Sunday, May 31, 2009


Many sidewalks in Gwangju are built with bricks, rather than cement.  I believe this is (at least in part) because of the heavy rains.  The bricks allow the water to sink into the sidewalk, rather than running off and flooding the streets, stores, or people’s shoes. 

 However, the downside of this great plan is that the sidewalks shift, sink, or raise.  Making for a deathtrap of tripping if you aren’t watching your steps.

I must admit that invariably I get distracted and starting whistling and looking around and thinking, “what a beautiful day!”  You can guess what happens next,

I look around a little embarrassed, assess the damage (slight scuff on the shoe) and off I go again.  Focused on the sidewalk, until something catches my eye in the distance …

Friday, May 29, 2009

Korean Car Manufacturing

There are 5 car manufacturing companies in Korea:
Hyundai Motor Company
Kia Motor Company.  They have two different emblems.
GM Daewoo
SsangYong Motor Company
Renault Samsung Vehicles
Imported cars (favorites being: Audi, BMW, VW, Mercedes) are a statement reserved for the wealthy.  I see them often, but they still do stand out.
SUVs have become more popular in this country.  There are still far more cars than SUVs, and I’ve rarely seen a pickup truck. 
Apparently, around here you want to get rid of a car like this (see below) ASAP.  The bigger the car, the better symbol of status.
Sorry little guy … I’d drive you. :o)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

View From the Bus

On the bus, the world passes by in a screeching, grinding, halting, stopping, speeding, lurching manner.  Might is Right around here and there is nothing bigger than the busses.  So, the busses rule the road and they take full advantage of their size to get from stop to stop as quickly as possible. 

The world outside of the bus is always busy, bright, on display, and on the move.

There are:

  • signs
  • banners
  • flags
  • posters
  • stores
  • restaurants
  • sidewalk markets
  • sidewalk food vendors 
  • people walking
  • people sitting
  • people selling things
  • people buying things
  • people watching people
  • people eating
  • people talking
  • people talking on their cell phones
  • people texting on their cell phones
  • trees
  • flowers
  • weeds
  • garbage 
  • apartment buildings
  • bus stops
  • traffic lights
  • cars
  • delivery trucks
  • bicycles
  • scooters
  • strollers
  • umbrellas

When I took these pictures I did not try for perfection.  Some of the pictures are blurry and others are clear.  A bumping, speeding bus can produce some interesting challenges for picture taking. 

Here is a look at the streets of Gwangju, through the window of a bus.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mark’s Favorite Lunch Spot

This little Korean ‘diner’ is only about 2 blocks from Little Fox English School.  Mark loves the food and the owner, and today I was able to join him for lunch. 
The name of this place is the much used, much loved word “Kim Pop”.  Names of restaurants often are directly referencing the food, and not trying to be creative.

Inside is quite small. There are 5 tables, which is more than some diners have.  A lot of the food purchased from this type of restaurant is taken to go, making a large seating area unnecessary. 

We ordered Pee Bem Pop – directly translated means: Mixed Rice.  This dish includes: rice, mushrooms, greens, carrots, bean sprouts, seaweed, zucchini, a spicy sauce, and an egg.  It is served in a heated stone bowl that cooks the egg and heats up all of the vegetables right in front of you.
You mix it yourself.  Gotta do it quick, otherwise the rice will stick to the bowl … it is VERY hot.
Mixing …
Time for lunch!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mini House

This morning Mark and I walked past this cute little wooden house, sitting on a truck bed, waiting for it’s new home. 

Now, you don’t see houses like this in Korea.  Everyone lives in apartment buildings, so it was an unusual site.  We saw the big crane parked next to it, which we knew was going to be putting this wooden house, in it’s new home.
This delivery and set-up drew a crowd, as it is not your every day sight.
We knew it would be awhile before they got started, so we kept moving.  But a few hours later, on our way home from coffee, we stopped to find where the small house had ended up. 
We looked, up up up …
That’s right, on the top of the apartment, in a rooftop patio.
It certainly seems too high end for a play house, but too small for a real house.  I suppose it will remain a mystery!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Coffee Vending Machines

Located outside of most mini marts and many restaurants are coffee vending machines.  They sometimes have bottled items, but mostly it is instant coffee or tea.  Koreans really enjoy instant coffee. 
These vending machines are a gathering point for many taxi drivers during their breaks or guys after eating at a restaurant. 
The cup of coffee is quite small, no more than about 5 sips.  The cost reflects the size – about 300 won (30 cents).  The coffee is instant, not to my personal liking, and is always sweetened.  All instant coffee you buy in this country is sweetened. 
Restaurants do not serve dessert after meals, but they do often provide a coffee free-of-charge.  A sweet shot of caffeine to top off the meal.

As Maxwell House promises, “Good to the last drop.”