In my last post I wrote about the two-week English camp I’m currently teaching and it tired me out from doing any writing of that kind for at least a day or two, so tonight I’m going to do a fun post with pictures from the last month or so that I’ve taken while walking around Seoul.

The first picture is a common sight around Korea.  Anywhere there’s an elementary school there will be a mom and pop independent snack shop/school supply shop nearby.  It’s a fairly common thing to see the small arcade games in front of the store, and kids crowded around the games watching their friends play.  I guess these games are the precursor to students getting into PC Bang (Internet computer game cafes) culture where students and other young Koreans play computer games for hours at a time.

I really like this picture cause for me it embodies friendship and the spirit of play that all too often seems to be missing from Korean students stressful and exhausting lives.

On a completely different track English business signs in Korea are something bloggers like to take pictures of  and post–I’m no different.  There’s a trend in Asia that uses English words in extremely truncated form to help the general population pronounce and remember the words.  The general rule is two syllables or less, and also they tend to avoid consonants Koreans find hard to pronounce, especially double-consonants like you’d have to say in the word “glass,” for example.

Now I understand why it’d be necessary to cut off any syllables that run past two because once you get into the 3+ type of word things become hard to say and remember–but “sandwich” is only two syllables so I find it puzzling as to what reasoning might be behind the large number of “Sand & Food” cafes and bistros that have spread all over Seoul.  I know other bloggers have posted about this before, but here’s my own contribution to the topic of chopping up English words and Konglishizing (Korean-English) them.  “Sand & Food” kind of causes a visceral reaction in native speakers of English because the idea of SAND in one’s FOOD triggers those grainy memories of sand in your mouth and between your teeth–ugh!  The store’s slogan, “We, SAND & FOOD, are always with you!” is just a bit too ominous for native speakers who wonder what kind of food is being consumed inside . . . lol.

This picture was taken while walking through Anguk Station on the orange line in Seoul.  I noticed this metal canister standing outside a Tous Les Jours bakery and took a closer look.  “Silky Pudding, smoother than silk, better than pudding” . . . wow, lol.  Has anyone tried this stuff?

While waiting for the train to arrive I wandered around and noticed this Korean grandfather whose stillness was very calming to watch.  There’s a kind of Zen Buddhism lotus flower pond feel for me in this picture with the circular brick patterns on the floor that I really like too.

And then just for kicks I took a picture of the fire hose instructions . . . foreigners in Korea would be advised to take note of #2 and how you must turn the handle COUNTER-CLOCKWISE to get the water flowing . . . lol.  (For Korean readers, the reason this is funny is because in North America we turn on water taps in a clockwise motion–in an emergency a foreigner trying to do this would probably do it wrong, kk!

UPDATE: Whoops . . . I don’t know why, but I was so sure that opening a water valve is done with a clock-wise motion–but after a reader sent me a comment, and checking online, I realized I might have made a mistake.  I think the problem is that I’ve lived in some apartments back in Canada where the faucets were not installed properly (or maybe they were?), and those experiences redefined my idea of which direction it’s ‘normal’ to turn on a water faucet.   I didn’t do any fact checking on this post cause I didn’t think it was that critical a cultural observation–oh well.

I took this picture because I wish they’d put sign #3 (which sits at the bottom of a high traffic escalator in the subway) in every public walking space in Korea.  It always amazes me how a group of Koreans can walk arm in arm down a sidewalk, aisleway in the grocery store, or corridor in a shopping mall like COEX Mall and block the flow of pedestrians all the while seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are causing everyone around them to be inconvenienced, sigh.

Later, I saw something . . . unusual, lol.

After finishing my trip through the subway I arrived at Seoul Station and headed out to Lotte Mart.  I was kind of surprised to see a large number of police marching around in small squads.  I didn’t notice any protesters around so I’m not sure why they were there tonight with such a large and visible presence . . . hmmm.

Jumping from Seoul Station to another part of Seoul called Hyehwa Station area I saw these guys a couple months ago, took a picture, but never posted it.  This part of Seoul has a lot of university student traffic, and is one of my favorite places to check out restaurants and just plain walk around and kill time.

About 2 blocks or so from the Hyehwa subway station there is a CGV movie theater with a giant-sized Gandalf statue–cool.

Lastly, I’ll close with a shot of what I think are two small chicken sculptures made with dried squid pieces and nuts–how cool is that?

Well, time to go see if SBS is actually showing anything new from the Olympics.  I expect I’ll see re-runs of Korean speed skaters winning gold medals, sigh.