Christmas in Seoul Part 3

On Sunday, we decided to go back to Ssamziegil. On the way, we stopped at a very cute little cafe for coffee and a bagel for Steve (it’s hard to find bagels here, which is unfortunate). We did some browsing and I knew I wanted to find a shop to get a 도장 (dojang). A dojang is a traditional stone or wood stamp engraved with your name.

I saw a little shop with many samples outside, so we went in. After looking at all of them, I decided on a small stone stamp with a purple ladder and a moon at the top. I gave it to the shopkeeper and she had me write my name on a sheet and I had the option of choosing a design – I picked a whale because it is the animal of Ulsan (the city I’m living in). I paid 33,000 won (about $28).

The shopkeeper told me to come back in 30 minutes, so Steve and I walked around until then.

I was so happy with the finished product! It even came with a soft case and two cards with my design stamped onto them. I love it so much.

1412226_10153418003223074_7166388717019632651_o

After picking up my dojang, Steve and I went back to Ssamziegil. I made him take pictures in a photo booth with me. Photo booths here are so cool! They are much bigger than at home, and you stand up inside instead of sitting down. They take six photos, and then you exit the booth where you can decorate all your shots on a big computer screen. It was so much fun!

Then, we found the basement, which is actually set up as working artists’ studios. People could also make crafts with the artists like spinning or painting pottery. There were also lots of food stands and we got delicious deep fried mandu and little cakes filled with Nutella.

934067_10153416539113074_3938520632761618476_n

After Ssamziegil, we headed over to the National Museum of Korea. Steve was exhausted, so he sat while I did a walk-through. Admission was free and the permanent collection was very impressive. There were prehistoric galleries, Medieval galleries, painting and calligraphy galleries, and sculpture galleries. The top floor was dedicated to arts of Asia including works from China, Japan, Tibet, and India, among others. Everything was really beautiful!

After the museum, we were starving, so we set out to find food. We had really wanted Korean, but the first place we saw was a Quiznos and we said “screw it” and got sandwiches. They were actually really satisfying.

After lunch, we went across the street to the KTX and took the train home. We were so incredibly exhausted! Overall, though, it was an amazing Christmas vacation in Seoul. I can’t wait to go back!

6879_10153416549743074_5181406927227627892_n

A Day in Busan

Today, I went on my first excursion outside Ulsan. Nick and Hailey invited me to go to Busan with them to see a Studio Ghibli exhibit at the Busan Museum of Art. We left around 11 AM and took the bus, which cost 4,400 won. The ride was about 45 minutes and we got off in Haeundae.

Busan is a very large coastal city, with a population of about 3.4 million. I’ve been meaning to visit since I arrived, and I was very glad to go today. We took the subway, which is extremely clean and efficient. I purchased a reloadable transit card at 7/11 which is good for the subways and buses. A ride is only 1,200 won.

The museum was a short walk from the subway station, after you climb several precipitous staircases that will leave you gasping for air once you reach the top. Or maybe that’s just me. We got to the museum and made our way to the exhibit.

At the Studio Ghibli exhibit.

At the Studio Ghibli exhibit.

It was very beautifully done, featuring many original sketches from the films as well as lots of models of building featured in the films, as well. It was really pretty magical. Photography wasn’t allowed, but I snuck a picture of a scene from Howl’s Moving Castle. There was also several rooms dedicated to Spirited Away, one of my favorites, with some life-size reproductions from the restaurant scene.

Sneaky picture!

Sneaky picture!

The only thing I found incredibly bizarre about my first museum experience here is that Koreans really seem to enjoy lines. Whenever you moved into a new gallery, people would literally line up at the beginning and wait in line to view everything in the room. I have never seen anything like that before.

Anyway, following the exhibit, we decided to go to lunch. We ate at a restaurant that served cold noodle soup that came with thinly sliced beef. We also shared an order of delicious, delicious dumplings.

Not a great picture of my cold noodle soup.

Not a great picture of my cold noodle soup.

Then, we took the subway to the famous Haeundae Beach! It was cloudy, but that didn’t stop us from picking up an order of fried chicken at Bonchon and making our way over to the beach. It was FREE to get on, something that totally blew my mind because I spent $9/day getting onto the beach in New Jersey all summer. We found a nice spot to put down our towels, ate our chicken, and just relaxed. I may or may not have fallen asleep for a while. I didn’t go in the water or anything, but the views were phenomenal. Mountains, cityscape, islands, everything.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

Haeundae Beach.

After the beach, we took the subway to another part of Busan to grab a beer at Galmegi Brewing Company. There were more stairs leading up to the bar, but we got a lovely seat at the window and enjoyed some good brews. I had one called the Campfire Amber.

It started drizzling as we were leaving, but figured we would still head back to the museum because they were doing a free screening of a Miyazaki film at 7; we didn’t know which one. It was outside on the lawn, and we got some spots. Turns out, they were showing Howl’s Moving Castle, which I’ve never actually seen. Obviously, it was in Korean with no subtitles, but that was fine. Too bad the skies opened and everyone began to leave *sigh*

We grabbed our things and left, too, but not before Hailey and I went to the restroom only to discover that neither of us had toilet paper in our stalls. Dammit. Apparently, that’s a thing here. Not to have toilet paper in public restrooms. Even really nice ones in museums.

We decided to catch a bus back to Ulsan, and that’s where I am now. Exhausted out of my mind, but so happy to have had such an incredible day.