Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mainland Venice, Italy (Part 1)



Before you travel to a certain place, you always have some sort of expectation before you go there. When I was young, my grandma had traveled there and said it was dirty and unfriendly. I had seen many movies showing gondolas and how romantic it was. But after what my grandma had told me, I thought that maybe the hype was overblown.

My wife and I wanted to go to Rome because of its interesting history towards Christianity (from Christianity being banned and Christians being persecuted to Constantine making it the only religion in Rome in 331 AD). And since my wife and I were going to go to Italy, we decided that we needed to see Venice for ourselves. We wanted to see if the scenery was as romantic and majestic that all of the travel programs had portrayed it to be. Thankfully, when we got there, it matched our expectations and then some. Venice is a special place and I'll show you my favorite spots in my pictures.

Since we saw so many things just on the mainland of Venice alone, I'm going to make this a two-part series on Mainland Venice. We'll start with Part 1 of our day in Mainland Venice...

My wife and I took a water taxi on the Grand Canal to Ponte de Rialto (Rialto Bridge), which is the oldest of the four bridges along the Grand Canal. From the bridge, we got a great view of the canal!





After we got off, we noticed how many tourists were there, so we did some exploring We were impressed just by the atmosphere alone and we found smaller canals within the buildings that were just as advertised. They were picturesque, very Italian, and had a Byzantine design!

A smaller canal
Here's another look at one of the smaller canals...

People actually live here!
And we couldn't go without getting a gondola shot! A group got together and enjoyed their time. If you want the gondolier to sing, you need to pay extra. Gondola rides are expensive to say the least. They'r'e 80 euros for the first 40 minutes. If you want an extra 20 minutes, it will cost you 40 more euros. After 7:00pm, the price climbs to 100 euros for 40 minutes and 50 euros for 20-minute increments. Although it was tempting, my wife and I didn't feel that tempted to pay that amount.

Not as romantic but cheaper with more people!
Tourists in the next picture are relaxing by the edge and just enjoying the atmosphere... From the lights, to the narrow passageways, to the gondolas, to the 12th Century architecture. It's a haven for photographers...


We walked to Piazza San Marco and came across Basilica di San Marco or St. Mark's Basilica. It is most famous cathedral in Venice and has been the city's cathedral since 1807. It has Italo-Byzantine architecture based on its gold ground mosaics representing Venetian wealth and power. It's also known as the Chiesa d' Oro or the Church of Gold, which is its nickname and has been since the 11th Century.

Basilica di San Marco (St. Mark's Basilica)
Basilica di San Marco at Piazza San Marco

I didn't realize that I couldn't take pictures inside, but I did get one shot of the interior before getting scolded.


In Piazza Marco itself, there were pigeons everywhere as you can see from this picture...


But then again, you can't blame them. People were feeding them left and right. Due to that, they were pretty tame and brave. They were on people's arms and heads just trying to get some food. You can see a little girl feeding them up and close....



Soon after that, we walked to the edge of the canal and I got a great picture of my wife with the island of San Giorgio Maggiore (south of the main island group) in the background.....


The island of San Giorgio Maggiore (named after St. George) had a monastery built by Benedictine monk Giovanni Morosini in 982. It's best known for The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which was begun by Palladio in 1566. When Venice fell in 1812, the monastery was almost destroyed and the island became a free port and a new harbor. Today it's the headquarters of the Cini Foundation Arts Centre and the Teatro Verde open air theater.
San Giorgio Maggiore Island in the background
And while we were looking at San Giorgio, we saw a couple that just got married get off a gondola. How romantic!


We stopped to have a snack outside at one of these tables (see picture below) before we finished off our day in Venice...


We stopped off at two more places but I'll save that for Part 2 since I have many more pictures and details to share about those places. Be ready for "Mainland Venice, Italy (Part 2)" coming soon!



Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Late Thanksgiving Message



Although Thanksgiving has left and Christmas is on its way, I want to express how thankful I am for the many things that Jesus has given me. Where do I start?

1. I'm thankful that I have a loving and understanding wife that almost never gets upset. We rarely argue because we're both easygoing and don't let things annoy us for that long. The last time we even came close to an argument was when I came home after an exhausting and annoying day at work a week ago. My wife was on the phone for an hour after I arrived home and I was a bit annoyed that I couldn't express my frustration and had to hold it in. When she got off the phone, I expressed my annoyance that I couldn't express my frustrations to her. She promptly told me that she told her friend three times that it seemed as if I wanted to talk to her, but her friend finally got the point after the third time. I quickly got over it and I told her about my day at work. And even these situations are few and far between. I'm thankful for that. I'm sure my moodiness can annoy my wife as well, but she never tells me. I'm very blessed to have a sweet wife.

2. I'm happy to have a dad that receives my mail in the U.S. and lets me know when something important comes to his house. He's also very happy when I call him and doesn't judge me if I hadn't talked to him in awhile. My dad is pretty cool and I'm thankful that he supports me living in Korea despite him really wanting me to go back to California. He's wanted that ever since I extended my time in Korea after living here for a year. God has other plans for me though, at least for now.

3. I appreciate that I have a church that is very multi-cultural and full of great people. In L.A., I went to a church that was mostly Caucasian, but they were a bit cold. Then I went to a smaller church that was mostly young and Hispanic and felt like I never fit in. New Harvest Ministry in the Gangnam area of Seoul is full of people from different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and ages. I'm thankful for that because that reduces the number of cliques, which can naturally happen if you hang out with people that are exactly like you.

4. I've worked at Wall Street English for the past 9 years and I just passed the nine-year mark. Although it hasn't always been a smooth ride, it's been a great job. I love teaching adults because they want to learn and have a strong desire for various reasons. Some want to travel, get a better position in their careers, study abroad, or just want to have an extra hobby. Prior to working at WSE, I taught elementary and middle school students. The experience was great, but teaching middle school students at an academy at 9:30pm wasn't rewarding. They had already studied at their regular school during the day, came to the academy to learn from the Korean teacher at 9:00pm and then had my class at 9:30pm. Needless to say, they didn't want to be there and I realized that I was contributing to the "hagwon" (private academy) problem among the youth. I got out of it and haven't looked back ever since.

5. I'm thankful to live in Seoul. It's not perfect and most places aren't. Sometimes the crowded subways annoy me at 10:00pm, summer can be too humid, and winter can be too cold. However, Seoul has many things to do, various restaurants, and the public transportation is the most convenient in the world. Not many people can be thankful for those kinds of things.

6. I'm thankful for the friends that I have in Seoul. Many are like family and if I'm depressed, they pray for me. We also hang out together, have dinner, and just have a great time talking about sports, church life, and our jobs. I also have non-Christian friends that have lived in Seoul for a long time and talk about what we love about living here and things that we don't exactly enjoy. It's great to have a support system in a foreign country especially when you don't get to talk to family members that often.

7. Finally and most importantly, I'm thankful to God through Jesus for all of the things that I mentioned. Without all Him, I wouldn't be blessed with the above mentioned. I'm still amazed that I've lived in a foreign country for the past 14 years, grateful that I found a wonderful wife, so happy we have been able to travel together. Now we are focusing on the next chapter (having a baby). I pray that 2018 will be an excellent year for us. So far my life has been pretty awesome and I'm so full of joy that God has helped me get to this point so far.


Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Herb Island in Pocheon, South Korea (Part 2- My Review)




This tourist attraction was created in 1998 with the purpose of promoting and growing Mediterranean Herbs. You can see an herb museum, get a massage at the herbal center, see many attractions that are made out of herbal plants, visit the herb bakery, browse the herb-related souvenir shop, check out the greenhouse, and eat at the herb restaurant. It's a very unique experience in the middle of the countryside and surrounded by beautiful mountains in Pocheon.

My wife and I came on a rainy day, so it was quite the adventure to get here but we were pleasantly surprised once we got here. First, we noticed that very few people were there on that day. This was a major plus.

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted with restrooms that were painted by people that had a sense of humor. I immediately had to take a couple of pictures.




We loved the artsy feel to this place with the masks and pastel colors.


You can see how much it was raining in the next picture!


In the museum area, there were fairy tale themes such as Snow White....


Beauty in the center of the picture while Beast is taking the picture....


And my wife definitely had a field day with this next one! Mirror mirror on the door, who's the fairest on this floor? ;)


Cinderella in her Pumpkin Coach!


To confirm that she's Cinderella: If the shoe fits, wear it! And it fit indeed!


Then we found out that Herb Island takes pride in their herbal products. They even make all of their products on site. This area is on the second floor. Even the walls were made of plants:


Then we made our way outside the museum and we saw an area where you can take gondola rides in Venice Village. Today was not that day...


In the Venezia Shop, kids can get costumes of fairy tale characters and women can get cute little headbands or masks:

My wife would look great in that Snow White costume!


Very cute!
There's also fairy tale characters scattered everywhere and a waterfall!


You can get fresh baked bread with herbs in the bakery....


One cool area is a series of rooms that show the nostalgia of Korea in the past...

1980s Korea

And a lot more traditional Korea
A traditional Korean cafe ("dabang")
A traditional Korean classroom
Herb Island also has a cool greenhouse with a lot of beautiful flowers and plants. While we were there, we found a few friends welcoming us inside....

My wife thinks I look like Winnie the Pooh and she looks like Piglet. Haha!

One of my favorite aspects of this area is the area surrounding Herb Island. It's surrounded by lush, green mountains during the spring and fall...

Beautiful Pocheon
But what was unexpected was that this place also has an all-year round Christmas theme in one area of the park. There's a Christmas store with Santa Claus and Biblical themes combined. I don't think I've ever seen that before...


And at 7:00pm, the Christmas lights illuminate the whole park. I took a lot of pictures, but you'll just have to go yourself to see the rest of the park in all of its Christmas glory....



And in this area just outside the Christmas store you can hear Christmas music including the dreaded song "Last Christmas"by George Michael. ;)


You can also eat at a restaurant that has inexpensive and pretty good food before you go home or get some medicine or a massage at the herbal center. Herb Island has small shops where you can buy Christmas items, a big store where you can buy health products including a massage chair, heat packs, medicine, etc. Finally, there's a mini-dinosaur park for kids and Herb Island's version of Trevi Fountain in Rome. Overall, this place is fun and I would give it four stars out of five. Just be sure that you don't leave too late if you want to take the bus back to downtown Pocheon. But it would be easier if you drove here.

Have fun!

Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)





Sunday, November 12, 2017

Experiences in Seoul (Week of November 5- November 12, 2017)




GOOD:

This week I experienced some interesting moments. As I was walking to Seollung Station after picking up a Subway sandwich after work, I noticed two older men loading up their truck with beer and soda bottles. They picked them up from a restaurant so they could take them to the recycling center. As they were loading the bottles, a female restaurant employee came out and gave each of them a tangerine. They were both very thankful and she told them to have a good day. It was a very sweet gesture.

BAD:

Within 10 minutes after the situation above, I got on the subway at Seollung Station and noticed that a man in his early to mid forties was sitting on the pregnant woman's seat. I don't have a big deal with people sitting there unless a pregnant woman, a much older person, or a person with physical disabilities is around and needs that seat. Well, the next stop came and two older women got on the subway. One was in her sixties and seemed to be pretty healthy and another woman in her seventies or older were both standing near the guy. The man had his earphones on and was watching a movie but I noticed that he was looking at the woman in her sixties and then when she looked in his direction, he avoided eye contact and went back to watching his movie. The woman that was older seemed to scan for empty seats and it was clear that she was uncomfortable standing. After about four stations, the man just wouldn't get up. I kept wondering if I should do something and even prayed about it. Finally, I tapped the man lightly on the shoulder, gestured to the much older woman, she smiles, he gets up, she gets a seat.

FUNNY:

As many of my friends have noticed on Facebook, I have a tendency to capture Koreans that like to wear shirts or jackets with English on the back of them. They seem to be very fashionable and the English is either very random or incomprehensible. Here are a couple of articles of clothing with "interesting" English that I found this week:


Do you know what this means??


How about some random pool hours and pool rules?



Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Herb Island in Pocheon, South Korea (Part 1- How to Get There)



Last summer, my wife and I went to Herb Island on a rainy summer day (August 15, 2017). Herb Island a cross between an amusement park and a store that manufactures health products. It's a pretty interesting concept and many of the decorations are made out of herbs, plants, and flowers. And the best part about this place is that it's free! As you might guess, I do recommend this place since I wouldn't give you directions in this post if I didn't enjoy it! But I will give you a full review in my next blog post.


In all honesty, it's a major trek to get there. You need to go to Gangbyeon Station at the Dongseoul Bus terminal and take the bus to the Pocheon City Bus Terminal. That will take about an hour to get to downtown Pocheon. Once you get there, you have to walk north (the opposite direction of Pocheon City Hall) to the next block. If you're walking toward Paris Baguette (on your right), you're going the WRONG way. If you're going the right way, you'll see an Olleh phone store on the left. After that you will turn left at the first major intersection which is highway 87. Find the bus stop and then take the 57 that will head west. You'll take that bus for another 30 minutes to the bus stop. Make sure that you are using Naver Maps so that you don't pass the bus stop. We got on the bus stop here. You'll see the mountains ahead of you:


The picture below is where we got off the bus. You'll head up the street that is behind you (by turning left) when you get off the bus. You're about a 5-7 minute walk away from Herb Island:


Then you'll head up this street....


You'll see this scenery on your left. You'll see houses on hills with a road below them and a stream parallel to the road...


Another view of what you'll pass on your left side....



You'll pass this hill and these tall trees on your right.....


You will then either pass a dalkgalbi restaurant on your right or you can be like my wife and I and eat there before you go into the park. This picture was me looking out of the restaurant (on the right side of the street). You'll see tables outside which is perfect during the spring or fall....



From here, it's only a two-minute walk and you'll be at the bottom of the entrance. There will be a park attendant which will tell you that you need to walk up the hill to the main entrance. It's a bit steep but there will be stairs on the left side. Then you'll see the entrance at the top of the hill after you pass this old ticket booth that is no longer in use....



Welcome to Herb Island!


Scott Worden (The L.A./Seoul Guy)