South Korea – Part 1

So for my October break, I headed over to South Korea to see my friend Sarah and her son Theo. The flight was an overnight out of Moscow which was good and bad. Good because I managed to catch up on 4 movies, bad because I can’t seem to sleep on planes ever! I envy those who can. So I arrived on Saturday morning and managed to find so breakfast and a taxi to Sarah’s.

The airport is actually quite far from Seoul (Incheon is, in fact, a whole other island) so I got to see a bit of the area on the way to Sarah’s. One of the things that struck me is that it isn’t really as “packed” as I expected. Yes it is a big city, yes there are a lot of skyrises, but there was also a lot of sunlight and actually quite a bit of green. It wasn’t as overwhelming as I expected.

The next day, Sunday, we boarded a train to Busan in the south of the island. The train ride was interesting. The geography is pretty mountainy with lots of tunnels along the train ride. There are also tons of small farms. I thought that I even saw an orange grove but I think now that it was Asian Persimmons. We arrived in Busan just as a wind storm with 40 kph winds arrived! So when we got there it was super windy, like blow you sideways while you were walking windy! And the ocean was very angry. That is how I kept describing it anyway!

While Theo napped I went out on the hunt for some sunglasses. I had forgotten mine again! Because I hadn’t needed them in Moscow for the last like month at least! I forget them if it isn’t sunny in the place I am traveling from I guess! I have to get better at that.  (They are already packed for Peru!) So I wandered around the area where we were staying which is called Haeundae Beach. There was a nice walking area not too far from the hotel that we stayed in. I also managed to find the fish market which had tons of interesting finds! Some of which I had never seen before. I really do need to find someplace to taste some more seafood options, but my aversion to fish generally gets in the way! Oh well, another time!

After I got back I found out that Theo had found the Bidet in the toilet in our room! He ended up spraying the bathroom down a bit, but hey if it gets them to use the toilet when they had otherwise been a bit indifferent, then what is a bit of water! It was funny to watch him try to figure out what all of the buttons did.

We decided to head out after that to find dinner but it was so windy and cold that we didn’t stay out long. We had decided to come back and head to the pool but when we got back we discovered that it was closed. Very sad!

The next day, Monday, we decided to head to the Haedong Yonggung Temple. It is a beautiful Buddist temple right on the waterfront. The only issue is that it is quite a climb down and climb up! Good thing that I am not afraid of heights as Sarah was! So I had the pleasure of being dragged down the stairs by Theo who seemed to have no fear! But was it worth it the temple is beautiful.

 

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My favorite statue! Just like his face.

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The Whole Temple
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This is pretty much what the Palace roofs looked like underneath too, I couldn’t stop stareing at them!
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I love how they had shaped the shrubs around all of the rocks and statues.

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Close up of the roof.
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Theo said, “This one has a plate on its head!”

 

Then we went back to the hotel so that Theo could nap and we made our way to the train station. The train ride back was very nice until we got off in Seoul and Sarah said: “Cary, where’s your backpack!” So I headed back in to find the lost and found. Turns out that the train was just heading to the airport and back so they called the train, found my back and all I had to do was wait. This is when it wall went bad! The only food places in the train station were coffee shops and fast food. I didn’t feel like venturing around to find someplace so I decided to have fast food.

Well, about 2 hours later I was up with food poisoning of some variety. Thankfully it was only intestinal. It was definitely more than just upset stomach because at one point I was standing up next to my suitcase thinking I think I might just lay down and the next I woke up on the floor. Pretty sure I passed out somewhere on the way down. By about 1 Tuesday afternoon it had all passed and I was feeling better so I had some crackers and more water. But needless to say, I lost a day.

The next day, Wednesday, I went down the main Palace in Seoul. Gyeongbokgung is one of the five grand palaces. It was very interesting to spend the day wandering around. I decided to do the guided audio tour which was good minus the fact that they only had earbuds, which never fit me. They have done a lot of rebuilding of this palace since a large part of it was destroyed in the Japanese occupation after WWII. There were buildings missing before that, due to fires, that have now been restored as well. The artistry in the roofs of the buildings is amazing.

 

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My inner dancer can be found everywhere!
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The statue along the promenade up to the Palace. Palace gate and mountain in the background.
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This is a chimney.
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An original roof.
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Palace sundial
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I like the roofs, can you tell?!
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One of the statues of the zodiac around the main Palace state visit building.
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The main room used for official state visits.
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The main palace building for state visits. Notice the white trim of the roof. That is one of the features that signify a royal palace.

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After walking around for a while and then heading back towards the metro I realized that I was very close to the Namdaemun Market. I wandered around a bit. It was very typically one of those Asian markets where if you know where to look you can find pretty much anything you want.

 

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