After going to the mud festival in Boryeong, South Korea, I scampered over to the capital, Seoul to visit some tourist sites. There are not one, but 5 palaces in the capital city. The oldest is Gyeongbokgung Palace (Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven) which has 7, 700 rooms in over 500 buildings. So a palace is not just a large home for royalty, but a place that has government offices, meeting halls, and even museums. I could not see the whole place, but I was very impressed with the folk museum which shows how people dressed and worked many years ago. One thing that has not changed is the national dish, kimchi, though there are many recipes. Vegetables and spices which have been fermented for months, it is spicy and sour tasting! Purrs, Gulliver
Konnichi wa! That is Japanese for Good Day! Japanese writing is very difficult. There are two ways of forming a letter – one is called kanji, and is borrowed from Chinese characters. The second is called Kana, which uses more symbols. Almost all Japanese sentences use a mix of kanji and kana with several thousand kanji characters are used regularly. The traditional writing is not across the page, like English, but vertical, and read down the columns from right to left. Because of this mix of scripts, the large number of kanji characters, and the different direction of the words, the Japanese writing system is often considered to be the most difficult to use anywhere in the world.
Woo hoo! My friend Smokey took me to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The original Olympics were held in Greece during the ancient times. The modern Olympics move from country to country with athletes from all over the world competing for bronze, silver and gold medals. This is the second time South Korea has been host. The first time was the summer Olympics in 1988 in the capital, Seoul. I wanted to see the downhill skiing, speed and figure skating and hockey events. Smokey chose curling, alpine skiing, biathlon, hockey, luge and snowboarding. We had to compromise to see events together. The host city this time was PyeongChang, South Korea, and they used a mascot called Soohorang, who is a white tiger. The tiger represents trust, strength and protection in the Korean culture. Purrs, Gulliver
Vietnam food is considered very healthy because they use a lot of fruits, vegetables, fish, herbs and rice. Traditionally, each meal has something spicy, sour, bitter, salty and sweet. While I was visiting Vietnam, I asked what a specialty dish would be, and the chef said “Baby Tiger!” They eat tigers here? No, it is actually cats! If a cat is a pet, it is usually walked on a leash to keep it from disappearing. Potbellied pigs are also kept as pets, where at home pigs are eaten as bacon and pork chops. I started daydreaming about what people eat around the world. People from India revere the cow and would not dream of eating a hamburger made of beef. Before I realized it, the chef was chasing me through the village market, waiving a knife and calling “Here kitty kitty!” Because the Vietnamese language uses different tones to make meanings of a word change to something new, it was hard to understand the chef, but his meaning was clear! Whew, I felt like I barely escaped with my life! Purrs, Gulliver
And here is a comment from one of the teachers:
My kids get such a kick out of Gully’s adventures! The cat-hunting Vietnamese cook had the exact response I hoped for….a discussion of differences, not judgments of cultures. Sushi, Tajin, escargots and nopales were all loved by some and considered really weird by others….but after a talk, we decided it’s a decision, not a judgment. “I don’t like sushi” or “I’ve never had sushi” is different from “Sushi is disgusting”. Thanks again for all you do!
Cats are happy to have one coat of fur – no worries about matching accessories, socks or shoes. I love to look at people’s fashions though, and learn where they came from. The áo dài (long garment) is a Vietnamese national costume. It is a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over trousers. It looks simple, but the dress must be individually fitted and usually requires several weeks for a tailor to complete. An ao dai costs about $200 in the United States and about $40 in Vietnam. The áo dài is worn at weddings, for celebrating the New Year and for other formal events. A plain white áo dài is a common high school uniform, and may also be the uniform of flight attendants, receptionists, bank staff, restaurant staff, and hotel workers in Vietnam. Purrs, Gulliver
I am visiting Southeast Asia in celebration of the lunar New Year, which was February 20th. Like the Salinas Valley, many people who live here are farmers, with rice as the most popular crop. The other food eaten every day is fish. Fish is eaten fresh, dried, smoked, or as a paste called prahok and is spiced with hot peppers, lemon grass, or mint. Lake Tonle Sap is near the center of the country; it is so large people live on their boats in floating villages. That means that every errand must be run by boat instead of walking or by car. Oh, remember the postcard about flags? The Cambodian flag is the only flag in the world to feature a building. Purrs, Gulliver
“My wish is for you grow up to be healthy and happy!” I purred when I saw the baby. Po’s mom told me he is two years old in China even though this would be his first birthday in the United States. I enjoyed the longevity noodle your parents served! It was a looong noodle, enough to fill up the whole bowl, and I tried my best to eat it all without breaking the noodle, to ensure you would have a long life! The zhuā zhōu tradition interested me. Your parents put out different objects – a coin to represent wealth, a doll for many children, a pen, a stamp, an abacus, a flute and some other things which represented different careers. The tradition holds that the first item you choose represents your future. I guess we will have to wait a few years to find out if the prophecy comes true. Purrs, Gulliver