365 DAYS OF SEOUL SEARCHING

December 6, 2010

TOY ALLEY SOUTH KOREA

Changsin-dong Toy Street – A.k.a Toy Alley

Dongdaemun Station, Line 4, Exit/Way Out 4

At the top of Exit 4’s stairs head left down the street and Toy Alley is the first right

Toy Alley sounds like a fictional place right from the pages of Harry Potter.  Truth be told it exists and is just as magical.  I heard of Toy Alley from some friends in passing and immediately knew that I had to see it for myself.  My 4-year-old nephew’s birthday was just a few weeks away giving me the perfect excuse to venture out.  It was exactly what I had been told.  An alley just with one toy shop right after the other.  A bit odd since in the United States when opening a store people tend to find what is not in a location and try to fill a gap.  This philosophy does not ring true in South Korea.  Here if one toy store exists then why not a hundred.  I have come to prefer this when I am purpose shopping though it does become a little overwhelming at times.  The beauty of toy store after toy store is that I just hit up ten shops within a 500 foot span and easily found my nephews gift in a timely manner.  I have returned to Toy Alley three times since its discovery!  In addition to toy stores this street is full of stationery stores, stuffed animal stores, children’s umbrella stores, kids toy sports stores and party stores.  If you are looking for party supplies such as paper plates, table clothes, balloons, table decor then look no further.  These party stores during Halloween had an impressive selection of costumes and now that it is Christmas they sell all sorts of holiday lights, decor and ornaments.  This is a cool place to visit whether you have a designated need or not.  Just a warning though that if you peruse with children you better be ready to whip out the wallet!

Note: Most of the stores preferred cash.  Many accepted cards but only with an additional fee to the purchase.

October 11, 2010

CHUSEOK – KOREA’S THANKGIVING

A few weeks ago starting on September 22nd, 2010 Korea celebrated Chuseok.  Chuseok is for all intents and purposes Thanksgiving but Korean style.  Chuseok means, “Great Middle,” and is celebrated on the 15th day of the eight month of the lunar calendar during the Autumn equinox.  Chuseok used to be called Hangawi.  Han means big and gawi means middle hence The Great Middle.  It was given this name because the holiday falls in the middle of the eight month.  Over time the name changed to Chuseok with chu being a Chinese character that means autumn.

On this holiday Koreans return to their hometowns to visit family and to pay tribute to their ancestors.  Upon returning to home many people visit the tombs of the deceased and offer plates of the food to the dead.

Songpyeon (rice cake steamed on pine needles), japchae (noodles stir-fried in sesame oil with vegetables) and bulgogi (marinated beef) are traditional foods of this holiday.

Chuseok is said to originate from Gabae. Starting during the reign of the third king of the kingdom of Silla Gabae is a day in which two teams who had both been weaving for a month competing against each other compared their work and the team which had woven more cloth was announced the winner of the competition and was thrown a feast by their loosing opponent.

Others believe Chuseok originated from shamanistic celebrations of the harvest moon in a form of a worship ritual.

On this holiday, if you are working in Korea you can expect to be given three days off.  In this year’s case I was given Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday off and by a weird turn of events the school ended up being closed on Friday so I was afforded the opportunity to travel.

Upon returning to my school we held a celebration for all of the kids in the gym where they played traditional games such as jumping on a seesaw board and wrestling.  The best part of this holiday was seeing all of the children in the traditional hanboks!

December 15, 2009

Bokeh here I come!

Filed under: 365 Days of Seoul Searching — Tags: , , , , , — beckylanglais @ 6:35 am

1st Attempt at Bokeh.  Nothing too special but like the pretty colors : )

December 14, 2009

IBM Project End Party

Filed under: 365 Days of Seoul Searching — Tags: , , , , , , , — beckylanglais @ 2:11 am

The party was at this amazing restaurant called Sabur in Somerville, MA.  I’ve driven by it a thousand times and always wanted to stop but never have.  I finally got my chance and the food was everything I had wanted it to be…Amazing!  Also they had the craziest juices like Currant, Blueberry & Strawberry.  Current was the best.  Check this place out:

http://www.saburrestaurant.com

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