Soundtrack: hit play and start reading.
Elvis was actually kind of a goofball. Listen to him crack himself up here.
hee hee. hair.
In case I didn't post this before, this is a new favourite photo of Seoul: it was published in the Korea Herald, and it's just fantastically beautiful.
This is the temple right across from COEX Mall/Convention center, a surprisingly quiet temple, given that it's across the street from Asia's largest underground mall.
On Friday I came across Boshingak right at noon, and they had their daily noon bell-ringing ceremony; for hundreds of years, they rang the bell here to mark the opening and closing of the daily market; the rang it on New Year's as well (as I wrote about here).
(more photos of Boshingak like the one above here)
Usually the gate's closed to the public, but at noon, four days a week, they open it up, set out the ceremonial guards, and do the traditional ceremony. You can walk in, and up, and see them ring the bell.
I'd never been before, though I've heard the bell toll at twelve: dear readers, it RESONATES! Several blocks away, through a few layers of buildings, I still felt that tone right in my guttiwuts. Figured I'd get a close up look at it, given the chance.
We marched up the line of guards you see here:
And onto the second floor, where the bell hangs. This stinker is HUGE, boys! YUUUUGE! Somewhere between four and five meters tall!
There were people in traditional Korean outfits standing around. . . I didn't find out what their roles or functions were.
The light was low, so it was hard to get clear pictures. This was one of the flowers engraved on the bell -- the bell was engraved all around, quite nicely.This guy looks like a guard: the fact he's holding a weapon gives him away, not like the other guys in red and green.
As always, the detail work in the gate was amazing: I love the colourful care given to every square inch of these Korean heritage buildings. Again, the lotus flower motif: lotus flowers are an important image in Buddhist traditions.When the ringer-thingy is INSIDE the bell, it's called a tongue, but I can't find what it's called when it's on the outside like this. The bolt? Dunno. Anybody out there know?
Anyway, they let some ordinary, not-dressed-in-hanbok people help the badass imperial guard guy ring the bell. But (see above) they had to wear white gloves, the way I used to do when I worked in the museum.Boy that bronze beast was noisy!
As always, there were people there with camera phones to record the event.
As always, there were other people with cameraphones to record the event, too.
(ever heard this one:
Did you hear about the guy who held up a Korean tour bus? He stole all their travellers' checks!
Fortunately, police have 8000 photos to help them identify the suspect.)
Check out that badass costume, man.
Rarr! Ring that bell!
And line up for the group photo, after.
It was cool going in there and seeing the insides of the gate I walk past just about every day of my life. Glad I finally got that off my "things to do while I live in Jongno" bucket list.
This is Wood & Brick, the maker of the olive ciabatta I swooned over in an earlier post.
Soundtrack: hit play and keep reading.
Ella Fitzgerald - Mack the Knife, Live
my favourite word gum-up ever. Listen to the words. Howlingly funny. Might be her best performance of the song!
There's a place in Insadong where they make a special candy out of pulled sugar. They have an entire explanation/routine worked out involving chants, echoes and hups and shouts in unison or quick succession that's actually quite a ritual, entertaining and charming to watch--makes me think of some kind of litany or lullaby or something, and behind/above the little stand there's a tree
That is, from time to time, absolutely loaded with little birds raising up a holy racket and flitting from this tree. . .To this tree
All the noisy day long.
When it rains in Korea, everybody but everybody brings an umbrella -- even for just a little.
It creates interesting brolly landscapes like this
So many people, not a single face.
Near the entrance to Ssamzie Square (a very interesting new artistic shopping center that's a great new design, but has nothing to do with any kind of traditional Korean architecture I know of. . . except the presence of walls), you can see a little street-food stand that serves up a new favourite confection.
The stand looks like this.
It's a bit of sweet black bean paste mixed with batter and cooked on a hot, imprinted surface.
You get seven for a thousand won, and these ones are thinner, and thus crisper, than the ones I've gotten in other places, where they're too thick and battery. (The still-wet batter in the middle scorches your tongue at those places, but not here.)
The coolest thing is, the people who run the little stand are, as far as I can gather, deaf. All their serving and communication is done with gesture, and they're very nice.
And it's my favourite. The cinnamon-filled, oil-baked heott-ddeok you can get up the way is famouser, and often has a line wrapped right around the stand of people waiting to buy some (in the winter, no less) and it's really good, too, but I just kind of like these people. They make me smile.