Saturday, August 20, 2005

Ladder 49

Fire hydrants are usually situated next to roads where the fire fighter can park the fire engine. This allows them to attach the hose to the hydrants to draw water. This building in Seoul is a bit different. The fire hydrant seems to be sticking out of the building at the side, rather than on the ground. I suppose that these are purpose built fire hydrants for that specific building. The buildings around here seem to each have similar fire hydrants designed in the same manner.

Fire Hydrant sticking out of the building instead of the ground

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ancient Palace and Modern Buildings

Seoul has 5 ancient palaces. They are open to the public for viewing and in some cases, guided tours are organised at certain times of the day. These guided tours are very useful because you understand the place much better at the end of the day. But what caught my eye wasn't about the history, customs and practices of the ancient residents of these palaces, interesting as they are. Instead, I marvelled at how these ancient buildings (well, some have undergone extensive restoration) stand side-by-side with modern ones today, as this photo shows.

The old with the new,
The ancient architecture with the modern ones,
The quietness of the old and the bustling of the new,
The faded colours of the old and the vibrant colours of the new,
The dead with the live

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Home away from home

Usually, when you travel overseas, especially on packaged tours, you get put up in hotels or similar lodgings meant for tourists. This means that the sights and sounds of the place will be tailored for the tourist. It always doesn't feel like home.

Last week, I put up in a hotel that is on the west side of Seoul City, nearer to the airport side than the centre of the city. It is a 'remote' side of the city for the tourist, but I enjoyed it more because I get to see more of the way Koreans go about their life - to work, to the supermarket, working in their workshops, etc. In a sense, it felt very much like home, away from any glitzy and glamour of the city. Instead, the landscape around the hotel is dotted with local restaurants - mostly small ones, metalworkshops, mom-and-pop shops, car workshops and the like. It feels safe too, not unlike a neighbourhood in Singapore. That's why I took a couple of photos of this vicinity, to remind myself how familiar the place looks.

There is something to be said for putting up in hotels away from the buzz. Anyway, the subway system in Seoul is quite comprehensive, so I can just hop onto a subway train and arrive at virtually any part of the city. A typical fare of up to 15 stops or thereabouts is about W1000 - about S$1.80 - which is not too expensive. Taxis operate by meters but I am told it is more expensive, unless you share the cab fare with someone else.

A mom-and-pop shop just across the hotel

A yet-to-open Workshop in the morning

A neighbourhood restaurant

Road leading to the Yongpyeong subway station near the hotel

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Common Travel Destination

The toilet is the most often visited destination whether you are travelling abroad or staying at home. Whilst you may have the greatest of difficulties ordering a meal or taking a taxi to reach a particular destination (unless you are an experienced traveller), there is one place that nobody seem to have problems with - the toilet - and it is a must visit destination, if only because nature always calls, often at the wrong time. But you never have difficulties figuring out which of the two doors to enter without embarrassing yourself and possibly others. That's because we don't rely on the words on the toilet door. Rather, the graphic on the sign-board will be a better bet of having it correct.

These Male/Female graphics can be quite varied from place to place, ranging from the boring skirt/no skirt profiles to more fanciful ones, such as this sign that is used in the IT World Amusement Center in Seoul, S Korea. Although stereotypical - the guys have the short pointy hair and the gals have the ribbons / bow, it goes right with the place's theme and emphasis on Technology. Its a great design.

This place is not too far away from Seoul Land, an general amusement park with all the fun rides you'd expect, such as roller coasters, bumper cars, shot x go, etc. Really mindless fun! While you are there, hold on to your head and don't lose your mind...