Suwon in the Spring

flag_and_blossoms
I am not saying that Suwon is the best city in the world, but it is definitely forever nestled somewhere in my heart.

just_walking_along_the_wall

I love my neighborhood (Yeoungtong.) I love the old fortress in the center of the city. I love Everland, our amusement park. And I love out folk village.

Me_and_a_rose

Spring in Suwon is full of wonderful flowers, and the weather is amazing.

lotus

It’s fantastic to have a hike around the old city walls and look out at all the cherry blossoms below.

love_these_flowers

In Arizona we didn’t really have flowers in the spring. A few, I guess. But not like in a place with seasons.

Looking_up_tree

Suwon was a really good home. All three years I lived there, I loved it.

yeah_life

Sometimes it was hard to be “the foreigner” and to have to try to learn all the customs that Koreans grow up with overnight.

suwon_me_with_blossoms

But in the end, I am glad that I took some time to live overseas and to have all those different experiences.

close_up_hollyhocks

And by the way, each Korea city has an English catchphrase like “Dynamic Busan” and “Hi Seoul.” (translations not done by a native English speaker.) Suwon’s English catchphrase is “Happy Suwon.”

Every time I say it around it did make me happy to be there.

happy suwon

Seasons

Seasons in Suwon, South Korea are striking to me. It may be because I’ve never seen seasons, and it may be because Suwon is stunning. I don’t know. Check the pictures out though.

The Desert




I am from Phoenix, Arizona. We don’t have seasons there. The grass is always green. The trees always have leaves. And, there is no time of the year when you need a coat at noon.



So much snow!




Living in Suwon, South Korea has given me my first experience with seasons. It’s amazing to have the world around you constantly transforming. I arrived in winter, which was my first experience living in snow. Sending me from Phoenix, Arizona to a place to Suwon, South Korea in January was like throwing a cat in a bathtub.



Cherry Blossoms in the spring




On the other hand, winter was beautiful. Everything looks so fancy when it’s frosted in snow! And, while I thought winter was awesome, spring was absolutely amazing. I was in awe of all the soft petals drifting down from roof gardens and planters all around me.



Heat and water and plants everywhere!




Summer was hot, which I am used to. However, it was really humid, which I am not used to. I discovered something about humidity though; it helps plants grow! I am used to scrub bushes and cactus. The surrounding got so lush in summer it seemed like everything was growing.



Pretty lake and trees on fire




Now it’s fall. I was impressed with winter, spring, and summer. Then the leaves started changing color and I realized fall was the greatest season ever! I have never seen so many wonderful colors.



Pretty Korean lady in front of orange trees




So, to all my wonderful Phoenicians; visit anytime. Seasons are positively fantastic! And Suwon is a beautiful city to experience them in.



In the city with the pretty trees

Suwon’s Folk Village

Suwon’s Korean Folk Village is a great place to spend a day. Break out your walking shoes and give it a try!

The lake (with traditional boat)



Suwon’s Folk Village is a really interesting. It’s a re-creation of a historic Korean Village. There aren’t any original historic villages in Korea, because most of their historic buildings were destroyed during WWII and the Korean War. But this re-creation looks really authentic and it was really neat to tour.



These are the prayers people have left.




I have always had the impression that in America we don’t think much about history. I guess this has a lot to do with the fact that we really don’t have much in the way of history to think about. Our country is younger than the Korean written language (Han Gul) which revolutionized writing in this part of the world in the mid-fifteenth century.



Traditional Korean House



The history we do have is sordid, and we try to forget it and pretend slavery and the extermination of the native people happened long ago and should be respectfully swept under the rug where no one can see it.



Me in front of an aristocrat's house




From the perspective of an American, Korea has an amazing history. It’s thousands of years of mostly peaceful and spiritual lives farming the land. The Korean Folk Village in Suwon demonstrates this history very well with old farm equipment, re-creations of ancient houses, and even rows of traditional crops.



Tight rope walker




Don’t get the impression that the Folk Village is like a museum. There is a lot going on. From traditional wedding ceremonies to tightrope walkers, there is plenty to see in the way of entertainment. And the more I learn about Korea and its people, the more impressed I am with their heritage. It makes me feel like a punk kid sometimes coming from such a young and vain country. Meanwhile thousands of years of the Korean’s ancestors’ bones are buried here. It really makes you think.



A parade with traditional clothes and music




I was thrilled with the parade of people playing traditional Korean instruments because I bought my grandmother a Korean drum, and she wanted a picture of someone playing it. So now I have one to show her.



Just a haystack. But it made me smile. How often do you see a haystack just chillin' like this?




I admit, Korea isn’t anything like this anymore. Its one MacDonalds after another, and girls running around with Gucci handbags. But seeing it for what it used to be makes you appreciate the perspective these people have on life, (even if they are currently importing a mass amount of our worst culture here.) Americans may have cornered the market on being an upstart country with fresh ideas and dreams too big for reality; but Koreans blend our culture with something we know nothing about: Moderation. And when you mix it with such a novel and un-American concept, it’s really not so bad.



Me and a stone lion in a quiet little garden area.




I particularly like Buddha. I mean, nearly everyone here is a Christian now… but Buddha’s ideas live on in their society even as they convert en mass. We could stand to import some of those ideas ourselves, and it wouldn’t hurt us to get some historical perspective either.



The Buddha is everywhere, even as the nation becomes Christian




I would recommend the Korean Folk Village to anyone who visits. It was a fun day, and it’s a very peaceful place. (Oh, except for the huge kid’s play land. That’s not peaceful at all- though it looks like a paradise for children.)



Kid's play land inside the Korean Folk Village

Moved to Korea

I’ve moved to Asia for awhile. Had to get out and see the world, as much as I love Phoenix.

I’ve moved to Asia for awhile. I really do love Phoenix, but sometimes you need to get out. So here is a bit about my new adventure.



The mountain next to the building I work in.




First, Korea is not a third world country. I heard a lot of silly things like that when I announced I was moving here. For the record: It’s much more modern than the US. We have great public transportation and fantastic medical care, not to mention thousands of years of interesting culture. Plus, the buildings are more modern than in the US and we have nifty doors that slide open when you walk up, just like in Star Trek. You may not hear a lot about Korea as a citizen of the US, but that’s not because there’s nothing going on here. The US is just a bit… self-absorbed.



This is Korean Money. Pretty neat, huh?




Yes, North Korea is communist. Yes, they are our neighbors. But the North Koreans and South Koreans view themselves a lot like separated cousins. If North Korea attacks anyone, it won’t be us. They would rather convince their cousins to join them. I worry more about my friends in the US than I do about myself.



Yeoungtong, in the city of Suwon




No, I am not being deprived of all things American. From 7-11 to MacDonalds, there are plenty of American things here. They even sell Pringles at the corner store. I can get almost everything here that I can get in America.



At the grocery store.




So to put it quite simply; it’s not anything like people seem to think. It’s much nicer. And no, I am not here as a journalist. I am not going to sneak across the border into North Korea for some story on Communism. I am actually just here for adventure. I am teaching English to pay for it. It’s a lot of fun, and I promise to stay away from North Korea.



Best Strawberries ever