Ja-Bol-Lae Observatory – Seoul (자벌레 전망대)

19 08 2010
Jabollae Observatory on the banks of Han River (TtukSeom Resort) is one of the unique buildings in the shape of a Korean Jabollae bug. More than an observatory it is also a multiplex housing 3D theatre, Digital Art Museum, Animation Studios, Gift Shops, Restaurants and Cafes with the panoramic view of the Han River.
Jabollae Observatory is a good place to introduce your kids to the world of animation and digital art. They have continuous videos playing the behind-the-scenes of various animation techniques. Plus it also introduces the kids to the various technique like storyboarding, sketching, scenario etc.
They also have a section where it explains Korean Characters using animation and a section where you see a digital reflection of your self.
The exterior of Jabollae park is equally exciting with beautiful lush green park  where you relax on a busy evening. Just a stone throw away from the observatory you have rock climbing facility and a few water sports like water rides and water surfing.

You can also take a water cab (taxi) from Ttukseom Resort towards Banpo bridge. Take it in the evening to avoid traffic and enjoy the night view across the river.
Once you reach Banpo Bridge you will be able to view the Moonlight Fountain flowing across the bridge in the evening around 8 pm. Its a 20 minute fountain show synchronized with soft instrumental music.

To reach Jabollae Observatory by subway – you need to take Line 7 and get down at Ttukseom Resort – Exit 1.
To reach Banpo Bridge by subway – you need to take Line 3 and get down at Express Bus Terminal – Exit 8-1 and walks towards Banpo Bridge.
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Things to do… On arrival to Korea

13 05 2010

If you are coming from India then the first thing you need to do is that convert your Indian money to dollars. You cannot direct convert Rupee to Korean Won while in India. If you are carrying huge amount then you can carry travelers check which can be en-cashed in any of the banks out here.

The day you land in Korea you need to do the following things:

  1. Convert your dollars to Korean Won at the airport.
  2. Keep some coins with you to make calls from a public phone.
  3. Make sure someone is coming to receive you from your office.
  4. If no one is coming then  you can go to the bus terminal and take the bus to your destination. The executives at the bus terminal are very helpful. You get limousine and city buses to Seoul and other places in Korea. Avoid taking cab / taxi on all costs. They are very expensive.
  5. On reaching you can buy a T-Money card.  Go to any 7-11 store and say “Yogiyo, T-Money Cardu Chuseyo”. It will cost you around 3000 won ($3) and you then need to recharge it by 10,000 won so you can use it for your day to day transit through Subway lines and Buses. T Money card can also be used for paying Taxi Fares, making calls from a public phone and buying things from 7-11 shops. You can recharge you T-Money card at any Subway Line station or in a 7-11 shop.
  6. Make sure you apply for your Alien Card in the first week of your arriving to Korea. You will be able to open your bank account and procure a cell phone only if you have a registration card. For Alien Card Registration you’d require your office registration document – Mandatory and 2 passport size photographs.
  7. Next you can purchase an International Calling Card to help you make calls back home. International Calling cards are available in 7-11 shops. For India you need to ask that you need calling cards for Indo (India is referred to as Indo in Korea).
  8. Get a subway map from the tourist information center. It will be extremely helpful to you in the first few weeks in Korea.
  9. Make sure you get a copy of Lonely Planet Phrasebook or any other phrasebook with basic phrases to help you communicate in Korea. People don’t speak English here. So it would be wise to invest in one of these phrasebooks available easily in various bookshops in India. You can order it online from Landmark.
  10. If you are bringing your laptop from India then your 3-pin charger might not work. You’d need a 3-pin to 2-pin adapter for charging your laptop which is easily available in any electronic shop in Korea. If you visit a mall then it is available in the electronic section.
  11. Another thing which you could possibly look at investing in is a rice cooker. If you are planning to cook at home then it is a must. I am not talking about the pressure cooker from India, for cooking rice you would need an electronic rice cooker. And if you are a bachelor then you have to purchase one at all cost in Korea.




Is Seoul, Korea Expensive…

11 05 2010

… well that depends upon where you coming from. If you are coming from US, UK, Australia or any other developed nation then you would find Korea much much cheaper. But if you are coming from a developing country like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc. then it is definitely expensive as compared to your home country.

For this article I’d comparing the expenses with Mumbai, India. First, we will talk about accommodation. As I come from Mumbai I feel the house rent in Seoul is equivalent to Mumbai rentals.  For Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 you might get a 1 BHK flat in Andheri, Powai area of Mumbai where as in Seoul you might get a studio apartment or a house with 2 rooms for Rs. 20,000 ($500). So rent wise I feel Seoul is not that expensive.

Food, is definitely expensive. You can easily find Indian grocery here but you would end up paying twice or thrice of the printed price (MRP). An happy meal in Mc Donalds would cost you Rs. 200/- ($5) and dinner in any Indian Restaurant for two would set you back by Rs. 1000-12000/- ($30).

Clothes are cheaper. You would find decent clothing for Rs. 200 – 400 ($5-$10) (not branded) at Dongdaemun, Namdaemun area. Seoul could be like a paradise for females interested in shopping clothes and accessories. And trust me you would get the best designs, fabric, patterns, cuts n shades over here. Branded clothes are way too expensive.

Books, are expensive, almost double the price than what you would pay at Landmark or Crossword in India. So pack your fiction collection while coming to Korea.

Medicines, and a visit to Doctor is expensive too. A visit to a general physician would be anywhere between Rs. 100-400/- ($3-$9) and medicines would starts from Rs. 50/- ($1) onwards provided your company have covered you for Health Insurance.

Public Transport is again expensive as compared to Mumbai. The minimum distance in Subway or Bus is almost Rs. 40/- ($1) whereas in Taxi it is Rs. 100/- ($3).

Mobile phone is slightly expensive. A prepaid phone (including secondhand handset) would cost you Rs. 400/- ($10) per month whereas a new postpaid phone would cost you approx. Rs. 800/- ($20) per month for their services. International calling cards are cheaper. For Rs. 800/-  ($20) you would get approx 300 minutes. And a VOIP service would cost you Rs. 800/- ($20) for 1000 minutes.

Internet is cheaper, much much cheaper than India. For Rs. 1600/- ($40) per month you get unlimited download and crazy speed.

Electricity, Gas, Heater, Water etc is equivalent or may be cheaper than Mumbai. It would come down to Rs. 1500-1600 ($40) per month depending upon the usage. But during winter the bill shoots up to almost Rs. 4000/- ($100) per month if you use the heater a lot.

Fitness is free if you get up early in the morning and go running to parks or go for hiking on weekends. Some parks have machines for workout which can be used for free. But if you have to join some Gym / Sauna then it might workout a bit expensive than Mumbai.

Haircut, would cost around Rs. 300 – Rs. 400 ($7-$10) for men and Rs. 400 – Rs. 600 ($10 – $15) for women.

Maids are appointed by hour. And they do all household cleaning, ironing etc. in that hour. For an hour of services they charge around Rs. 400 ($10) so instead of calling them everyday people call maids once a week. For detailed information on Maid Service you can check this article on KMK’s blog.

Entertainment can be expensive depending upon where you want to go. A movie ticket would cost you Rs. 350/- ($10) per head. And popcorn and all would cost you somewhere between 100-200 rs ($2-$5). Parks are mostly free but some might charge you for the entry if it is well maintained. Art galleries and museums would charge you some entry fee.

Education for kids is expensive and is a different topic of discussion altogether. But lot of kids study in Korea. So may be I am not the right person to answer this.

Well thats about it…. if there is anything else specific you want to know then just put a comment and I’ll find it out for you..  For more details you can also check my previous article on Cost of Living in Seoul, Korea.





India Temple in Korea – Krishna Korea

16 04 2010
Hare Rama Hare Krishna

Krishna Korea Temple in Haebangchon, Seoul

Located in the heart of Seoul, at Haebangchon is the only worship place for Hindus – Krishna Korea Temple.  There is one more at Ujjengbu which is in the outskirts of Seoul.

This temple was opened 2 yrs back, to spread spiritual awareness amongst people in Seoul and give knowledge about Hinduism in general. Everyday after the daily pooja (worship) the temple reads verses from Bhagavad Gita. Anyone who wants to attain liberation from this materialistic world must attend these sessions regularly.  The temple reads Chapters from Gita to helps us understand ourselves better and to offer a medium to help us connect with our God.

I came to Seoul almost a 4 months back but started attending temple regularly only a month back and that is my biggest regret. I should have followed this temple immediately. This temple for me is a home away from home. And it has really helped me to meet many a good people here from all parts of the world – Indian, Korean, Foreigners alike.

What I best like about this temple is that apart from the festivals they conduct regular workshops, games, puzzles, quizzes for kids to make them aware about Hindu Culture and Hinduism. And this according to me is the best practice to reach the tender minds of kids rather than boring them with long lectures. There are even workshops conducted for adults like yoga, korean classes, cooking classes, etc.

The temple offers prasadam on Sundays and on various festivals in the evenings. And it also accepts donations for the same.  Devotees please understand that the temple is run by donations and it is in our hands to ensure that the temple operations runs continuous and smooth. The temple has gone through a lot of hardships and tough times in the past but as per the blessings of Lord Krishna it is still standing and will continue doing so in the future. The temple is a platform for all of us to come together, make new friends, and most importantly remain attached to our roots.  The temple is a door to spread the wisdom about our Hindu culture to the world, embrace the lost souls and give them a purpose in life. So please come and take the blessings from Dear Lord.

If you are coming for the first time then you can visit this link for directions.

Alternatively you can mail on: krishnakorea@gmail.com for any of your queries / suggestions.  Or, visit the temple website. Or, join on facebook for future updates on events and festivals.

|| Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare ||

|| Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare ||





Weekend Korean Classes at Onnuri Church near Seobinggo Station. Line 1

19 03 2010

Onnuri Church at Seobingo. Line 1, originally uploaded by breeze-O.

On weekends I attend my Korean Class @ Onnuri Guhe..

The Onnuri Church at Seobingo offers Korean Classes for free (tutoring) on weekends at all levels. The classes are held on Saturdays 11 am to 1 pm. On joining you are required to pay for the books, which is around 30,000 won and for snacks – again around 30,000 won (each term).

These classes are open for all. On day one they will assess your Korean Language skills and will assign a class to you accordingly. There are 9 levels (from beginners to advanced class) and by word-of-mouth they have loads of students visiting them regularly for learning Korean. And they really have the best tutors to teach you Korean.

Directions to Onnuri Church – Get down at Seobinggo and come out of the station. No specific exit. Just come out and take a right. Get down. Walk and you will find directions to the Church.. Keep walking till you reach.

Otherwise you can take any of these buses – 0015, 149, 6621 to reach Onnuri Church. It will drop you bang opposite the church.

For more information you can contact Jessie: oemkorean@gmail.com





Useful Websites – Seoul n Korea

14 03 2010
Useful Blogs:
  • Marmots hole and Korean Beat are like Korea insiders.. Korean Times and the other English news paper available in Korea is pretty dry and news published is more or less filtered. If you really want to know what is happening around you check these websites with articles from Korean Newspaper translated in English.
  • Seoul City Blog – This blog is maintained by Seoul Global Centre and has very helpful information for foreigners on most of the things.
  • Kimchi Crew – This blog has interesting info on Korean Language, Kpop and youth culture in general. Kimchi Crew also offers Korean and other language exchanges classes on weekends at Meeple Cafe, Sinchon.
  • Kiss My Kimchi – This blog has info on Culture, Entertainment, Food, Shop, Teach, Travel, Clubbing and everything in general in Korea. So before you are planning to visit any part of Korea you can just do a quick search on his blog to get some useful info for the places he has visited and blogged about.
  • Brian in Jeollanam-do – Brian has been contributing articles to Korea Herald, Korea Times, Joongang Daily and has around 2500 posts on his blog about the culture, educations, news and events in South Korea. I specially enjoy reading his articles on Love Motel in Korea.
  • Recruiting in Korea – tells you the Honest truth about recruiting English Teachers in Korea.
Newspaper and Magazines:
  • 10 Magazine – Events, Movies, Workshops, Art Cafes, Music,Theatre, Parties in Korea.. one of the widely read English Magazine in print. Copies available at Kyobo Bookstore and other places frequently visited by foreginers:
  • Groove Korea – similar information as above. Available in Print. Mostly covers the music scene in Korea.
  • For the list of Korean newspaper in English available online click here.
Online Entertainment – Dramas, Movies & Kpop
  • MY SOJU – the mecca of Korean Dramas and Movies. These guys do a very good job of uploading drama episodes with English Subtitles. Most of the foreigners who watch Korean Drama owe their viewing to MySoju. Apart from Korean Drama and Movies it also has Japanese and Taiwanese Drama and Movies.
  • KoreanMusic.tv – does a very good job of uploading KPOP videos with useful info about the band and the artist.
Online Shopping
  • Gmarket – you need an Alien Card to register your self and then you are on. This is by far the cheapest place I ve come across to buy your things. They offer almost everything and had various options to chose from. And most of the goods you order they deliver if for free.

Adventure

  • Seoul Hiking – has a group on facebook. You need to just join the group and every week they will mail you details about the hiking conducted by them. With so many mountains surrounding Seoul this one is not to be missed.
  • Adventure Korea – offers very interesting packages on weekends for exploring Korea in an adventurous way. Skiing, Ice Fishing, Rafting, Mud bath, Hiking, Rock Climbing, Temple Stay, Jeju Island they have travel packages on almost everything.
Photography
  • Seoul Photo Club and Flickr in Seoul are the two most commonly used group on Flickr where people from in and around Korea submit their photos and offer constructive comments.
Other Listings
  • Craigslist in Seoul – Buy / Sell / Rental / Dating / Events etc in Seoul. These listing are very popular amongst the Foreign Community in Korea.




Lost in Translation

3 03 2010

If this is the first time you are visiting Korea and you are planning to stay here for a long time then it is important for you to visit the Seoul Global Center.  SGC was launched recently keeping in mind the problems faced by foreigners who come to Korea for job or a short visit.

The common problem faced by every foreigner coming to Korea for the first time is that they get lost in the Translation. They cannot speak Korean and most Koreans cannot speak English. So at that moment they need a mediator and that is where SGC comes into picture. Not necessarily to help you in your day to day translation but to help you get settled.

SGC can help you in many a ways. They can help you in resolving your conflicts, teaching you Korean language, give you some orientation on Korean Culture, help you in buying a mobile, making new friends etc. etc.

You can visit their website for more information: http://global.seoul.go.kr/

And you can also read their blog where they have very informative article: http://www.seoulcityblog.com/