Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top Eleven List

Here are a list of movies that I want to see in 2009, 10, and 11:

1. The Fantastic Mr. Fox stop-motion directed by Wes Anderson, based on Road Dahl's children's book.

2. Severed Ways: the Norse Discovery of America set entirely in North American Woodlands, the story of two stranded vikings in the new world.

3. 9 Animated film produced by Tim Burton.

4. Tokyo! Three directors: Michel Gondry, Leos Carax, Bong Joon-Ho.

5. Tyson starring Mike Tyson.

6. Where the Wild Things Are Childhood favorite, director Spike Jonez.

7. Daytime Drinking Foreign comedy about the Korean drinking culture.

8. Public Enemies Gangster flick directed by Michael Mann. We all have a crush on Johnny Depp and crazyhorse Christian Bale.

9. Alice in Wonderland (2010) directed by Tim Burton.

10. Pee Wee's Playhouse (2011) Paul Reubens is back.

11. Arrested Development (2010) original cast.

Bali II

Believe it or not, more photos from Bali.

Bali + Lombok

The photos are up from our venture into Bali.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 Honam Half Marathon


Exactly one month from today is the Honam International Marathon in Gwangju. I'm not hunting for the full length, but I am signed up and in training for the half marathon (20k). The race is a 13.1 mile loop that begins and ends at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium. I mapped out the route today on run.com. (click the satellite button for a better look)

I like this site because it has helped me map out new running routes in unfamiliar territory. I've got my local spread pretty much down pat because of it. You can also peruse some of my other favorite loops in and around Gwangju on the same site.

Caitlin is signed up to run the 5k race (3.1 miles) on the same day with Leah Potluck Dinner. She will be adorned with sparkling tights and a cape. Everyone should come.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Phillies in Korea

I stopped going into this men's clothing store downtown because a creepy korean employee that wears too much makeup always followed me around inside. No matter how many times I see this girl she always asks me if I am a foreigner and then tries to get me to kiss her hand. Even if I ignore her, she continues to follow me and stands uncomfortably close. The store sometimes smells like vomit and her presence makes me feel sick to my stomach, so I don't go in there much.

But the other day was lucky enough to find the store surprisingly clean and devoid of creepo girl so I perused some of their new gear. I came across this little number. If you can't read it, the shirt says: "1000 Champs. Game Over. We Win. Pennant Race." Simply put.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Damyang Bamboo Forest

One of the closest places to visit if you are living in Gwangju is the Damyang Bamboo forest. You can catch a direct bus from the Gwangju Terminal and it takes just 30-40 minutes to arrive. Jeollanam-Do (my province) is home to the the largest concentration of bamboo in South Korea and Damyang accounts for about 70% of that population. Many bamboo craftsmen still live in this area and much of the surrounding county survives off of their product.

The Koreans called us "crazy" for going outside on a rainy day, but we did it any way...these were the same Korean friends that suggest I have crampons to go for a short day hike in February. pshhh.

The village might have been fake but Milkis is a real boy.

Anyway, the paths were muddy but it was cool being surrounded by a thick forest of bamboo. Bamboo grows even larger than this, but many of the stalks we saw reached 6 inches in diameter and were 30-50 feet high. Pretty impressive for a grass. There was also this cool little eco-center full of wild plants, succulents, and bonsai trees. Also, on the back side of the forest, there was a traditional village in the process of being built. It was fake, of course, and is only being built to draw more visitors. Still nice, there are some close-up pics of the joinery used to put together a traditional roof and tea house structure.

Right before the entrance to the forest park there is a bamboo market. I am sure that people sell stuff almost every weekend but the entire market is open on days ending in the numeral 2 or 7. We went on February 22nd, a Sunday, and the main Bamboo vendor was open but we suspect there was more that we missed because we went late. My guidebook says the markets stays up from 7am-12 noon. Guidebooks. I bought a Korean dice game made from bamboo stalks..it probably looks alot more fun than it really is.

I'm realizing now that I didn't get any pictures of the actual bamboo...picture fail.

Here are the rest of the pictures from the day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wolchulsan National Park

The weather has been getting better so we took a day trip down to Wolchulsan National Park to do some hiking and get those legs going again. To get to Wolchulsan from the Gwangju U-Station, take a bus to Yeongam. It is about an hour trip and costs W6,000. From Yeongam Terminal there is a bus that leaves every 20 minutes that will take you to the base of the park and only costs a chun. Admission to the park is W2,000.

Before going into the park, there is a street of cozy little restaurants that are great for a pre-hike snack or post-adventure chowdown. There is also a great two-story temple at the base that was built in the 1400s and they are still building newer structures in the surrounding area. The park was spread out very nicely and it wasn't too crowded this time of year.

The hike turned out to be one of our favorites so far in Korea. Although we got on the trail later than planned and the Koreans were all on their way down as we ascended, the hike was both gratifying and beautiful.

Wolchulsan is a craggy area with huge rocky outcroppings and sheer dropoffs upon the ridge. The forest peters out towards the top and tall grasses grow at the ridge summit. We later found out that the top had been wooded but it all burnt down and grass had grown in its place. It felt like being on top of a large dune and we were approaching the ocean.

The sun was setting and the wind had picked up once we reached the top so our time was short before heading back down. We were lucky enough to catch them sounding off the temple's evening gong just as we were leaving the park. With a mountain mist settling in, the ochre sun going down and the sound of the gong bellowing into the distance it made for a peaceful exit to the day's hike.

There are not many but you can catch the rest of the photos here.