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Lantern festival in Seoul

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For two weeks in the beginning av November was Seoul lanter festival held. I took the opportunity to go on a thursday night with my friend Julie since there arent many people out on weekday nights. The festival is always set in the Cheonggyecheon stream where huge lanterns build of rice paper are standing in the dark water. Very spectacular! There were all sorts of themes, stories and colors. Julie is very good at explaining so it was very giving.

          

          

                

I have always wanted to see paper lanterns and have always connected them with Asia- and now I got that chance!  

               

The lantern festival has only been on for three years and started just out of a chance. This year the festival was even bigger and more spectacular than the last, so it is becoming a tradition. A perfect tradition for a month like November.

Meetup

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By the fith day here, I felt isolated. I wanted to get out and meet people and I needed to do it now!
I found this website called Meetup. There you regrister and choose what city you are in. After that you can choose what Meetup-group you wan't to joing in your city. There is all kind of activities and for everyone's taste. For example a board playing group, a fitnessgroup or why not a group to learn a new language. I'ts no end to it! Why diden't I find this group earlier, then I would have been a tourist back in Gothenburg and could have met with expats.

I got hooked to a group called The Seoul expat global meetup group (Aka expat group) organized by a wonderfull and enthusiastic man called Harry. My first meetup was with that group when we walked along the Cheonggyecheon stream, a man built, long beautiful channel passing through a part of Seoul. The best with this meetup was that I met Hyunjoo witch I have been hanging out with ever since.


                                         Me, Harry and Hyunjoo
Harry had many ideas over how our company Scandinique would find a printing, so the next time the expat group had a meetup I took Erik with me. This time we wen't to a resturant with an amazing sea buffet. I was so happy over all the nice fresh fish that was laid out. Futhermore I got to try king crab for the first time – now I understand what the fuss is about, really nice and special taste.

 

How to party in Seoul you learn by hanging with Hongdae & Itaewon Party group. Me and Erik wen't with the group to a party in Hongdae, the youth- and party district.
It turned out that in Seoul the subway stops going for the day around 11pm, but the clubs in Hongdae is opend to 6am so you can stay and party all night. That we almost did because we met a few great people, among others Sue-kim witch I also have been hanging out with ever since. We diden't have the energy to stay all night so we took a cab home. That cab ride cost us $2 so now we know that we really can afford to take a cab home whenever we want too! In Sweden same distance probably would have been $100.


After I had been in the city one and a half month working all the time I was longing to get out in natur and do something exiting. Therfore I joined Climbing in Korea, CIK, and wen't with them a early morning to paragliding site! It is one of the most amazing things I have been experienced, the pilot was steering and I was flying.



Feel the thrill:

After that we had lunch and then wen't to walk in the beautiful stalactite caves. I have been in those kind of caves before, like Europas biggest, the Postojna caves in Slovenia 2011 and those once is hard to beat. But what was still new to me was the fact that we had to climb in slippery steap staircases and cower down in low passages so that was thrilling. It was a really eventful day!

Me and Hyunjoo wen't with CIK, again for me, only three days later only to get to walk in the beautiful Saroksan mountains, the most famous in whole Korea. The spectacular thing was that the leaves was turning to autumn colors at that all of South korea wanted to come and see, that's why it was many peoples there. Mostly old people that tend to run down the stairs, I don't know were they got their energy from. But I enjoyed the trip anyway because around every corner it looked like a new scenery taken from Lord of the Rings. The whole hike took five houers and was a ruff start with steap climbing. I felt that I really have been sitting down and working for many weeks because my training ache after the trip dropped like four days later.



A few weeks ago I met Harry and his group again. This time it was a chicken and beer meetup and it was deliciouse!

There is plenty of more things to do togheter with Meetup, I'm looking forward too that!

Chuseok 2, Gyeongbok-gung palace

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Located in Seoul is Gyeongbok-gung, the biggest palace in the city witch was the seat of the emperor until the japanese invasion 1592 and everything was destroyed. But it was rebuild in the 1900s.


It was the second day of Chuseok and me and Erik wen't there togheter with another friend Zue. The entry as free this day, wich alot of other people also had discoverd.
The change of guards was going on when we arrived, a colorfull parade with swaying flags and exotic music.


After we finished looking we started to explor the area, that investigation took four houers since the area is so gigantig and it was also 35degrees this day. It was impressive to see the thrown hall of the emperor, the queens chambers, the feast hous and everything else that the palace had to offer

It was also impressive to yet again see parents letting their children wear the thick Hanbo, tarditionell korean clothing, for just going out on sightseeing.

The roofs all over the palaces was painted in beutiful and really colorfull patterns.
The garden was like from a fairytale with beautiful trees and a small lake with koifishes and a house in the middle on a small island.


Always the mountins enthroend in the background so the tour was amazing. I will return, but probably when I have more water and a picknick with me.



We ended up in Insa-dong again to eat traditionell korean food.
Afterwards we wen't to a bar were I got to try bamboo wine for the first time. It was suprisingly sweet and I have never heard of it before. But I guess if you can make liqure out of potato, you can probably make liqure out of everything.
 

 

 

Chuseok part 1, Hanok Village

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Week 38, from wensday, It was Chuseok (추석) in Korea. It is koreans most important feast throughout the year, that's why they have three days of holiday. From the beginning, Chusok was the celebration of good harvest. During this holiday the koreans visit their families and relatives, also visiting the family graves. It is a mixture of halloween and thanksgiving, and it is as important as christmas is for us.


                                                     Hanko village
Me and Erik wanted to take part in korean culture so we asked our friend Sue Kim to come with us to Namsangol Hanok Village. It is a small village put togheter with houses, from 1800-1900 century, from the whole of Seoul to preserv them.
No one of us had ever been there, but despite that Sue Kim still had alot to tell us about the houses and the old times. There was alot of peoples and so warm so we took a brake eeating Hangwa that Sue Kim brought. It is a speciall cookie for celebrations like theese and it is made out of rice.
                          
                                                                    Hangwa

                           
                                                              Me and Sue Kim
After that we explored the houses and the area more. Alot of traditionell activites was going on, among others a drumming on a block of stone that the cildren could try out and traditionell arrow throwing into a vase, a old sport.

During Chuseok the family pust up a podium with food in order to honor their dead relatives. They bow infront of the podium and then let the food sit for on hour before eating it up.

This day many wore the traditionell korean clothing called Hanbo, but mostely small children. Must have been incredible warm.

When we finished walking around Sue Kim took us to the Insa-dong district for some korean traditionell food called banchan and contains many small sidedishes.

Insa-dong is a really cozy and nice area with alot of stores and many things to look at, I fell in love straight away. Sue Kim took us fuhter up in the district to the youtharea and there we had a latte on a roof terass while the sun set, with that view the day coulden't end in a better way.

                                      

Let's talk beauty, a first impression

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What is so striking here is that every girl and woman is incredibly beautiful and very sophisticated dressed in skirts, high heels and silk blouses. They look like the picture above. They have long hair, beautiful faces and slim waists. I can admit that I didn´t expect everyone to look like that so I was surprised. I felt uncomfortable the first few days surrounded by little dainty and incredibly slim beautiful girls. But I must not forget that it is I who is regarded as exotic with my blonde hair and blue eyes. So now I am used to the street scenes and feel comfortable.

In fact, plastic surgery is very common here. There is a lot of advertising for it everywhere. They operate their Asian narrow eyes, make their noses smaller and ajust their jawbones to get a narrow face to look more "western". It is almost expected that a girl gets an operation from the parents as a graduation gift! It's really a problem that the beauty ideal is westernized when you are born Asian.

If you are a Korean girl friends often question why you are still so thick and why you have not fixed your nose. It may seem absurd to us, but for Koreans, it is part of their modern culture and they do not think there's anything wrong with that.

Of course there is a lot of beauty products and just like the Chinese they are trying to find new ways to beauty. I haven´t seen any products made of tigerbones yet, but I  believe they exist. The latest and trendiest means of beauty is slime from snails. It is a trend that comes from Japan. I see a lot of advertising for it in anti-wrinkle creams. The advertisement below is really clever. Yeah, who knows, maybe it works. Why not have a snail on the eye?
 

                                           

The journey

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On 28th of August I took off from Sweden . Not knowing when I 'll see it again I gazed out of the airplane´s window onto the forests and the lakes until they disappeared in the clouds. Now I was finally on my way! I had packed my new large, orange suitcase. It is certainly not easy to put a girl's whole life in a luggage that could weigh not more than 30 kilo. With a large backpack as handluggage containing books and my flute plus a handbag with camera equipment and laptop plus computer bag , I managed to bring along the most important things . My winter clothes will be sent to me in a cardboard box as "Christmas present " .

I landed at Istanbul airport after three hours and during the trip I had amused myself by viewing a thunderstorm from above. There it was stuffy and people of all kinds, so I waited out my three hours on a plate bench at my gate . At 0:40 , we finally got to board the big plane to make our final leg in 10 hours . As always , there were many movies to watch and plenty to eat.

Arriving in South Korea at 17.30 local time , I went to the immigration counter. It was the toughest I have ever experienced, the queue was not long , but the time it took! I felt the sweat pouring in the heat where I stood in my warm outfit and all the bags. After 45 minutes , it was finally my turn and then I could pick up my luggage and go to the bathroom and slip in to something cooler. It was 30 degrees in Seoul and I had travelled in my heavy sweaters and high leather boots to slim the luggage .

I was greeted by my partner Eric and it was nice to see a well known face in a foreign country. He went a month earlier to Seoul to meet up with Minsung , who has helped us with translations and research. She left Aug. 14 for studies in the U.S. And I was not able to leave because I had a summer job.

                                 

But now we stood there in Seoul together and went back to "our neighborhood " ! We wouldn´t get access to our rented apartments in three days. Erik lived right now in the right house , but in the wrong apartment and there was no place for me. Erik had arranged a room with a lady a little bit away who just rented out to girls. There I got to sleep on the floor Korean style in an unadorned room , but it was only to adapt.


After a much needed shower it was already late at night, but we were hungry and went to a traditional Korean BBQ nearby. A grill is integrated into the table, and you ger meat and a lot of sidedishes. You grill the meat and put in a lettuce leaf with the trimmings and put it in your mouth. Very popular activity here in Seoul !



After that I was tired and we parted and I went home to my hard mattress . Jet lag does not exist for me, so I fell asleep at once. My last thought was: Now I'm actually here.
 

A decision and a beginning

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All stories has a beginning, regardless what story. That's why my blog beginns with how it all started. How did I get the crazy idea to leave everything and throw myselfe into a totally diffrent culture?

In January this year I met Erik on my, at the time, boyfriends party. First time I met Erik was one year earlier when he just arrived back home from China, where he had been working and studying for a few years. But this time we got to talk more. He told me about all amazing things that he had experienced in Asia, it made me dream away. Alreddy Erik spoke of returning to Asia, I said I would love to help him with a few things. We decided to have a meeting since we got along so well.

After a few meetings and events that I took him to he told me about his idea, to import scandinavian
interior design to the South Korean market. South Korea tend to fall inbetween the giants China and Japan so it was a really clever idéa to beginn in South Korea, easier to start a business there and then get established in whole of Asia.
Erik asked me if I would like to be his co-owner and college since I got knowledge he hasen't and the other way around. I got experence in social media, consulting, building websites, project leading, graphic design, AD, e-commerce solutions, marketing and print. Exactly the profession that the project would need.

In February I had to make a dessision of what path I wanted to go. I had been planning on getting a job in Gothenburg, my home town, and my own appartment but I quickly made up my mind because you only get this opportunity once in youre life. Gothenburg will always be there and I always have the opportunity to return. ”You rarely regret what you've done, but what you haven't done”, like my wise father told me.

Therefore I stopped looking for a job and appartment, instead I took this chans and leap of faith! In over half a year we have planned and been working hard for this. The time have just been flying by – something that just started as an idea has now turned into reality. And now my life beginns here in Seoul.

In my blogg I will be talking about everything I experince and do in the contry on the other side of the world, how it is to be an entreprenure in a diffrent culture and so much more.

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