31 August 2008

The Korean Folk Village together with Koh Eun

On our Sunday in Seoul we made an appointment with a friend of ours, Ko Eun, to take us to the Korean Folk Village a bit out of town. Actually, it took nearly an hour by bus before we reached the place. Finally, Anais Thima was able to spend the better part of the day walking around instead of being confined to her push chair.

All of us in the village on a hot and sunny day.

There's also a bunch of performances to watch. Here its something in between dancing and acrobatics accompanied by the rythm from several drums, bells and gongs. It's pretty cool with some of the guys having a "rotatable" ribbon attached to the top of their hats. So as they dance around they swing the ribbon around in a circle.

Next show is the seesaw performance. The two girls would appear from a small "artist's shed" with some sort of prop to be utilised by them while propelled into the air. Then the girls would go back into their shed and reappear with a new gadget. On the photo they've brought along a drum that they slam behind their back.

Then it was the line-dancer's turn to impress the audience. He was pretty good, but a big part of the performance was telling a bunch of anecdotes in Korean, so maybe that's why Anais looks a bit sceptical.

Emma with Ko Eun in front of the replica of a regional administration building.

The village is also full of farm animals and here Anais gets to see one of Daddy's favorite animals.

A land owners house as it would have looked in old Korea. The clay jars in the foreground are used for storing kimchi.

What it would look like if Anais were a princess in the old days in Korea. I guess it's intended for a grown person, so probably people used to be quite short.


Emma, Anais and Ko Eun crossing a stone bridge.

In one corner of the compound there is a complete little amusement park with altogether more than 20 different rides (the one on the picture doesn't count as one)! First we wanted to see if Anais would like to get a roll in one of those kids-rides - I've got no clue what they're actually called. She didn't seem to be too impressed by it though.

As Mummy got a bit tired of sitting in her tiny seat she invited a little Korean girl to take her place. She was of course happy to get a free ride and Anais just seemed a bit puzzled. At this point Anais realised that she could honk the horn of the car and that was what she did...

And finally a classic: the carousel. The woman operating the ride insisted that we get on a horse which at the beginning of the ride was at its highest point. Thus, it was necessary for the lady to hold Anais while I mounted the animal. Now, having a stranger holding Anais is asking for trouble and during the first couple of round-trips Anais was still crying. At some point we succeeded in distracting Anais from crying, but she never really enjoyed the ride. Anyway, now she has tried it!

30 August 2008

Getting Around in Seoul

Getting around with a push chair in Seoul is at times challenging. The first couple of days Mummy brought Anais with her on a bus, which requires overcoming half a meter of ascent into the bus. This can only be achieved with the help of other passengers. Luckily, Seoul's inhabitants are very helpful and ever so patient. Even the bus driver would get up and assist Anais and Mummy to board the bus. The good thing about taking the bus is that it brings you from right in front of the hotel to the centre.
Seoul also has an extensive subway system comprised of eight lines. All the stations are equipped with lifts, one from the street level down to a concourse and another downwards to the platform. However, the stations are huge and taking the lift often involves a close study of the station map followed by a long walk to reach the lift. Another problem is that there's often only one lift going to/from the street level and reach the place you want to go may require you to cross a major road, but often the next crossing is far away. All in all it's far from always practical to go by the metro and Daddy has had to carry Anais in her push chair up many flights of stairs.
Finally, when you get tired of all the hassle you grab a taxi. The price for a trip is reasonable though not exactly cheap. Additionally, one shouldn't count on the driver speaking even a word of English. Funny, that English is so uncommon, but that's probably the case for both Korea and Japan.

Anais and Daddy on a Seoul metro platform. Safety is indeed good with the tracks behind glass doors; not all stations have this system installed. On the screens you can see not only advertisements but also the locations of all incoming trains. For example at the time this picture was taken there was a train departing the previous station and a train stopping two stations before.

Late in the evening on a Seoul metro train.

29 August 2008

An afternoon at Gyeongbok Palace

While a city sightseeing tour was on the schedule for the AQIS conference the Cloud family decided to go for a tour of their own to see the main palace in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung. The palace was first built in 1394 by King Taejo when he founded Seoul as the capital his realm. Since then it has been expanded partly destroyed and rebuilt several times. When the Japanese occupied Korea in 1911 they tore down significant parts of the palace and at present the Koreans are trying to reconstruct the complete palace.

The Pink Clouds in front of the southern gate of the palace Gwanghwamun, which was taken completely apart in order to move it to its original position from where it had been moved too make way for the Japanese Governor General Building. This huge Japanese building was demolished in 1996 to remove evidence of the Japanese occupation of Korea. Thus, all that is visible of the gate is a big decorative screen.

Anais Thima with Daddy in front of the gate to the Palace (Geunjeongmun) during the guard changing ceremony. This ceremony being held every hour is a bit of a tourist show. The enacting of the ceremony breaks once every so often so that an explanation of the unfolding event can be given in no less than 4 languages - can you guess which? (see the end of this entry for the answer =:).

Thanks to another bunch of conference participants' sightseeing on their own we have this picture of the whole family in front of the guards to the palace.

Here we're inside the Geunjeong Gate on the large square in front of the throne hall (Geunjeongjeon). Anais Thima has escaped from the push chair to explore the huge square - no cars and crowds. The scene somehow resembles a scene from Olsenbanden (Danes know what that is)!

A little lady strolls on the palace grounds.

Anais with Mummy together with a Chinese tour group on the back side of the majestic Geunjeongjeon, the largest building in the palace. It was not destroyed by the Japanese and is thus more or less in its original form.

Walking around the maze that the Palace makes up. Most of the time there are wooden ramps, as in the photo, so that its possible to get around with the push chair. However, it is often necessary to go on a small detour.

Here's one of the most picturesque places in the Palace, the Hyangwon Pond (Hyangwonji) with the Hyangwon Pavilion (Hyangwonjeong) on the central island. In the background Mount Bugaksan.

Relaxing on a sitting platform on the side of Hyangwonji. Anais is enjoying Korean traditional snack together with Mummy.

At the far northern end is the Geoncheong Palace (Geoncheonggung), which was built as an extension to the main palace. Note that the pillars have Chinese characters on them. In Korea these are called Hanja whereas the modern phonetic Korean writing is termed Hangeul. The difficulty of Hanja meant that in old days only aristocrats and learned would be literate, and it is considered a big advance that King Sejong commissioned the work to construct and later introduced the Hangeul system. At first sight Korean writing looks as confusing as Chinese characters, but after learning a few quite logical rules it actually becomes rather simple to remember the way to decipher it.

The National folk Museum of Korea is located on the grounds of Gyeongbokgung, but the buildings are not historical. The museum was constructed on the present location with inspiration from traditional Korean architecture. At this stage all of us were quite saturated with impressions from old buildings and quite happy to evacuate to the modern world.

And as promised, the 4 main tourist languages in South Korea are Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese.

28 August 2008

Food and fluids in Korea

And now a little bit about what and how you eat in Korea.

Dinnertime! In Korea there's usually an option to either sit at a table with chairs or on the floor like on the picture. Usually, we pick the floor option as it makes it easier for Anais to reach the food. Only problem is of course that she can reach everything on the table...

Here's one evening where we walked into the small alleys around Insadong and after some looking around picked a Korean restaurant to have our dinner. We ordered a set with a selection of Korean dishes and side-dishes. There are several variants of kimchi, various seafood, tofu etc. The bowl in the bottom left corner contains Emma's order for tea... which instead turned out to be takju, a fermented alcoholic (6-7%) beverage based on rice and with a strong yeast-like taste. Anais didn't quite agree with this challenging menu and resorted to eating mainly the rice.

Outside the cozy traditional restaurant in the back-alleys of Insadong.

Next day we entered a little eating establishment which grilled fish in the alley outside. The hosts were quick to pull us to the side and guide us in to a little separate room that ideally fits a family with an inquisitive child. The fish was absolutely delicious and of course it was accompanied by various types of kimchi.

Having breakfast in one of the many small bakery shops. Here its in the Crown bakery =:) Anais and Mummy seem to be very much in tune with each other...

First days in Seoul

While Daddy was attending the Asian Conference on Quantum Information Science Mummy and Anais Thima headed out to explore the vast city of Seoul. First task is to find the way from the hotel into town with either bus or metro. Then one has to find out how to cross the streets and then find ones way. Well, the girls managed to get around quite well with the help of the ever so friendly and patient Koreans. Compared with other big city crowds, people in Seoul are remarkably helpful and kind. Thanks for that =:)

Anais in front of Jongno Tower one of Seoul's picturesque modern high-rises.

Opposite Jongno tower is the historical Bosingak Bell Pavilion where in old days the ringing of the bells would mark the opening and closing of the city gates in the mornings and evenings respectively.

The neighbourhood around the Insadong street is littered with teahouses, restaurants and small guesthouses making it a tourist hotspot. Still, one finds just as many locals here too. Actually, Seoul is not particularly crammed with tourists.

Little cloud is happily posing in front of Dongdaemun (North Gate), which is somewhat hidden behind all the traffic. Together, with Namdaemun (South Gate) this is the remaining city gates, and both are flanked by the city's two main markets.

Anais is mingling with Seoul's business cadre.

It's a great pleasure to be out of the push-car! Anais has had to spend a lot of time being pushed around as its too crowded and there's too much traffic in Seoul for it to be safe to walk around on her own.

Back at Insadong lined with souvenir shops and filled with a relaxed atmosphere.

24 August 2008

From Bangkok to Seoul

After the endlessly long wait for our luggage we were set to leave Suvarnabhumi Airport for Ba Por's apartment. Here we were able to catch a short nap, but unfortunately not as long as we would have liked to because Anais Thima - with her body rythm completely out of tune - was impatiently waiting to get out and see something. Alas, in the evening it was time to go to Suvarnabhumi again to catch the flight onwards to South Korea. Ba Por took us to the airport where we were met by Ta Wut, Yai Jae, Na Plang and Na Pam. We grabbed a quick dinner, waited in an all too long immigration queue, an hurried to catch our flight. Fortunately, Na Plang works as a ground staff in the airport and thus could escort us along the way to the gate. Next, the clouds were off to South Korea for their first time.

The farewell crew! Anais Thima very quickly accepted Na Plang and Na Pam and here she seems overly excited to have Na Plang pushing her. Ba Por is watching from the sideline...

On board of Korean Air's flight 651! Even though Anais is a bit too tall and her weight is right at the limit we were offered to have a cot for her. It seemed to be a really good idea as Anais Thima was able to sleep during the entire flight. In order to fit in Anais had to twist a bit or alternatively stick a foot out. Tinky Winky seems to turn his/her head away!

Anais thima arrives in Incheon Airport. Obviously, it is way before she would have liked to get up! Here, we dropped by a bakery for some breakfast for Anais.

23 August 2008

Airborne Anais

The last couple of days Anais Thima has done a whole lot of traveling. First, she went early Friday morning with Mummy and Daddy to Aalborg for Mummy's final exam. Anais was very patient and helped Mummy concentrate on her exam, which she passed very well. In the evening the Clouds returned to Copenhagen and slept immediately. Next day everyone had to get up early to pack their suitcases for their trip to the Far East. Anais went with Daddy to pick up his poster from Daddy's work and upon returning back home Anais patiently waited and watched her parents stuffing bags with all kinds of clothes and other stuff. Then it was off by taxi to the airport where first thing was that the taxi driver forgot to unload one of the bags! 45 minutes of panic later the bag was delivered by another taxi and the Clouds could rush to the chec-in and with 15 min to the flight took a brisk walk to the gate. Now everyone could "relax" during the next 10 hours of flight to Bangkok. Anais, did again bore with the situation and slept after during the last half of the flight. Arivial in Bangkok was 6 in the morning (= 01:00 in DK) i.e. long before Anais' usual waking up time. We went to Mummy's cousin to get some more sleep in a proper bed. Ah, the trip would soon continue...

A kids meal is a bit of a mouthful for someone the size of Anais. Nevertheless, it also quite a feast!

Anais has seen an elephant on the monitor. Her loud gestures attract everyone's attention.

Catching up on the latest stories.

A kind stewardess took a picture of the Clouds in their right element.

Anais wandering off in the baggage claim area in Suvarnabhumi Airport. If we don't stop her she'll go very far.

Shortly the pictures from the onwards trip to South Korea will be posted.

20 August 2008

Story telling and singing

Anais Thima is very fond of books. She can sit down for a while and browse back and forth in her books. The books she likes the most are those which have songs in them. Some times she will bring the books to her parents for them to sing for her and sometimes she will just sit down and imitate singing.

Daddy reading and singing from a big book that Mummy borrowed from the library. Anais loves this book because it has drawings of elephants in it =:)

19 August 2008

Backyard girlfriends

On a warm summer day there's plenty of activity in our backyard and particularly there are a lot of kids around. Luckily, Anais Thima has a couple of friends to play with who
are almost her age. Of course, there's Gylta the girl next door, and then there's also Isabel who's the same age and Oliver who's just over two years old. The kids really enjoy each others' company though they don't really seem to play so much with each other as they seem to want to play with the same toy all at once.

Here are all the girls, Isabel on the elephant, Gylta on the rope, Anais running towards the camera and Gylta's mother supervising the lot.

Little musician

Mummy and Daddy are trying to do the pedagogically right thing and have given Anais Thima a range of instruments she can try an play. Indeed, she loves hitting a tambourine and banging the xylophone - they make such a lovely loud noise! Anais has also started to attempt singing. It sounds rather funny, but we bet that soon she'll be singing along beautifully.

Anais practicing on her xylophone.

18 August 2008

Just a cloud

As all clouds Anais Thima is just so fluffy and soft! Here's just a bit more of her...

On her throne! Anais looks sooo much like her Mummy on this picture.

"He, he! Look at me, I'm trying to charm you"