or Chinese?  Sure.  But how about some Korean, Moroccan, Indian, Thai, or West African cuisine?  Yummmmmmy!!  Thank you, YNot!!

Now, do you want to laugh?  Cause this next BuzzFeed video will probably get you to...or gross you out...but here are some Americans eating strange Asian delicacies - ones that I will most likely NOT be trying (warning, some adult language):

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random "Living in Korea" Stuff - our weekend edition

I had to laugh. I try to post a variety of things on this blog - tales of our adventures, educational items, random facts, etc. - and so far the most visited and popular post was about poop.  Go figure!  ;) 

Here's a quick weekend update, with some random facts and info (no poop, sorry!):

1) Only in Korea do I feel like I'm opening a present when we order pizza (makes it way easier for the delivery men to hang on to it):

2) This past Friday, August 15th, was Gwangbokjeol, or National Liberation Day, in Korea.  Liberation Day celebrates Korea’s independence from Imperial Japan in 1945.  As a result, the town was decked out with the taegukki (태국기), or Korean flag, in very patriotic flair:

3) To celebrate the alliance between the US and ROK forces, one of the activities was a 5K held on post - Rob and Michael participated, as usual, and Michael ran just a little bit more of this one:

4) As you may or may not have known, Pope Francis was in town this weekend for numerous events, including a ceremony to beatify 124 Korean martyrs.  He gave a public mass at Gwanghwamun Square on Saturday morning, where close to 1 million people congregated. (Click here to see a pic). The subway stations nearby were closed, roads were blocked off, and the busses from all of the groups who came from out of town were lined up along the roads all the way down to where we live:

I happened to be walking towards another event at the time the crowd was finally reaching us after the mass, and this was my random Pope sighting for the day:

 5. Finally, Saturday ended with my first ever Sip 'n Paint event - I've seen pictures of friends attending parties in the states and was super excited to find an expat offering one down the street, aptly named "Art & Seoul". This day, the picture was of a buddha - here is the first step:

And here's what I ended up with after a few hours and a bottle of wine:

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hiking around Changgyeonggung Palace

It wouldn't be a weekend for the Bruns Family in Korea if we didn't get out to see something new in Seoul.  This past weekend, we decided to hit up another of the palaces - so off to Changgyeonggung we went!

From their brochure and on-site signage:  
Changgyeonggung was first called Suganggung. After ascending to the throne in 1418, King Sejong built this palace for his father, former King Taejong, to live in. In 1483 the palace was expanded and other buildings were built for various queens and consorts.
At that time the palace was renamed Changgyeonggung. 

All of the buildings were burned down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and the palace was rebuilt in 1616. In 1830 another great fire broke out and many of the palace's buildings were destroyed by fire, and these were rebuilt in 1834. The main hall called Myeongjeongjeon, however, was undamaged and the building that was rebuilt in 1616 is preserved today. It is the oldest main hall of a Joseon era royal palace, and has been designated National Treasure No. 226.

Myeongjeongjeon and courtyard

Relief  on the steps of two phoenixes in the clouds

The throne area inside the hall

Decorative ceiling above the throne with two phoenixes

On the platform that Myeongjeongjeon is built on, there are a number of these large bowls. They are called Deumeu (드므) and were used to prevent fires. They are small for that purpose and were really meant to scare away fire demons. The belief was that the fire demon would look into the water and be frightened away by its own reflection.

Behind the main building is an open pavilion called Haminjeon - this was where the king would hold meetings or scholars would meet. The ceiling inside is shaped like a well and there are four plaques written in Chinese, with lines from the poem "Sagye, the Four Seasons" by poet Tao Yuanming.

Haminjeon Pavilion

After a brief rest, we climbed up a set of stairs and found this Punggidae. It is a measuring instrument that has a long pole with a cloth hung at the end, and was used to check the speed and direction of the wind.

We also found this stunning view of old meets new...

Hiking north, we found the below shrine, called a Taesil, which the nearby sign said was where the royal family would store the placenta and umbilical cords of their children! 
This happened to be the Taeisil of King Seongjon.

After learning that fun tidbit, and keeping Michael from climbing on the turtle for a ride, we hiked down a path towards the large pond.

 But first, I couldn't resist taking a picture of this massive tree:

The pond, called Chundangji, once had rice paddies that the king would tend himself.

We ventured closer and found some friendly fish swimming along the shore.

Along the path we found this octagonal seven story stone pagoda, which was made in China in 1470 and installed here in 1911.

A smaller pond, covered in green lily pads, greeted us on our way to the glass house.

The glass house, called Daeonsil, was built in 1909 as a public botanical garden.

There are a number of plants and trees inside, as well as a small pond.

Two of my favorite bonsai trees that were there:

After a nice full visit, we trekked back to the front of the palace grounds 
and took a few more pictures.

For those living locally, you can easily find this palace by taking the subway to Hyehwa Station on Line 4.  Turn left at top of exit 4 and follow the left side of Daemyeong-gil (through a popular shopping and restaurant area) to where it ends on Changgyeonggung-ro. Veer/turn left and follow Changgyeonggung-ro for about 5 minutes. Cross the street in front of the science museum and you will see the palace wall on your right.  MAP LINK

I'll leave you with this teaser picture - the family portrait of the day - from our next adventure:  The Seoul National Science Museum.

Man, we are hot!