Posts Tagged ‘Seoul’

is blogspot blocked in Korea?

February 11, 2010

In the past 2 years i have tried accessing blogspot sites but always got the ‘Oops! this link appears to be broken’ message. It appears that blogspot is blocked in south korea because the sites that i was trying to access were primarily maintained by academicians. While i could not find the official list of blocked websites, this blog alleges that blogspot is blocked by the ministry of information.

Where is the singapore embassy in Seoul

February 8, 2010

Take Line 1 to Jongak station. Walk out of the exit (forgot the number) that points to Gwanghamun Post Office. Do not cross the road. About 100 meters from the exit you would find the Kyobo Building on your right across the road. Its a tall building and the ‘Kyobo’ board is only at the top, so you wouldn’t see it unless you look up. Do not cross the road. Take your left and you should see ‘Seoul Finance Center‘. The Singapore embassy is on the 28th floor.

The embassy is more like a stylish apartment. There were two lady personnel when i visited. No queue. Infact, there was no one else. Possibly because Koreans and US citizens do not need VISA to go to Singapore.

Indian do need VISA.  We should fill up form 14a and form3a. Both are available for download here. Form3a is basically a letter of introduction from someone who knows you in Singapore. One also is required to give a photocopy of that person’s Singapore Identity Card.  The Singapore VISA (for tourists) is given for 5 weeks (as i was told) and the time starts soon after you are given the VISA. Therefore its better to apply a few days before your  journey. One also has to give a copy of the CONFIRMED ticket.

I have to mention here how, more than an year ago, i went to Singapore without going through the VISA procedure.  I had 6-7 hours time available at the airport between flights. My friend’s office was 35-40 minutes away by train from the airport. When i enquired with the concerned authorities they looked at my passport and let me into Singapore. Apparently, if you have a valid US visa then you could be allowed in Singapore. I later found that i was given a 3 day permit!

When i checked this with the embassy in Seoul, i was told that such permits are given on a person to person basis;  i.e. its not common.

Paa

December 8, 2009

I saw the movie yesterday. Its different but not extraordinary. The make up man deserves the award. One wonders how he can be made to look so different. AB is pretty tall in real life but it does’nt show up in the movie. Ofcourse, he looks taller than other students but not as much. The film is 2hrs20min but it does’nt drag.
Vidya Balan looked and acted like a mom. Arundhati Nag played the role of Vidya’s mom deservedly. AB ofcourse did great but i wonder if Kamal Hassan could have done better. Abhishek …could he have done better. Paresh Rawal had barely any scope in the story. He was truly wasted.
The music and background score is typical Illayaraja. Those who have seen old south indian movies would find barely anything new. Even the sounds are the same…Though i have’nt seen many southy movies or know as many songs i could reconise one telugu song..” akasham yenatido anuragam anatide..”
On the whole its a good movie and worth watching once.  But will it be a crowd puller? I doubt.

Bungee Jumping in Seoul

October 14, 2009

There are atleast two places in Korea where ‘Bungee Jumping’ can be done. One is 45m high and the other 65m. I recently did the 45m high Bungee Jump.  The jump tower has a beam coming out of it like a cantilever and  is located on a lake.

 They charge 25000 won. There will be a number of people already in queue so they would ask you to come back at a certain time. I had to come back after 2 hours. Once its your time, they give you a kind of fixture that covers your chest up to the knees. This fixture has an arrangement in the back where the bungee rope will attach to you when its your turn.  The lift takes you up to that altitude. From there you walk along an extended arm to the point from where you take the plunge. I was alright until it was my turn. When he attached the rope to my back and it dawned on me that this was my moment i felt a shiver in my calf! The instructor possibly noticed the fear on my face and asked me not to look down.  Instead he pointed to a house in the park at a far distance and asked me to leap into that house.  He started counting 5,4,3,2,1….i jumped.  The zero-gravity feeling is inexpressible…You go down and then up again and down and again up. Everytime the feeling (a knot in your stomach) is the same. I probably closed my eyes for a moment. I dont remember if i even breathed. Could not shout. (many scream, i wish i could)…After about a minute it was over. I was being lowered into a boat that was trying to position so that i land into it. After landing i hopelessly tried to stand. The instructor asked me to sit. A minute later i gained my balance and was thinking of doing it again. May be this time the fear will be less and i can actually enjoy the process!  I wonder which stage in the Darwinian evolution can describe this desire to face danger.

Its located in Yuldong-Park.
Yuldong Park can be reached by Taxi (3500 won) from Seohyeon station.
Seohyeon station is on Bundang Line. Line 3 from Seoul connects to the Bundang line at Suseo.

If you are going along with a friend you would want to space your jumps so that one can take photographs when the other is jumping.

Indian chai in seoul

July 5, 2009

Ever since i landed here i was looking for the indian chai. There are any number of tea’s served in Seoul. Most of them herbal. Meaning tasteless or sour or bitter, definitely not something an indian could like.
One day, i noticed that Starbucks had Chai Tea Latte. Tried it. Its basically  milk with the mild taste of cinnamon. The color is mildly brown giving a faint impression of the indian tea. It was ok but still a compromise.
They also serve Black Tea Latte. I had not tried it earlier because  ‘Black Tea’ was not familiar. No one i know calls Indian Tea as Black Tea. But then i got tired of Chai Tea Latte and gave it a try.
Lo and Behold! it has the taste and color of the Indian chai. It could be either Assam or Darjeeling Tea.
You can also find a simlar taste in other places available as English Breakfast Tea. The tea-bags are available in E-Mart.

What i talk about when i talk about running?

June 15, 2009

I decided to go for a hike to Maisan Tapsa. Tapsa is the temple on Maisan mountain. The journey from Seoul is nearly 4 hours. Which means i had a lot of time in the bus. I wanted to read a book that would be right for a temple-trek mindset.

Haruki Murakami is not the name that is commonplace in India. Well atleast not in Bangalore and definitely not in the circles that i moved in.  But there are so many of his books in all of Seoul’s book stores. I picked this book because it was thin (just 180 pages) and the size too was smaller than the regular novel. The things written on the back side of the book mentioned that it had bits of philosophy and was semi-autobiographical. I like biographies and curiosity about what a non-professional runner could say about running and that too in the biographical sense sold me on the book. I liked the book.

I would say its good company if you are on a journey all by yourself. Even otherwise its a good book for the so many non-professionals like him who run(actually jog) now and then. They would probably identify with him at different times through the book. However, Murakami seems to me an exceptional non-professional runner. By no measure is he that common man who would run/jog occasionally. He has been running more or less consistently for over 30 years and long distances ( >6 miles a day).  He has participated in innumerable races and finished them.  He got bored of running and so switched over to triathlon. If you are like me you wouldn’t know what a triathlon is. Its three events in one: swimming (in the sea!)+cycling+running. What!  And this guy is doing the triathlons consistenly for more than the past 5 years! Definitely, you are not the common runner Mr. Murakami.

However, the book makes interesting reading.  Its about how Murakami took to running  and how it helps him in writing and in living. Its not a how-to on running but its about Murakami running…about his transformation from a nightclub owner to a novelist. About how he trained for events (races). Especially interesting and unbelievable is the narration on the 62 mile marathon (in a day!) and also his first marathon between Athens and Marathon.

It  does have tips on what goes into making a novelist. Reminded me of Stephen King’s suggestions in his book on writing.   It does get boring sometimes when he becomes self-critical (repeatedly and repetitively).  The book, as the author claims to be, is honest and possibly one of the reasons that one may like it.  I liked the lines when he talked about his wife.  For instance, ” …And my wife, waiting at the finish line, didn’t discover some unpleasant truth about me. Instead, she  greeted me with a smile. Thank Goodness. ”  Wish he had talked about her more. It ends with Murakami still running and looking forward to participating in more triathlons.
This book is a translation. The english is kept simple but could it be made more interesting? or is the translator short of vocabulory…

Dont copy my presentation please!

June 9, 2009

I found it quite odd when i saw people (scientists young and old) capturing every slide of the presentation.  I have not seen any object to that.

Finally, someone seems to have taken notice. Here is a notice from the organisers of an upcoming conference. It declares that everything presented in a conference is a copyright of the organisers and cannot be audio or video recorded.  While it is good that now the audience will be restricted to listening,  whether the organisers should have the copyright for a presentation is debatable.

How to reach Japanese Embassy in Seoul?

June 7, 2009

It is walkable distance from Anguk station Exit 6. However, to get the exact location needs a little search.
The Japanese embassy website is hopeless. There is very little information there in English. The website does give a map to reach the embassy but its an image and mostly in korean.
Google maps is the best option. However, even these maps are in Korean. But we can still figure out if we use the ‘ get directions’ option to reach the embassy from anguk station (line 3) and/or Jogyesa (famous buddhist temple). Jogyesa too is near the station as well as the embassy.

This a link to google maps showing the direction from Anguk station to Japanese embassy. The names are in Korean.

As you walk out of Exit 6 of Anguk station, take the road to Gyeongbukgung palace. The Embassy is in the lane on the left. Its at the end of the lane. Look out for a brown colored building (there are two). Its on the 7th floor in the ‘Leema’ building.

why my mobile wouldn’t work in korea?

June 4, 2009

I realised that my mobile wouldn’t work the  moment i landed in korea, which is two years back. But just accepted it. I asked a few koreans but as is usual they expressed surprise with the look which says ‘thats something wrong with you and not korea’.
Anyways, now i want to buy a mobile but then had this doubt if i buy it here would it work elsewhere in the world? So back to the same question why does my mobile not work here. A few clicks later on google i found this website which explains it. In short it is as follows:
1. There are two modes in which the mobile operates. GSM and CDMA. If you have a GSM phone it wont work in a country which has the CDMA system.

2. There are frequencies in which the mobile phone operates.  Korea and Japan  operate at a frequency which no other country uses. The quad band phones also will not work here.

3. Your phone will work in Korea and Japan only if it is a triband plus UMTS (or WCDMA) 2100.

4. If the phone is a quadband which includes UMTS2100 then it would work anywhere in the world.

2100 is the frequency of operation in Korea and Japan.

SSsigh!

AB

June 1, 2009

I was a fan of his in my school and college days up to my graduation.  After that i liked different actors but was never a fan of one.  In my school days, I used to wait for the summer to arrive so that i could grow hair and then get the AB hair cut. It was fashionable; atleast i thought so.

I knew that he had started a blog but never was motivated to read it. Probably out of indifference. But then thanx to my stay in Seoul, i have a lot of time and often look for ways to spend it. …a few days ago i clicked this link, probably a cross link from www.timeofindia.com.  And  i just couldn’t stop reading. He is an incredible writer. The flow of words is so natural and most importantly its conversation-like. Wonderful. 

His blogs are interspersed with gems like the one i read today…

“if you dream to fly with the Eagles dont waste your time swimming with the Ducks!”

and the other day he quoted Buddha:

“There is no way to happiness: happiness is the way”

His blogs make absolutely fascinating reading. I am a fan of his yet again.


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