Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend 13 of 52.

VIPs Fresh Life Restaurant, Soul Underground, Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine, Seonyudo Park

Friday was Dan's and my fifth anniversary. We ate where you eat for those sorts of occasions: VIPs (pronounced, as far as we can tell, not as the acronym, but as a word) Fresh Life Restaurant. It's a steak and salad buffet restaurant, and Dan and I have both been grieving each meal since not spent there. Koreans do salad buffet right. Maybe it's because every meal comes with a mini buffet of banchan. There were dark leafy greens and red cabbage, quails eggs and sesame dressing, all kinds of noodle sides and fried rice, always a tidy miso soup bar, even pizza and pasta. Our favorite part of the buffet was the soft taco station with chopped chicken and guacamole. Such a good idea, everyone, go to VIPs. We accidentally missed the dessert bar, but we will never again make such an error.

After dinner, we went to the Lotte Cinema in Hongdae. We intended to see "Date Night", but this theater was only showing a handful of movies and that wasn't one of them. So I broke my no-cartoons-except-for-Pixar movie theater rule and we saw "How to Train Your Dragon" in 3D, and we enjoyed every bit of it.

Then we headed to Soul Underground for a nightcap, and we caught the end of a show and had a good chat with proprietor Shin about the Koreas and Korean politics. We always leave Soul Underground feeling more purposeful and un-alone here in Seoul.

Saturday we set out for a park at which to play my wooden anniversary gift to Dan: janggi, Korean chess. We walked through the Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine, a shrine to honor Catholic martyrs, and I didn't realize until online fact-checking after the fact that there is an entire museum we managed to miss. We settled ourselves under the bridge by the river, and Dan check-mated me, because I have never won a single game of chess (or checkers even) in my whole life.

We decided to check out Seonyudo Park, a domesticated island paradise in the middle of the Han river. We walked the bridge over and enjoyed a cool breeze and one of those "I can't believe that this is where we live" happy feelings. I am officially recommending Seonyudo Park to every person in Seoul. It's free, of course. There's a greenhouse with flowers and bumblebees, lotus ponds, strange industrial looking artifacts, a water play area (where Korean kids wear raincoats but never swimsuits), and lovers' picnics as far as the eye can see. It was such a peaceful, easy Saturday, and it's made this weekend one of our favorites so far.

Dan's steak, my steak, sample salad plate.

A furnace in the street.

We had some time to kill before the movie. We took a bathroom break, and my stall told me to Smile♪, so I did that for a while. I swear that when I went into the bathroom there was no one else around, but when I left, there was a line, so I felt sort of bad for spending so much time taking pictures and waiting for flushes to mask the shutter sound. Am I over-sharing?

At Soul Underground.

Anniversary flowers from the streets of Hongdae. Only about $2 and snipped and wrapped with such speed and precision we could do nothing but watch in awe.

I Skype with my parents every Monday morning. Last Monday, a campaign truck was driving around blaring pop parodies and political rhetoric. This is what one of those trucks looks like. Open-sided and manned with volunteers.

So, I suddenly realized, during this flower picture on the left, that I make Dan do what every male in Korea with an SLR makes his girlfriend do. But it doesn't make me feel bad, it makes me laugh. Dan with the janggi board on the right.

We remembered our mini-tripod for the first time, so we could both be in the picture.

Tied up trees in Hapjeong. These strings were like a net of lasers surrounding the Hope Diamond.

Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine.

Tractor parts for my dad to see.

The metro bridge.

Dan in our concrete hammock. Wow.

Game on. I bought this from an Australian board game website because no one else would ship to South Korea. I tried to find a chess set here in Korea, but the best I could find was a set of pieces, no board, in Insadong.


Wild flowers down by the river.


Walking the bridge. Seeing young Koreans engage in water sports made us want to row and/or be towed on an inflatable boat.

Seonyudo Park.

Bee. It was really hard for me to keep track of him through the lens, so Dan was directing me like I was blind-folded.

Hydrangeas, which is so appropriate since these were my wedding bouquet.

I accidentally took a lot of nature pictures.

Cactus. Funny story: once I fell off my bike into a cactus with my half-bare Floridian legs. I have never worn shorts since. Almost.

I think the purple one looks like a crown and the yellow like LEGOS.


Lotus pond.

Dan with some giant gear mechanism. We joked that we were really on Hydrado (do means island, so Hydra Island from LOST). How clever are we!

Just walking along.

I wanted Dan to lay in this field. He refused.


Do not be deceived by Dan's having arrived at the bottom of this slide. Slide down it, he did not. It was the least slide-ready slide I've ever walked down.

You U Kiss.

We ran into this guy on our way back to Hapjeong for dinner. Best I can figure from the inscription is that he, Jeong Mong-Chu, was awarded for his teacherly efforts. I Googled every Romanization of the Hangul I could think of, but I couldn't find anything about him.

And today we've done little but lunch and church, and we're even going to eat a dinner cooked on our own hot plate.


Housekeeping Note: I am not going to blog anymore KSock additions (but I will not stop adding) as I've cemented an updating KSocks widget to the sidebar.


  1. Jeong, mong-ju was one of the Goryeo(aka Korea) dynasty's patriots who opposite Joseon dynasty(aka chosun). AD 1388 Gen. Lee Sung-kye made military coup d'├ętat. And then his group persuaded Jeong for joining his side to make new dynasty but Jeong refused. Throughout the negotiation Lee's side and Jeong made famous poetry that speak for each mind, belief. Those poetry are still in korean school's text book though. Finally one night, secretary Jeong killed in captial city. Gaeseong 1392.