Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Snow Fun at the Ttukseom Park

Ttukseom Hangang Park is  a park located on the banks of the Han River in Seoul. Easily accessible by the Jihachul or The Korean subway (Line 7 to Ttukseom Resort Station and exit 2 or 3, it is located right beside the station),  it is a public park that transforms according to the seasons. The huge park encompasses a swimming pool, ice-skating rink, tennis courts, soccer fields, motor boating, water skiing, wind surfing activities according to the season. This place also houses a cafe and serves coffee and basic Korean dishes like Ramyeon (noodles in spicy broth). There were also a lot of cotton candy and ice cream to keep the kids filled up.

This winter, it was just a huge field of white dedicated for snow play. The main attraction were the two sliding area -one for adults and other for kids. The idea is simple. Climb all the way up to the slide with the tyre-like thingy and slide sitting on it. (There were helpful staff who kept a watch and let sets of people slide together to prevent collisions) It was the most fun time i had in a long time. Especially since there was none of the usual crowds that is synonymous with Seoul was present because Seoulites were busy with their own family celebrating the Seollal (Chinese / Lunar New Year).

The Kids slide on the right and the adults on the left at Ttukseom Park
On the left is the slide for adults and on the right of the red carpet is the slide for kids

Sliding down the slide at Ttukseom Park, Seoul
All good fun sliding in the snow!

The Kids snow slide at the Ttukseom PArk at Seoul
The kids tried out the smaller slide first and then stayed at the adults' side

Climbing up to slide at Ttukseom Park, Seoul
Climbing up with the tyre-thingys

Few other winter fun activiites
Few other activities were as fun as the slides :)

The Han River view, Seoul
The Han River view. I could see the river frozen in a few places.

Fields of Snow at the Ttukseom Park at Seoul
Fields of snow

Jihachul reaching the Ttukseom Park Resort
Jihachul crossing the river to the Ttukseom Resort station

ABC Wednesday- F for Fun in the snow
Skywatch Friday 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Snake Year 2013!

Welcome to the Year of the Black Water Snake.

2013- year of the black water snake
Image from google

 If you are like me, you would like to know what is in store for this year, which has been associated with the trickiest animal of the Chinese zodiac. But before that, some of the basics:

There are 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse and goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) in the Chinese Zodiac. Each year in the Chinese zodiac is represented by an animal. (Last year was the year of The Dragon.) And the animal rules the traits of the person born on that year and also defines how the year would be for the rest of us. It also means that all the people born on a particular year in the Chinese zodiac will have similar traits associated with the animals sign but will differ immensely depending on the place, day and hour of their birth.

There are also five different elements that influence a person (metal, water, wood, fire and earth) depending on the year of birth. Moreover, these elements are linked with the celestial planets and each element is identified by a unique color as well. Now, as the same animal sign repeats after 12 years, will a person born on the exact same moment, same place and under the same animal sign differ from the person born 12 years after at the exact same place, moment and under the same animal sign? Yes, very much so, as the last numeral of the year of birth denotes the element sign associated with that person, which will probably provide a different influence. As the Water element is denoted by Black, this year is the Year of the Black Water Snake, also known as the year of the Junior Dragon. Easy way to check out your Chinese zodiac sign and element is here!

Combined with the characteristics of the animal sign for this year and its compatibility with the birth animal sign, along with the birth element, we could determine our luck or the lack of it :) Or we could just sing the Que sera sera song and let whatever will be, will be!

Snake, is a charming, enticing and enigmatic animal which promises a year of turmoil and transformations. Snake years have not been very investor friendly, but research and innovations are sure to flourish this year. Snakes are always associated with cleverness, intelligence and tenacity, it probably will require steadfastness, seriousness, introspection and focus in all walks of life for this year. A slow but steady Snake year, to win the race!

With Oprah Winfrey, Liv Tyler, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Queen Elizabeth I born under the Snake, this year is sure to be a beautiful one :) More snakes: John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Pablo Picasso, Bob Dylan, James Joyce, Martha Stewart, Kanye West, Pierce Brosnan, Charlie Sheen, Courtney Love, Howard Stern, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Pretty Chinese pics depicting the year of the snake here!
snake year 2013. Chinese pictures

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to celebrate Valentine's Day, Korean Style?

Valentine's Day, i know of, starts off with the men organizing last minute gifts (do they ever get it right?!), scrambling for the roses which are now exorbitantly priced, standing in long lines to grab something pink off the rack!

red tulips for valentine's day

valentine's day korean style

Here in Korea, 14th February finds women patiently standing in long lines for chocolates and spending way too much for the flowers for the perfect someone. Confused?

Chocolate of Love
On Valentine's day, it is tradition for the women in South Korea to give chocolates for the men. Store bought, simple chocolates as a courtesy, social obligation for all the men in their life and they go to all lengths to get the chocolates right for the men they love by making their own or customizing to the core. The idea is that the girl shows her love, sincerity and hard work  for the guy by giving him personalized chocolate. This is also the day, i hear that the girls profess their love to the special someone by giving him chocolates.  Korean guys have it easy, you say?

White Day
One month later, on March 14th, its the guy's turn to show his love and sincerity to his girl by getting her something white- white chocolate, candies, cookies, jewellery, dolls, white lingerie etc. It is an unwritten rule that the guy give a gift three times as expensive as the gift he received from the girl! :D

Black Day 
All those sadly single people who did not get to celebrate Valentine's day or the White day, tend to get together and celebrate the Black Day on April 14th. (How thoughtful is the Korean way of life :) They wear black on that day and eat jjajangmyeong, which is- you guessed it- black! It is thick wheat noodles topped with black bean paste with pork and vegetables. And it is generally not advisable for the girls and guys who got gifts on Valentine's day or White day to have jjajangmyeong on the Black day.

If you think there is a ring to the 14th of each month being celebrated in Korea, you are absolutely right! Happily for the retailer, there is "Day" affixed with 14th of each month, mainly for the couples who are crazily in love. Here is the list:

Jan 14: Diary Day- Couples exchange diaries in hopes that the other doesn't forget the important anniversaries, birthdays etc.

Feb 14th: Valentine's Day- when the women stand in lines.

March 14th: White Day- when the men stand in lines.

April 14th: Black Day- standing in lines for the jjajangmyeong!

May 14th: Roses Day - Couples exchange roses on this day! I am guessing there is going to be long lines of both men and women paying mighty bucks for this one too! If you are wondering why the long lines is because of this!

June 14th: Kiss Day -Kiss your significant other on this day! Atleast this doesnt involve long lines and losing money.

July 14th: Silver Day- Exchanging silver gifts. Ka-ching!

August 14th: Green Day- Couples escape to nature to spend some quality time together while the singles wallow in soju.

September 14th: Photo Day- Couples probably remember to print out the digital pics that they have accumulated so far or just go on clicking a few hundred more.

October 14th: Wine Day- I expect lines for this one too.

November 11th: Peppero Day- People exchange the sweet peppero sticks. This day is gaining popularity whereby promoting more lines to the retailer.

November 14th: Movie Day- More lines :)

December 14th: Hug Day- Hugs to ward away the cold. Lines to the obstetrician?

ABC Wednesday- E for Exchanging gifts!

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