Sunday, May 1, 2011

Changdeok Palace, Lipstick and Jane Eyre

So that past few days have been mostly quiet, but fun at the same time. Thursday, the female teachers and Bree (the Faculty Manager of the Korean staff) went to brunch at this cute cafe called Joey's Cafe. It was decorated with a lot of English style things. One wall was painted with the underground, then had very tasteful "Mind the Gap" signs cut out from paper and taped to the walls. I think they could have left that off...But we had fun!
Left-Right: Jane, Kim, Queena, Me, J, Blossom, Bree

Friday, Queena and I had our night classes cancelled, so we went out to dinner. We were going to go to a movie, but she had to redo a couple of her student evaluations and they were due the next day. We had chicken that is cooked in this pretty spicy spice that was pretty delicious. Then, at the end they give you rice, which they fry on the table and it's delicious.

That evening we had a massive thunderstorm. I'm on the top floor of my building, so the rain was unbelievably loud. I could not sleep for the life of me, even if it had been raining less because the lightening was so bright!! I took a video to document my experience. It is at the end of this blog post.

Saturday, I had to work from 1-5. The weather was still horrendous. It was thundering and lightening-ing through much of my class, with occasional downpours. Then at about 3PM, if you looked outside the window, it looked like it was completely dark outside. It was pretty crazy. My students kept looking out of the window and yellow "OH MY GOSH IT'S DARK!" or "OH MY GOSH LOOK AT THE RAIN!" Then, I met up with Carrie and we had a very exciting night that involved going to E-mart (which is basically like a Walmart or Target,) where I bought a broom and a mattress pad and she got a pillow, then going to dinner. We got kimbap and later got desert.

Sunday, I decided to go to Changdeok Palace and wander around, since it was my day off and I figured I should explore Seoul on my one day off a week.

Here's a picture of the subway stop where it is located.

I planned on arriving at the Palace before 2:30 so I could take the "Secret Garden" tour. The secret garden tour leads you through a bunch of gardens and buildings in the back that you can only see if you're with a tour guide. But I got a little distracted by this bear:

And I thought this was pretty:

And I took a picture of the entrance:

I got there at about 2:22, so barely in time. There was a bit of a line, so it took a little time to get through the ticket counter. Of course, right as it's my turn, she shuts the little door to her counter. I thought "oh well, I can come back for the garden tour. But, there was a nice couple behind me (Ingrid and Jim) and their Korean friend with them who went up to the counter to ask the lady why she was closing the door. She said that she couldn't guarantee we could get into see the gardens because we were late, but sold us entrance tickets so that we could sprint to the back gate and hope they let us through. So, I ran along with the couple that I accidentally joined up with and we made it to the entrance and they let us through the gate! It was a nice surprise!

So, we joined up with the Secret Garden tour only a couple minutes late on this pathway:

The first stop was this place:

We then continued to wander around the palace grounds and see some pretty cool things!

I thought this staircase was really pretty.

The only building in the gardens with a thatched roof. Twas cool. However, this was in front of it:
This was gross. I'm hoping it didn't only look like that because of the rain.

The kings well.

The gardens were just beautiful as I hope you can see! The last part of the tour was this tree:

It's a pretty awesome tree I think. I believe the tour guide said it was a shrine and that they discussed seeing a monkey in the tree, but I couldn't really hear her. This poor couple asked me what it was and I blundered something about a tree shrine and a monkey and they looked at me like I was crazy.

After the tour I exchanged information with Ingrid and Jim, then wandered around the rest of the palace. The other parts of the palace looked a lot like Gyeongbok Palace, though obviously it was different. As I was walking around, I heard this group said "Ichiban" a LOT. It made me think of "Ichiban: Lipstick for Men." Can anyone guess that reference!?

Sunday night, Queena and I went to dinner, which was delicious as always. I really enjoy Korean food, which is great since that was one of the things I was worried about.

Last night, my evening class was canceled again. Bree had the day off because she was just coming back to Seoul from a wedding this weekend. We decided to go out and go to dinner and a movie. We met up and headed to Myeongdong. We wandered around for a while to see what we wanted for dinner. We decided on a dumplings place. I love dumplings, so I thought it was a good choice. We ordered dumplings, obviously, and this noodle soup thingy. Both were quite delicious.

After dinner, we had some extra time, so we decided to stop in at a cafe. We passed a cafe that specialized in Green Tea items. We decided to go there since Bree's always wanted to try it and it looked pretty good. I got some Green tea ice cream and she got a latte and this:

Green Tea tiramasu. It was very fluffy. My dictionary wanted me to change "tiramasu" to "taramasalata"

We hung out and chatted at the cafe for a while, then headed to the theater to see Jane Eyre! Before the movie, they had a bunch of Korean commercials, which obviously I couldn't understand. Every once in a while, in the midst of the Korean, they'd say something like "whitening" and I'd understand a word...or a sentence then it would go back to Korean. Their commercials don't seem to match what they're talking about at all, so Bree was having fun trying to get me to guess what a commercial was about. Example, there was a commercial that had a bunch of cars falling from the sky and landing in the ocean. I had no idea what it was about, but apparently, it's about keeping your leftover food.

Then, the movie started. It was a very good movie. I enjoyed it a lot. I did run into a slight problem. About 5-10 minutes of the movie is in French, which would have been fine except I don't speak French and the subtitles were in Korean. That was a little unexpected. I understand some French and could understand about 1/2 of what they were saying, which was cool, but the rest was lost on me. For example, at one point Adele asks "what are you doing with your hair?" I understood, "what are you doing?" but could tell that wasn't exactly what they were talking about. Luckily, Bree was patient and didn't mind me saying "wait what is she saying?" during those parts of the movies. I'm glad most of the movie was in English. But, I still enjoyed it!

When we entered the movie theater, there were tons and tons of people around Myeongdong, since it's a bustling shopping area. When we left, it was completely empty. That was strange. It was late, so the subway was closed. That would have been fine if we'd been able to find a taxi in a decent amount of time. We tried for a while in one spot, but no taxis even drove by. Then we moved to a different spot and a few drove by but none stopped. Then we walked even further and finally one drove by. It took about 30 minutes. The taxi driver said that as soon as the shops close and everyone leaves, no taxis come to Myeongdong because no one is there at that time of night. Oops! Well, now we know. No late night movies in Myeongdong if it gets out after the subway closes! But, we still had a good time so it wasn't a problem.

The storm:


  1. Yikes, the sound on the video is deafening - hope your roof isn't flat :-)
    Also: the palace is pretty old - doesn't it go back to the 1300's? People would want to know that, even if it it's restored. Very beautiful grounds!
    I'm glad I had no idea you were wandering around at night without subways or taxis ... I know the feeling because that happened to Grammy & I in London once - and I remember the sinking feeling as when it dawns that you may never see home again! But you were saved! Yay!
    Lastly: Thanks for all the pictures ...I had another question, but can't think of it ... until I do, have fun! Love you!

  2. The roof is kind of flat and apparently magnifies sound by about a million. It does go back to the 1300's!

    I am also glad you didn't know I was wandering around. But don't worry, I won't be wandering around on my own in the middle of the night unable to find a way back.