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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

[Nov/Leisure] Let’s Get Physical: It’s Easy in the Daegu Area

The golden oldie, “Let’s Get Physical,” made popular by singer Olivia Newton-John, could well have been written with Daegu in mind. There is an unmistakable culture here about being physical. 

Daegu’s city fathers have wisely invested in miles upon miles of public biking and running trails. Moreover, hundreds of exercise stations pepper the city and its environs in corner parks, civic squares, and along rivers and roadways.

Exercise stations dot the landscape in Daegu

If you are into walking, jogging or biking, or if you aspire to get started in any, or all, of these activities, Daegu is the place for you!  You’ll find people out exercising at any time of day or night, across the seasons.

In the Daegu area you will see that synthetic tracks, those wonderfully soft walkways usually made of recycled rubber products, have conveniently been laid in every neighborhood. Access is minutes away.

Residents getting in their exercise on the riverside track
 in Gyeungsan
When you choose walking, you make a healthy choice. A walk along the river or through one of the area's numerous parks allows you to see the sights while staying fit. If biking is your thing, the nearly endless network of trails means you can create a unique route almost every time out. And Daegu can be a runner’s paradise with those ubiquitous soft, colorful tracks meandering their way throughout the metropolitan area, and well beyond.

Local resident jogging his way to health
So pick a tune, make it your own and exercise your way to a healthier you--in Daegu.

Let’s Get Physical (Olivia Newton-John)

Walk Don’t Run (The Ventures)

 It Keeps You Running (The Doobie Brothers)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

[Nov/Leisure] The Daegu Art Museum: Come Listen to the Voices of Korea's Artists

“Art speaks the soul of its culture.”
                                                                               Abby Willowroot

There is a box-like structure that adorns the hillside just past the familiar venue that is Daegu Stadium.  Inside a gift awaits you. The ambience is a unique mix of the glass and steel one finds in Finland and the hospitality that is so uniquely characteristic of Korea. Here, at the Daegu Art Museum, you can hear the intriguing voices of Korea’s artists and experience their art with all your senses.
One current exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Korean artist, Lee In Sung (1912-1950). I was drawn like a moth to a flame, to his “Girl” (1940), a painting of his daughter in her striking red dress and subtle, long pigtails. She seems to portray all the magic and complexity possessed by Korean girls.
Shin Sang Ho’s (b.1947) sculptures are as direct, as they are colorful. It is easy to be captivated and provoked by his use of material, including a great deal of military hardware.

Interestingly, the site also features a wonderful restaurant which will help make your visit that much more appetizing. This world-class art museum is perhaps Daegu’s best kept secret. With your family, friends or even for personal exploration, a morning or afternoon at the Daegu Art Museum is an unbeatable cultural gift.

From November through March the Daegu Art Museum is open daily from 10:00 AM -6 PM. Closed Mondays. For more information including directions and exhibit information:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

[Nov/Tour] Andong Unmasked

The city of Andong is heralded in Korea for its outstanding traditional food, especially its steamed chicken (Jjimdak), grilled mackerel (Kohdunga) and native all-natural rice-wine (soju). In fact, a trip to Andong is well worth it just to enjoy these three culinary treasures. But Andong, which is Gyeongsangbuk-do’s largest city in the northern part of the province, is internationally regarded for its amazing folk heritage--in particular, The Hahoe Folk Village and the Annual Folk Festival featuring  the Andong Masks.

The Hahoe Folk Village can be reached via a scenic bus ride from downtown Andong. The village uniquely features an active community of residents living as they would a century ago. Walking down the village’s lanes and alleys affords visitors glimpses of traditional Korean life that have become all too rare. It’s easy to lose track of time as you turn a corner and gaze at rice paddies and mountains without any modern distractions. Not surprisingly, Hahoe Folk Village has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Traditional Korean residence at Hahoe Folk Village
Recently Andong residents welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to the 41st Annual Folk Festival that featured its parade of masks and presentations by performing artists from around the world. The masks have the power to mesmerize as they come alive in numerous theatrical shows and displays. Vendors from throughout Korea dot the fair grounds offering everything from natural foods to clothing. The entire festival, held each fall, is striking in its diversity and vibrancy.
Masks at Andong's Annual Folk Festival

Even restaurants get into the act
Enhance your visit to Andong with an overnight stay at a local Korean inn (min-bak). A fine example is The Man Hyu Guest House located about 25 minutes from downtown Andong. Take bus #51 and ask for Bongjeongsa Temple. Sit back and let the driver take you to the end of the line. Man Hyu Guesthouse is just a short walk up the hill.
A delicious breakfast at the Man Hyu Guest House
Visit Andong for yourself and experience its marvelous masquerading. It is surely one of Korea’s, and Gyeongsangbukdo’s, best treasures.

Getting there: Andong is about a 2-hour train ride from Dong Daegu Station.
The Man Hyu Guest House is a 25-minute bus ride from downtown Andong. Take the #51 bus to its last stop. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Yes, you were

Dear Abe,

When you are older, an adult, maybe 20 or so, you might have a chance to look back at this photo. It was taken during the summer of 2012. I was so lucky. I was able to come home to Peaks Island from Korea in time to be with you and to see the birth of your sister, Zoe. Yes Abe, you were as loving as your smile. Yes, you were as good as gold...and smart too. You were so glorious to be with. You loved baseball and everything red. Yes, you were deeply loved by your mom and dad and all your grandparents, from Montana to Maine. You were loved too by your great grandparents living in warmer places like Arizona and Florida. Yes, you were so deeply loved.

Abe welcomes Zoe into the world, Summer 2012
Dear Zoe,

Zoe, when you are older you will see how you were loved too. Into the world you came with deep dark hair. You completed a splendid picture for your family, from A-Z. Can you see that in your brother's smile? I look forward to know you young lady. For now, and maybe then, I am a world away. Yes, Zoe, from near and far, you too were loved deeply.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

[Nov/Tour] Gatbawi – A Masterpiece of Buddhist Sculpture, Near Daegu

He sits there patiently and stoically. As soon as you cast your eyes upon him you know that your walk up the mountain trail was well worth the effort. Gatbawi, the sitting Buddha, is considered one of the masterpieces of Buddhist sculpture. An official Korean Treasure (No. 431), the 4-meter tall stone Buddha, Gatbawi, was carved in the 9th century. There he rests on a mountain peak, overlooking a wide vista north of Daegu. As the Buddha of medicine, he holds a medicine pot in his left hand. The stone headpiece atop his head represents his supreme wisdom, while the position of his hand symbolizes the expelling of evil. This latter point is important because tradition has it that Gatbawi will grant visitors one wish.
Gatbawi, Korean Treasure no. 431

A trip to Gatbawi is mesmerizing for reasons of your choosing. Perhaps it is seeing the sitting Buddha himself. You might savor the dramatic view of the countryside. For the weekend hiker in you, the trail up to Gatbawi is pleasant, as the long staircase and trail wind and climb through the forest that blankets the mountainside. Your trip to Gatbawi, by any measure, is well worth the visit.

Hiking up the mountain staircase

Give yourself several hours for the visit and climb up.

Getting there: Leaving Dong Daegu Station, exit and turn right, walk down a set of stairs. You will see the city bus stop ahead. Take bus #401, or 101-1 to Gatbawi (40-50 minutes).  By taxi, the trip is 25-30 minutes from Dong Daegu Station (figure a 20,000 won fare).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Afternoon Delight

In recent years coffee shops have proliferated throughout Korea. Franchised coffee shops, offer predictability and convenience, but they are rarely interesting, creative or welcoming. However, there are a few gems out there that bring delight to coffee lovers in the Daegu area. Cafepresso, thanks to owner-baristas Ho and Miri, is just such an oasis. Roasting and hand-drip experts, they ply their trade with passion and artistry. Taste a delicious fresh brewed Dutch Coffee or a wonderful White Cafe Mocha. Treat yourself to a mouthwatering dish of Vanilla Ice-Cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup and adorned with almonds and oreo cookies. Experience the Honey Bread with fresh cream. Cafepresso gets our vote for best coffee shop in the greater Daegu area. It's well worth visiting.
    Phone: 053-801-6668   Address: 562-5 Sa-Dong Gyeongsan City  Baristas: Ho and Miri

Delicious Coffees and Desserts

Welcome to Cafepresso!

Owner/Baristas Ho (left) and Miri

Cafepresso Location