Now that the weather is starting to warm up, it really feels like spring is right around the corner. Spring in Korea is like an awesome explosion of multi-colored flowers and blue skies. I can’t wait to capture it all with my camera when the first flowers start blooming. Although Korea’s summers and winters are… almost unbearable sometimes (humid in the summer and frigid cold in the winter) autumn and spring are really a delight. I thought I’d show some of the pictures I took last year in late fall before springtime really arrives.
These are photos I took around my neighborhood, located in what I like to call one of the suburban-ish areas in Korea in Kyunggi which is right beside Seoul. In fact, when I mean right beside Seoul, you literally after crossing a small bridge are in Seoul. It’s quite funny sometimes riding taxis to and from school (when I’m running late) and I hear the portable navigation device thing on all cars in Korea say “we are now in Kyunggi-do” or “we are now in Seoul” after crossing a little bridge. So by the book, I am indeed a Kyunggi-ite… but because I’m so near Seoul and am in Seoul most of the time, I like to call myself a Seoul-ite.
What’s really lovely about living in Korea is that there are quite a lot of trees planted all around country (city and country-side), so wherever you may be you can probably catch a glimpse of ginkgo trees during the fall and cherry blossoms during the spring. Above, you can catch a glimpse of the mini-apartment complexes in my neighborhood and some of the many ginkgo trees in the area. I live in quite an old neighborhood (although reconstruction of older apartment complexes is ongoing) so the buildings have less levels and there is more room for trees.
Close-up of ginkgo tree. They have dark trunks and bright yellow leaves that look like this:
I don’t have a really close-up picture of the leaves, but you can make out the little ginkgo leaves that look like fans. What’s good about ginkgo trees is that there are little nuts that fall off during the fall/spring that can be dried and then eaten. They are nutritious and also very expensive, so during harvesting season you can see many people crowding around under the trees to salvage the little nuts. They taste delicious in about anything, but are usually put in yeong-yang bap, which is a healthy rice dish consisting of sticky rice, red rice, dried dates, and an assortment of other nuts and seeds.
Just a couple of years ago, cleaners used to sweep all of the leaves off the streets in Seoul continuously throughout the span of autumn, but now it seems that they leave them until most of the leaves fall off. I personally think fallen leaves look beautiful and it’s more logical to clean them up after they’ve all fallen off.
There aren’t any underground car parking lots, personal garages, or even outdoor parking lots in old apartment complexes such as mine, so cars are parked basically anywhere they can get away with without getting a ticket. One of the negatives of owning a car in Korea is the complete shortage of parking spaces and how even if you do find a spot it’s often insanely expensive.
The colors are so vibrant it’s crazy. Especially when the weather is sunny (which in autumn, the weather is almost always good) they can even be a bit blinding.
Especially for the red leaves, they’re a stark contrast to their black trunks and the fallen leaves almost look like blood; a striking picture.
The picture above was taken in my university campus, Seoul National University (SNU). SNU is basically built into a mountain, so even though the university is smack dab in the middle of Seoul, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of different trees, plants, even wildlife. For those of you who would like to avoid the huge crowds that cram into the cherry blossom attractions beside the Han river during the spring, I recommend visiting SNU. The campus is extremely big and spacious, providing for a peaceful viewing of cherry blossoms of all kinds. The meals are also very cheap, not to mention that many students will be able to speak English to help. There are also organized tours, but they are mainly for larger groups.
My friend and I couldn’t resist stepping into the leaves and exploring some of the many plants and trees in our campus.
By a stroke of chance, while I was taking this photograph of a persimmon tree I also was able to capture two flying birds. It isn’t unusual to see weird and wonderful nuts and fruits on some of the trees on-campus. Persimmons are very diverse fruits and can be eaten when they are still hard, called “dan gam,” when they go completely soft and gooey, “hong si,” and dried, called “Ggot gam”.
I have no idea what these berries are, but upon observing the fact that the birds weren’t touching the berries while they were pecking on the fallen persimmons, I assume that they’re poisonous.
Museum of Art (MOA) is one of the quirky locations in SNU that make it such a special campus. An actual art gallery on-campus! For students, it’s free admission, and for visitors it’s 2,000 won (which is next to nothing; even cheaper than a cup of coffee). The building is very special, built with no pillars whatsoever but held together by the outer walls itself. For more information, google Museum of Art SNU.
I unfortunately failed to take a picture of the MoA building from afar… for some reason I was incredibly focused on taking numerous pictures of this pots and pans sculpture on the front lawn of the building. Exhibitions change every few weeks, and even the famous pop artist Andy Warhol’s works have been displayed in the galleries.
Another random iconic location on-campus: Ja-ha Pond. The pond is named after a poet who is said to have written numerous works while gazing at the scenery. It is located in the central area of campus, and is overlooked by the humanities buildings.
A beautiful location especially during the spring and fall.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour around my neighborhood and university. Remember to fully explore the areas you live in, whether it be in the notable landmarks, or in places you’d normally not even think of visiting.
Happy exploring! 🙂