Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

From Seoul City Hall to Seoul Metropolitan Library

After years of renovations, the old Seoul City Hall building (Cultural Heritage No. 52) repened as Seoul Metropolitan Library (SML) on October 26, 2012. I first heard of this great news by our Tour to Korea director - Emilly. This topic came up when we went to Paju and visited Book City, which needs a separate post.The area of SML is 9,500 square meters, it is a seven story structure that houses about 200,000 books including foreign language books, audiovisual materials, digital collections, and Braille books.

Seoul City Hall (SCH) building opened in 1926 under Japanese colonial rule as the headquarters of the governor-general of Korea. After liberation, it became the headquarters of the municipal government and Seoul Mayor's Office.

Originally, the government decided to demolish this building and I was seriously concerned like many others in Korea (read my post HERE) but public support for the preservation lead to change in the plans - a consensus was reached the front part of the building facing Seoul Plaza and demolish the back part of it that used to house Seoul Global Center and many other offices of the SMG.

The first important event that was held at the Seoul Metropolitan office was 2012 Seoul Book Festival. The festival, now on its fifth year, will offer chances for visitors to meet with authors, discussions, live musical performances and puppet shows, and a storybook reading by Mayor Park on the final day of the festival. After renovation the old building has now a book café, a rooftop garden plus a bridge (same as at Yonsei-Songpo) to connect the old building with te old one.

This building is really worth a visit, and its wave shaped roof represents the Korean Wave (it's my view) which is an interesting phenomenon and personally, after riding it via Buzz Korea's "Touch Korea Tour".

For more information visit the homepage of Seoul Metropolitan Library (Korean, English) and for Seoul Book Festival, click here (Korean only).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

(이드 무바락 여러분! (Eid Mubarak) from Seoul

Haj 2012 -  Source: Arab News

Eid Al Adha 2012 ( or 1433)  will be celebrated on Friday, 26th October 2012 (day after tomorrow) all over the world – Insha Allah! So EID MUBARAK everyone!

For Eid al Adha/ Eidul Kabir/ Baree Eid/ Eid e Qurban, Korea Muslim Federation will hold Eid Congregation at the Central Mosque of Seoul located in Itaewon, Yongsan- gu.

If you are not staying legally then avoid to go there because of the crackdown possibility.

On Islam in Korea or related information you can click the links below:

Islam Korea is Korea Muslim Federation's (KMF) website.

An old webzine by KMF  is HERE.

October Festivals in Korea 2012

This is how it looks these days and it was muggy almost the whole day!

It's just the beginning of fall and in a matter of days we will be experiencing hard core chilly winds and freezing temperatures. Various festivals are in full swing across the country this month as people take advantage of the beautiful autumn weather and autumn foliage.

A fermented seafood festival (ggfestival.co.kr) has been taking place in Nonsan, South Chungcheong Province since Wednesday. Visitors can buy salted seafood at discounted prices and enjoy 79 events, such as making kimchi with salted seafood, until Sunday. For more information, call 041-730-3224.

Coffee lovers may want to head to Gangneung, Gangwon Province, between Friday and Oct. 28 to enjoy a coffee-themed festival there (033-647-6802). The area is filled with coffee shops, factories and plantations.

Around the Imjingak area in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, a ginseng festival highlights the efficacious properties of the herb this weekend. Last year, it saw a huge turnout as 760,000 people showed up. Visitors can enjoy hunting for ginseng in the woods, tasting liquor made of the root, participating in a ginseng auction and making dolls with ginseng, among other scheduled activities. Also in Paju, soyabean festival will be held between November 16th. to 18th,

In Icheon, a city famous for producing rice in Gyeonggi Province, a festival (ricefestival.or.kr) awaits those who are interested in making various dishes using the staple food. Visitors will be able to buy agricultural produce and other local products such as newly harvested rice and ceramic items, while also roaming a marketplace and enjoying various performances. For more information, call 031-644-4125.

Meanwhile, at Gwangalli Beach in Busan, some 80,000 fireworks will be set off against the backdrop of Gwangan Bridge. For more information, call 051-888-3392~6.

See the full article at Chosun Ilbo here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Persian Miniature: Potrait of Imagination

Click on the image for zoom and info.

Persian Miniature Painting Exhibition titled: Potrait of Imagination has just kicked off from today, Oct.24th to Oct.30th, 2012 at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center Gallery. This exhibition marks the 50 years of diplomatic relations between  Iran and South Korea.

This exhibition will present the contemporary works of Mohammad Baqher Aghamiri along with 3 workshops on Islamic Miniature Arts.

For more information contact: (02)-2151-6520 or
email at: kfcenter@kf.or.kr

Miss You!

My brother's grave with flowers from his rose bush  at our home...


I can't believe how fast this year has passed and how much has changed and yet remained the same. It is this month, day and time that my brother passed away a few years ago. In ways it seems just like yesterday and then as I look back I can't believe how fast the time has gone by. The pain of watching him die at such a young age, only in his early 30s, is still afresh in my mind so as I think about him the pain resurfaces raw. So yes time heals wounds in that you do not relive it every moment, and you are able to hide it beneath the daily callings of life. But the fact remains that when I think about him tears swell in my eyes and I feel the deep pain in my heart. But most days I do not think about him, this is how we move on with our lives, not reliving the past but by accepting the things as they are.

The graveyard near my childhood home

I started my day with Fajar namaz, Quran and talking to my mom. I also did some special cooking and made things that he loved to eat but the worst part was to sit alone and eat…I also missed Pakistan and missed being there because the people I love are there, my childhood memories, all of us together under one roof not knowing what years ahead were gonna bring forth...

This place is across my old home in Islamabad where he was born, grew up....and is buried...

May your soul  rest in peace!

 Allah tumharay darajat buland karay....Ameen!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Rail Pass by Korail!

If you are in Korea and feel kind of stuck in the city where you live then an easy solution is to get a Korail's Happy Pass and travel to other cities. A foreigners who live in Korea can freely use all the trains of KORAIL, including the general seats of KTX as well as the Saemaeul and Mugunghwa trains(excluding the subways and tourist trains), without limit in terms of the travel section and the count.

2 Day Pass costs 85USD OR 86,000 Won only - the best thing about it is the unlimited travel sections/counts.

These days Korail Tourism Organization (KoRTO) is offering various tours such as: a Korean Wave Tour; Sunrise, Railbike and the Ocean Tour; Jeongsan Traditional Market and Railbike Tour and HaeRang (rail Cruise) are among the few.

Another offer is the 30% OFF  the KTX tickets for foreigners. This offer is valid until December 2012 and for more info click here.

KoRTO has offered/sponsered a couple of free trips this month and I'm sure you know of it through this blog (here) and other SNS networks.

For more information read HERE or Here.

Another link on Korail Pass is HERE.

For ferries, flights and special need while traveling to Korea, click here.

A Korean Bap Ssang and my Cooking!

 With Manju, I went to this very typical restaurant. I ordered Kui (fried fish) and they ordered Kimchi Jjigae ((김치 찌개)).

 I made myself 'flied lice' - I'm sorry! It is fried rice - with paprika, peas, potatoes - preparation/cooking time is only 10 minutes.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Korail Tourism Organization's FREE Trips!

KORAIL is organizing two more trips for educational purposes: to know Korean culture, that is, after the success of their first experimental trip last week. This trip is for 2 days and one night. All expenses is to be paid but the registration fee of 10,000 won is required.

Trip one: Food Cultural Festival

Date of the trip: Oct. 19th. (Fri) to Oct. 20th. (Sat.)
Deadline to register: October 16th.

Trip Two: Integrative Medicine Expo

Venue: Jeollanam-do
Date: Oct. 26th. to Oct. 27th.
Deadline to register: Oct.22nd.

Requirements: Transfer the registration fee (10,000 won) to Woori Bank Account Number: 1002-346-882455
Moreover, send them your full name, nationality, age, sex and alien ID card number.

For more information contact: juliette0305@naver.com

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Greater Seoul Region: Pumpkin Harvest!

I love pumpkins...in every form and shape, it was personally my first time to see the entire process of how it works in Korea, growing/harvesting that is.

 My Korean Halabbu-ji started his day by harvesting pumpkins, I made a yaksuk (promise) with him that we will meet but somehow, I was bit late.

 Looking for one...

 Proudly standing in front of pumpkins!

 The pumpkin Wall - about 70 of  them...

 More pumpkins - both long and the round ones!!

 I need to have a program that can save my photos from being lifted from this blog on daily basis.... it simply sucks!

Pumpkin Wall - Beautiful pumkins lined up by me and the halabbu-ji!

Aside from pumpkins, we harvested the sweet potatoes and I got some as gift. I left them outside in the field and today, when I was going there to pick them up, I saw a husband/wife carrying 2 of my huge kokumas.  When we crossed each other,  I said to the woman that, exuse me: this is my stuff that you are carrying. She made up a story, right away, that this is her relatives farm house, which wasn't true and couldn't explain why my things were in her hands. Anyhow, she gave me the 2 big kokumas, however when I reached my Kokuma place, I found out that all my sweet potatoes were gone. Finally, I met a lier/a petty thief in Korea after a long time.

The woman need not had lied to me and could still have those organic sweet potatoes....but it is a good experience for me since, I'm very careless and often leave my things here and there....and never lock my doors with cameras, computers etc. all lying around etc.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Madonna Dedicates a Song to Malala Yousefzai

Watch Here.

I think that it's ridiculous.

Greater Seoul Region: Cocuma/Sweet Potatoes Harvest in Pictures

Don't need words when photos can do a job..

My Korean Halabbu-ji's younger brother and his wife...

Wife of HAJ, hard at work even though she is in her 70s...

When has to dig out the soil around the sweet potato plant and then pull the kokumas out - one at a time or a whole bunch...

Pulling the sweet potato out!

Final moment...

Removing soil from the sides so that it loosens and can be easily pulled!
Some of the sweet potatoes were huge...  weighing about one kilo but the farmers told me that the medium sized are much tastier!

A whole bunch that I pulled out!

Again, the technique...

A neighbor stopped by....

A box of sweet potatoes....

Hard at work...
Toutouri filled with boxes of sweet potatoes produce....

Thursday, October 11, 2012

[Event Winners Announced] ’2012 buzz KOREA Awards’ Event

Oh my God, I'm one of the winners of Buzz Korea Award for blogging...Thank you, Korea Tourism Organization and Buzz Korea - you made my day!

[Event Winners Announced] ’2012 buzz KOREA Awards’ Event: [Event Winners Announced] ’2012 buzz KOREA Awards’ Event

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Prayer Request - Pray for Malala Yousefzai

Image from War Info.

14 year old Pakistani children's activist Malala Yousefzai (or Malala Yousafzai) is shot in the neck and head. Two other girls were also wounded in the attack. Pakistani Taliban claims that she has been singled out and shot for her Western ideas and Activism (education for women) in Swat valley.

Yousefzai’s blog entries for BBC’s Urdu site offered a rare window into the lives of an 11-year-old and her friends in one of the most dangerous and remote places in Pakistan. Under the pen name Gul Makai, Yousefzai wrote about watching the violence in Swat escalate while her personal freedoms shrank.

Ms. Yousafzai came to public attention in 2009 as the Pakistani Taliban swept through Swat, a picturesque valley once famed for its music and tolerance and as a destination for honeymooning couples.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Malala and her family.

Fore more on Malala read here in:
 the New York Times or
BBC here or
the Time magazine
or watch this brief documentary by NYT on Malala HERE

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pakistani Postcards!

I sent them to my family and one to myself while I was in Islamabad.

I drank this camel's milk for a month on daily basis....it tastes good..

Alma, a Kazakh friend brought me these two things from Kazakhstan: flour and a soviet-style pot...love it! Hey, thanks!!

Pakistani camel's milk in a Kazakh pot.. ^^

I made myself a chapati with the Kazakh flour...it was very soft even though it is not a whole wheat!

My favorite is the sarsoon ka saag, a small plot dedicated to it at home in Islamabad.

Missing them already - the season is just around the corner in Pakistan...Amrud/guava in Korea are used as a decorative plant....one can't find them in Korea.

Pakistan is so rich in fruits and vegetables and that too for throw away prices....can't beat that!

Fish being sold near my house in Islamabad...for only a dollar a kilo.

Itaewon Global Village Festival

....Itaewon Festival is to be held between October 12th to October 14th.
Main highlights of it used to be international food, rock concerts, mime and street festivities...how it has evolved in the past few years is hard to say since the last time I was there was back in 2008.

If you are in Seoul on this weekend, stop by and see for yourself!

Photo of the Day: A Korean Bap Ssang

Made by Heewon's mom, who is an such a wonderful cook!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Buzz Korea Event: Buzz Korea Awards

If you have a blog, or you vlog or simply use SNS then apply to participate in Buzz Korea Awards.

Buzz Korea is a venue that is a window to Korea for the world at large. It is one of the most active, interesting means of introducing "anything" and "everything" Korean via paricipants from all over the world.

All you have to do is to tag in your blog posts etc via Buzz Korea website, for more information on it click here and win a tour "Gangnam Style" and also participation to the awards in different categories.

Click here  for more info.

Rice Harvesting begins...

...so it is underway in my neighborhood. For all other crops, it is the same - in a month or so, all one can see is a thick blanket of snow here!

...final video is  below and this harvesting truck/the crop eater - had some mechanical fault - and after much effort, the driver failed to get it back to work -one of the chains broke....i guess..

Anyhow, here is the last video...will get some more videos and photos today...hopefully!

I love the entire process......

The old man - who you can see walking along the monster (the machine) is Mr. Kim, who single handedly,  ploughed and took care of this rice field from Day One. It needs a lot of hard labor. He is in his early 70s. Has a birthday in a few weeks from now and is a wonderful friend.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Islamic Cultural Festival on October 6th. (Tomorrow)

The above mentioned festival is taking place in Seongbukcheon Fountain Square on subway Line:4 at Hansung University Station, Exit:2.

It will kick off at 12 noon - 8:00p.m

For more information: Seongbuk Global Village Center


Some of the highlights are:

Food from Iran, Jordan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey etc.

Belly Dancing (Middle East)
Attan Dance (Afghanistan)
Saudi Traditional Dance
Indonesian Traditional Dance
Iranian Zoorkhaneh sports and art dance

Korean Pumpkin Flower Tempuras!

 Well, in South Asia, this dish is called pakoray. It is one heck of a simple and really tasty dish to prepare - here in Korea, it may fall within the category of 퇴김 or Ttukim.
These are the final days of hobak (pumpkin) in Korea and though it is chilly, flowers are still blooming. What I did was, picked the flowers of pumpkin, washed them and cut them lengthwise .

 I also took a few baby "phaichu" leaves (Korean cabbage) and "yongpha" (spring onion) and sliced them lengthwise.

Added ginger shoot, finely chopped!

Added in a crushed clove of garlic

 Then I added in "baysun" or gram flour (4 table spoons)

I added red pepper powder+salt+black pepper powder (according to ur taste)

 Finally I added in, little water at a time and kept on mixing it... (the consistency should be thick)

Finally, I scooped a spoon full in a frying pan - I did shallow frying, one can do deep frying but I prefer less oil while cooking - and in doing so, a bit of patience is required.
This is the final product - you can drizzle soyasauce+vinegar+ketchup over them...gosh, they are tasty! I love them - this is a Bengali style dish originally!

The picture above is: soya sauce+vinegar+really hot Korean Kochu+salt+ sugar+black pepper+cumin