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Tax refund scam in Seoul – “the world’s best airport”

Posted by on Jul 25, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 5 comments

3rd July 2013. Seoul Incheon International Airport waves flags stating to be the world’s best airport. I have seen those claims before. In various other countries when entering airports. The term world’s best airport does not actually mean that it is THE world’s best airport but one of a list of 25 best airports, ranked according to a study by SkyTrax. Which should be taken with a pinch of salt. Seoul’s airport is new and modern and if you travel by day, it may offer you all travel comforts. If you travel by night, you will be lucky to find something to drink. At 10 pm all duty free shops, restaurants and food courts close down. All cafés, places like Starbucks and convenience stores (if there are any in the first place). No stands with snacks or food. Despite...

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Final days in Seoul: City Hall, free Hanbok, strange fruit tea, foreign bookstore…

Posted by on Jul 23, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

2nd and 3rd July 2013. Time flies. We are leaving for Taiwan on Wednesday! So we did feel like taking in some last impressions of South Korea’s capital. Since we lived so close, we thought it would be a good idea to see the origin of the fascinating and costly city project, the Cheonggyecheon – a reanimated stream running through Seoul. Location: Cheonggye Plaza. Get off at Gwanghwamun Station, exit 5. The plaza is marked by this sculpture – a spiral inspired by shells, by Van Bruggen and Oldenburg. The weather was getting more and more cloudy, windy and rainy.   Cheonggyecheon stream starts right here and moves through the city flanked by modern walkways.   A sign said that if you throw in a coin, the money will go charity.   There is a fun interactive screen where...

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Crazy Korean things I saw in Seoul

Posted by on Jul 21, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

Did you ever had a business idea that you thought would be too crazy, so you never followed it through? You probably weren’t in Seoul at the time. Here is everything I came across in Seoul that made me wonder. Crazy products and special service make the city an eldorado for interesting inventions. Especially in the beauty sector. Et voilà: How to stop nipple fondle attacks: use a nipple concealer.   Placenta Revital Essential Mask.   Donate a tissue.   Make your nose full of happiness. If you have the typical ‘long’ nose of a westerner, you will be considered very attractive in Asia. Nose lengthening is a pretty popular surgical procedure in South Korea.   DIY nose lengthening.   For a beautiful smile.   This is to massage the chin. I think.   What Tornado’s can do for...

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Radiation in Seoul

Posted by on Jul 19, 2013 in All posts, Radiation levels around the world, South Korea | 0 comments

Disclaimer: In case the concepts of nanotechnology, microorganisms or energetic waves are strange to you, this post will be a freakshow. As a positive germaphobe I believe in the workings of micro systems that make up our world. Even though we cannot see them, tiny organisms are there and can have major effects on our lives (I learned a lot in my German Abitur classes). So I like to poke around a bit and catch some of the invisible. I share this passion with a collaborator. Mr Gamma Scout is always there to assist me. In fact he is doing the dirty work, measuring radioactive waves why I simply document the measurements. Here are glimpses of our work in South Korea, in Seoul. If you like to be able to read Mr Gamma Scout, this post will give you...

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Seoul’s metro & traffic curiosa

Posted by on Jul 17, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

The great thing about the metro in Seoul is that you can travel anywhere in the city, walking through metro stations without having to worry for your personal safety. If you are one of my faithful blog readers, you already know of the advantages of our metro T-card from the convenience store. Today, I am going to show you how to top the T-card up at a metro vending machine. I have collected some fun peculiarities of Seoul’s metro for you! However, in Seoul, other means of transport (cars, bikes) do have an essential impact on pedestrians as well. You will see. First, the metro. An extensive and convenient underground (and sometimes overground) network. Way more accessible than bus service. Buses do not always stop at bus stops (first hand experience). This is why we use the metro everyday....

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Our apartment rental in Seoul

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 2 comments

Renting in a foreign country, in places as exotic as Asia, is easier and not as exotic as one might think. In fact, many places to stay are up to western standards and I have to smile a bit when writing this because in many areas, Asia is a lot more accessible than one might think., We use these sites to check on homes. We do take some time to pick an apartment, inspect pictures and clarify specifics. Like checking the apartment’s location on the map, before making a booking. Locations do not have to be right in the centre but easily accessible by public transport to save time and money. Offers vary greatly not only in price but communication with the host. We always make contact beforehand via mail to check on apartment features that are important to...

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Cats & dogs, Hello Kitty Cafe & Korean ice cream at Hongdae

Posted by on Jul 14, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

29th June 2013. This post is sort of about cats and dogs,  linked to food preferences. But also about the colourful area of Hongik University in Seoul, located around Hongdae Street. Just about various impressions I got that day Seoul. About cats and dogs. One is feline icon Hello Kitty, a Japanese (Sanrio) invention, nowadays selling Hello Kitty cakes and coffee in her café in Seoul. Many real cats live in cafés, too. In pet cafés. So that everyone can have a pet for some time and leave it whenever they please. Dogs are liked a lot in Korea as well. Some like them for their meal. Don’t be shocked, it is a fair change to pork and beef, I would think. Because Tomek and I really like those animals, we consequently don’t eat dogs, nor pigs, cows or...

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Korean Bang at Seoul’s university area, Makgeolli & Pollalla

Posted by on Jul 13, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

After breaking typhoon news from Taipei, which we survived yesterday, I will resume where I left off. Our last weekend in Seoul: Although we only new Mimi and Dan for a day, it felt like we had known them forever and thought it would be a fantastic idea to experience Korean style bang together. We are the open kind of traveler, looking for unique thrills. However bang in Korea, is not just a group thing, although commonly practised as such. In fact everyone gets their own comfy spot in a ‘room‘, which is the literal translation of bang. In reality the ‘room‘ is more of an advanced internet café for gamers showing a united fascination for interactive digital games, such as Starcraft. Actually, Korea provides numerous ‘bangs‘ to get your entertainment fix. Sing your lungs out at the norae bang...

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Vegan Cafe, Adoption Center, Seonyudo Park, Green Tiramisu

Posted by on Jul 11, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

30th June 2013. Our last Sunday in Seoul. Today we hooked up with Tomek’s work colleague Dan and his girlfriend Mimi. Dan has come to Seoul five years ago, not for kimchi but Mimi and the two now live a bit further out of Seoul but came to visit. Dan is working as a freelancer like Tomek which is how they met. Mimi makes artisan soap in her wonderful work-shop called It’s Soap. The kind that makes Lush blush. Mimi is able to create customized soap bars meeting clients’ most fanciful wishes. Incorporating ingredients provided by her customers into soap bars, who believe milky elements to be beneficial, thereby mothers supplying their nutritious fluids, not only to their newborns (yes, soap bars with breastmilk), is no biggie. What better way to let your friends know of the new addition to...

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Romance in Seoul at Rainbow Fountain Bridge and Korean dinner

Posted by on Jul 10, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 1 comment

Romantic places are difficult to find in a bustling metropolis like Seoul but this one is by the far the most popular amongst Seoulites. The Rainbow Fountain Bridge, we have visited this evening, does mark our final weekend in the city. Join us for an impressive bridge spitting water and a Korean dinner for semi vegetarians.   Walking away from the Buddhist tranquillity of Bongeunsa temple, right into the traffic of Seoul, I could see the miracle on the Han river, a phrase symbolising South Korea’s rapid economic development.   Finding these amazing flowers in the middle of all the bustle was like stumbling into the world of Avatar.   The had a very pleasant, gentle and subtle smell.   We also found presents.   As the sun set it was time to explore Seoul’s love nest. To get...

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Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple in Seoul

Posted by on Jul 9, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

Before we went for more distractions after our visit to the Seonjeongneung royal tombs, we were looking for fresh juice at the convenience store.       I was looking for the best of the drink variety on Korea’s cooling shelves. Fresh orange juice.   I have so gotten used to fresh juices at Seoul’s convenience stores that it was a bit disappointing only to find sort of 100% apple juice and a non alcoholic mojito drink. The closest we got to juice.   With our sugar levels kicking in, we walked up to Bongeunsa, the big Buddhist Temple in Seoul. Location: Samsung 73-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul. Samsung or Chungdam Station. Admission: free.   I really liked the colourful ribbons forming a welcoming entrance to the temple.   The temple is 1200 years old and located in Samseong-dong in Gangnam-gu....

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The royal tombs of Seonjeongneung in central Seoul

Posted by on Jul 8, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

29th June 2013. This is our last weekend in Seoul and we were going to explore the Samseong Station area to visit two more relics of the once powerful Joseon dynasty. A beautiful, old temple and the royal tombs of Seonjeongneug. There are 44 royal tombs in South Korea, 40 are registered Cultural UNESCO Heritage sites and you can visit 6 in Seoul. The stone figures and halls are well preserved, showing the royal culture and understanding of afterlife during the Joseon dynasty.   Before we arrived at Seonjeongneug, the metro passed Seoul’s densely build residential blocks flanking the Han river. A lasting memory.   The architecture that surrounds the site of Seonjeongneung was coloured grey as if to make a statement to Seoul’s modern architecture. Location: get off Seolleung Station, exit 8. Admission: 1,000 won.   Upon arrival...

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Korean Toilets

Posted by on Jul 7, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

Korean toilets are not puzzling technological space ship stations which we encountered in Japan, which makes matters less complicated. I noticed that it takes me less time to find the button to flush business. There will be one and it will flush. Sometimes it may be hidden behind the toilet lid, if it is lifted up. However, I was always back in time without Tomek wondering if I had gone missing. Just like in Japan, you will occasionally find squat toilets. Most of the time, if you check all cabins, there will be a western style relieve option. Sometimes western toilets will be indicated by a sign on the cabin doors. The very last one was my saviour!   In the unlikely case that there is no option, this is what you will be faced with.   Always push...

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Trick Eye Museum

Posted by on Jul 6, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 2 comments

24th June 2013. If you like to get a different perspective on paintings, the Trick Eye Museum in Seoul is a fun place to do it. Time flies when interacting with the most tacky masterpieces at the Trick Eye Museum. It is less a museum than a gallery of whimsy, using French trompe-l’oeil technique, I do not know how to pronounce, but did come to appreciate. Location: 357-1 Seogyo, B2, Mapo-gu, Seoul. Hongik University Station (exit9). Admission: 13,000 won. We had a coupon booklet from the tourist information, which reduces the price to 10,000 won, if you pay with your Visa card.   Before we got ready to participate, we thought to increase our photogenic charm by consuming bottle shots of Korean beauty drinks.   There really isn’t much more to say. What are they all staring at?  ...

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National Museum, Seoul’s Architecture, Veggie Kraze Burger

Posted by on Jul 4, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

23rd June 2013. Labelled as the most representative museum in Korea and as one of the six major museums of the world, people who wrote this mainly refer to size. Seoul’s National Museum is a big historical museum. With vast and spacious architecture. Megalomania comes to mind when trying to describe the building structure. But it can withstand earthquakes and the displayed items stand on shock resistant platforms. The museum uses natural light and fire resistant building material. The resemblance to an overground bunker cannot be denied. Location: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Line 4, Jungjang Line Ichon Station, Exit 2 or take the underpass. Admission: Free! And you can take pictures (no flash nor tripod). When getting off at Jungjang Station, we took the museum’s nadeulgil (underpass) which featured double moving walkways to direct pedestrian traffic towards the museum....

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Japanese-Korean izakaya

Posted by on Jul 2, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 1 comment

25th June 2013. Working from home only works if catering is inclusive or if one is a passionate grocery shopper and cook. Neither applies in our case. Which is why we go out a lot. Not only on the weekend but during the week. An interesting u-turn in my life, I am more happy to go out rather than to come home. Quite the opposite effect to my weekly routine as an employee in the therapeutic pedagogy field. This post is about what we had for dinner. I know that if you are the 50% of my readership that gave birth to me and the other 50% that is Tomek’s parents, you will be very happy about another food post. Food is a big topic in our families. I guess this is the aftermath of what you get, if...

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Itaewon Theme Streets, Murakami at Samsung Museum of Art

Posted by on Jul 1, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

22nd June 2013. Today we explored the area of Itaewon, known for its foreign flair. This is where we also visited Leeum – the Samsung Museum of Art. Samsung is the name of the founder of Korea’s largest corporation, who was collecting precious Asian artefacts during his lifetime. On our way, I inquired about Hanbok, to find out that this outfit is 550,000 won and that my suitcase and wallet did not necessarily needed the strain. If you are interested to get a hand on and your body into those garments, then a great place in Seoul to go Hanbok shopping is here.   At Itaewon Station we found a Tourist Information with an incredibly helpful Seoulite who was not only sympathetic due to the fact that he was studying the Polish language, but also because he supplied us...

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Love is in the air at Seoul Tower, Ginseng at Namdaemun Market

Posted by on Jun 30, 2013 in All posts, South Korea | 0 comments

19th June. Today I am going to tell you all about Korean ginseng. Said to be the best in the world. And we will go up Seoul Tower… After unexpected events had brought us to Seoul’s ropeway station, we thought that luck has turned our way and we would be riding up the ropeway to Seoul’s Tower, located on top of Namsan mountain. Nope, we wouldn’t. But we would see all of Seoul – from Seoul’s tallest landmark.   People were suspiciously walking towards and then away from the ropeway.   Due to maintenance for two days in a year – the ropeway was closed. Today.   Cables were in need of repair.   If you ask me, these cables look just dandy – they could have taken on at least a few more rides.   We did made...

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