June 2008

If you’re looking for a bargain hotel in Seoul, beware of prices that are too low for they may be the hourly rate for a “Love Motel.” These places cater to clients that only need a room for an hour or so of pleasure…young adults who still live with their parents or philandering spouses. They look different from places where people actually sleep ~ there are privacy panels to disguise cars and faces from the general public.

Love Motels across the street from Room Salons ~ how convenient.


The sound of summer in Korea includes the song of the cicada (매미). At first I thought there was something going on with the electricity outside my window. It turns out that cicadas reach adulthood after the weather reaches 29*C (84.2*F) and then sing to attract mates. The cicada’s song and the monsoon season (장마) are practically simultaneous in Seoul.

Annual cicada, from Wikipedia.

It’s hot and humid and the only way I can survive summer in Korea is with ice cream treats. There are so many different kinds that I can try something new every day it seems. There are sticks, cones, tubes, waffles and cakes.

Round waffle with rice cake. Fish-shaped with sweet red bean (like 뿡어 street cakes).

Waffle ice cream galore.

Cake ice cream sandwiches, nothing like American ice cream sandwiches.

So many people in Seoul walk around wearing surgical face masks. They have sporty versions, children’s styles, reusable, and disposable masks. People here wear them when they are sick, are afraid of getting sick, during exercise, when yellow dust blows in from China, when recovering from plastic surgery or to hide from ever-present CCTV cameras.

Is he hiding or protecting himself?

Korean cheese seems to come in tube form. Snack cheese looks more like an albino sausage than cheese. Cheese should come in cubes, wheels, slices. Sold everywhere, these scare me and I have not tried eating one.

You don’t have to go far to find puffed rice, corn or barley. These trucks can be found parked in every neighborhood in Seoul. The puffed treats are eaten as snacks, anju/안주 or cereal. Sugar is hardly ever added, unless there’s a visible glaze. My favorites are the frisbees (left, center).

Puffed treats start at 2,000W per bag.

Summer in Seoul means hot rain and mosquito madness. Mosquitoes here are fierce and come out of nowhere. They drove us crazy this weekend, biting frequently and buzzing by our heads at bedtime. The stores offer mosquito spray, mosquito incense coils, mosquito plug-ins. Not sure if killing one or two mosquitoes is worth breathing in all those chemicals.

Display of Korean mosquito killing products.

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