Monday, June 2, 2008

Seoul Trip

Cable Car


Flying wire man

I believe we may have spotted a place eat (we do that very well)

Mountains surrounding Seoul

Stream in the middle of Seoul with a film festival going on

Trying to get to the other side!


Bar where we experienced some culture shock

BANANA! (well almost)

Folk Museum

So tall

Trying to fit in

Warrior performance

The TV tower

Snack with a view

A very strange tree

Inside a room of the palace

Gi-normous fishies 

Pretty water lilies

At the batting cages

Mikey sleeping Ana being bored

Mmm Fire hydrant

A pile of rocks for Bill!

At Namdaemun Market

It's a mote! 

1/12th view of Seoul

Part of Gyeong Sang Buk Palace

Got back in from South Korea's capital city; Seoul, last night. Seoul is about 3 1/2 hours by bus from Jinju. It is a megalopolis of about 10 million people and is divided by the Han River. Not sure which is the better half, anyway despite it's size we somehow managed to run into our friends from Jinju and a friend of a friend from New York that I have never met before, who is from Mt. Kisco

Seoul is a very cool city with lots of action, but I am glad to live in Jinju. Seoul is just too big and big cities get old. However, in Seoul being a foreigner is not a big deal so you aren't stared at or get hello'd like you do in a smaller city, which is nice. 

About a third of our time there was spent underground zipping around the subways going from one spot to the next.  We got a pretty good handle on the system, and it's a good thing because of it's cheapness and efficiency. We were told by others not to bother with the subways because it is very confusing, but Ana being schooled on the largest subway system in the world was not phased. And it is not confusing if you can read a map. 

We went to an ancient palace on one end of the city that had a folk museum inside it. It was on the edge of a mountain bluff, so we got some nice pictures there and some ice cream of course. There was also the first ever Gay Pride parade going on somewhere in the city that day which is pretty historical, but we only saw massive amounts of Riot Police and no masked marchers. (We were told the paraders had to wear masks because it is still very taboo to be out.)
The sheer number of Riot Police was pretty alarming. Some groups were in formation, shouting as a chorus, and other groups were lazily sitting on the sidewalks waiting for something to happen. 

We wound up getting a hotel in a part of the city called Sinchon, which was cool and cheap. That part of town was referred to us because it is known for their "Love" Hotels, which is really just a no strings attached cash business. The one we picked was nice and clean with a/c, a big flat screen TV, and interesting lighting that only ran us 60,000 won (60 bucks). They didn't ask our names or take any info.  Best part about the hotel was either the electric picture of a tropical beach lit up, emitting grainy ocean and seagull sounds, or the nearby batting cage. 

So that night after checking in and relaxing a bit we took the tube to a part of town called Itaewon (ee tae won) which is a major foreign site. In a bar there we experienced our first dose of culture shock; ironically surrounded by our likeness. There we met some friends from Jinju, saw a couple of bands play and headed out to some other bars. Good fun all in all. In between bars at a sit down street side food vendor I had a small conversation with a Korean guy who spent some time in Indiana and will be going back soon. That is also where we ran into the kid from Mt. Kisco.

Sunday we checked out of the hotel and stopped at the batting cages for a go at it. It was great to swing a bat and hit some balls. Also there was a guy there in full uniform maybe even wearing cleats, smoking cigarettes in between at bats. He was silent and intense.  After the baseball workout we got some mexican food at a chain restaurant(decent) and then headed for the old TV tower. The TV tower is now an observation deck that stands on a forested peak in the middle of the city.  The views were phenomenal. The city was absolutely huge. 360 degrees of bland apartment complexes, corporate monoliths and hazy smog. We had the ear shot of a bird, and watched cars use the streets and highways like blood cells in veins. I spotted a Trump tower and became a little hot. It was a beautiful day. In the distance you could tell the various mountains that interrupted the city sprawl were very old, because the peaks were rocky and bald. 

Seoul has been the cultural center of Korea since the ancient times. Interspersed through the city are palaces and temples once owned by the rulers of various dynasties. At the Folk center museum there was an exhibit that compared locations through pictures separated by 100 years. The differences were startling. All locations are completely transformed by industrial progress. 

Any way there must be some things I am leaving out. Good news. Today (monday) we got new books to use in class, so now with ample teaching material it is 100% breezy!


Anonymous said...

Very good reading material:) - and again love the pictures. I'm sooo envious of you both and soooo happy you can experience this together! Love You Both - Maw

Mamio Andretti said...

hey, nice pic of the two of you, mikey do you ever smile in self snapped pics? you continue your run of oh-so-gorgeous photos and wish-i-were-there story-telling, makes me look forward to monsoon season and your take on something truly foreign!!