Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Teddy Bears!!!!!

Korea has no less than five Teddy Bear Museums. I was fortunate enough to visit the Museum situated in Seoul.


 To get to this Museum one has to take the cable car to the entrance to the N Seoul Tower and the Observation Deck.

 This a wonderful spot from which to see the entire city of Seoul and beyond.
  This photo was taken through thick glass, so I am sorry that it is not so clear. One does get the impression that Seoul is a city of modern high rises and quite rightly so!

 Outside the entrance are several "trees" of locks and messages.

 Traditionally couples bring a lock up to this point and write messages of love to each other and then toss the keys away.

 Any one with shares in the lock business would have scored.

 There are thousands and thousands of locks and messages. Evidently the authorities have tried to stop this tradition. I thought it rather fun and a little romantic.

 The museum has two exhibition halls. The first hall has scenes of bears depicting scenes of  the history of the city since the Joseon Dynasty to modern day Seoul.

 There are such delightful scenes. Most of them in Exhibition Hall 1 are scenes of life in the King's Palace.

 Training to take up their arms.

Entertaining the King.

Exhibition Hall 2 is the NOW in Korean history. Here is a pop band entertaining Tourists.
The attention to detail is unbelievable! A modern day wedding!

 Market day!
 The Artist at work.
 The Market Place.
 AND a few beautiful Steiff bears.  These are all behind glass as they are very valuable.

I loved my visit to this museum and oohed and aahed and took lots of happy snaps. I would love to have visited the other Teddy Bear Museums around Korea but there is a limit to what one can achieve in two weeks!! This Museum is an absolute MUST!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Quilt museum and the Paper Doll Museum !

According to Wikipaedia, Seoul has over eighty museums and counting! Some of these are National Museums and some Municipal museums but most are are privately owned. I would have to be here for many weeks if I was to see half of these Museums and I love going to Museums ( to my hubby's horror)! Thus I had to get choosey.

 I had read that Seoul has a Quilt Museum so that was definitely on top of my list to visit. Being over 60 one gets to pay reduced fees or at many places, the entrance is free! Old age has it's advantages.

 This museum is situated at the converted bottom floor of the owners home.

Unfortunately taking photos is not permitted but somehow I managed to get one or two.

 "Nubi" is the Korean word for quilt but the curator prefers to use "quilt" as it is universally recognised. This  traditonal style of quilting is called Pojagi and the cloth was originally made to wrap gifts and carry religious scripts. The fabric used is called ramie and is quite stiff. Linen or hemp are good modern day substitutes.


The pieces are joined so no raw edges are evident and the quilting was originally done using a gold thread. The quilting consists of three stitches and a space and then three stitches. You may just be able to see these stitches in the photograph I took through the glass case!! 
Sorry about the lousy photo but it was not supposed to be taken. My camera just went off.

This photo is not taken in the museum.
 According to tradition each patch and stitch added by the maker was like a prayer of good will for the receiver of the gift that the pojagi covered. Patterns of three, with three being an auspicious  number in Korean culture, are often seen in Pojagi work.

 It means to think over something well, be patient and make a decision after three years!!
Nor this one but it gives a good idea.
 There was a collection of interesting traditional quilts adorning the walls. The Museum is small and has a shop attached with an exhibition of dolls from around the world.  Evidently there are regular exhibitions with quilts from other countries being displayed. The curator travels around the world giving talks on Korean quilting.

On Jeju Island I set off on a rainy afternoon for the Paper Doll Museum. Taking photographs was permitted and the display was outstanding.

  This museum is situated under the World Cup Stadium of 2002!! Ingenius I would say! No dead space in Seoul.
 This work is known as Hanji and the paper is made from the Dak tree or Mulberry tree as we know it.

 I was absolutely thrilled by the display and my little camera worked over time. Brilliant work.


 The village scenes are colourful and full of action. It takes a Hanji worker three years of study and then each figure can take up to three months to create.
Granny is giving the boy a good wash?
These two are day dreaming!
 This craft originated in China over 1000 years ago but the Koreans have mastered it and their work is exported all over the world.

The next blog will be my exciting visit to The Teddy Bear Museum.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Visiting the DMZ and War memorial!

Visiting the DMZ Or the Demilitarised Zone is top of the list of "things to do" while in Kores.


 This is the buffer Zone between the South and the, Korea.  All the way to the Zone one notices security fencing and guard houses. These guardhouses each have two armed guards.


 Manning these places must cost the government a fortune!

 It was so exciting doing this trip as both Warren and I had visited Check Point Charlie which divided Germany, many years ago.


 It is worth going on an organized trip as the guides have many stories to share plus all the history. This zone is supposed to be one of the most dangerous places to be in the world.

A view of North Korea.

 The South Korean Government has turned this Zone into a Tourist destination and while one is cautioned all the time, the whole experience is rather exciting.


 Memorials have been erected and places where the public can pay tribute to their loved ones.


 Several tunnels have been discovered where the a north Koreans have attempted to infiltrate the South and Tunnel number three is open to Tourists to visit. It is a challenging walk to the end of these tunnels and coming back Warren had to push me up the long incline otherwise I might still be battling to get to the surface!

A bullet ridden train engine.

This station was built to cross the border but has never been used!


 No photographs are permitted to be taken beyond the yellow line. However there are a few coin operated telescopes available and I was lucky to share one and to see a North Korean working in the field. Evidently they use very old fashioned methods for clearing the fields. I think he was a North Korean!!!!

 This trip took about four hours.

On return to the city we decided to round off the day with a visit to the War memorial.

 One of the things that surprised me that in this rather somber museum there were many groups of little children visiting with their teacher.

On asking I was told they were three or four years old. I am sure they enjoyed seeing some of the airplanes and tankers but for the rest.... I am not so sure.

 One thing I did enjoy seeing is a tribute to the South Africans that took part in the Korean war of 1950 to 1953! South Africa sent 826 men to Korea. 243 were Air Force Staff and 543 were ground personnel. 37 men gave their lives to the cause.
The Statue of Brothers. The elder a South Korean soldier and the younger a North Korean soldier, symbolizing  the split between the North and the South Korea.

 After this full day of "Warring" it is time for some light hearted fun. I am all warred out!

Our first outing in Korea.

Coming to Korea has been the most amazing experience, I was not sure what to expect despite doing a whole lot of research before hand. Staying with folk who have lived here for a few years has made a HUGE difference and we are forever grateful.

 Trevor is the M.D. for Audi and he, his lovely wife Sam and son Josh are about to leave Korea for their next posting. Despite it not being a good time to have visitors, Trevor insisted we continue with our plans to visit them in Seoul. Their home is in a lovely area and is very convenient to public transport, which we soon learnt to use.

 Seoul is a great city for tourists and everything works like clock work. Our first outing was to visit The Korean Furniture Museum.

 This title does not do this museum justice as it was not only furniture being displayed but much more than that. It is a privately owned Museum which showcases a collection of ten different style of homes built over time.


 These homes are brilliant pieces of carpentry and no nails are used to keep them together. Each house depicts different periods in the history of Korea.

The houses showcases beautifully crafted furniture. In parts of the museum we were free to take photos and some parts we were requested not to.


 The view from where this museum is situated is wonderful as it is built on one of the many hills on which the city of Seoul is built.


 We were fortunate to see a display of " Gucci " as the museum was being used as a backdrop for handbags and luggage by Gucci created over over the decades.

 This was a great first taste of Korea and we are so excited for what is in store for us.
Kimchi Pots.

This interesting pan is filled with water, put on a fire and when hot is used for ironing clothes.