Architecture in Seoul

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Seoul is known for its amazing food and awesome internet but one thing that really took my breath away when we visited Seoul was the stunning architecture, both old and new. From the futuristic Dongdaemun Plaza to the eight gates of Seoul, Seoul is a fantastic place to visit if you love architecture and rich history.

Ewha Womans University

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After we visited the Bauhouse Dog cafe, we headed to Ewha Womans University to look for some lunch and check out the famous university. This university was founded in 1886 by a missionary called Mary F Scranton, who believe all women deserved the right to an education, which was pretty progressive at the time. You can read more about the history of the university (super interesting!) on their website.

The design of the university is amazing. Even though the university has ultra modern and old, almost gothic elements meshed together, it somehow really works.

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After our quick tour of the university, we explored some of the streets in Ewha, and stumbled across this tiny Japanese ramen bar. There was no english on the menu but the guy working there knew some english and helped us translate it.

Both Liam and I ordered the spicy ramen, but they gave me extra egg because I didn’t eat pork and gave Liam my extra pork. So generous!

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The ramen was perfect, just what we needed after fawning over dogs all day. It was spicy and packed with flavour. I felt very nourished after it!

Sungnyemun Gate

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One of the things I miss most about Seoul is heading to the Namdaemun market in the morning to grab some kimchi buns from our favourite bun place and some japchae hotteok.

On our way to meet up with Liam’s friend Jaewon, we passed through the market and spotted a giant gate in the middle of the road. After some research we found out it is the Sungnyemun Gate, which means Gate of Exalted Ceremonies. According to Wikipedia, the gate was used to greet important foreign people, restrict access into the capital city and “keep out Siberian Tigers”. Cool.

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We were comparing the gates to the Angkar Wat in Cambodia, wondering how the gate is still in such great condition. Apparently there was a 2008 arson attack on gate, which meant it needed to go through some restorations, but even before then, it went through some intense damage due to the Korean War and had to be repaired.

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It’s a pretty epic gate (as you can see in the pictures below), and there are a couple around Seoul. We saw one on our last day but it was gated off from the public so we couldn’t visit it.

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After our brief detour, we walked to Seoul Station. One of the best things about Seoul is it’s pretty easy to walk everywhere if you don’t want to use their awesome subway. I can’t remember how long it took us to walk from Namdaemun market to Seoul station, but it was a quick walk.

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Once there, we met up with Liam’s pal Jaewon and he took us to an awesome Tibetan restaurant, where I had the best lassi and naan bread of my life! It was a really lovely lunch, and afterwards Jaewon showed us around the city before he headed home.

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Dongdaemun Design Plaza

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We headed to Dongdaemun a few times to get our (OK, my) fashion fix. The design plaza left us awestruck. It is such a cool futuristic looking building with all these curves and perspectives. You could plonk you camera anywhere and still take a badass shot. The design plaza was only completed in March 2014 and was designed by award-winning Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid in partnership with Samoo, an architecture and engineering service in Korea. I heard a story about its history but I can’t find it anywhere on the web so I don’t want to write it in case I get any details wrong.architecture-in-seoul-19architecture-in-seoul-18

This structure is really unlike anything I’ve ever seen in Australia. It really uses space in a very innovative way, and moulds itself very comfortably in such a dense area.

After our short tour of the plaza, we headed back to the museum of modern and contemporary art to meet up with Liam’s new friends Yesong and Kyle, and their son Shawn. We had a great chat at the cafe and decided to have a kick ass dinner in one of the restaurants in a tight alleyway.

Again, everything on the menu was in Korean, so Yesong and Kyle helped translate it.

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Guys, it was here that I had the best kimchi of my life. It was so good, so perfectly balanced in acidity and salt. I could not stop eating it. Liam ordered a kimchi stew which he LOVED and I ordered a seafood broth with slices of noodle dough. Mine was nice, but I was having some intense food envy because Liam couldn’t get over how good his stew was.

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We also had Makgeolli, which is a fermented rice drink, served in a giant pot. We even drank out of bowls, which is so cool. I remember seeing photos of my great grandfather drinking liquor by the bowl. I didn’t like makgeolli the first time I had it but it definitely grew on me. It looks like asian soy milk but it tastes nothing like it. It’s a bit acidic, with a slight boozy buzz.

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So there you have it, a quick recap of the cool architecture in Seoul. Hope you’ve been enjoying my Seoul posts. For more of my posts on Seoul, check out the links below:

First day in Seoul

Exploring art and laneways in Seoul!

Dog Lovin’ at Bauhouse dog cafe

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Exploring art and laneways in Seoul!

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Well, I had these grand plans to blog while I was in Seoul but it obviously didn’t happen. I’m back in Melbourne now and am working out a bunch of blog posts for the next few weeks. I’m trying out this thing where I write for an hour every day to get myself into the habit of writing, and might as well use it to get myself blogging more consistently!

The night after our first awesome day in Seoul, Liam and I decided to head to Hongdae for some dinner and drinks! Hongdae is a university district so it’s a younger, hipper crowd with exciting bars and things to do at night. We noticed pretty much every restaurant was a fried chicken and beer joint. While I love fried chicken, we had some the night before and wanted to try different Korean food so wandered around and ended up at a Koread BBQ. We should have looked at the menu before entering because there weren’t many beef/chicken options, mostly pork. I ordered a very expensive plate of wagyu beef while Liam had some pork. It was really nice but it was nothing special.

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The next day we wanted to go to the National Folk Museum but when we got there it was closed! It was OK though as the area the museum was in was very picturesque so we just took some photos of a few of the palaces!

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We ended up going to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, which I was pleased about because it was on my list. It was a great museum/art gallery but I felt like the there wasn’t much there as a lot of events or exhibitions weren’t ready for the public yet. We saw the Bauhaus exhibit, which was the creepiest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. I never had issues with clowns until that exhibit. Bauhaus was a design school from the early 1900s to 1930 and was famous for its unusual approach to teaching design and construction. I don’t know why, but I got this really cult-ish vibe from the exhibit.

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The best exhibit was the Lee Bul one! She had two installations, one was a massive room decked out in shards of mirrors and lights, like a scene in a sci-fi film where someone lands on a new planet. So cool. I didn’t realise it I wasn’t allowed to take photos so I got told off. Her second installation was even more epic. I’m gonna let the images speak for themselves. It made me feel like I was in The Matrix or something and the sentinels are coming for me.

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After the museum, we decided to head home but we stumbled upon an alleyway full of cool little shops and cafes. We went to Jaws Food after they enticed us with their croquettes. They’re actually more like deep fried fish balls stuffed with cheese. Yum regardless!

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This particular area had some really stunning views and architecture. I could have spent hours exploring all the laneways. We even stumbled across a little egg tart place! Overall, a very awesome second day in Seoul!

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First week of Funemployment

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I’ve started catching up on some of the TV shows I’ve been wanting to watch. I love drama shows but I have to be in the right mood to watch them. I’m usually pretty mentally drained from work so I watch loads of (maybe too many) comedy shows. I pretty much devoured The Fall in a day and a bit and I’ve just finished season one of Fargo. INTENSE, GUYS! I’ll be moving on to True Detective. Other shows on my radar: Halt and Catch Fire (!!! Lee Pace *insert emoji with heart eyes*), Peaky Blinders, The Good Wife and Orphan Black. Hit me up with recommendations in the comments!

I’ve been doing more than just watching TV! Or at least, I’m trying to. When I was working full time, I always complained I never had time do anything creative so I’m really trying to use my time wisely now. I’m currently living at my parents’ place because I am acting chauffeur for my brother. He got a job at a restaurant and needs someone to pick him up after his late shifts. The change has been quite nice, although I do feel a little displaced. I feel reasonably relaxed at my parents’ place but I also feel like I’m living out of a suitcase, with my core belongings and clothes still at my place.

One of the things I started doing again is paint with watercolour. I thought I’d do something useful while bingeing on TV shows. It’s been really great! I painted a sunflower which I’m really happy with. It was sort of inspired by Klimt’s sunflower painting. I tried to paint something similar in acrylic paint but it didn’t quite work out.

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I got together with my friend Edwina, who’s got a sweet little Etsy shop full of her craft projects, for an afternoon of painting. I painted this … thing. I don’t really know what it is but I quite like it, but also feel like it’s missing something. What do you think?

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This week I’m focussing more on music. I haven’t played my ukulele in a while so I wanted to dedicate more of my time this week to music. It’s been really fun. I’ve stopped mucking around with song covers and started playing with chords and I think I wrote a song! I just need to nail down the lyrics. I’m finding the lyric part of songs really hard, probably because I don’t really know what to write about. I guess it’s like sitting down and trying to write a poem when you don’t know what you want to convey. Anyway, it’s obviously rough as at the moment. If it’s any good (or if it’s god awful), I’ll chuck it up on Soundcloud.

What awesome projects have you been doing this week?

Let’s Get Musical

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What should I name my uke?

My mental health is kinda rocky at the moment. I have some really terrible moments where I want to smash the reset button and other times, I am what they call “living in the moment” and just enjoying everything as it comes. I was doing pretty well last week but today’s been pretty crappy because of body image issues. URGH!

Anyway, last week, I bought myself a ukulele! I had a wonderful ukulele lesson with musician Georgia Fields a few weekends ago and I couldn’t stop thinking about music and how much fun it was. I actually wanted to buy myself a ukulele for my birthday but I never got the chance.

I’ve been trying to practice about two hours a day but it’s so hard to fit in time so I sometimes just do four to five hour chunks on the weekends. I’ve learned how to play Tegan and Sara‘s ‘Call It Off‘ and I have maybe seven chords memorised so I’ve been playing some Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, Coldplay and Miley Cyrus. I’ve started to notice a lot of pop songs have the same four chords so that’s been fun.

One of the toughest things is singing while playing, especially when what you’re strumming is at a different tempo/rhythm (sorry I don’t know what the correct term is!) to what you’re singing. For example, Tegan and Sara’s ‘Walking With A Ghost‘ is really easy to play, just three chords. But the way you’re meant to strum it is (for me at least) really different to what you’re singing, so I’m trying to practice that as well. If anyone has any tips, please let me know!

In other exciting news, the first issue of the Grapple Annual is out now! I have three artworks in the lit journal and I couldn’t be more proud of this little publication. If you’re interested, please grab a copy of the Grapple Annual. There are only 365 issues printed!

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What song should I learn on the ukulele?

Review: Silhouettes, Inside Outside

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I got an awesome opportunity to review a very exciting new performance last night at FortyFive Downstairs. The show is called Silhouettes, Inside Outside and it turned out to be one of the most interesting performances I’ve ever been to.

If words like “audience participation” freaks you out, this show will definitely change your mind.

Inspired by parental feedback from her Paint What You Hear workshops, artistic director Erica Rasmussen wanted to create an interactive experience where adults and kids can engage with art and music simultaneously.

Collaborating with a bunch of talented musicians such as Nat Grant (percussion), Andrea Keeble (violin), Elisse Kleiner (flute), this lush performance is enriched with Annabel Warmington’s lighting installation and the works of artists Natalya Garden-Thompson and Sam Haycroft.

The space, covered floor to ceiling in fabric, becomes both a stage and audience seating. The space floor, littered with bright plump cushions, invites audience members to sit closer. Paint brushes and palettes are poking out from various nooks, enticing you to paint something.

The musicians take their place behind the screens, creating a beautiful but eerie soundscape of “real” sounds using the flute, violin and percussions. Most striking was Keeble’s interpretation of what I think is a lawnmower using her violin. Their silhouettes, painted onto the screens by three artists, soon become large expressive shapes and stories. The artists then start to paint to the rhythm of the music using smooth lines, flicks of paint and flutters of curved strokes. They were almost dancing with the music. It was really wonderful to watch.

After the intermission, it was our turn to interpret the music with a paint brush. Pots of paint, chalk, textas and pastels filled the floor, encouraging us to shake off our inhibitions and paint what we feel. Everyone got very involved and I felt a great sense of catharsis being part of the performance in such a unique way.

If you love the idea of fusing music and art or just want to challenge your ideas of audience participation then this is for you. The show is on until November 1, so don’t miss out on this gem.

Silhouettes, Inside Outside

Artistic Director: Erica Rasmussen
Percussion: Nat Grant
Violin: Andrea Keeble
Flute: Elisse Kleiner
Lighting installation: Annabel Warmington
Artists: Natalya Garden-Thompson and Sam Haycroft

Get tickets: http://www.fortyfivedownstairs.com/events/silhouettes-inside-outside/

The unrealistic strife for perfection

I’ve had a really weird week last week and am now suffering from what could be a stomach ulcer. It’s really annoying as I can’t eat normal food. I can’t do any painting tonight because my back hurts too much. SO MUCH SAD FACE.

I was asked to do some art for two friends last week. One is a children’s book, the other is like a humorous manual for young adults. Since I know more about the children’s book, I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to paint for it and decided to play with acrylic paint.

I haven’t used arylic paint since I was about 19 and I took up watercolour painting last year. It was really tough at first, almost like unlearning everything about watercolour and re-learning acrylic. And as always, I was over thinking everything, obsessing over whether or not the artwork looked real.

I also had to remind myself that when I painted when I was younger, I did have a distinct painting style, so trying to remember what I did then was tough. I got pretty frustrated and I ended up painting this awful thing:

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I laughed it off and did a second painting, which turned out much better. I think it was because I didn’t have high expectations with this one and of course, it turned out better than expected.

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I’m hoping my stomach gets better and I have some more time to do more painting for the kid’s book and start working on the young adult manual.

In other awesome news, one of my blog posts has been featured on Tigress Mag For Girls! Editor Freya Bennett asked me if I would be interested in submitting something and I edited an old blog post I did last year about subtle racism, which she liked enough to put on her awesome site. Do check out all the other writing and artwork on that site, it’s all bloody amazing!

Here’s my blog post: http://www.tigressmagforgirls.com/tigress-magazine/2014/august/where-are-you-from

You can find them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tigressforgirls

 

 Also, this gorgeous artwork is by Alejandra Hernandez, which was paired with my blog post! I really love this painting!