Trip to Jeolla-do

The Jeolla province (a.k.a. Jeolla-do, 전라도 in Korean) is one of the big secrets Korea hides. Unknown to many foreigners who visit this country, it is one of the most beautiful provinces of Korea, and with the best food. The drawback tough is that it is not easy to find English-speaking hotels, restaurants, or people, so if you want to visit here you better speak Korean or go with a Korean friend. That being said, I am sure that this region will experience a huge increase in foreign tourism in the next years, as its possibilities are endless.

On the way to Cheolla, we stopped by Boryeon (where the Mud Festival takes place every year) for dinner. Really great fish and so cheap!

One of the activities you can do in Jeolla is, of course mountain-climbing. This is one of the buddhist temples we found during our course.

The temple had this immense rock on the top which looked like it was going to fall at any time.

View from the top of the mountain.

Another must-see place in Jeolla are the Boseong tea plantations (more info here). Unfortunately, it was really foggy and rainy the day we went there, but it was still worth seeing.

Funny revolving tree 🙂

We could hardly see the plantations due to the heavy fog.

When you travel in the Korean countryside, where people are not so used to see foreigners, it is not uncommon that strangers ask you to take a picture with them. Sometimes you feel like a movie star.

A bridge at the trea plantations.

This place kind of reminded me of Nami Island.

Can’t help my love for bikes 🙂

Another interesting place is this dolmen site in Hwasun. I already talked about dolmens in Korea during our trip to Ganghwa Island.

As opposed to Ganghwa where there are just a few dolmens, this park is full of them, near three hundred according to the Wikipedia.

Like I said, food is also one of the reasons to visit this province, in this restaurant we had the best Korean beef I have tried.

Main gate of the restaurant. Unfortunately I forgot its name, but it is very close to the dolmen site, and quite popular, so if you ask for a Korean beef restaurant near, they will probably send you here.

Baseball Game

It’s funny that after all this time in Seoul I had not been to a game of the most popular sport in South Korea: baseball.

We went to Jamsil Stadium to watch a game between LG Twins and Lotte Giants. Right before the game started there were so many people nearby the entrance that the mobile network was collapsed and it was absolutely impossible to make a phone call any closer than a block from the stadium.

Finally inside the stadium. I must admit that even though I am not familiar with baseball rules, the game was quite fun. Maybe because you can drink beer during the game, time went really fast. In fact, Koreans usually watch the game while drinking beer and eating fried chicken.

The stadium was completely crowded and over half of the capacity of the stadium was for Lotte supporters (including us), who came all the way from Busan. Lotte Giants is known for having the most active supporters in the Korean league. Besides, they have one of the best Korean players, Dae-Ho Lee (이대호).

Also quite funny the way people support their team: with these plastic bags on their heads.

Being used to the soccer scoreboard, this one was quite a complicated one for me. It took me over an hour to get to understand each and every one of those numbers…

Already in the subway on our way home. We could not get the victory but still you can say by our smiles we had a great time watching the game. No doubt we will go again to watch Lotte winning the game!

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Tomorrow February 3rd Koreans will celebrate their New Year (the Lunar New Year). This new year it will be the year of the rabbit. In Chinese astrology this animal represents kindness, sweetness, and beauty, characteristics that all this year’s newborns will (supposedly) share.

In Korea the lunar new year means three holidays in a row, and it’s a time when many Koreans travel back to their hometowns to visit their parents. Seoul becomes a dead city and its impossible to travel by road inside the country due to the traffic jams. Hence, for foreigners living here, the best alternative is to leave the country by any means… Tomorrow I’ll be lying down on some beach in Boracay, so I’ll greet you the new year now.



Trip to Ganghwa Island

Soon after the North Korean bombing to the Yeonpyeong Island, we decided to take a trip to another island also very close to North Korea, Ganghwa, and see in person the situation there after the bombing. The truth is that we were surprised to see so few soldiers in the area, specially taking into account the situation of maximum alert in the whole country.

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Map of the geographic location of the island. The white dotted line is is border with North Korea. The distance between the island and North Korean territory is about one and a half mile.

They say that around fifty percent of dolmens in the world are located in the Korean Peninsula. One of the tourist attraction of Ganghwa is this dolmen, the biggest one in Korea, measuring 2,6 x 7,1 x 5,5 meters.

This picture shows a completely deserted scene, with a fence and an empty gard post, the only South Korean defence against the communist threat.

Another cheerless scene.

This guy is one of the few soldiers we could see during the whole trip.

One of the empty guard posts, right in front of some North Korean hills.

One of the many bunkers available all over the island.

A trench with its (closed) window. The distance from here to North Korean land is only one mile and a half.

These two tanks are in exhibition at the “Peace Observatory”.

At the ground floor of the Peace Observatory there is this room with an exhibition of pictures and notes left by visitors whishing the reunification of the two Koreas. Unfortunately this reunification seems more unlikely every day…

Seoul at Night

I recently bought a new lens for my camera, a Nikon 50mm f/1.4. This lens is specially good for taking pictures at night because of its low f-factor. The bad thing is that autofocus does not work with by camera body (a Nikon D40), so I have to focus manually… Anyways these are some of the first pictures I took with this lens.

Ayummas cooking (and/or drinking) in a street market.

A pojangmacha in the street.

Another pojangmacha. Koreans love to buy food at these places, you can buy anything from a hotdog to tteokbokki (떡볶이).

Cellphone-cover shop in Hongdae.

A street near my apartment (and no, I don’t live in the countriside, it is quite common to find streets like this one in Seoul just some meters away from the newest and most luxurious buildings).

Tap-dance performance during the Seoul Fringe Festival.