Being a tourist in Seoul

This is actually the last blog post from South-Korea. This is a representative collection of everything we did and all the pictures we took. These last pictures are from our first two days in the city, exploring Korea and Seoul.


Back to when we wandered around the old part of town.

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Erik wanted me in a picture with a flower.

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Great tea 🙂


The stair that was carved out of the base rock.

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Me trying on sunglasses. But I have wowed not to spend more than 100 NOK, so I didn’t get them.


Pictures of interiour.

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See? Free sunglasses from Hafslund x Øya.

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Little kid trying to do the v with his fingers.


Pink wings.

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Normal Korean food, folded fish cakes on sticks and soup. And crazy hot red rice things.

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Kimchi from a Chinese restaurant, you got it with every kind of food.




Street food. To the right you see those pancakes that we had here in Oslo, but actually never tried in Korea.

A visit to the Korean national museum

One of the first things we did in Korea was to go to the national history museum in Seoul. The whole internet said we should go and we really needed to learn some history. It’s amazing how little we learn of history outside our own bubble (Europe) when we go to school.

So what we were mostly interested in was what happened when, who have ruled Korea, how has the country developed, which are the important historic events and what has defined Korea. As we only knew what has happened after 1945, there was a lot to learn.

I won’t write the complete history of Korea here, but some important bits are that Korea has been a monoculture for almost 8000 years. They have always have a good relationship with the part of China that is closest and a more sour relationship with Japan. Many big heroes have come out of the fights with Japan. Korea has almost always been extremely stable, all dynasties have ruled for a long time (up to 800 years), they have always been reasonably well off and quite techinally advanced. Few wars and little unrest.


Outside the main builing og the museum. There were many buildings and a big garden that were also part of the museum. I don’t remember where everything was from, but I will try and write something.

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This is the gold crown of the Shilla empire that was found in those burial mounds we visited. They are more than a 1000 years old and of the most intricate details.

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When I see things like this I always compare to Norway. What did we do a 1000 years ago? We were all caught up in ordinary and rudimentary agriculture, wooden houses and bad food. Imagine cultures like these? No wonder the vikings travelled.


This is a stone pagoda, they are everywhere in Korea.


It was three stories tall, I think.

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We had a look at Buddahs and learned some of the symbolism of how he is positioned.

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This is a temple gong from a Buddhist temple.

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Then there is fine pottery made in Korea a long time ago.


A certain time period is defined by this greenish colour.

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Korea has always drawn inspiration both from China and Japan, even though the three countries are very different.

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There were separate rooms on the influences from different countries. Very illuminating.

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After a quick tour with an English speaking guide, we went back to the exhibition on the history of Korea and had a closer loog on the handicraft work.

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It reminded me of the travelling Afghan exhibition I saw in Trondheim a couple of years ago, with the hidden Afghan golden treasures.

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The oldest things made by man, found in Korea. There are very old settlements in the country and it is fascinating to learn about, for a person who comes from a country that everyone walked into, but it took a long time to make a country and one culture.



I was very happy with the museum and very happy that we went. Understanding some of the history made the journey in Korea richer and more interesting.

Gyeongju – the old capital

We did a pit stop between Seoul and Busan on our way South, to see some of the countryside and to look at some historic places. So we went to Gyeongju, which was the capital of Silla from 57 BC – 935 AD, to see where the treasures we had seen at the Korean History museum in Seoul were found.



All the treasures were found in old burial mounds of kings, like these.

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We walked through the park of historic mounds.



Had lunch at a Japanese restaurant. They do distinct Korean Japanese food.

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Neo-Korean, maybe?


Umbrella as an fashion statement.

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Traditional teapots of clay.

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Love the details of the buildings.


Especially the colours.




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And we found a beautiful tree (I’m actually looking at the ants on the tree trunk in this picture).



Yes, that is my swimsuit 😉

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We found this amazing place.



Where they grew squash.


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Also these prickly things.

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And just behind them we found flowers!

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They had this car that would drive the tourists around.

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Notice the dark skies behind her? We bought an umbrella from her just an hour later, I think, because we were drowning in the downpour.

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This is where they found the big crown and everything.

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And then, in the middle of a field, we found this picture board of a princess on a horse. Which of us is the prettiest one?




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Third day in Seoul

We walked through the big market where we lived, we went to the international part of Seoul and we found a fancy cafe and a wonderful coffee place (like the one in Italy!). The picture up loader automatically reversed the pictures, so from the end of the day:


A poster of Norway some random place in the metro.

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Golfing in the big city.

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Cute street art. The only we saw, I think.

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Hipster table at the coffee place. I think it is an old door.

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The roaster and roaster room.

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The “café” part, where they brewed.



The outside og the coffee place.



Colourful houses.

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The cool café. It was for living in, sort of. A place to sleep, a smoking room, the café itself, tables and a work space. And you could choose the music that was playing 🙂 And it was very stylish.

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One very popular guitarist out on the street.

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And a very talented girl who did paintings for money. We stood watching her for quite some time. Very fascinating.

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Oh, and some chefs who were watching everyone from the roof top.

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A random shot of a cool Korean, the foreigner button on the machine,

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Korean sports wear and a whole story in a department store with second hand electronics,

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Norway was a part of the Korean war, which is now 60 years ago,




cute signs, Vespa in Seoul,

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and nice china.



A whole day in one post.

A stroll and a KBBQ

After we went to see the fish market, we decided to take a stroll around a big park. On the way we found another of the outside training facilities.
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I have no idea what this does.


Hello, handsome!

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The beach and our hotel on the other side.


The beach we walked is a prime fishing spot.

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We found Koreans hanging out at the beach.



A bug!


I was too busy taking pictures of bugs, so only they went into the cave.

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Then we found a lady selling mussels and things. I think she is one of the famous divers in this spot.

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I was tired, so we went home and changed. It was the day of the brown and black dress 🙂 I’m trying to get better at posing.

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We went into town again

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And found a BBQ place with lots of Koreans in it. Best way to know that it’s good.

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And then we went to a jazz club that one of Ruben’s colleagues had recommended. Jazz is luckily the same all over the globe and we had some nice cocktails while listening. A really good day it was.

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Busan – fish marked

Busan is most known for its fish marked. So we had to go and see.

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Now follows a lot of pictures of dead animals that look strange. First, dried octopus legs.


Then dried small fish in big boxes.


Tiny dries octopi (-puses?)

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No idea what this is, but I think it is for eating.

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More dried feet.


Live mussels.

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Blue mussels on a stick.

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More live animals. All a bit crowded.

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The strangest animal I saw, I think. And why the straw.


A well of possibilities!

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These were wriggling about, very crowded indeed 🙁


And here in a spiky version.


But at this point Ruben and Erik were sick of the smell and I weren’t allowed to take more pictures.


But there was even more on the outside 😉




I wonder how you eat these.


I love how shiny these fish are.

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And this is probably ginseng, produced in Korea.


And then we tried to decide on where to have lunch. Ruben is concentrating on reading the signs in Korean.

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Ready made popcorn, anyone?

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Dreaming of warm holidays

We are currently dreaming of a hot and sunny holiday sometime late this winter. We have an almost impossible list of criteria for it, but have many suggestions.

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  • properly hot, so a Norwegian you can wear short sleeves.
  • a place you can swim in the ocean.
  • not too far or too complicated to travel.
  • not too expensive.
  • a place that is actually interesting and we want to explore.
  • someplace you have the possibility for both a bit of town and a bit of quiet.

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Places we have thought of:

  • Miami, Florida, US.
  • someplace, Brazil.
  • Amman, Jordan.
  • someplace, Ethiopia.
  • someplace, Thailand.
  • Cuba or other Caribbean island.
  • someplace, Mexico.

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But we haven’t decided yet. Do you have any suggestions?

All pictures from a day in Okpo, Korea. We climbed a mountain and went to the beach.

Exotic animals – water edition

I haven’t been to many aquariums before and wasn’t sure what to expect of the actual animals in the aquarium in Korea. But I was very happy that they (too) were mostly interested in local animals, so we got to see a lot of fish and other animals that I have only heard about in university.

Well, I have seen penguins before, but not this species.

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And I really liked these while whales. They were the stars of the aquarium.

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As I am a proper biology nerd, I also love these animals. It’s funny how everyone thinks they’re plants, just because they don’t move.

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Many animals had bright colours and big forheads 😉

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It worked surprisingly well to use the macro lens through the glass.

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These are piranja, pretty!


Not this one though. I think.

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These pictures are from the big water tank. Lots of sharks and skates.

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Can you call that wash board in English as well? Fun to see the underside of it at least.

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Oooh, this is the mantis shrimp! Maybe the only thing that Erik and Ruben were as exited as me to see in real life, as it is super fast and super strong and very pretty.

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This strange creature is actually (probably) one of the really old animals on the planet. There are fossils of the same species. A quote from Wikipedia:

Horseshoe crabs resemble crustaceans, but belong to a separate subphylum, Chelicerata, and are closely related to arachnids, e.g.,spiders and scorpions. The earliest horseshoe crab fossils are found in strata from the late Ordovician period, roughly450 million years ago.

So this was probably the most interesting thing I saw…



Had to take a picture of this fish with huge eyes in what looks like a face. Will it kiss you?






I’m not sure if I will go to every aquarium I see, but I think I will try to go to some that are in entirely different habitats than the one I grew up in (or at the shore of).

A trip to the aquarium

I realized I have only posted pictures of the crazy mermaid show from the aquarium we went to. So here are some pictures of the people as well. I see now that I almost only took pictures of animals while we were inside, but you know….

The men had once again decided on matching outfits, turned around.


Statues of mascots.


So matchy-matchy.

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Walking in the shade, because heat.

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Solar powered charging stations.

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The whole expo area was huge.


After walking around, we drove to the beach to catch the last rays of sunlight.

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Grown-up Koreans on their floating toys.


We went out to get dinner! Shoes!

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One of the few shots of Korean BBQ I have.


This was actually one of the best places we had dinner. Tiny place with busy Korean business people and the best service.

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Oh, and also the only time in two weeks we saw a group of women by a table in a restaurant. There were either groups of men or families, but no women. I have no idea what groups of women do, maybe they don’t eat?



Crazy hiking Korean gear btw.

Hipster market in Hongik-dong

I realized I still have literally thousands of pictures left from Korea, and as we are longing for a holiday right now (but still can’t buy the tickets) I thought I could post some more.

These are from our last day in South-Korea. We first went to the DMZ and then wandered around town.
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Cool Korean kidz.


We found a Sunday market and went looking.


This woman made super-cool nick-nacks of old computer parts. We bought some for key rings for the apartment 🙂

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So many pretty things!





Today is the first Christmas party of two, this season. I guess it’s the universe making up for zero Christmas parties in 2012. Today is the party for the whole of UMB and I will use it as an excuse to have free dinner, but not much more.

I therefore post pictures from our night with soju in Korea.


With the soju came cabbage and pasta free of charge. Strange Koreans.

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We only found one decent beer:




Soju (Hangul 소주; Hanja 燒酒) is a distilled beverage native to Korea. Jinro and Lotte soju are the first and third top selling alcohol brands in the world.[1] It is usually consumed neat.

Most brands of soju are made in South Korea. It is traditionally made from ricewheatbarley, but modern producers of soju use supplements or even replace rice with other starches, such as potatoessweet potatoes, or tapioca.

Shared meals

I wish we could have more ways of shearing meals here in Norway, like they do in Korea. That you go to restaurants where the food is supposed to be shared.

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Ruben trying to make sense of the menu.


You know this is going to be hot when:

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Getting help deciding what to eat.


We first got some kind of soup with meat and vegetables and after we finished they put rice in the pot, mixed everything and this is what if looked like after the second “round”. Very good and a cool way of doing it.

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Beer also cools the heartburn…



I wish there were restaurants like this in Oslo, fantastic for a meal with friends 🙂

Hiking in Yeosu

Here is one of many eventful and beautiful days we had in Korea together with Ruben. We spent some days by the sea on the South shore in a place called Yeosu. They had the world exhibition there, but also very nice landscape.This day we went hiking and stumbled upon “kirkekaffe” in a Buddhist temple.



First we had noodles for breakfast at the G25, because nothing was open. But lots of school children did the same thing, so it must be ok.



This is where we parked the car.



My boys.



The map we tried to follow. We went up on the mountain, did a round and went down again.



Erik had just bought a new backpack in Seattle and it was perfect for short hike like this.



What Koreans who hike look like. Long sleeves, west, hat, gloves, long pants and scarves. We looked like aliens, but at least we also had colourful clothes…



We finally reached the top!



It was incredibly hot and humid.



Even Erik is getting the hang of the hand gestures 😉




The view from the other side of the mountain.



You couldn’t see far because of the humidity.



When we came down on the other side we found a temple.




Had to go and say hi.



They were in the middle of a service, so we waited on the outside and got some rest.




We went inside when they were finished to take some pictures, and it was clear that they didn’t get much tourists up there, because they invited us to their meal afterwards.






One of the women there also showed us how to pray in the temple.




Love this slightly loopsided tiger.




I didn’t dare take any pictures inside, put when we went into the common house, we queued for food, got noodles with vegetables and kimchi, ate at a big table in a big room together with all the others and listened to their talk. When we were finished we did our dishes and drove home.




The rest of the temple goers finding their cars and going home.



It was both such a surreal and normal thing to do, go to the temple, share food and be part of a community. And the fact that we had no common language was no problem.



When we came back we spent more time at what almost became our regular coffee shop, making a ruckus when we asked to move a table outdoors.

The beach

Just wanted to post some pictures from the day where we probably did the least. The day I managed to get the guys to go to the beach with me for a whole day.



Ladies sunbathing with all their clothes on, including, scarf, hat and gloves.




People brought their tents as usual.



We kept our feet out of the warm sand, because it was volcanic sand.




Sweaty (reading) men.



My favorite activity on the beach is to build sand castles 🙂 I bring my own shuffle everywhere I go.



Oh, and my new cut out swimsuit.







Yeah, I got really sun burned.




Stripey, stripey, to cool off during lunch.



We went to have iced coffees, before we had to say good bye to Ruben. But luckily we met later the next week in Oslo.



Last (late) night in Korea

The last Saturday in Korea we went to Korea House in Seoul to see some traditional Korean music and dance and after that we found a live music jazz bar and some cocktails.



This is my new dress from Lucky Chouette! It is silk and has the most amazing cut, just perfect.


I’m also wearing pearls, earrings from the Afghanistan exhibition in Trondheim, my favorite bag from Kate Spade and new Korean made shoes.



My handsome man.




How my nail polish matches his shirt and the pattern on my dress. Cool, eh?



And here starts the show. We saw a show that sort of sums up many different traditional arts, and every day there is a different combination of artists. I guess they have other things to do as well. This is the traditional drum dance, where each dancer has five (as here) or three drums. This is actually used in a music video of a k-pop band (2:40).


This is a woman playing a traditional harp/sitar like instrument.


A dance with long sleeves done sort of in slow motion.


Traditional, super fast, choreographied drumming.


Dancing with fans.

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And this dancing and drumming combination where they had these ribbons on their hats that they danced with at the same time. Very impressive and cool.

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This guy was drumming and moving so that the thing on his hat beat like a heart.




The whole crew in traditional Korean costumes.


Then we were off to the jazz club.


We actually went to two jazz gigs during our two weeks in Korea. I wish there were more jazz places in Oslo, then I would go every weekend.