Yeongtong in the Spring

Well, it’s finally warming up enough for the magnolia trees and cherry blossoms to bloom.

After the long, brown, and colourless winter, the spring is always such a wonderful season (even with the yellow dust). The colours are so welcoming, and on a nice warm day like today it’s hard for me not to go for a wander around my neighbourhood and take a few pictures and share them with you.

Of course, the cherry blossoms, which are everywhere, always seem to really wait for the last minute to emerge. They almost tease you with one or two trees here and there coming out early, while the rest wait just until the right moment. I’m quite excited  about next week when all of the trees will be in their full spring splendour (yes, I know they’re bloody flowers on trees).

You can get an idea of what to expect from my post last year.

Destination: the Garden of Morning Calm (Cheongpyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do)

Sometimes, the pictures don’t do a place justice.

This was the verdict of the Garden of Morning Calm (아침고요수목원 – a-chim go-yo su-mok-won) – a beautiful place on a beautiful day had more awesome than my camera could handle.

Professor Han Sang-kyung at Sahmyook University first conceived the garden as a world-famous Korean garden. The oldest privately-owned Korean garden in the country, the inspiration comes from an Indian poet that described Korea during the Qing dynasty as the “Land of the Morning Calm”.

Destination: Jupil Spider Museum (Namyangju, Gyeonggi-do)

Arachnophobics and kids, look away now – the spiders are crawling and the statues have breasts.

Claiming to be the only spider museum in the world, the Jupil Spider Museum (주필거미박물관) in Namyangju features a lot more than just spiders. First started in May 2004, the spider museum is a small part of the larger Arachnopia Eco Forest. The name Jupil comes from the name of the founder, Dr. Kim Ju-pil, a Dongguk University professor apparently fascinated by the crawly animals.

Performance: Pentaport (Incheon, Gyeonggi-do)

Pentaport rocks.

Rock festivals come in all shapes and sizes, but Pentaport can claim the granddaddy position. This year is the 6th iteration, and the three-day festival offered up enough rock, electronic, techno, and DJ’s to balance out the mud and corporate presences.

Destination: Hwaseong Haenggung (Suwon, Gyeonggi-do)

Suwon is quite proud of its Hwaseong Fortress, and rightfully so. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage, and the biggest tourist draw to the area. A place not as visited by the tourists is the nearby Hwaseong Haenggung (수원화성행궁) – a detached palace that was also used as both a government office and a retreat for the king. First built in 1789 and completed in 1796, the palace was reconstructed a bit more recently. Above is part of the open-air plaza with a huge glimpse at the number of people used in the ceremonies.

Destination: Ganghwa-do Anglican Church, a Goryeo palace site, and Jeondeungsa (Ganghwa-do, Incheon)

Destination: Namiseom / French Village (Gyeonggi-do)

The island of Namiseom is an easy day trip from Seoul, and a chance to escape the mainland and enjoy some natural beauty – well, sort of.

The name Nami comes from General Nami, a brilliant military strategist who was falsely accused of treason during King Sejo’s reign (r. 1455-1468). His grave was never found, but there was a pile of stones where his body was supposed to be buried; taking a stone would supposedly bring misfortune to the thief’s house.

You’ll see only a couple signs of Nami, and no mention of that story – the more interesting story is more recent. After the construction of the Cheongpyeong Dam in 1944 made this place an island, a gentlemen named Min Byeong-do bought the island and planted thousands of trees. He then turned it into a resort town, which served as the backdrop for films and festivals including ‘Winter Sonata’.

Destination: Metapolis (Dongtan, southern Gyeonggi-do)

Author’s note: I credit Seoul Sub>Urban for the inspiration behind a more abstract set of photos.

In the movie Mallrats, our heroes Jay and Silent Bob try to disrupt a dating show filmed in a mall somewhere in suburban America. While Dongtan’s Metapolis didn’t even exist for the 1995 flick, the several floors of stores, ice rink, and food court wouldn’t look too out of place in anytown, America.

Out front is Metapolis’s contribution to modern art – a sphere of colored wires.

The IMF Comes to Yeongtong!

Roll up! Roll up! The IMF is coming to Yeongtong-dong in Suwon!

Don’t all run for your bank books just yet – it’s the International Music Festival, not the International Monetary Fund :D

Myself and herself, or I should say herself, has taken over the running of Sansudawon, a traditional Korean tea café in Yeongtong in Suwon. We are currently in the process of changing a few things. Most important of these changes are some new introductions to the menu, like curries, sandwiches, soups, and wine – including Irish wine a.k.a. Guinness.

Life in Korea: the M-bus

Author’s note: Life in Korea posts are aimed at the newer expats among us. If you have a more experienced perspective to offer, the comments are wide open!

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