K*Star Road

2016-03-05 11.39.24Korea does loves its K-Pop. And what better way to celebrate your love of your idols than by placing statues of teddies for each band or performer decorated individually to represent them along a road and calling it K*Star Road?

Line Friends or How We Had Fun With What Are Apparently Emoticons

2016-03-04 18.17.48After a busy week of important meetings with officials from other governments, there is nothing like discovering a store filled with Korean/Japanese emoticons called Line Friends in giant photographable sizes. So we did like the locals. This is Brown by the way.

You could buy these things in all shapes and sizes. These was even a bling version of Kony because of course there was.

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There was also a section for the cool kids.

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But the best thing was the giant ones in their houses where you could take photos. Below, Sally, James and Kony. Sometimes I love the kawaii culture of Northern Asia.

The deliciousness of Japan and Korea

2016-03-01 12.16.48I got to do a lot of eating whilst in Japan and Korea, which is a good thing because there are a lot of good things to eat.

2016-02-29 17.26.47I was excited to find in Tokyo a special Spring Edition Cherry Blossom Red Bull.


Beautifully put together bento boxes have always been one of my favourite things: this is what we got for lunch on Monday.

Dinner on Monday was magnificent. At the beautiful Tofuya Ukai restaurant in the shadow of the Tokyo Tower we ate 9 or so courses of delicious Japanese food. One of them was so delicious I ate it all before I remembered to photograph it.

2016-02-29 22.25.30Here is Katherine (our minister counsellor from Beijing and friend) and me outside the restaurant after all that deliciousness.

2016-03-01 07.50.55One of the more spectacular versions of French toast I have ever been served. Appropriate as I was eating in the 33rd floor of our hotel with a similarly spectacular view of Mt Fuji in the distance.

Dinner on Tuesday was not quite as amazing as dinner on Monday, but we did find a lovely little place and eat some delicious Korean-style BBQ, cooked ourselves at the table.

Another amazing lunch with an even more beautiful bento. It is hard to concentrate on business when the food is this good. The sashimi, in particular, was meltingly fresh.

Then off to Korea for Korean Korean BBQ. Fabulous. I missed the first couple of meals we had in Korea which, as usual for Korea, did involve endless, uncountable courses – some of which were of very odd foods.

2016-03-04 12.55.16A glimpse of our final lunch in Seoul. I did turn down the vibrant dark green seaweed soup, and one of our party did count 80 plates on the table at one point in time. Dishwashers in Korea must get a real workout.


A year in the life 2016 #63: protest


South Korea is the land of the proyest. I think I have seen at least one pretty much every time I have been to Seoul. Even torrential rain didn’t stop this protest which, i believe, was about women’s wages. Power to the (soggy) people.

A year in the life 2016 #62: hotel window view


I was staying in my usual hotel in Seoul – the Seoul Plaza. This time in an upgraded room, so it was even more awesome than usual. Thefe is also a different view from the suites – this is from the lounge.

A year in the life 2016 #61: a visit to Sejong City


Sejong City is the administrative capital of Korea (named, I presume, for one of my favouritest monarchs ever, King Sejong). Since I have been visiting Korea, government departments have been being progressively moved there. This was my first visit – 45 minutes from Seoul on the very fast train.

It is still a reasonably empty city and all very new. There was still a bit of snow on the ground, and a lot of cranes in the distance.


The government buildings have been built in the shape of a long snaking dragon through Sejong City. Apparently they are all linked and it is possible to walk from one end (the tail) all the way  to the other (the head) inside – it takes about an hour.

I guess this is what Canberra felt like about 100 years ago (although it wasn’t built as fast).


A wet Saturday in Seoul

2016-03-05 10.39.14It was a gloomy day when we set out, off to the other side of the Han to Cheongdam, Gangnam to check out the shopping. I had forgotten about White Day – March 14th – which in Korea and Japan (and possibly other places as well) is “reverse” Valentines Day when girls give gifts to their boyfriends. There was heart shaped merchandise all over.

The stores were quite impressive, but there was nothing in my size and not a lot in my price range. Which was probably a good thing.

One piece particularly impressed me – the designer face mask. I mean in this age of pandemics and pollution, you want to look stylish while protecting yourself.

2016-03-05 12.27.35We then headed back to the centre of Seoul as the rain really started to come down, and headed to Deoksugung Palace, which I had last seen in the heat of summer. This time it was incredibly wet.  Our feet were soaked by the end, but we did feel we’d managed both ends of Korean culture.