Cultural Musings · Korea · Seoul · Shopping · Weekend Trips

Yellow Dust

Also known as “Asian Dust”, “Yellow Sand” and “Korean Smog”, this phenomenon makes living in Korea very hard sometimes.  Wikipedia has the most understandable definition of Asian Dust that I have found thus far.  We have a Yellow Sand Advisory meter on the Osan Air Base website.  There isn’t a whole lot of info on the web about Yellow Dust and its affects on people.  The military link has a helpful PDF file explaining the different advisory levels and what to do when exposed to the dust.  However, the file doesn’t say what you should do when, after a day of sightseeing in Seoul, you come home and hack up half a lung and no amount of Zicam 8 hour Cough Mist Max will help.  I should know better, I have always had minor cold-related respiratory issues but Saturday was so beautiful and Joe and I wanted to take advantage of him having his first weekend off in a month.  Honestly, I don’t read the Yellow Sand Advisory website before venturing out, if it’s a beautiful day I go outside.  Two blocks later when I notice all my neighbors are wearing their Hello Kitty surgical masks I wonder, “hmm, should I have looked at the advisory today.”  Maybe I need to invest in a Hello Kitty surgical mask too.   After coughing for 30 min. straight last night, I am seriously contemplating the 3,000 Won investment.

So now to the actual sightseeing portion of today’s entry.  On Wednesday, Stephanie and I decided to take the base bus to Yongsan Army Base in Seoul.  The American Forces’ Spouses’ Club operates a gift shop on Yongsan base called Chosun.  It is a large warehouse housing beautiful furniture, knickknacks and jewelry.  Almost like a less expensive Pier 1 right on base.  Stephanie has made many trips there but this was my first time and I was really impressed by the merchandise and the prices.  I picked up a gorgeous sterling silver and wood ring for $8, some painted ceramic necklace and earring sets for $3/apiece and a very unique sterling silver and amber pendant for $11.  The gift shop gets bi-monthly shipments from all over Asia and their next shipment was arriving the next day from Thailand.  I knew I wanted to come back for some of their furniture with Joe so we made a trip Saturday morning.  We got there shortly after they opened at 10 AM and since they are only open 2 days a week they were quite crowded.  We quickly wandered around and I chose two pieces of furniture, a large black bookcase and a large storage dresser with linen lined wicker baskets.  I was very excited about the furniture and even more excited about the price, I got both pieces of solid wood furniture with delivery from Seoul down to Songtan for about $500.  A great deal considering the quality of the furniture.  I will be heading back to Chosun often.

As I said, the weather has been beautiful lately.  This is the back courtyard of the Dragon Hill Lodge, Yongsan Base’s hotel.  If you recall, Joe and I stayed there in February for our first trip to Seoul.

After Chosun Joe and I wanted to head to a neighborhood in Seoul we had never been to.  We had heard this weekend was the beginning of the Hi Seoul Festival and headed over to Yeouido, the small island in the middle of the Han River in Seoul. There were supposedly some festivities going on there and this was also the site of the Seoul Cherry Blossom Festival a few weeks ago.  After wandering down a few streets with nothing but huge office buildings and a call to Ally to see if she knew anything more we decided there was nothing to see in Yeouido except a few parks and the MBC building, Seoul’s answer to the NBC Studios in New York City.

Since basking in the afternoon breeze of Yellow Dust and trying to spot a Korean celebrity were not high on our list we decided to head to Insadong, the only “cute” neighborhood we know in Seoul.  I was slightly disappointed and realized I love the small, quaint neighborhoods of Europe so much and Koreans don’t know how to do it like they do.  So for our year here Insadong will have to do, until someone who has explored more of Seoul tells us where else to go.  On our way to Insadong, we passed the entrance to Gyeongbukgong palace near the Jongo-3 train station.  There were definitely some Hi Seoul festival goings on there but by that time we were hungry and tired of walking around in search of this elusive “festival.”  Maybe our idea of a festival isn’t the same as Korea’s idea.  When I hear festival, I think performances, stalls, exhibits, things like that.  We didn’t see any of that stuff so maybe Koreans use the term “festival” a little more loosely or we were looking in the wrong neighborhoods.

We finally found a place for lunch at 3 PM in Insadong, a cute little Indian restaurant on the 2nd floor, overlooking the hustle and bustle of Insadong.

The view from our table at the Little India Cafe.

The cute interior of the Little India cafe.  We enjoyed Indian fried rice and Chicken Curry for a pricey 30,000 won.  After all, it is Seoul.  Dorothy, you’re not in Songtan anymore.

I’m not sure if it was a special occasion or a normal afternoon event but we saw some very interesting characters strolling down Insadong’s main street during our late afternoon lunch.

Joe in front of the Korean War Museum, right next to Yongsan Army Base.  Is it me or is it a prerequisite for all War Museums to have large phallic monuments outside them?

Overall it was a great day and I spent it with my favorite adventure partner, my wonderful hubby.

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One thought on “Yellow Dust

  1. Dearest Mel, those pictures are spectacular. You are quite the photog, but YOU MUST GET A HELLO KITTY SURGICAL MASK!!! Please, I can hear you coughing now. I am glad you had a beautiful weekend with your wonderful hubby. Hope all is well with your brother — he doesn’t stay in touch much. Give him a “noogee” on his head for us!! All of love to the three of you in Korea, Mom and Dad

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