Friday, December 29, 2006

Chuncheon (춘천)

Because of the floods I changed my travel plans and ended up in Cuncheon. Here there was an island to be visited. I regret now, not hiring a bicycle.

I do not know why, but there seemed to be some reason why I should not go to Chuncheon. There was even a heated argument. I do not get it. I had quite forgotten about it until I got there.

The place was the most like a Australian town I have been (in Korea that is). I do not know why. Maybe it was the clothes, maybe the body language. I cannot put my finger on it. As Seoul was friendly and Busan was hard nosed and gritty, Chuncheon was a bit like an Australian town in it's ambiance. Maybe the word I am looking for is relaxed. Yes I think that that is it. Chuncheon is relaxed, calm and pleasant. I might even dare to say... easy going.

ferry terminal

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jeongdongjin (정동진)

I went there to see the north Korean submarine, but an unforecast storm and the associated flooding meant I never got there. What was interesting was an endless supply of sculptures and of course the two boats up on the hill.

family portriat

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Danyang (단양)

Danyang is a town in the mountains of Chungbuk province.

I spent two nights there. On the first night there was a concert that was to do with a national celebration of the sillia kingdom and was broadcast live on national TV on SBS. The second day I went to Guinsa, over an hour by bus. This will be in another set. Returning to Danyang after lunch, I went to the cave across the river. Back in Danyang there were more celebrations. The three western girls I met in the cave were surprised when the boys were coming up to me in the market and giving hugs. We also were given quite a few freebies of food to sample. I very much enjoyed my time in Danyang.

Some people here were discussing if Melbourne and Adelaide are more cosmopolitan than Sydney. I think I agree with them.


Gyeongju (경주)

fan danceFinally I have finished posting the Gyongju photos and adding comments. It took a long time for this set. I think Gyeongju comes out as my favourite place of the holiday.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Still posting - Busan

I have done a little rearranging of the photos on flickr as there are so many. there are now sets for Seoul and Busan. The latter has a little walk through story. I need to do the same for Seoul.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A tale of two cultures

While traveling to the DMZ, I met Kristina on the bus. She is from the same town as another person I like well and we soon were getting on very well. I find the difference in their outlook and view of the world is refreshing. Unfortunately I did not meet anyone like this for the rest of the trip. But I will stop being so obtuse.

Towards the end of the day at the DMZ we were in the tourist shop, and still on UN land. South Korea is the most militaristic place I have ever been. Everywhere there are young men in military uniforms, mostly off duty from what I could tell. To an extent they worship the military ideal and goal. Where Kristina comes from, this type of behaviour would probably land you in jail, or at least you would be ostracised. So she was just so shocked to see the image I have included below. In her country it would not not be allowed. Whoever was responsible for such outrageous behaviour would cause outrage. More importantly: People would be ashamed.

In a way both views are tragic and result from tumultuous pasts in the last century and a resulting over reaction. For Katrina I find it quite interesting. The libertarians hold much more sway in her city. They are so liberal that the city is pilloried by people in other countries for excessive freedoms. Yet they are horrified at this image. I find myself being on the side of her city and grow weary of the pillorists. Certainly some of the Americans I met, while being otherwise nice people, had that sad conservative Anglo-American view of the world.

We did not every try to explain this to the Koreans. Perhaps it would be unfair. Mostly we would instantly run into language barriers. Subtlety and nuance are the first casualties of a language barrier.

It is not allowed

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What people say in China, Korea and Japan

Everywhere I travelled in China, I herd people say things. Mostly behind me, but sometimes to me. Unfortunately my Chinese is not good enough to fully understand what they were saying. Some things I looked up in the dictionary, but still I think there must be some colloquial meanings. Some of the things I said seemed to have other meanings or emphasis. So here is my understanding (or lack there of) of what was said. I'd appreciate any comments. My romanization may be poor.

Bu Yang or Bu Yong, I was never sure, but they seem to be two different things. Only once did a girl say bu yang to me. Usually they said it after I walked past. I do not think I ever heard a man say it. Bu Yang seems to mean no need. But that does not make sense.

Bu Yao is what I used to say for do not want. But it seems to have a different meaning as after about a week, some people would say, Oh I see... yao-bu-yao de yao. So there must be a different harsher yao. I learned this at school and from the phrase book. So I a left wondering.

Bu dao le - well this seems harsh, but I do not know. People said it some times. Some times they said bu dwei.

There seemed to be some confusion between Au-da-li-a (Australia). People generally knew what I meant, but sometimes I think people who overheard me thought I was saying da-li-a. I have been unable to determine what this may mean and I heard it lot in northern china. Richard though that maybe I was really hearing da-lia-a which is why so late? Anyway, after a while the confusion seemed to be clarified (I do not know how) and life was OK again. I was at one stage considering abandoning saying au-da-li-a in favour of the shorter au-zhou. The latter is the Austrlian continent. They are obviously relatively interchangeable.

So you see, language can be a difficult thing. I never had the troubles in Korea I had in China. I think the Chinese keep on assuming that I know more Chinese than I do. I know the Koreans did. For a while I was never certain if they (the koreans) were speaking to me in Chinese or Korean. This is partly because Sino-korean is so much like Chinese. I had this in Japan the first time I was there. I tend to read the Chinese characters straight into English, but sometimes I will read it into mandarin. In Japan, people also occasionally said things, randomly on the street to me in mandarin Chinese. Usually it surprised me so much that by the time I worked out that I needed to switch languages, got over my surprise and then translated what they had said, they had gone. But they were always nice things that were said.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

North Korea

North Korea
Originally uploaded by yewenyi.

I do not beleive this. Of all the photos I have taken, this one has the most views, by a factor of 5 at the time of writing. Of course, I have not uploaded anywhere near all my photos yet. And what's worse, I did not take this photo, Christina from Hamburg did. I suppose it is something to so with the fact that it is North Korea after all in the background.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Korean Toilets

In some places in Korea, the ones I saw were in Seoul and Busan and in restaurants, they have small toilets marked male and female. However, the male toilet is in fact the urinal and the female toilet has the toilet bowl.

Friday, November 24, 2006

map updates

Oops, I upgraded to the new blogger and my inserts stopped working. I added a new < div > section and hopefully all is fixed.

I have added all the places I stayed to the community walk map. I was having some troubles with the lines, so I have not updated the lines.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The best

I had not really considered this, but Tebby and a few others had asked me what was the highlight of the trip. I do not think that there is a single thing that stands out, so I will include a list, not in order from top to bottom, but in order occurrence.
  1. Staying at the Tea Guest House. This was a pleasant way to start the adventure. A traditional room with wireless internet, no other place would come close for a pleasurable stay.
  2. Cheong Ju. Perhaps the surprise item of the journey. The traditional guest house where I stayed was more authentic and better set up for long term travelers. The sights were impressive and easy to get to. The people traveling there were as interesting as the place. The history was an unexpected surprise.
  3. In Cheong Ju and the nearby temples I was for a short time a rock star. At first I was having my photo taken, and having people wave at me. By the end of the day I must have signed 10 to 20 autograph books. Perhaps this is the only time in my life this will happen.
  4. The rock concert in Dan Yang. It was free, as it was part of the Sillia Kingdom festival and we had some of Korea's top pop performers. The old man was my favorite. It was broadcast live on SBS, and I suspect, as the only foreigner I may have been on the TV. One camera certainly spent about 15 minutes pointing at me as the light on the camera was starting to hurry my eyes.
  5. Being stuck at Gangneug station in a flood.
  6. The hotel at Sheng Yang. It was not a great hotel, but to get to it I had to go through a restaurant, down some dark corridors and up a lift to the top (8th) floor to get to reception.
  7. The plant sculptures at Taiyangdao Park in Harbin.
  8. The Acrobatics show in Beijing. This is a bit unusual as I do not normally enjoy these shows.
  9. Xitang, the water town south of Shang Hai scrapes into the list.
  10. Teaching the English class and visiting two schools near Yang Shuo. This was my first teaching experience. I did not know what to do and Eliot saved the day. In fact he organized it.
  11. Visiting the Islands of Cheung Chu with Richard and Lan Tao with Tebby were pleasant interludes at the end of a long trip.

Last of the travel posts

This is the last of my travel posts. I plan to add a few posts later to describe specific things and events.

I spent my last day in HK traveling to Lan Tao to visit a chair lift. The yellow rain alert had been cleared the previous evening, but the rain persisted. I met Tebby and her husband and we were unable to catch the chair lift because of the bad weather. So we hopped on the bus to Tai O. This was one hour over the top of the Island. Tai O is a small fishing village. Unfortunately there was a fire 5 years ago and many of the fishing huts on stilts had to be rebuilt. It calls itself the Venice of HK, but I suspect that this is a somewhat overblown analogy.

Returning from the village we headed up the cable car. The cloud was down to about 50 meters and the view we should have had of HK International airport was only a wall of white mist. At the top we visited a small, modern village, built to service the people visiting the Big Buddha (not his name in Chinese). We had lunch (I had Beef Brisket, the first time I have seen this on the trip) and visited the big Buddha. Unfortunately he was covered in fog and you could only make out the shillohet of his head. I have not yet processed these photos, so they will either not work or will be really good.

Back in town I raced to get my bags from the hotel and travel to the airport. In the end I was short of time, so I used the check in counter at Kowloon station. This is a very civilized arrangement where you check in at the station and then travel to the Airport.

The flight was uneventful. I had two seats to my self and so had a slightly better nights sleep as I could half stretch out. There were no dramas at the Australian end and I am now at home.

Fish Shop

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A rainy day in HK

Well I started the day slowly. I slept in so much I almost missed breakfast. After an attempt to leave for Macao. I decided that I was too tired. So I spent the morning my hotel room. At lunch I left to send my papers (maps and brochures) I have collected in a package by mail. It turns out that of the 17 kg my bag weighed, 7 kg was this paper. My pack will now be much lighter. I wandered down to go to a local park, but the rain has set in so I returned to my hotel room. So no photos from today.

Chinese Icons

Monday, November 20, 2006

Visiting Work

Today I had an easy day after the hectic last few days. I went to work and visited my work colleagues here in HK. An unexpected thing happened. We had a fire drill HK style. This in itself was interesting. They has signs on the stairs where there might be confusion about the correct direction to take and there seemed to be people on the street directing us in he right direction. Though this may just have been the normal security guards. At the gathering point, there were sections marked off for each company and a stage. There was a lesson on what to do, including using fire extinguishers. We were given English translations so as not to miss out on the training.

After this we had lunch. This was one of the best meals I have had, and for HK was good value for money.

In the afternoon I just returned to my room, via the local markets. I used the tram on HK Island to get that tram experience. I went down for the free afternoon food and drinks. This is the first place I have been which has this as a offering. After one scotch on the rocks I was a little tipsy. And after all the food of the last few days, I skipped dinner, instead having the free salmon finger sandwiches and fish cakes.

A small footnote - the TV here in the Hotel has two chanels in Japanese.


Outlying Island

Yesterday ended with a meeting between the remnants of our group to see the light show and then we had dinner at the Outback Steakhouse. I uploaded a photo of this before, as I had seen a car of this place in Busan. However, it was interesting to actually go to the place and eat. It was expensive. The food was about as accurate of Australian food as run-of-the-mill Chinese restaurants in the west are of Chinese food. The general ideas were right, but the detail was all wrong and we had one dish I had never even heard of before. Though it was quite OK, it was not Australian.

This morning I met up with Richard. We had noodles for breakfast and then headed off to Cheung Chau, an outlying Island. We spent several hours wandering around the lookouts, beaches, temples and markets. We had lunch on the shore front. In the evening we returned and had a vegetarian dinner with his wife and one daughter. Later we went down to the light show, but this time I saw it from the HK island side. I think I am getting better at taking shots of this event.

outback resterant's car jason and ewen

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hong Kong

Well I am in a swish hotel in Hong Kong and once again I can access my blog.

We arrived yesterday in Hong Kong and visited the harbor at sunset. It will take me a little while to catchup with the photos. The hotel we stayed in last night was full. So we tried a few other places, but they were also full. This morning I had the thought to ask my full hotel to book a room for me. They did and I have a relatively expensive hotel twin room for $1,400. However, we seemed to have received a free upgrade to executive class and I have free high speed internet in my room. I am very happy.

Today we also went over to HK island and had dumplings for lunch at a famous place, Ewen had been wanting to try. It had good food, but not superior. Perhaps this is becuase the general standard of food is very high.

More Yangshuo photos -

I have also uploaded some much older videos from Dalian.

Chinese Icons

HK and hotel rooms

We arrived by train at shenzhen and crossed the border by foot. After that we caught the subway into Kowloon. We are staying at the Stanford Hotel. They are booked out for Saturday and Sunday, so we were unable to get a room. It turns out the YMCA and several other places I tried were also booked out. So I was worried all night about where to stay.

In the afternoon we wandered down to the ferry terminal and as the sun set we took lots of photos. Prior to that we had to visit Starbucks for a coffee fix for out New York and Canadian colleagues. In the evening we had a dinner in a little HK style eating place. In the evening we went to a local bar. After playing an American drinking game we met some people from HK who have children living in Melbourne and Pennant Hills. I left at this stage (2 AM), but the others stayed until 4 AM.

This morning I had a brain wave while having an early breakfast as I could not sleep. I asked the hotel to book a room and we now have a place around the corner.

Night Lights

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Leaving Yangshuo on a bus and a train

Not sure why I am writing this. After school I spent some time working on the flaky internet connection back at my hotel. Now I am on the train from Guilin to Shenjen. We just had a photo session with Ewen for my photos and his. So I am on a top bunk. The camera is running on batteries as the power point is only accessible from the lower bunks. So we have a 220 Volt outlet with an Australian plug in the compartment. Very civilized. But there is no wireless internet on the trains... Yet.

On the way to Shenjen

yangshuo - boats and schools

Yesterday afternoon we drove to a town between Guilin and Yangshuo as the people in Guilin who control the river do not seem to allow boats to depart from Yangshuo. We did a short trip up river for about two hours including the place that was on the old 20 Yuan notes. The

scenery was spectacular.

This morning we headed off to a school. Eliot, who has been a teacher for many years, met these people who wanted people to come along to their school to help with English classes. In the morning we met this 81 year old Canadian man who has spent 4 years here in yangshuo helping organize the teaching of English. We traveled by small bus to a ferry upstream from Yangshuo and then went across from the river. The school had decided to have an impromptu picnic, which disappointed our guide immensely. I was surprised that he did not know any Chinese and I had to help with the translating until the English teacher arrived. We then headed back to their show case school. Here we held two classes at 11:00 AM. Elliot was great. I would not have known what to do in my first ever class of teaching English. But we got though about 20 minutes of geography, electricity and telecommunications before we lost control of the class. It was a most unusual experience. I took lots of photos.

Tonight we are off on the Train to HK. In a week I will be back in Australia.

Teaching a class

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Repost of Yangshuo message

For some reason this message did not get through...

Well I spent an easy afternoon yesterday after the bicycle ride. In the evening I had my first western dinner for a long time. Spaghetti Bolognese and Apple Crumble. In the evening I went to a few bars with Brian who is currently my room mate.

This morning the others went on a Balloon Ride. We then went to a cooking class. It was very interesting. The woks are run much hotter than is possible in Australia with the Natural Gas stoves and hence every thing happens more quickly. I learned some interesting variations from the local provinces on the more Cantonese approaches I would use.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Pangan to Yangshuo

In the morning I walked to the next village in the rice terraces with Betty and Heather. It was good as after the first half a kilometer we lost the women trying to sell us cloth, photo modeling and trinkets. The village does not get many tourists and was very interesting. In the afternoon we headed back down out of the mountains and on the way to guilin stopped to taster some tea. One was so good I purchased a small tin.

We arrived in Yangshuo, about 60 km south of Guilin yesterday evening. We had a yummy roof top dinner and today went cycling to half moon mountain. This place has changed very much since I was here in 1993 and I had a good talk about the change with our guide. We had one guide for two cyclists and I cycled with Heather. When I was here with Barbara we did the same bike ride. I think Yangshuo and the village at half moon mountain have changed as much as Shanghai if not more. The small village that was one Yangshuo is new a booming town. At Half Moon mountain, the village is now as large as Yangshuo was and almost all of the 64 mud brick houses have been replaced with many more three story high houses. There is now running water in the town.

Tea Plantation and Guide

Monday, November 13, 2006


Well tomorrow I expect to again get wireless internet and hence there will be a little burst of updates on my travels. We hopped on the bus to Pangan from Guilin airport. Eliot headed directly to Yangshuo I am guessing because of his back. On the way to Pangan we stopped at a roadside restaurant and had an excellent meal. Then it was up into the mountains. Here we are staying in an area known as the rice terraces and the photos will show why. While Pangan is the name of the village the area is called the Longji Scenic area. It is very beautiful. We are staying in accommodation built for westeners and there is another tour in the same building. However, it is quite basic accommodation, simple, clean and good. Though they say that next year they wilol get wireless internet.

In the afternoon we wandered the hills behind where we are staying. I then had my first massage, which was good, and then we had another great meal. The other group had purchased a local show, so we were able to watch that. It was somewhat touristy. Finally I had some wine, like rice wine, but made from some fruit that the owner of the place cannot explain in english.

bowl, ducks and rice

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Airplane Food


  1. Dried fish
  2. dried beancurd
  3. bean filled bun
  4. fairy cake
  5. cherry wafer like things
  6. nuts

Shanghai and Xitang

Well we headed off after a morning of burning DVDs for Eliot to Xitang. We had a small bus and traveled along the motorways. The toll system is extensive, but there are tolls every ten or so kilometers. After about an hour and a half driving south of Shanghai, we arrived at Xitang. We went there because it is close but not too touristy. The fee for entry was 10 Y, but we payed the 60 Y for entry to all of the sites in the precinct. Xitang is a water town. All along the old grand canal there are towns where the main streets are waterways, though there are many roads on the land side of the towns. We split up and I headed off down the main canal. After wandering down many back lane ways and side canals, I purchased a bamboo flute. I spent about half an hour in the shop. They had many instruments, but they were hard to play and only played about 3/4 of an octave. I do not know why they did not play two octaves, most had the same holes as a recorder would have. In the end I purchased a bamboo flutes. I played all the ones in the shop to get one that was at least in tune with itself.

Wandering further through the town, I finally fond the small food stalls like we had seen when we first entered the town. I also met up with Vahid at this time. We had several different types of sticky rice, at 5 to 8 jiao per item (10 jiao in a yaun and about 6 yuan in 1 dollar). They were all very good. I also had some meat, steamed in bamboo leaves. However, these locals only seemed to know their local dialect and I wad not able to determine what type of meat. It seemed to be pork. I also had some chinese peanut brittle stuff that I have had many times and is very good and some kind of local roasted green nut or seed.

In the evening we headed back to the hotel and I spent the evening indoors. I am now on the 7:45 flight with shanghai airlines from Shanghai to Guilin. (flight FM 9335).

bridging the canal

Friday, November 10, 2006

Xian and Shanghai

On the second, and last day in Xian we wandered off the few blocks to the south gate. Here we planned to get shots of people exercising in the park. But mostly there were musicians playing bamboo pipes, flutes and the occasional erhu. Betty and I wandered back down the calligraphy street and then I headed off to the Eight Immortals Temple. There are not many Daoist temples left in China. On the way I left the city walls behind and ended up in a residential area. There were lots of school children and they sent me the right way as I had travelled one block too far to the north. Again, I had some discussions with them in chinese and english and had groups of up to 20 children tagging along behind.

The temple was not a lot different in design to the buddhist temple, just the deities are the 8 immortals. I took some photos before heading back to the hotel. Here we met and caught the train to Shanghai.

In the train, we were split up. I shared a cabin with Eliot, the other Brian and a chinese woman who has lived in California for the last ten years. She knew little english and had a retinue of 4 young men (we presume family) to get all of her bags onto the train. The others named her the dowager princess. They did not enjoy sharing the cabin, though I was less concerned. We swapped bunks, and because the lower bunk is more expensive, she wanted to pay the difference. But I did not want the money. So after a 16 hour journey, we finally arrived in Shanghai.

It is good to be back here. It is the first place I visited in China, and it is still somewhat special to me. It is the best hotel so far. We went down Nanjing Dung Lu to theBund. I need to get back there at night to see if i can get a repeat shot of my favorite china photo. But I cannot remember which corner I was standing on. After that we headed off to Pudong and went up to a cocktail bar on the 87th floor of a building. It was excellent. We also had a great lunch and dinner down in the French concession. So the food here is Shanghai is excellent modern chinese cuisine.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Beijing and Xian

We had a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant. Then it was onto the train. Same as before, but this time the Z19 train from Beijing to Xian. We stayed up later having some wine. The night was disturbed a few times and we arrived at about 8AM.

We went to the hotel and then wandered around the Muslim district. Xian has changed so much since 1999. There are many more large buildings, though I am in a different part of town to last time. The muslim quarter is still very interesting and the other Brian and I had a lunch of roast persimmon patties filled with red bean paste, followed by a soup of bread, noodles and beef. After that we had lamb on a stick. In the afternoon we went to the terracotta warriors. The place has been updated a lot since 1999 and was much more pleasant to wander around. The warriors have not changed, though more seem to have been uncovered.

After this we had dinner at a place thatturned out by chance to be the same one as where we had lamb on a stick. We had a steam-boat type affair with lots of everything from bread and vegies to crab meat on a stick.

Drum Tower

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beijing day 3

We headed off to the Great Wall. We went to the great wall at Simatai. It has to be the most spectacular spot. We had a quick lesson on the bus. At the wall we tuned left and headed over the suspension bridge. I suffer from vertigo and was prepared for the walk. It is climbing down that causes the most problems, but it is the lack of sides that scares me. I also have trouble when the slope is higher than a certain amount. I made it to about tree towers along before we hit a section of wall with no sides as it was being rebuilt. So I waited for the others to return. It was cold, but as we were all rugged up, it was not too cold.

On the way back we stopped off for dinner. I have some nice foggy photos as my lens fogged up when we entered the restaurant. Later we stopped briefly as there was a head on accident on the road. I think that one of the issues with the roads here is that the is such a large difference in speed between the different vehicles. Drivers are constantly trying to overtake some truck going at 30 kmh. When the fleet of vehicles all become modern, there will be far fewer issues.

Great Wall of China

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beijing day 2

Ewen gave us a lesson on Photography in the morning. We then went to the drum tower and then the hutongs and wandered around. After lunch Ewen and I went down to the Temple of Heaven and he helped me to learn to use my wide angle lens. I was surprised. I remembered the Temple of Heaven from 1999 as very grungy and I did not enjoy it much. However, they have renovated it and now it is spectacular. I still am struggling with it. Later in the day we went to an acrobatics display and then had a Tibetan dinner. I consider the dinner the highlight of the day. They had lots of great music and I purchased a CD. The others however did not enjoy the music so much. We had yak for one of the dishes.

Acrobatic plate twirling

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Harbin to Beijing

I think the day of rest of did me wonders. The overnight train was great. As I had the most expensive ticket, I was able to stay in the VIP lounge. They came and got me when it was time for the train. We left from platform one, and the wealthier people were driven in their cars right up to the carriage, so there were lots of cars on the platform.

The Z16 train was new. Soft sleeper is actually harder than it used to be. Also there are now 4 people rather than 2 per sleeper. So I shared my cabin with three well dressed women. The cabin also had a TV for each bed with about a dozen channels and headphones. There were two American movies mostly dubbed into Chinese and the rest were chinese shows. In the morning we arrived in Beijing. About every two minutes we passed a freight train going the other way. The journey took about 11.5 hours for a little less than 1300 kilometers.

In the morning I went straight to the hotel. The man who I am sharing with (Elliot) had already been in the room for 3 days. We met and wandered down to the old Ming Dynasty wall, near the train station. It was very interesting. After that we returned to the hotel and met the tour group. We had a group meeting and then went to the Houtongs or a dinner of Peiking duck.

Our little group is small. There is a tour guide, our shr fu, Ewen, Elliot, who is from the USA, an Irainian man who lives in Nevada, A canadian woman, two women from Melbourne and Geelong and a marketing man from the USA who does marketing in the USA for Grasshopper Travel who are running the tour.

I have uploaded the photos to yesterday afternoon.

A train leaving

Friday, November 03, 2006

In my room

Well I extended my stay in my room. I have finished uploading the video's of my time in Korea to . They are in reverse order. I missed a few, most deliberately, but one accidently, so I may upload the rest when I return. So I will check out at 18:00 and my train is due to leave at 20:30. I have also been going through the backlog of photos and uploading some better ones from previous days. I may do some more of that this afternoon. So they will be on Flickr - . The cold is not too bad, but I want to let it rest rather than have a bad cold over the next few days.

I have a cold

Well I am spending the morning here in my hotel. I have to check out by 12 PM. I have a cold and I am somewhat bored, but I think that staying inside rather than going out into the cold is the better thing to do. I might have to pay more so I can stay here for this after noon.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Harbin Temples

Well perhaps I made a mistake. I allowed three days for Harbin and two for Shengyang. With the benefit of hind sight perhaps it would have been better the other way around.

Today I wandered off to visit the temple district. On the way I passed three churches, two of which seemed to be Russian. At the western one they invited me into to listen to the sermon. However, it was all in Chinese. I did wander inside to see what it looked like. A plain room with bench seats. However, I explained that I did not know that much chinese and excused myself.

Only one of the two temples was open. It was an large and active affair and there were plenty of people in it. I had some of the most impressive pagodas I have seen. I will upload a photo of it later. They wanted to charge me 3 quai to get into the closed looking entertainment park, so I passed on that. I headed off to another temple and museum. However I headed off down the wrong road. The third person I spoke to knew where I wanted to go was located, and took me there down many back paths through the Harbin Engineering University. It was a simple temple and the history of nations seemed to be a single room which was a history of the Jin nation.

Hence, after a short day I returned to my Hotel. I will stay here tomorrow until check out time. There is still one park I want to visit, that I did not have time for yesterday as the sun was going down and then in the evening I am on the train to Beijing to start my tour.

Buddha and the pagodas

Videos and Photos

Well I have uploaded some photos from the last few days and some
videos from way back in Busan.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Yay - internet at last

Well between the man who helped, but only understood windows, and myself, we were able to configure my computer to work with the internet. So I am uploading my photos. I am happy again.

Harbin Day 2

Well I am a little annoyed. My Internet connection I finally worked out is in my room does not want to work with my computer. Later a boy with glasses will hopefully show up and show me how to make it work. I suspect I may need some extra software which would be sad. I also made the point of getting a computer in this wang ba with a USB port, but it does not recognise my stick. With a bit of luck I will be on line properly soon and finally be able to upload my backlog of photos.

Today I wandered through the Russian part of town. It is very interesting. I then visited the riverside park, and stopped at the virtual geocache. Again I need to upload the photos. The shops here are almost identical to those in the west and also have similar prices. It is like Germany. There is this old building, and when you go inside you could be in Myers or David Jones in Sydney.

I crossed the river by ferry, only 2 yuan, and visited the park on the other side. This is part of the dichotomy of China. I found a place that sold real cappachinos as I was hanging out for a coffee. It cost 38 Yuan, so I did not have one. Yet the ferry was only 2. Mcdonalds to KFC would be about 20 Yuan (or less) for a meal deal. I ended up having two free coffees in the Walmart supermarket at the nescafe stall.

Back to the park. It was quite expensive to get in, but it was perhaps the best park I have visited in China. It is called Taiyangdao park. I spent many hours in there including an interesting visit to the Russian Art Gallery. I am not sure if they were open. But they sold me a ticket at half price. I joined with a tour guide an one other Chinese man. The man knew some English and translated for me. In the end I got out my Chinese dictionary and we used this to translate difficult words like Mammoth and Abstract.

On the way back, I tried to cross over the bridge. But it turned out to be a railway bridge (I did not pay enough attention to the map). I asked a group of people if I could walk across and they said I could not. So they walked me back to the ferry terminal. They turned out to be going to school, though I suspect it was university. The level of English language amongst the younger people is very impressive.

three dragons

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Imperial Palaces and Harbin

Well I visited the old Manchurian Imperial palace in Shengyang. The one they built before they went on to conquer Beijing. It is a world heritage site and was well set up. The entry fee was the highest i have had to pay yet. Inside they had some interesting army exhibitions from the period and all of the king and his queens chambers were decorated as they were supposed to have been in the early Qing dynasty (17th century).

I also found a few other treasures and will up load the images when I can find a computer with a working USB port.

Today I travelled by bus to Harbin. It took about 7.5 hours. We had for a while a bus half full of boxes and i had my backpack on the seat beside me. Halfway into the trip they dropped off the boxes. The road was almost like Australia. 4 lane divided motorway, and mostly rural. Until we got close to Harbin, the vegetation was dry and the country side straw yellow.

I am staying in a posh 3 star hotel which is heated like a sauna. I suppose this makes up for the external temperature and tomorrow I think I will use my thermals. Though it has warmed up and the -7 degrees min from a week ago is only -1 for the next few days. I also booked my train ticket on the overnight train to Beijing. I did the whole transaction in Chinese and I am very pleased with myself at the moment.

So it is off into the dark again so I can get some dinner. I think I will try the USA beef noodle California chain. It has at least three places around the square in front of the train station.

Throne Hall

Monday, October 30, 2006


Well it seems I was a bit presumptive about the hotel charges at Dalian. The extra money was the deposit and I got it back when I checked out. So when I checked into my hotel here in Shengyang, I was prepared and even was able to use the correct word for deposit.

The bus trip took about 4 hours. There was an accident and all the traffic was stopped, but it started moving again about 5 minutes after we joined the queue. I do not know the cause.

I am staying in an older hotel. To get in I have to walk through two rooms of a restaurant and then go up to reception on the eighth floor. The room numbers seem to occur at random, and perhaps they are all auspicious numbers.

I found a fast food chain next to McDonald's that at first looks like it has Japanese food. But my beef rice bowl also included kimchi as a side dish. It was one of the best meals I have had in days.

Today I am off to the old imperial palace and some pagodas. I have booked my ticket on the 8:20 am bus to Harbin tomorrow.

I cannot load any photos as this computer does not have a USB port.

A money shaped building

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dalian - day two

Well it is day two in China. I have to say, I am impressed by how much the country has progressed. But the change continues at a pace that is just so fast.

I started out wandering up to the Russian part of the city.On the way there was percussion band playing. So I stopped to take some photos. (Which should be uploaded soon to See the photo link on the right side bar. As I was the only westerner there and I was enjoying the performance, after they asked me up. The woman on the drum played a piece, and then I repeated it. I was able to keep up for about 5 ever increasing difficulty pieces, before I could no longer repeat the rhythm on the fly. They seemed to be impressed and there were smiles all round.

The Russian part of the city is small. But very Russian, there were many traders with quality Russian goods. Wandering back by the intercity bus terminal, to check out the buses for tomorrow, I found the Tourist Information Centre. All I can say, is that they cannot get many tourists. They were very helpful. At first I used the computer as it had descriptions in English. They called over a nice woman who spoke English. She had to make some calls to find out the location of one of the museums listed on the computer. The other places, well one street I found myself on the map and they were able to help with the location of the main museum. Emboldened, I decided to head down to the coast on a local bus. At first I was looking for the 60 bus, but it turned out that I needed the 16 bus. The gallery is an excellent affair. It focuses, as the Chinese do, on technological and economic development but also had a fair amount on sport and some local clothing from the minorities.

I then wandered down to the shore front some 10 minutes walk. The architecture was very surprising, and it even had a full size Italianate castle, not dissimilar to some in Russia. Back in the centre of town, the Nanshan lu, a Japanese era street was a disappointing.

castle on the hill

Friday, October 27, 2006


I hope this works as I do not seem to be able to access my home page or blog from here in the internet cafe. So I am sending this from my email.

I caught the ferry from Incheon. Using the subway was easy, but slow and then I got a cab. The ferry time changes about three times, but in the end, we were on our way. I shared my cabin with an elderly jesuit bible teacher from Usan. (which caused endless confusion with me and others to Busan.) He was a nice person and helped me get dinner and breakfast. We also spent some time, engaging in the pastime (as did many others) of feedint the seagulls as we left by throwing chips into the air. The sea gulls mostly were able to pick them out mid air.

The boat trip was uneventful. The seas about as calm as they could be. We did have some delays when we arived at the port and it took about 30 minutes longer than expected.

At the terminal, I was looking for the number 13 bus stop to travel to the railway station. There were some locals who showed me the way.

I then came into town. I accepted a local's offer for accomodation, (these people always hang out in front of train stations). It was for 150 Y per night. But as it was it turns out that as I am a foreigner I had to pay 250. This is not unexpected for the room and was still 30 yuan off the list price. The room is on the 37th floor and I have to use 2 lifts to get there.

I then headed to the local park. Here I met a man from Baulkam Hills and his Chinese wife. They married in Australia, but are living here for 5 years. I went to the top of the lookout on the near by hill and then wandered back down here for the intenet cafe. I knew there were cafe's near by, but again some locals voulentered to show me the way to one and ordered it for me. The price is high (as it is quite nice) at 2 Y per hour. The normal rate I am told is 1 Y per hour.

Anyway I need to return to get some sleep.

modern architecture

Thursday, October 26, 2006

in preperation for being cold

Well I have just looked at the weather forecast:

Dalian: 7 to 18
Shnngyang: 0 to 15
Harbin: -3 to 10

So I have packed the gloves and thermals at the top of the bag.

photos from seoul


I have also updated the map.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chuncheon and back to Seoul

Well I escaped the storms on the East Coast. There were pictures on the TV this morning of workers repairing the rail link I had traveled on the day before as the sea tried to claim it for itself.

By morning the rain had stopped, though it seemed to still be raining to the south. I did the half hour walk to the intercity bus terminal, past the remaining sand bags to stop yesterdays flooding and did the three hour trip to Chuncheon. For the first time, I felt like I was back in a western country. The clothes are much more informal and the city very new.

The place I was planning on staying was being renovated, so with my new confidence in working in Korean, I simply chose another near by. It was a good choice.

I wandered off to find some lunch, which failed, and to see the lake. I did the latter and visited one of the Islands in the middle of the lake. Before I got there, there was an interesting historical display in a glass pyramid. They had lots of photos, taken some 40-50 years ago, along side a photo from the same spot taken in the last 5 years. On the way back I stopped off at the Tourist Office to use the free internet and they gave me a free cup of coffee to boot. After this I returned to my Hotel room. On the way I purchased some dinner. An amazing thing happened, I started reading the Korean as syllables. It is so much easier. I did not find the meal I was looking for (out of the local town map) but instead settled for my first dish of Bib Bim Bab. It was a good vegetarian affair.

That was yesterday. Today, I caught the bus to Seoul. I had been trying in vain to contact the people at work as we had a bit of a mix up (caused by me) about the day. I visited the Museum of History (very good), the palace behind, and the Museum of Modern Art. All amounted to time very well spent. Returning to the Tea Guest House, I sill had no contact from my work colleagues. So I went down to Insadong to try and call them on the phone as my mobile seems unable to make phone calls. After a while I was able to track down a phone that would accept coins rather than a card and made the call and thus made contact. I had a modern Korean meal and we had a milky white Korean rice wine called long life. It was an excellent evening. We had a seafood pancake, the others had oyster filled pickletty things, bean-curd and some kind of bean patties, of course kimchi and the yellow pickle stuff that I have quite a liking for.

next batch of photos....

of storms and mountian scenery.

ferry terminal

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Well the showers clearing forecast should have read, wild seas, strong winds, flooding, snow, flying iron and no taxis.

I was trying to sit out the storm in my hotel room on Jeongdongjin, when at about 10AM the power went out. I was impressed that the reclosing circuit breakers were able to have 4 goes and we had power a second time for about 5 minutes before it completely went. I though it would be dull, and was worried as the trains are electric. But they closed the hotel and kicked me out into the downpour. So I caught the train to Gangneung as was my original plan, but i caught the 10:30 train instead of the 12:00 train.

However, by the time I had arrived at Gangneung, the storm had worsened, and by the time it was my turn to get a cab in the queue, about 11:30, the cabs had given up. This morning, looking for the PC Bung, I saw that many houses still had sandbags out the front. After a few hours in the station, I decided that it was no use. The girls at the Tourist Office had recommended that I walk to the intercity bus terminal, only 30 minutes. But I was soaked running the 10 meters to their office and they had to let me inside to keep me from drowning. On a second visit they recommended a good cheap hotel. This is the largest town on this part of the coast, so I felt relatively safe here.

Watching the news, it seems I made the correct decision. Seroksan, where I planned to go today, had 15 cm of snow yesterday and there were pictures of very soggy sightseers. So I will travel to a different part of the mountains today. Other pictures on the TV showed flooding all along this coast and washed out roads.

At least today it has decreased to the occasional rain shower. The forecast is for 20 to 60 mm of rain on top of the 200-300 mm that fell yesterday. And still they said "showers clearing in AM". :-( The storm came out of the north pole.

I will walk the thirty minutes to the bus terminal, if it is not raining.

The USB ports on this computer do not seem to work, so I will upload the photos another time.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

more photos

photos from danyang to joengdongjin.

Sailing ship on the hill

rain, rain go away

Well I am in Jeongdongjin. I came here to see a North Korean Minisub (tomorrow).

I started out the day catching the train from Danyang to Jechon. There I had to wait an hour and a half for the slowest train in Korea (according to Brian). In the mean time I met a primary school teacher from Danyang who was heading somewhere else to visit a museum for the day. The train journey to my current location was slow (4 hours) but very scenic. Though the hill sides full of half dead trees from the drought did not help. When I got here I checked into my hotel. I took a korean style room, which seems to mean a round bed instead of a rectangular bed. It is 25,000 rather than 35,000 won, so it is cheaper to boot.
I visited the crusing ship and a sail ship, such as I loaded a photo of on a previous day up on the near by hill. This seems to be a relaitvely common occurnace in Korea. You will have to look at the photos to see what I mean. While I was there, the forecast ligth rain in the afternoon arrived, and by the time I had walked for twenty minuted to return to my room, I was a little wet, even with my rain coat. The light rain had beome rain. All the people on the beach on the way out had left and the sand sculpture man had removed his sculptures.
So I have had dinner and been watching muythbusters in my comfy bed, before coming down to this PC bang.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

more photos.

from Gyeongju and Danyang.


DanYang of music, fans, temples, caves and processions.

Well I am in my first PC Bang. It is like a smokey bar filled with computers and of course lots of people playing games. I left Geyongju on the train and changed to the high speed line to get to Danyang. As is becoming common in Korea, the place I am staying at has a stage being built out side. In fact as I was having my afternoon shower, there was Korean music from out side. A parade was passing by with the Sallia king and queen and their followers. But the first nights festivities were held down river at the main ampitheter. So I had a very unexpected and interesting night as the Apple Festival started, listening to three of Korea's top pop stars. I will have lots to upload when I get the chance. The school children there (teenagers) befriended me and their teacher seemed pleasedwhen he came up to me after the show.

Today I travelled to the Guinsa temple by bus as it was highly recommended by the Melbournians I met last week. It was quit a climb and I climbed to the top of the moutain behinds, which acording to the GPS is 750 meters in altitude. I then stayed for my first buddhist lunch. They saw that I was a foreigner and arranged for a local who spoke english to have lunch with me. We had a short but interesting conversation.
Catching the bus back to Danyang I went the cave system only 500 meters from town. It is a very touristy affair and you just walk though yourself. I never needed to crawl, but I had to crouch down some times. In here I met three western girls from a near by town who are here for the day to visit the cave. I spent a hour or so with them back in town at the Apple festival and was mobbed again by my fans. They have called me Gandalf. I am pleased. :-)
Now I am in the internet bang. I do not know how much longer the music on the stage outside my window will continue.

Friday, October 20, 2006

gyeongju photos

The first batch of photos from Gyeongju.

children and statue

rain and temples

The endless clam, mostly windless days continue. The forcast of rain for today appears to have changed to a forcast of rain on Sunday and Monday. They need the rain here. In July they had three times their monthly rain fall, since then they had only had 5 mm in Seoul.

I started by wandering around the burrial mounds in the park outside where I am staying. I then went to the stone pagoda, destroyed by the Japanese in 1915 and then rebuilt to a different size. There was a onld temple site south of this with only the foundations showing. It was the first place here that had not been destroyed by the Japanese in the 1500's. It was destroyed by the Mongolians in the 1200's.

Near lunch time I was at the four sided buddha image stone to the north of the city. After that I had lunch and booked my seat for today and visited the bank. So all in all a very quiet day. Only the temple site had school children and the rest was just local worshipers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Well here are the photos from Busan, so I am only three days behind now. I do not know if I will be able to load the GyeongJu photos before I leave.


buguksa and seokgulan

I caught the number 11 bus to buguksa temple. It was a little adventure as I took a wrong turn near the start and it took about 10 minutes to work out where I had gone wrong. The map I am using is also a bit misleading at times, the roads do not match up as well as they could to reality. So this was my first city bus trip, previously I had been in cities where I was using the subway. The french people on the bus explained how to use the machine to pay.

The two places, buguksa temple and seokgulan grotto are unesco world heritage listed. The temple was a large affair and for the first time in Korea I came across a buddist temple that did not allow photos inside the temples themselves. This is the norm elsewhere in the world. There were plenty of monks praying and the usualy millions of school children. I met a sporting group of Koreans from Parramatta with Australia written on the backs of thier blasers and for the first time I became a rock star. I had to sign about 20 autograph books. A most unexpected experience.

I caught the bus up to Seokgulan grotto. It is a small monumnet, but is missing the bus loads of children. It is architectureally very interesting and the buddha is supposedely the best in Korea, though I am no expert.

I then travelled down to Bomun Lake. Here I watched a free dancing display from the ancient sillia kingdom that went for an hour. At first there were only five of us wathig about 10 dancers, but by the second act the crowd had swelled to about 30. The I returned back to the guest house and had dinner with three people from California.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The web site is too cleaver by half. It thinks that as I am in Korea, I need to have all the web site text in Korean. I think this happend as I changed the time zone to Korea. I will try changing it to Adelaide, which I suppose is only half an hour out.

I traveled by train yesterday to Geoyngju. Though it is only an hour an a half by bus dow the freeway, it is three hours by train and I have to change trains at Dongdaegu.

The city is a very plesant place to stay and almost every one here has been extending their stays. I will not as I now also have a temple to visit in DangYang, my next stop, and I am running out of time. I should have stayed one less day in Busan. Yesterday I visited the National Gallery and some 1000 year old mound tombs. This place is full of interestign history and the gallery was excellent. Much better than the others I have been to so far. I should be able to upload my photos from this computer, so I will try later today.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Busan 2006-10-16

Well today was a day that did not go to plan in a good way. I started off in the morning heading off up the hill to Democracy Park. On the way I had a rice triangle and some orange juice. It took a while to work out that the paths straight up the hill on the map were stairs and not roads. The park itself is simple yet very impressive. I then wandered further up the hill to Gongbusan mountain. It proved to be a lot higher than I though and I probably would not have made it to the top if it had not been for the assistance of a local walker. (Mr Lee). Unfortunately the fog was such that the view was really not worth the effort.

Mr Lee decided to be my tour guide as he was between jobs, and drove me out to Taejongdae, a place that is quite difficult to reach if you do not have a car. The scenery along this part of the coast was very beautiful, but it turns out I have been having a bad photo day. I have been using an odd series of settings, including having the ISO set to 1000. So most of the photos are very grainy. I think I set the camera to 1000 ISO when inside the monument at democracy park. Mr Lee helped me very significantly with my Korean. (Hanmingguk)

In the early afternoon we headed off to the fish market and I bought him lunch. We had a traditional Korean lunch, which was full of very unusual food stuffs and a liquor that was over 20% proof. I made a video, and will have to describe this meal later. Only to say at least 30%, including the vegetables, was things I had never eaten before. He said that because I was from Hoju (Australia) the woman there gave us much more than we would normally get. We did not finish all the food.

In the afternoon we went to Yogdusan Park to go up in the tower. We actually got a better view of Busan from down low in this 120 meter tower as we were closer to the city. We then went to the Daegaksa temple before I returned to my hotel. I have decided it is better to spend the later afternoon at the hotel as it is so hot. I can have a shower and then head out in the evening. I watched some more silly chinese gungfu TV soaps and Armor of god II with Korean subtitles and then headed out for dinner. I did not head down-town as was my plan because the sheer distance I had walked through the day was so great.

I had dinner at a korean place near where I am staying. Again they spent some time showing me the proper way to eat the food. It was enough for two or three people, so now I am not only tired I have eaten too much. I suspect that whenever I order traditional food, the servings suddenly double.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Well I should be able to use the keyboard to type korean, but I cannot se the button to change the keyboard. I am in Pusan Station, I am staying out the front. I have a speel from yesterday, but I cannot plug in my USB drive into this computer so I will send it later.

It is the Busan International Film Festival. The movie I wanted to see I missed beause I got the 24 hour time clock wrong and was out by two hours and the subway ticket office is closed and I had no change for the machines. So I may see a movie tomorrow, but there are not any that I really want to see.

Today I went for a walk in a remote part of the city, but also where the center of the film festival is located. An old man, well over 50, who has travelled the world and is partly paralysed on the right side, talked to me while I was resting on the walk. The area is quite nice and I sepent some time in the fish markets and at the beach.

As I missed the movie, I will stay here at the station. They have a big screen and a stage and will have some live music later, if it is like last night. I must say that the place is buzzing.

I will not be able to load any photos for now, though I am processing them. So I will have a batch for when I find better access. I have kept my eyes open for an Internet Bung, but I have not actually seen one yet. But then I have not really seriously searched for one.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Busan 2006-10-14

I traveled down on to Busan on the KTX. My ticket is not supposed to include the KTX, so I presume that the other, slower, trains at the time, were suddenly full. :-) The train takes about 3 hours and reached a top speed of 297 km/h. I went onto sports mode to take the photos out of the window. This mode also takes photos in continuous mode, which is good as it is impossible to tell if there will be a pole for the overhead wires in the photo. When taking two photos there is a good chance that one will not have a pole.

In Busan, I was a little worried. I knew there was going to be the international film festival, and had met a few americans who were on the train before mine, at Seoul station, who were going to the festival. I was worried because I had not booked ahead. It turned out not to be a problem. At Busan I walked straight out of the station, into the place I planned on staying and got a room right away. It is a simple and acceptable hotel room.

I then wandered china town, or shanghai street, as they called it. It was a little disappointing. They said to come back in the evening. But I made Saturday my rest day, watched a chinese movie on TV with Korean subtitles. It was an imperial era movie about some people with supernatural powers. It was quite good, though somewhat silly and humorous.

I was still exhausted from yesterday's mountain climbing experience and spent the rest of the evening in my hotel room. Outside, in the train station, they had a stage set up and for the evening I listened to a very good DJ and live band play what I will call Korean Rock Pop on the grounds that I have no idea what to call it. I do not think it was K-pop. (kind of like j-pop but with a k).

Busan is a surprise. English is actually much more common here and in many ways it is much more an international city. When the signs are not in Korean and English they are often in Japanese. There are less chinese signs here, though I did come across a sign not 100 meters from where I was staying that was only in Russian. There is a little Russian around. The city has a hard edge to it that was not evident in Seoul.

Packed and ready to go

Well I a mostly packed (not including the computer of course) and ready to go. I will have breakfast here and then head off. I do not know how good my internet access will be from now on, though I am returning to this place for my last night in Korea. So I may be posting tonight and I may not.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Restful evening - watching 50 channels of TV

Well I turned on the TV for the first time - only 50 channels. At lunch today I came across a studio, with a live audience which at one stage included me. It was a strategy game contest where the contest is beamed live on TV. So this evening I watched a contest on TV. Though I do not know Korean, I know from the commentators that timing is everything. I am not sure, as I did not time it, but the game was over in less than half an hour.

Not a rest day

I was planning on taking it easy today. But it did not work out that way. I started off very productively at Seoul Station, exchanging my voucher for a ticket. So that little saga is over. I then headed off to the expensive part of town to do some geocaching. I found one and not the other. One was located in the Buddhist temple, which was an active temple. I saw for the first time the general public praying in a temple ceremony, though I only discretely looked in through the door.

After lunch in a Korean Food Hall, I headed off to a shamanist shrine. It said it was a long climb, but that was only half the story. They were tearing out part of the hill to build new apartments. The locals and latter builders gladly pointed out that I needed to walk directly through the middle of the construction site, with no care for safety or concern at my taking a wrong turn. They just sent me back through the construction site. Half way up there is a Buddhist temple and further up the shamanist shrines. At the top I changed my plan and walked even further by walking down beside the old Seoul city wall back to where I am staying rather than the short but steep walk to the subway stop. I am exhausted.

traversing the construction zone
There are 4 more images, follow this one to see the others.

I am booked on the 10:10 train to Busan.

Korea Travel Plan

Well I have been going through the guide book and on line information for KR and decided that, though Christina recommended places on the west coast I will travel only on the east coast. This is because of the trains, distances and the fact that I want to get to Seoraksan. So the most compact tour seems to be:

14-16 Busan
17-19 GyeongJu
20-22 DanYang
23-24 Sokcho
25 Seoul

Of course subject to change.

Money in China

Had a little panic attack about getting money in China, because I really had not looked seriously into this. It turns out not to be a problem. There are over 40 ATMs in DaLian I can use, but strangely none in Harbin. But that is OK, it is DaLian where I first arrive. I suppose it helps that DaLian is supposed to be the HK of the north.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gyeongbokgung, National Folk Museum and Work

This morning a strange thing happened, some Americans looking for a public bath house wandered in, of course this is not a public bath house. I latter met up with them on the English language tour at Gyeongbokgung Palace and they admitted that it turned out to be across the street from where they are staying.

On the learning Korean front, I now no longer see really long words in Korean as a hopless jumble of letters, and if there is Korean and English together I can work out where the syllables start and end by working out the Korean.

I went after a lazy start to the morning to Gyeongbokgung Palace and caught up with the English tour that had started 10 minutes before. We spend the whole morning walking at a fair pace through the palace. I think it is a little like the Forbidden Palace in Beijing. As it is only buildings it is not as interesting as if it were full of people. However we did have bus loads of primary school kids who just loved to say hello. I have learned how to say hello in Korean - An-nyong ha-se-yo. I have set me self some exercises to increase the speed of learning. One special part of the tour was we were able to visit the archaeological dig site, which is normally only open to Korean Tours.

After this I visited the National Folk Museum. It is a small but well set up establishment. This man who turned out to be from DaLian, wanted to travel around the museum with me. However, after a while I was able to get him to pester some other person.

Having had enough of the historical monuments, I decided to head into work, which I had been planning to do tomorrow. When I looked at the address, I thought, wait a minute, I know where that is! It turns out it is quite close to where I am staying and I had already walked past about three times. So I had an expensive lunch (note to self: remember to check the prices), I headed off to work. It was easy to find, and the staff there were very friendly. They gave me some advice on places to visit and invited me out to dinner when I return. They also gave me the pronunciation of my Chinese name (yewenyi) in Korean so 葉文意 becomes - 엽문의or Yup moon eui. I am harping on, but Yap is actually pronounced Yup in Hokkien and this continues the strangeness that the Sino-Korean used here seems to at times have more in common with Hokkien and Cantonese than Mandarin.

After this I wandered the commercial markets on the way to the Eastern Great Gate (DongDaeMun).

Click here for the photos. (I am being tired and lazy.)

DMZ update

Reading the paper this morning over breakfast, it seems that:
  1. The Koreans suspect that the nuclear test was a fake.
  2. The North Koreans demanded yesterday's meeting, and it was to do with a drowned North Korean Soldier who was washed down stream into South Korea and they want him back.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Today I traveled to the DMZ. To start I met the new occupants of the guest house who arrived later last night and are from New York. They are nice people. I wandered down to Anguk station and hopped onto the subway to DongGuk station. (In mandarin this would be Dung Guo so quite similar.) I wandered off to take photos of the park in front of the university while waiting for the tour to start. We got off to a bad start. There was probably an accident on the road and the delay meant that we had to skip the first park. Our guide was from the Korean Veterans Association. We headed on to lunch, Bulgogi, a simple Korean fare of fried beef (fried on the table) and various side dishes. Simple and good.

We then headed into the DMZ. First we visited a park on the South Korean side. Here we saw the rail bridge and remains of the previous bridge across the river. I suppose the previous bridge was destroyed in the war. We then crossed over the bridge, littered with what I presume were anti-tank devices, such that driving in a straight line was not possible, and off into Camp Bonifas. Here we saw a slide show and then headed off in to the JSA. There was actually a meeting taking place between the two sides, so we could not enter the room. However we got to see the guards from both sides in place, which is something not normally seen. We guessed that they were discussing a certain nuclear bomb test in the last few days. Here we were able to see into North Korea and take photos.

Shop Window Prayers
Beef in pottery pot important people North Korea Bulgogi We passed it and I had to take a photo I'm not sure DMZ tour guide
A long way from home