An update

I know it has be a while since y’all have heard from me, and I apologize.

For the last month, I have been extremely homesick and generally unhappy and these two emotions have stripped away my motivation.

I hope to get a second wind (I’m thinking it will happen in the beginning of August after I get back from Japan) and start posting consistently again.

Until then, I probably wont update…sigh…

But…I do want to continue showing off pictures. Just because the motivation to write is gone, doesn’t mean my camera has been collecting dust. So I will update my facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cross-Pacific-Paper-Airplanes-A-Blog-about-Living-in-Korea/133259340074515, with photos and videos.

Sorry again guys! I will try my best to get out of my funk and be a good blogger again!

— Sara

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I thought long and hard…

I was on the fence about this blog post for a bit. But anyone traveling in Korea should learn about this and keep an open mind.

When you visit Korea, you will see swastikas randomly and infrequently — but they do not symbolize Nazism.

These swastikas correspond with Buddhism. It is said that a swastika was stamped on Buddha when he died, so the symbol means Buddha’s heart. It can also symbolize Buddha’s footprints. It also means good fortune and a lot more feel-good things.

So just keep an open mind when seeing this symbol.

 

 

 

Door in Suwon

At Jogyesa Temple in Seoul. 

 

Cheers!

— Sara

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Getting Lost in Seoul

It’s inevitable.

You will get lost while traveling in Seoul.

Not only is Seoul one of the largest (and coolest) cities in the world, it has some of the weirdest city planning I’ve seen. Then there is the subway and its maps.

But first the city planning.

All the districts have a different feel or layout. Gangnam-gu is pretty straightforward with large highway-like streets and smaller streets branching out. Mapo-gu has this laid back feel with a simple, almost residential layout. Jung-gu and Jongmo-gu are a crazy implosion of a maze where you will lose your sense of direction real fast.

I constantly get lost in Jung-gu and Jongmo-gu. Everything is nonsensical. You take three lefts and somehow end up on the far right side. It’s very Alice in Wonderland. And don’t use businesses as your breadcrumbs….there are about 7 Dunkin’ Donuts, 9 Paris Baguettes, 6 Starbucks and 5 Skinfoods within  a 20-block radius. So, you have to rely on maps in the subways and on tourist markers.

But…you need to pay attention.

None of the maps face the same way, and their sense of distance between landmarks isn’t the same.

A tourist map in Myeong-dong. Note the compass. 

In the subway, two maps, spitting distance from each other, show two different views.

Subway maps in the Secho (line 2) station. 

You just need to pay attention to landmarks instead of directions. But until you get a handle on the maps and city layouts….be prepared to get lost — a lot.

Cheers!

— Sara

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Elevators

Back home, the elevator in my boyfriend’s building took its sweet time.

It contemplated whether it would lose its identity if it actually responded to the call button. It didn’t like the “close door” button so it ignored it. It did like to randomly check on floors, seeing if anyone wanted to ride it. And sometimes, the life of the this elevator would get too stressful and the poor thing would shut down.

Yeah….that’s not a problem here.

Elevators are extremely efficient and impatient. And they don’t have door sensors (learned that the hard way).

In my work building, there are three elevators. One call button calls only one elevator. So you have to actually judge which one will have the best odds of being first. Little school kids are pros at this.

In other buildings, the elevator system gets weird. There will be three elevators, but one only goes to 1,2,5,7,8 and the other will got to 1,3,F,6,9 or some similar nonsense. If you are lucky, the third elevator will be a normal one.

And four is considered an unlucky number so in various buildings, there will be a “F” instead of “4” or the fourth floor will be “missing” entirely.

Cheers for random posts!!

— Sara

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Money Translated

My dad suggested this, and I thought it was a great idea.

Wanna know how much stuff cost in the republic known as Korea?

Here’s a list of 10 random items (ok…not random, but stuff I buy all the time sans the watermelon.):

A 2L bottle of Coca Cola Zero: ₩1,820 – ₩2,100 ($1.68-$1.94).

A 2L bottle of Water = ₩500 – ₩900 (46 cents – 83 cents ).

A microwavable cheese pizza = ₩5,960 ($5.50).

A small cheese pizza (delivery) = ₩5,000 ($4.61).

A Shanghai Spicy Chicken Sandwich meal from McDonald’s = ₩5,000 ($4.61).

A watermelon = around ₩10,000 ($9.23).

A 500ml (about 17 ounces) bottle of Pantene shampoo = around ₩12,000 ($11.07).

A 320g (about 11.3 ounces) box of Fruit Loops = about ₩6,000 ($5.54).

A subway ticket = ₩900 (83 cents).

Last month’s water bill = ₩3,065 ($2.83).

Cheers!!

— Sara

P.s. Wanna know the price of something in Korea? Just ask!

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How’s the weather?

So this is what seasons are like.

I can actually feel that it became summer in Korea, instead of thumbing through a planner and thinking “When did it become June?!”

For those living outside of Texas, the joke is that Texas’s four seasons are “almost summer, summer, still summer and Christmas.” It was in the 70s when I left four months ago (four months?! When did that happen?).

Now, it’s in the 80s during the day and the high 60s/low 70s during the night. It’s really quite enjoyable. But my coworkers complain about it being too hot….ha!…it’s perfect right now.

Except for the humidity. The humidity level is almost always above 50% (today it was 60%). So it’s muggy all the time. Texas is in the same humidity weight class, but for the teachers not from the South…they all hate it.

And as I glance at the 10-day forecast, I noticed that, after Tuesday, there will be rain for the next nine days.

Fun.

And I have accumulated three umbrellas in four months because of the frequency of the rain. I’m from Texas…bringing an umbrella was never part of my daily checklist. But after getting soak as I waited for the bus, I learned my lesson.

So if you ever visit Korea in the summer, remember to bring/buy an umbrella and be prepared to sweat (and not to forget about a Twix bar in your purse).

— Sara

Random photo!

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The Great Greenhouse

On the grounds of the Changgyeong Palace is the Great Greenhouse, the first modern conservatory in Korea.

The greenhouse was built in 1909 and houses rare plants and flowers. 

I know, this is a weird thing to post about but it is the only distinguishing thing about Changgyeong Palace. I actually forgot what palace’s photos I was perusing through until I got to the greenhouse.

That’s one of the downfalls of the Korean historical tourist spots — they all look the same. Sure, there are some differences here and there…but it’s like looking at churches in Europe.

It gets boring.

I think I said this before but there are fives palaces in Seoul. I have been to three. I will only recommend two (Changgyeong and Gyeongbok). And I really don’t have the desire to go to the other two…well not anytime soon.

So when you come to visit Seoul, don’t really spend a lot of time on the palaces…they aren’t really worth the time that could be spent roaming around markets or other urban areas. And if it’s the traditional you want to explore, go to one palace (Gyeongbok if you are more into history or Changgyeong if you are more into nature) and then visit Bongeunsa Temple.

Cheers!

— Sara

Here’s more pics of the greenhouse.

Don’t forget to check out the facebook page!

 

 

 

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