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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Current Seoul Area Weather Report

Cold. Snowy.  Enough said.

Jeju: Tangerines, Walls, and Tea

At one of the stops that we made on our tour, we walked by a small tangerine field.  In areas of jeju island, these tangerine fields are almost everywhere, and you can see some of the orange fruit laying around on the ground.

We also saw an old tree with what--at first glance--looked like tangerines, but are actually related to grapefruit.  We were told that these fruits are left on the trees for most of the year to ripen, and, indeed, you can see them along many of the city streets in Jeju:

A bit later we walked past a wall made from basalt rocks; these walls are common throughout Jeju, both around houses and farmers' fields:

Later we went to visit a small tea plantation located at a higher elevation.  It is set up for visitors . . . there's a small cafe and gift shop, some tea plant mazes to wander through, rabbits to feed . . .

Cool Lava Rock Columns

Check out these lava/basalt rock columns found in Jeju, Korea, formed as the lava (a long time ago) met the cool sea water.  Some of them almost look human-made, sculpted . . . (in the first pic, look at the lower center rock).

Mount Halla and a Smaller Volcanic Crater

Mount Hallasan, a volcano on Jeju island, is the highest mountain in Korea:

We didn't attempt to hike it, though many do (perhaps not when there is snow covering it).

Another smaller, more recent (as in only 5,000 years ago) volcanic crater offered  great views, however:

Looking towards the sea:

Looking inland:

Wonderful Korean Jeju Lunch

One of the things that I love about Korean food is the variety . . . you don't get it with every meal, but you can happen upon a down-to-earth restaurant that serves a set meal at a set price, and that is exactly what happened today for our Jeju lunch.

To really appreciate Korean food you have to like veggies, and I do, so I am up for most servings.  You also need to like seafood . . . I go for the cooked, but not for the raw (in most cases).

(Granted, there is Korean grilled meat--or bar-b-que--but that is almost a different subject)

Here are some pics of a lunch meal, served for 4 people, a very nice variety of side dishes plus meat plus fish plus rice . . . I don't want to eat such a meal all of the time, but for $8 a person it is a really nice treat once in a while. (The volcanic yellow-looking thing is the Korean equivalent of egg soufflĂ©.)

Cheap, healthy, and delicious:)

This type of Korean meal offers the tastes of 15+ foods, maybe just a bite per person, but, honestly, I like that variety and sharing so much more than the western style filling a single plate full of food and eating it alone.

Having said that, I also like going to T.G.I.Fridays (which seems to be expanding in Asia) and ordering a big burger and fries.

I guess I am caught somewhere in the middle . . .

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Saturday Tour, Jeju Island

This is what we did earlier today (Saturday), the last day of my vacation trip to Jeju (and Busan).

I have a lot of pics to share, and decided to work backwards, so the most recent first.

Jeju is Korea's biggest island, located off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, and attracts millions of foreign and domestic tourists every year.  It is a volcanic island by history, so a lot of the features you will see in these and other pics have volcanic origins and feature basalt rocks and/or columns of basalt/lava that formed when cooled by the surrounding sea.

Jeju is more temperate than the rest of Korea, and though it had some snow when we visited this week, it is viewed as a kind of Asian "Hawaii" (in part to promote it for honeymoons) and provides the rest of Korea with tons of tangerines and, to a lesser extent, other fruits.  Tangerine trees and their orange fruits are evident in many places on the island.  Many shops sell tangerines, and you can often see them lying on the ground next to orchards.

Anyway, back to today's tour pics.  After viewing the sunrise (a "must do") from the rooftop of our accommodation, we drove to a rocky beach to see a mix of geology, then did a short hike in a small but scenic canyon, and finally experienced a nice trek on a cliffside boardwalk (yes, there are palm trees; though apparently imported they are abundant.  When you see the ocean pics, remember, this is an island):

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The NRA Says Violence Stops Violence

I have always had a kind of moderate attitude towards the NRA.  I'm talking about the National Rifle Association, which represents the interests of pro-gun advocates in the U.S.

I believe in the "right to bear arms", which is part of the American Constitution.

Sometime in the past I participated in a pistol safety training course run by the NRA, and my instructor was great.

That's the good side.

Enter the Newton elementary school shooting, and the NRA's response to it, part of which I caught last night on tv.

Quote by the NRA: "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

What the @$#&!

I am now anti-NRA.

Why didn't the NRA come across strongly with a message of support for licencing, policing, training, and safety?  Why can't they acknowledge that there is a problem, and it has to do with an increasingly violent American culture?

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. (Pun intended.)

I read recently that the U.S. is the most incarcerated nation in the world, with more than 2 million (2 MILLION!) people locked away.

People watch violence, they see the American government fighting wars, using drones to kill, and what is their natural inclination?

More violence.

I predict that the NRA is in for a well-deserved round of verbal abuse.

School Christmas Parties

We spent the last two days--Thursday and Friday--doing Christmas parties with our students: songs, cards, posters, and movies.

Here are a few photos:

Christmas Lunch Buffet

My academy treated all of the teachers/staff to a special pre-Christmas lunch buffet located on the 10th floor of a new department store building.  It was very delicious!

Here are some of the food plate pics (in addition to the wide variety of buffet items to chose from, each diner could order 1 steak/fish/lamb plate to be delivered to the table).

Lunch = app. $35.