Tag Archives: Museums

The Dating Years: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Hearst Castle

As we approach our second wedding anniversary next week, I’ve decided to embark on a new blogging journey — The Dating Years. I’m sifting through all of my old photos and videos from the five years we dated, looking back at some of the adventures we had before becoming husband and wife. There were many! It only makes sense to include them in this blog. After all, it’s a big part of what brought us together in the first place, our knack for traveling, seeing new places and trying new things.

In May 2009, we drove up to San Luis Obispo from Los Angeles. Our first road trip as boyfriend and girlfriend. If you’ve ever driven along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, you know what a treat that is, in and of itself.

Driving up the PCH

Driving up the PCH Continue reading The Dating Years: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Hearst Castle

Southeast Asia vacation Part 1: The Ancient Ruins of Siem Reap

Living in South Korea presented us the perfect opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia. It’s one of those parts of the world that’s just so far from California, that we’d likely never visit it otherwise, I’m kind of ashamed to admit. (Unless Will had to go there for work, which is very possible.) So, we decided to vacation across Cambodia and Thailand on our way back to the states.

Why Cambodia and Thailand? We didn’t know much about either country until we started to research and plan our trip. In the end, the many ruins, temples and paradise-like beaches lured us there.

Our two glorious weeks of vacation kicked off in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Tip #1 when traveling to Cambodia — bring U.S. dollars! You’ll need them for everything, most importantly, to pay for your tourist visa (they don’t accept credit card) and then for pretty much anything else in-country. Let’s just say we learned this the hard way, having flown in straight from Seoul with only South Korean Won in our wallets. Continue reading Southeast Asia vacation Part 1: The Ancient Ruins of Siem Reap

Osaka’s Sea Creatures, Cherry Blossoms & Castle Views

We hadn’t planned on visiting the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, but we had some time to kill after returning from Nara. The aquarium is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village in the Port of Osaka, basically a mall with shops and eateries and a large ferris wheel.

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IMG_1803 Continue reading Osaka’s Sea Creatures, Cherry Blossoms & Castle Views

Springtime in Bukchon Hanok Village

Spring has finally arrived in Seoul. The temps have miraculously, overnight, shot up to the 50s, 60s, even 70 this weekend. Woo! Thought the warm weather might never come.

The sunny weather on Saturday was perfect for taking Will to see the Bukchon Hanok Village, which he hadn’t been to yet. I didn’t take many photos, since I took so many last time, but here are a few new shots below. It was SO busy! Way busier than when I went in November, but it makes sense. The warm weather has drawn everyone out. We ate some of that amazing shaved sorbet at Savoureux, walked past a cute flower shop, discovered one of many handmade jewelry shops in Samcheon-dong — Eunnamu — with some beautiful pieces, and ventured through the many walkways and narrow streets of Bukchon.  Continue reading Springtime in Bukchon Hanok Village

Girl (Shopping) Power at Ewha Womans University

Just like Hongik University is situated by Hongdae’s many shops, restaurants and nightclubs, Ewha Womans University is conveniently located near Edae, a treasure trove for young women who like a) shopping and b) good bargains.

It was hard to resist all the shops of cute clothes and shoes as I walked from the subway station toward the campus. I walked past a plethora of street food vendors, cute girls’ clothes, and even a Barbie shoe store. What?!

Barbie (shoes) store

As soon as I crossed into the Ewha Womans University campus, I liked it. It’s very open, verdant, and — oh my goodness — no motorcycles allowed on campus! Continue reading Girl (Shopping) Power at Ewha Womans University

Tokyo Day 5 (last day): Ueno Park & Views of Mount Fuji

Before leaving Tokyo, I wanted to check out Ueno Park, which had been recommended to me by a friend and I’d seen as a top destination on several websites (I use TripAdvisor a lot, by the way, for reviews and ideas).

Our flight wasn’t until later in the afternoon, either, so we took the train to Ueno Station, grabbed a quick bite, rented a locker and stowed our two suitcases so we didn’t have to roll them around the park. How convenient! It was a nice, sunny day, and it’s a pretty big park. You could spend hours there.

At the park you’ll find several temples, a shrine, a large pond with a fleet of paddle boats and swan boats for rent, a zoo (Ueno Zoo: Japan’s oldest zoo, known for its giant pandas), a small children’s amusement park, multiple museums, and more. Apparently, the park grounds were originally part of the Kaneiji Temple, one of the city’s largest and wealthiest temples during the Edo Period. The grounds were later converted into a Western-style park and designated in 1873 as the first park in Japan. Continue reading Tokyo Day 5 (last day): Ueno Park & Views of Mount Fuji

My Private Tour of the National Museum of Korea

The National Museum of Korea in Yongsan offers plenty of guided tours, but I partly kid when I say my tour was “private.” The only reason I ended up getting a private, one-on-one tour of this grand museum is because no one else showed up for the 10:30am English tour! It was just me and my guide, a nice Korean man who spent several years living in San Francisco, so his English was pretty good.

According to my tour book, the National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Asia. According to the Korea tourism website, it’s the largest museum in Korea. Either way, it’s massive. While the museum has a collection of more than 150,000 pieces, it actually only displays roughly 15,000 of these at any given time.

Admission is free for the permanent exhibition, but varies for their special exhibitions (more on these later). The permanent exhibition is spread across three floors and is divided into the following sections: Prehistory & Ancient History, Medieval & Early Modern History, Calligraphy & Painting, Donated Works, Sculpture & Crafts, and Asian Art. I had no idea — until my guide pointed it out, of course — that the museum contains numerous Korean national treasures. These include including the Pensive Bodhisattva, Goryeo Celadon Openwork Burner, Ten-Story Pagoda from Gyeongcheonsa  Site, and Gold Crown from Silla. Continue reading My Private Tour of the National Museum of Korea

Korean Folk Village – a journey back in time

I feel like I’m slacking on my blog posts. Sorry, guys. Where does the time go?

Last weekend we traveled out of Seoul — I think, technically — to Yongin to visit the Korean Folk Village. We took the train to Sinnonhyeon Station (exit 6), and walked a bit to catch Express Bus 5001-1 to the park. Yes, it’s a park, a theme park re-creation of a Joseon Dynasty-era village.

We expected the weather to be warmer but no such luck. It was SO cold! Amazingly enough, there were still plenty of other tourists at the Korean Folk Village. The place is enormous, 245 acres to be exact. There’s a pretty river flowing through it, and mountains behind it, and lots of trees (which are unfortunately bare right now!). You can see and walk through many different types of traditional Korean houses — including a nobleman’s mansion, a large landowner’s house, a farmer’s house, a mountain village home, and traditional homes from Jeju island and Ullung island. Continue reading Korean Folk Village – a journey back in time

If old prison walls could talk

This might seem like a morbid post for some of you, but I was intrigued by the Seodaemun Prison History Hall and the stories those walls had to tell. I don’t believe I’ve ever visited a former prison, and definitely not one that housed prisoners of war.

Seodaemun Prison is located at Seodaemun Independence Park in Seoul. It was built in 1908 and used during the colonial period of Japanese occupation to house Korean independence activists. (After the colonial period ended in 1945, it was used by the South Korean government until 1987.) I shouldn’t say “house,” since many of them were brutally tortured and then executed. The prison was built to accommodate about 500 people, but eventually housed more than 3,000 prisoners simultaneously at the height of protests. They were cramped, their cells had no heating in the winter and no cooling in the summer. They ate small rations of rice and were forced to work long days on the complex building bricks and military uniforms.

The prison is now a museum and a self-guided tour takes you through most of the buildings. You can step into regular cells and isolation cells. You can see the basement where the Japanese interrogated and tortured prisoners upon arrival (life-like scenes are recreated in case you can’t picture the torture clearly enough in your mind), including the various torture devices used. You can also visit the lepers’ building, the outdoor exercise facility and the execution building. Continue reading If old prison walls could talk

Vacation Fun

As I write this, I realize we’ve been eating so much good food lately — Korean, Japanese, today some Korean-Chinese — that I’m going to do a food-related blog soon. So, stay tuned for that.

Ah, Christmas vacation. It’s been wonderful. Lots of sleep, lots of delicious food, quality time with my husband, with friends, with our families back home. Been to the movies (I mostly enjoyed “Into the Woods”), discovered the amazing saunas and hot tubs in our apartment building, started re-watching the “Lord of the Rings” series, and in between all that, we went ice skating and today I took a nice walk through the Jeong-dong neighborhood. Ok one thing at a time.

If you want to go ice skating in Seoul over the holidays, I know of two options — at Seoul Plaza, or at the Grand Hyatt Seoul. We already knew that ice skating at Seoul Plaza was pretty cheap, just 1,000 won for the skates rental and an hour of skating, wow! Seriously. As in, that’s less than $1 USD. So we went there. They looked like brand new skates, too. They control the flow of people on the rink by assigning you an hour time slot, and they also clean the ice every hour, so you get to skate on fresh ice. Continue reading Vacation Fun