Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Today I have officially been in Korea for one year!

I feel really good about this. It's been an amazing year and I have become so comfortable since wandering out of Incheon airport one year ago in a fit of nerves and uncertainty. I'm ready to head home to spend time with my family and friends but I will miss Korea so so much. I grew up a lot here. I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. 

And there have been so many awesome experiences. Korea is an amazing country with a lot to offer. Sure, there are things that I won't be sorry to say goodbye to, like squatter toilets and the smell of bundaegi. But the things about Korea that I will miss far outnumber the things that I will not.

I pretty much have hit everything on my "Things to do in Korea" list except that since the spring I've really wanted to rent a bike and ride along the Han River. So today Brianna and I finally decided to do just that. We woke up early and took the train to Yeouinaru Station, right by the 63 Building, and rented a couple of bikes. 
It was a perfect day for it. The park was almost completely empty which meant there weren't many other bikers and though the day was chilly it felt nice once we were riding for a while. I can't remember the last time I rode a bike! Which is sad! I always liked riding one during summer vacations when my family rented a cottage by the beach because the neighborhood was big and flat and there weren't many cars and it's a nice way to spend an afternoon, just cruising around. 

The bike path is something like 40 kilometers long and it's a really nice ride. We only rented ours for a couple of hours but the area we biked was mostly flat with a few hills thrown in. It follows right along the river so the view is decent and there are lots of places to rest, use the bathroom, or get a drink at a water fountain (or a snack at a convenience store) along the way. 
After that we headed to City Hall Station to find lunch. We ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant and I had a weird feeling of coming full circle because I remember that my first meal in Korea when I got here exactly a year ago was at a Vietnamese restaurant too. I usually don't eat Vietnamese food so, I don't know, it was just a strange thing I guess. The whole day just felt like saying goodbye and that added to it somehow.

Then we headed to Deoksugung Palace to check out the Seoul Museum of Art which is located on the palace grounds. We were actually just at this palace last week but it was at night and the museum wasn't open then.
We were AWWWing so loud at this adorable little boy. 
The museum wasn't really what I was expecting and was kind of a let down. I guess I thought it was going to be much bigger, my mistake, and we were done in about 30 minutes. It holds four exhibit halls and is currently running an exhibit called "Art of Communication".
Each artist had a few of their works on display and I only cared for one or two of them. Then again I don't really like contemporary art so maybe if there had been a different exhibition running it would have been more enjoyable.

After the museum Brianna headed back to Incheon and I went down the street to Kyobo Bookstore to check off one last thing on my Korean to-do list. Since the store is next to Gwanghwamun Square I stopped to take some pictures.
Admiral Yi Sun-sun, a famous commander from the Joseon Dynasty and all around badass dude
Sejong the Great, fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty, creator of the Korean alphabet (Hangul) and the face on your ₩10,000 bank note. Also it is difficult to see in my photo (I need to get a zoom lens) but on the left, at the foot of the mountain is Cheongwadae, called the Blue House, where the President lives.
I love Gwanghwamun Square. I was actually there last weekend for the first time and couldn't believe it had taken me so long to see it. It was nighttime then and the place was buzzing with people just relaxing on the grass and talking with friends. It's just a really cool place. You don't leave Korea without knowing who Admiral Yi Sun-sin and King Sejong are. They are huge figures here. So being in this place with their statues looking out over the city and the President's House behind them and all these people around felt rather like being in Washington D.C. and looking out at the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial. I think the idea is the same, you get the same vibe, it holds the same significance. 

I think really what I am most happy about as I look back on my year here is that I squeezed as much out of the experience as possible. I know some people who come to Korea and leave without having done much more than sit at the local bar week after week. And hey the local bars can be great, it's part of the experience. But there is so much to this country that every week I have done or eaten or seen or tried something new. I went up mountains, into caves, swam in the Yellow Sea, wandered countless museums, walked through a tunnel toward North Korea, explored temples and palaces, and so much more.

Everyone comes to Korea for different reasons and I know it's not my place to judge what you do with your time. But I will say that if you don't get out and explore you are missing out big time. There are endless adventures to be had no matter what sort of things you are interested in. Don't leave without partaking in some of them!

(It's okay if you skip the squat toilets though)

Trivia of the Day: Jeju Loveland (제주러브랜드) (also known as Love Land) is an outdoor sculpture park on Jeju Island in South Korea. Twenty artists, mainly graduates of top art school Hongik University, helped open it in November 2004. The park is focused on a theme of sex, running sex education films, and featuring 140 sculptures representing humans in various sexual positions. It also has other elements such as large phallus statues, stone labia, and hands-on exhibits such as a "masturbation-cycle." Jeju Love Land is a place where art and eroticism meet in cool, fun, humorous styles.

*Jeju was recently named as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of the World and since then I've seen a few supposed "facts" saying something like, "There is an island in Korea that is full of sex statues and it was just named a wonder of the world". Ehhh, not quite. Love Land is only a park on the island and it's a pretty reasonable location for it considering that Jeju is a honeymoon spot for Korean newlyweds. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hey hey it's Pepero Day

So while everyone in the States is observing Veteran's Day (thank you for your service!) over here in Korea it's Pepero Day.
Pepero itself is a snack made from sticks of cookie dunked in chocolate. It's the same as pocky essentially. There are a bunch of varieties- strawberry dipped, almond, chocolate filled, etc.- and they're available year round. However, November 11th is always Pepero Day because of course when you write 11/11 it looks like a bunch of sticks of pepero.

Pepero Day is pretty equivalent to Valentine's Day and White Day. The stores all put up massive displays and you can buy extra big boxes of it or the bakery made variety with sprinkles or "I Love You" written across it. If you've ever watched a Korean game show you may have seen pepero before when it's used in a kissing game. They play it a lot in We Got Married (우리 결혼했어요) which features a variety of Korean stars who are paired up for the show. Each person in the couple takes one end of pepero in their mouth and then begins eating it so that they get close to kissing, à la Lady and the Tramp. Of course since they're so shy about that here (take a drink every time a Korean drama fades out or cuts away from a kiss!) the game is basically to see which couple is willing to get close enough for a kiss before biting off and therefore have the shortest stick of pepero at the end. So Pepero Day is definitely a holiday that couples can indulge in but there is plenty of pepero exchange between friends too.

Walking to work I passed a bunch of students heading home and saw them carrying boxes with bows on them and gift bags and even one girl who had to use both arms to carry a heart-shaped pepero box display. At work one of the students in my first class gave me a box of pepero, the chocolate filled kind which is the best obviously. Then in my second class one of the students brought in extra large, individually wrapped sticks for everyone in the class. Another student even gave me a big box of pepero from Paris Baguette which is slightly fancier and probably cost much more. Very sweet!

I am for any holiday that encourages the eating of cookies dipped in chocolate so long live Pepero Day!

Trivia of the Day:  "The Liancourt Rocks, also known as Dokdo or Tokto (독도, literally "solitary island") in Korean or Takeshima (たけしま/竹島, literally "bamboo island") in Japanese, are a group of small islets in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). Sovereignty over the islets is disputed between Japan and South Korea. The islets are currently administered by South Korea, which has its Coast Guard stationed there. The Liancourt Rocks consist of two main islets and 35 smaller rocks. Two Korean citizens—an octopus fisherman and his wife—are permanent residents on the islets. A small Korean police detachment, administrative personnel, and lighthouse staff are stationed in non-permanent supporting positions on the islets. Although claimed by both Korea and Japan, Liancourt Rocks are currently administered by the Republic of Korea. Both nations' claims extend back at least several hundred years. Significant arguments supported by a variety of historical evidence have been presented by both parties, which have been challenged by counter-arguments with varying degrees of success. North Korea supports South Korea's claim.

The Liancourt Rocks are a point of heated contention*, alongside other Japan–Korea disputes. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers its position "inalterable". South Korea, for its part, maintains a nationwide educational program which sends the students of 62 elementary, middle, and high schools on field trips to the rocks on a regular basis. The government has also written a textbook about the rocks, intended to be used in elementary schools across the country, and manages a year-round national educational tour. When Japan's Shimane prefecture announced a "Takeshima Day" in 2005, Koreans reacted with demonstrations and protests throughout the country, extreme examples of which included a mother and son slicing off their own fingers, and a man who set himself on fire. In 2006, five Korean "Dokdo Riders" embarked on a world tour to raise international awareness of the dispute. Another notable protest featured South Koreans decapitating pheasants in front of the Japanese Embassy."

*The Dokdo debate is serious business! My students get all worked up about it (although this is true any time Japan is mentioned) and it's been used several times during their end of class project. Most recently I had a group who drew a picture of the Korean peninsula as a buff person who was punching Japan and saying, "Dokdo is ours!".

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Then.... some idiot turned on the lights

So despite my best intentions to actually stay on top of blogging this month, I've had a lot of other things on my plate and on my mind and so my little adventures have been moved to the back burner. But! This was Halloween month, possibly my favorite time of the year, and that means that some sort of post is entirely necessary.

Halloween in Korea was much better than I was expecting. My local Lotte Mart put out a pretty decent Halloween display that included decorations like pumpkin lanterns, glow-in-the-dark skeletons, banners, and window decals as well as kiddie costumes, masks, accessories like wands and pitchforks, and a range of witches' hats. It was nice to decorate my apartment since I always do the decorations at home and missed out big time this year for holidays.

This weekend I went into the city to celebrate and naturally the areas that are always crawling with foreigners were decorated up and there were tons of people in costume. I went as Minnie Mouse which was very easy to pull off and meant I could wear my red sneakers which made dancing for three hours a much more comfortable experience. We got some looks on the subway ride in but hey, as a non-Korean I get stared at all the time here anyway so I'd rather for once it be for an interesting reason.

At work yesterday we celebrated as best we could by wearing either costumes or at least funny ears or hats (our boss isn't big on anything that involves either teachers or students or staff enjoying themselves so we were lucky to even get away with that). I gave my students treat bags and they went crazy. You should have seen them with the candy corn. They've never had it before and had no idea what to even do with it. I had to explain that yes, it's edible and no, I have no idea what it's actually made of (I'm afraid to read the ingredient list to be honest, some things are best left a mystery). They really liked it though.

Probably the only flop of the Halloween season was carving a jack-o-lantern. A few weeks ago I managed to track down pumpkins at a local vegetable market but man, Korean pumpkins are not a pretty picture. They're a dull orange-brown color and very squat and awkward. I made the mistake of waiting too long to carve it (as well as leaving it on my coffee table which sits directly in the sun) and found it molding pretty fiercely when I finally decided to take a stab at it. Blech. So I didn't clean it out and put a candle inside because it was too nasty but I did still carve a face just for fun.
And then I promptly took it outside and threw it in the trash.

Now I'm just recovering from a candy coma and trying to wrap my head around the fact that it's November. November! Almost a year exactly since I came to Korea! It's been a big year, an amazing year, and sadly a year that is quickly coming to a close. I'm officially leave at the end of this term and I have mixed emotions about everything. I had wanted to stay on for an extra six months but things didn't quite work out with my contract renewal so on November 28th I'll be on a plane home to Massachusetts. I'm so excited to see everyone at home! But I'm in love with Korea and I'm going to miss it here immensely.

Recently I've been buzzing around between trying to clean and pack things up here, establish work and school plans for my return home, and experience as much of Korea as I can before I have to say goodbye. It's been exhausting and I've been feeling guilty about not being a better blogger because I think it's a great outlet for me but you know, priorities. Besides, I started this blog before I got here so I may just hang on to it for a month or two when I return home and have some time to share pictures and things that I didn't get a chance to post before. And post my version of the ultimate Korean packing list because I must have read dozens of those before coming here and they were really useful.

Stay tuned!

Trivia of the Day: Korean horror, sometimes referred to as K-Horror, is the term given to horror films made as part of the cinema of Korea. Korean horror features many of the same motifs, themes, and imagery as Japanese horror. Korean horror has been around since the early years of Korean cinema; however, it wasn't until the late 1990's that the genre began to experience a renewal. Many of the Korean horror films tend to focus on the suffering and the anguish of characters rather than focus on the gory "blood and guts" aspect of horror.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ginseng Festival and Hiking Trip: Part I

This weekend I went to a Ginseng Festival followed by a day of hiking with Adventure Korea. Basically they're a travel/tour group that has events running every weekend all over Korea. They're very well organized and they have some cool events. I've done a handful of trips with them now including the DMZ and Mud Fest, both of which were right at the top of my list for things to do while in Korea, and both were pretty great. It's nice because usually when I'm off doing something on the weekend I head into Seoul or somewhere that is easily accessible by just jumping on a bus at the local terminal. With Adventure Korea though I've been able to see some areas of the country that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to really navigate myself to and have had a few unique experiences along the way. The owner is a cool guy and the guides are a mix of Koreans and foreigners who volunteer. I can't recommend their trips enough.

So Saturday morning I was up at 5am to get ready and then take the train into the city to catch the tour bus. Except I actually couldn't fall asleep at all (my work schedule is not conducive to such an early wake up call) so I was dragging my feet real bad as we headed out the door. 

We left the city around 8am and had about a 3 and a half hour drive with a rest stop and lunch break thrown in there. Have I mentioned how much I love Korean rest stop food? Because I do. The rest stops here are pretty similar to the ones back home- convenience store, bathrooms, junky souvenir area, couple of fast food joints, etc. However, you're also sure to find a bunch of vendors selling what pretty much amounts to street food. Delicious, amazing street food that is. Bags of football-shaped, custard filled deli manjoo, paper bowls of potato balls, french fries, mini churros, and tasty tasty skewers of chicken. You just have to be careful that you don't lose an eyeball in the crowd with everyone walking around and not paying attention to where they're waving the pointy-end of their stick food but if you make it out alive it's so worth it.

After lunch we arrived at the Punggi Insam (Ginseng) Festival. 
I knew they had a few activities for us lined up but the first one took me by surprise. They whisked us over to this stage area and told us we were going to have a ginseng peeling competition. Uh, it is exactly as exciting as it sounds. They split us into two groups and had us sit on stage and well, peel a ginseng root. Which isn't too easy to do actually. Those roots pretty much look the same when they're all cleaned up, it's not like peeling a potato where the difference is obvious. So I just sat they're awkwardly peeling away and I think I over peeled mine and therefore did not win the giant box of ginseng tea for my efforts. Sadness.
Look at how jazzed this sea of elderly people who were just looking for somewhere to sit down crowd is to be observing such a thrilling event.
Basically it was just an excuse to put a bunch of foreigners on stage and have them make a spectacle of themselves. In that we succeeded admirably. The whole festival was actually like a publicity event or something, photographers and videographers would not leave us alone. I know that foreigners get stared at a lot here and this is especially true when you head out of the main cities and into less foreigner-traveled areas. But it was overkill at the festival and really awkward. They kept swarming us and I kept covering my face (hello, 24 hours with no sleep at that point, the last thing I want is your HD lens picking up how many shades of gray are happening in the dark circles under my eyes) and waving them off but it did nothing. So I started taking pictures back while they were taking pictures of me. Because what else can you do?
Yeah like I couldn't see you creeping from behind that pillar. Nice try. He did pose with the Korean V sign when he saw what I was doing but I was too slow to catch it.
After making fools of ourselves we had some free time to wander the festival. There was a nice turnout and it was pretty big but it was less festival-y than I was expecting. Lots of food tents and such but only a handful of craft booths (what I always troll at festivals) and an overload of identical tents all just selling ginseng roots. There was literally rows and rows of them and people were snapping those things up like crazy. So that was the big draw really. We just walked and took it all in.
There was a small area with apple tents and this little house made of apples. I caught these two old buddies posing for a picture in the apple house, aww. I also got a picture sitting there but I had to wait for the three kids in line in front of me to finish first...
At 2pm we met back at the bus and drove to a ginseng field where the town mayor met us and told us we would be helping to pick some ginseng. I managed to dig up a row of about four roots and then they had all us foreigners pose with our rooty booty for the paparazzi again. I'm pretty sure our fate is to end up on the festival banners for next year.
Then it was back to the festival again to make ginseng wine. It is basically the most simple process ever.

Ginseng Wine Recipe
Step 1: Clean a ginseng root. It is clean when you can no longer see any dirt on it or when the people supervising realize you're the last one doing it and quickly announce it is clean so they can finish and go home.
Step 2: Get a tall plastic bottle with a screw top.
Step 3: Place root inside tall plastic bottle with screw top.
Step 4: Fill tall plastic bottle with soju.
Step 5: Screw on top
Step 6: Let sit for 100 days.

So basically ginseng wine is soju with a root in it? If there were any other way to make soju worse than it already is I think this would be it.
Also, ginseng floating in liquid is scary looking, like some sort of malformed alien fetus. It gives me the creeps. Also also, I am bringing mine home with me so clear a spot in the dining room next to the other wines Mom and Dad. You can put it out on Halloween to scare trick-or-treaters. Or when repair people come to the house. Whichever works.
I'm not entirely sure what criteria of fabulous a ginseng root must meet in order to win a prize because they all looked the same to me but apparently this one was pretty special. 
This weekend was good but wore me out big time so I'll cover day two of the trip in a separate post which I'm hoping to write tomorrow night when I'm off from work early. After I've gone grocery shopping that is. And after I've finished my toilet paper roll bat decorations. And after I've done some more studying for the GRE. And after I finally attempt skillet ginger snap cookies. And after I've bleached my bathroom to hell. All in order of importance of course. Yeah. Another blog tomorrow night.


Trivia of the Day: Myeonje Baegab (면제배갑), claimed to be the world's first, was a bullet-proof vest invented in the late 1860s in the Joseon Dynasty, modern day Republic of Korea. During the French Campaign against Korea, 1866, the military of the Joseon Kingdom, at the time using matchlock rifles, experienced the superiority of western rifles. As a result, Heungseon Daewongun, then acting leader of the Joseon Kingdom, ordered the development of bullet-proof armor. Through multiple live fire tests using matchlock rifles Kim Gi-Du and Gang Yun, who were national weapon developers, found that 30 layers of cotton fabric were effective in preventing penetration by rounds fired from a matchlock rifle at around 100 meters. The vests were distributed to soldiers after its creation, and were used in battles fought on Ganghwa Island against United States Navy and Marine forces during the United States expedition to Korea in 1871. Although the vests were effective against bullets, they were susceptible to fire because they were made of cotton. The vests were easily burnt by fragments from cannon fire; US records indicate that some Korean soldiers caught fire after a cannon attack. Also, the vests were too hot to wear in summer.*

*Adding my own note here to say that any article of clothing is too hot to wear during a Korean summer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Adventures in Vietnam: Part III

I should probably admit that even though I did enjoy Vietnam, it took me some time to warm up to it. One major reason for this was the weather. Vietnam is hot and brutally humid during the summertime. High humidity is probably the kind of weather I have the least tolerance for and I was pretty crabby when we'd be walking for a couple miles or even just a couple blocks between museums and such. We were both drenched in sweat as soon as we stepped outside and showered  at least twice a day just to get rid of that sweat/sunscreen/bug spray film inevitably building up on our skin. There are places in Vietnam I would love to go back to and places I would still like to explore but I would definitely do so in the fall or winter next time.

Another thing that made the first few days tricky was the lack of good food. It's not that there aren't tons of delicious restaurants in Hanoi, it's that were weren't finding them. With a couple exceptions, the places we did eat at were either overpriced, delivered very small portions, or just weren't that tasty. One night after finally tracking down a place for dinner, I ordered pasta with plain marinara sauce from an English menu and upset the waiter when I tried to explain when he brought it out that I hadn't realized it would have seafood in it. I felt like an idiot for the confusion and in the end the dinner wasn't very good anyway. And I know that I'm so lucky to be able to travel like this and shouldn't be whining about bad dining experiences but I'd be lying if I didn't say that despite that they didn't put a slight damper on the first couple days.

So it wasn't until Monday night that I think I finally started to enjoy myself. After taking a rest in our gloriously air-conditioned room, we finally managed to find the street on our tourist map that supposedly has the best Italian restaurant in Hanoi. Or was it that after eating there we decided it's the best Italian restaurant in Hanoi?  Well either way it is!
The Little Hanoi Pizza Inn on Dinh Liet St. serves up some delicious pizzas and pastas (and a very tasty chocolate mousse for dessert! Actually this area has lots of good restaurants so if you're in the city and looking for some good eats then head this way. There are also tons of souvenir shops on this street selling everything from paintings to handbags to jewelry so I really can't recommend enough taking a walk down Dinh Liet.

As we were eating dinner it started raining and since we were sitting close to the balcony (not actually on the balcony though since it looked like it was hanging on by a thread) and enjoying our meal so much that we decided to order a few more drinks and just wait out the rain.

Except that that hot and humid weather I mentioned is also a sign of monsoon season. So the steady downpour soon turned into torrential rain. We watched the shopkeepers across the street first extend their awnings to prevent the rain from coming in, then saw them move their wares closest to the street inside and finally noticed that everyone was simply closing up shop. Further down the street the road itself started flooding and several scooters that went by had water almost completely covering their tires. We realized it was time to head out before the water could get any further up the street. But in the few minutes it took us to get downstairs our end was flooded too!

We managed to get partway up the street by sticking close to the edges but at the main intersection there was really no avoiding having to wade through several inches of water. I didn't have my camera and was regretting not getting any pictures of how insane this flood was but at the same time I'm glad I didn't risk ruining it in that weather. The storm drains in the road had massive amounts of water bubbling out and if we didn't have umbrellas I think we would have been soaked through in about 10 seconds.

Weather like that can be pretty scary but we knew that Vietnam experiences this kind of thing and that it wouldn't last all that long. So actually it was kind of fun running back to the hostel through that craziness. I did notice that night and other times when it began to rain that what most people do is find an overhang or something close to the sidewalk and just wait it out. Usually though the rains would last for a good while so this was surprising. In Korea you'd be hard pressed to find someone not carrying an umbrella in the summertime so that they can keep going on with their day despite the weather, same in the US basically. Maybe we're just in more of a rush though? It wasn't like the Vietnamese I saw waiting out the rain didn't have umbrellas, they just chose to wait for it to stop instead. Just a different mentality I guess.

Tuesday began with a walk to Quan Thanh Temple.
I liked this temple a lot. It was small and quiet but in a peaceful way and the few other people there weren't hurrying in to get their prayers over with but relaxing and taking their time. It was nice. 
Since coming to Korea and doing a bit of traveling I've been to a lot of temples and have seen lots of offerings left on the altars. Usually it's fruits and such which is why I was so amused to see the following items at this temple in Vietnam. It's not so much the fact of someone leaving boxed goods that I find funny because hey, food is food right, but that it's a box of Choco-Pies.

Choco-Pies are like the Twinkies of Korea. They are super popular and super disgusting. They're similar to Moon Pies or Zebra Cakes with a chocolate coating over cookie and marshmallow. Whenever we bring snacks into school for the kids we bring in Choco-Pies and they devour them. Last term when I gave them to one of my older classes I asked my students why they liked them so much and they were like, "Choco-Pies are a Korean National Treasure!". Apparently this photo is proof that they're held in high esteem in Vietnam too.
(At least the folks getting the items at this altar got something a bit stronger)
Across the street from the temple is a small park right on a lake and we discovered there a fleet of paddle boats and decided to take one out for a ride!
It was so pretty on the water and we kept ourselves turned so that we could get a reprieve from the sun. I hadn't been on a paddle boat in years so I was pleased we got to squeeze this in.
 (I tried not to consider the likelihood of these life jackets actually working as flotation devices...)
When our hour was up we paddled back in and had lunch at the restaurant next door.
Mike tried pretty much all of the local beers during our trip and I want to say that this was one of the better ones? I don't remember too well and this might not even be an actual Vietnamese beer but I know for sure Vietnam has better beer than Korea! Not that that is such a difficult feat to manage.

Afterwards we had a nice walk back to the hostel. One cool thing about Hanoi is the enormous sidewalks canopied by huge trees. The shade is so welcome on a hot day and it makes for a pretty stroll.
Except for when a car suddenly comes along on the sidewalk. Rude.
I had thought Taipei was land of the scooters but I was wrong. Hanoi beats them any day of the week, it's scooter city. I was sure we would die trying to cross the street there but the travel guides said to just walk across without hurrying or stopping and the scooters will just expertly avoid you. It's true too.
That night we said a brief goodbye to Hanoi and headed down to Hue for a few days. The trip there was an adventure in itself though and will need to wait until the next post when I have the energy to mentally recount it!

Trivia of the Day: The Saola, Vu Quang ox or Asian unicorn, also, infrequently, Vu Quang bovid (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), one of the world's rarest mammals, is a forest-dwelling bovine found only in the Annamite Range of Vietnam and Laos. The species was "discovered" by science in 1992 in Vu Quang Nature Reserve by a joint survey of the Ministry of Forestry and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The team found three skulls with unusual long straight horns kept in hunters' houses. In their article, the team proposed "a three month survey to observe the living animal" but, more than 15 years later, there is still no reported sighting of a Saola in the wild by a scientist. In late August 2010, a Saola was captured by villagers in Laos but died in captivity before government conservationists could arrange for it to be released back in to the wild. The carcass is being studied with the hope that it will advance scientific understanding of the Saola.

This... sounds like a made up animal. Or at least a made up Wikipedia article (shocking). Discovered "by science"? Kind of sort of no actual sightings? However, the pictures on Google images seem legit enough and honestly I could not resist a piece of trivia about a creature called the "Asian unicorn".