Wednesday, April 1, 2009

2009 Scouting the Cherry Blossom Festival along the Han River in Seoul and Yeouido Park

Last weekend Julianne and I headed to Seoul to see if we'd get lucky and find some good early shots of the cherry blossoms . . .

And of course we had to do the obligatory 'couplehood' shot on the train.

Arriving in Seoul around 8:30pm we got our hotel room, and then walked around for a bit taking pics . . .

We were a little hungry and saw this street vendor with sausages/street meat.

I was surprised to see that they had buns. Typically you get sausages or hot dogs on a stick skewered through the center of the meat. Buns seem to be getting more popular here.

I'm not sure what these are . . . they seem to be popping up in street vendor cuisine . . . they kind of look like Yorkshire pudding but I'm not sure . . .

Are they some kind of donut, or even a poor attempt at French crullers (a kind of donut)?

The next morning we hit McDonalds for breakfast. I took this pic outside to test the new circular polarized lens filter I picked up for my camera. I think it's mandatory kit for photographers in Korea--especially during the summer. The lighting conditions are so bright during the summer here that it makes getting good shots very difficult. Here's an example of what the filter does . . .

Unfortunately I didn't keep the before shot I took with my regular UV lens filter so I can't show a before and after of this tree and building. Go to this link and look at the "LINEAR & CIRCULAR POLARIZING FILTERS" to see a good before and after landscape shot in sunny conditions.

Julianne drinks coffee occasionally and was laughing at the size of cream containers in Korea. She said her father would be stunned at how small they are

After a late breakfast we then headed towards the Yeouido area to walk around and take pics. Arriving at the sidewalk that runs along the Han river I was stunned to see this--

Apparently there's a major renovation of the riverscape going on . . . and they aren't just doing one section of the river--it goes for kilometers . . . so much for walking along the river to see that part of the festival this year.

I noticed these postsers and took some shots of the proposed changes.

You'd think that this kind of project would be scheduled for another time of the year but then I don't know crap about construction and planning . . .

Up on the sidewalk that runs along the street there are many cherry blossom trees . . . but sadly we were waaaayyy too early. Most of the trees are barely even showing buds let alone the beginnings of what might look like a flower.

We kept walking along the street hoping to find a few trees that had blossoms . . .

This particular stretch will have a beautiful canopy of cherry blossoms in a few days to a week . . . but last weekend there was only one tree that had anything visible on it.

I felt a little bad cause Julianne had been totally pumped up and excited to see the blossoms and take pictures . . . but with the recent cold weather I should have known it was too early.

Using the glass is half full perspective I think I got a few nice shots . . .

Julianne and I are going to Seoul again this weekend . . . but I wonder if the 2km laneway around the National Assembly building is just going to have trees full of this,

Anyways . . . to occupy myself I kept taking shots of the renovations of the riverscape because I imagine that when it's done it'd be cool to have before and after shots.

I'm still surprised that more trees didn't have blossoms because in other parts of Seoul the trees are in bloom.

In my last post I mentioned the park that is near the river . . . and stupid me couldn't remember the name: Yeouido Park. (DUH!)

We decided to skip the park for the moment and keep walking towards the 2km lane way that runs around the National Assembly . . .

This is the start of the 2km laneway . . . it looks quite ugly right now and not just because there are no blossoms in the trees that line the lane--the construction crap from the river comes right up to the sidewalk.

There are different kinds of colorful flowers that also grow along the sidewalk/lane way but the construction safety fence kind of kills the shot.

Then I ran into my favorite bird in Korea . . . and started trying to get some decent shots. They always fly away the second I point my lens at them. This time, however, I got lucky and got a few nice pics (see more of them further down).

These bushes always add a really nice yellow to the general spring visuals in Korea.

And more construction along the river . . .

The 2km lane . . . still looking naked . . . can't wait . . . want to see blossoms . . . argh.

The magpie appeared again and started muching on something in the tree . . .

I like this shot a lot--I wish it was little crisper but considering the distance I was at (about 10 feet away) and speed of the bird I think it's pretty cool.

The National Assembly building . . .

The last half of the 2km lane way . . .

Apparently renovation construction is being done all over this area. And don't ask me why this shot is tilting to the left . . . I have no idea what the heck was going on with how I was holding the camera at the time . . . lol.

Julianne and I walked into the center area of Yeouido Park. As you can see there are tons of kids roller blading and biking and walking around. If you're foreign and you enter this area be prepared to have "HELLO!" yelled at you several times. Also, watch out for any and all Koreans on bicycles and roller blades--there's a cultural phenomenon in this country of if there's empty space around you the person will head directly towards you instead of around you . . . I fully intend to try and get video of this phenomenon on the weekend.

Later on I headed by taxi to Gangnam (not a good idea to do at 4pm on a Saturday by the way, next time I'll take the subway) and saw more cherry blossom trees in bloom along the river . . . this is why I thought it might not be too early to check out the Yeouido trees . . .

Arriving in Gangnam I noticed these towers lining the sidewalk . . . people were using a touchscreen computer and then it looked like they were getting their picture taken . . . wow.

There seem to be quite a few of these towers lining the sidewalk . . .

I met the friend I was connecting with to head out to Incheon for a going away party for a guy who is a part of the original 13 Canadian teachers I flew over to Korea with in March of 2005.

He recently moved to Gangnam to teach in a high school position. Since I was curious about the towers he gave me a little tour of what they can do. Each of the globes is a category of info. Bus and train schedules, maps of Seoul, and more.

The touch screen aspect makes it pretty cool to use.

We checked out when the bus was leaving for Incheon . . .

And then he suggested that I take a pic of myself to send to Julianne--you gotta love the frame design, lol.

While waiting for the bus (45 mins! we don't know why) we saw this beautiful gem . . .

The bus took forever to get to Incheon because of traffic . . . but that's alright cause I hadn't seen my friend in a while so we talked about teaching, lesson plans, people we knew, etc. The time went by fairly fast--but not fast enough because for some reason the bus driver had the heat on and with the bus being packed it made for a rather humid and uncomfortable ride . . .

Arriving in Incheon an evening of laughs, hugs, and fun began as my friends and I said goodbye to the guy leaving Korea . . .


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