South Korea

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8 travelers at this place

  • Day344

    The heart of Seoul

    June 28, 2018 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Ein herrlicher Tag! Nachdem ich gestern Nacht beim Public Viewing Südkorea vs Deutschland mit Grauen dem Scheitern der Deutschen, in einem Pulk feiernder Koreaner, zusehen musste, habe ich erstmal ausgeschlafen und bin dann los auf Citytour. Um 2h Nachts, nach dem Fussballspiel, hab ich noch den besten Tofusalat ever serviert bekommen und so konnte ich mir das Frühstück schenken ;)

    Gefühle 1 Millionen Treppenstufen ging es hoch zum N Tower. Wahnsinnige Aussicht über Seoul! Und auch der Wettergott wartet mit dem angesagten Regen noch den ganzen Tag lang.
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  • Day5

    Day 4: Part 1, The long way down

    November 11, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ 🌙 -5 °C

    “As the pine atop Namsan Peak stands firm, unchanged through wind and frost, as if wrapped in armour, so shall our resilient spirit.” - Aegukga (South Korean National Anthem)

    On Monday, we headed to Namsan (South Mountain) to go up the Seoul Tower, a once broadcast tower and now a top tourist attraction in Seoul. While looking up facts and names, I realized that we missed something called “Hello Kitty Island” and I am currently filled with ALL of the regret. I will try to move on. Once this pandemic passes, “Hello Kitty Island” is like #1 on the bucket list.

    That’s the thing about this trip. Since we departed, there have been so many “We need to…next time” moments. I mean, #1 is “buy more fashion face masks”, but the list goes on and on. Missing Hello Kitty Island? Top travel fail.

    About those fashion masks…We are in the midst of a global pandemic. The US is now in week three of social distancing, public closures, and a changing way of life. In the last week, the governor of Colorado has asked citizens of his state to wear masks when out doing essential tasks. We’ve been asked to “go Korean” and wear fashion masks when we are in public.

    When I was in high school, my dad was cut off in traffic by a big biker dude. My dad said, “Hey jerk, nice move,” and me, being me, said, “Hey dad, be nice, that’s my boyfriend.” My dad didn’t miss a beat and said, “You wouldn’t date him…you’ve been a snob since you were 6 years old.” As I walk around town in an authentic Korean fashion mask THAT I PURCHASED AT A MUSEUM GIFT STORE, I can see my dad smiling down from heaven and saying, “Told you so.”

    But back to Namsan…

    We took a cab to the bottom of Namsan, and after wandering around a bit lost, we found the bus that takes you to the top. We were in Seoul at a beautiful time. It was late fall, and Namsan was covered in color: red, deep orange, yellow. There was a little more wandering at the top trying to find the entrance of the tourist viewing tower.

    The tower was another first for everyone in the group. I mean, me, obviously, but the other three are Korean natives. 1) You always know more interesting sites far away than you do in your hometown. I mean, home is where you work, go to school, have to clean your house, join clubs and activities. Other places are for exploring and sightseeing. I think we all fall into this trap to some degree. And 2) Korea is very different in 2019 than it was when Alice and her family emigrated. There is a new prosperity and with that comes tourism, but also a renewed sense of pride in one’s own country and its metropolis…and well, government funding for improvement increases as well. All of these sites that we were visiting existed in Alice’s youth. At that time they were the local history, maybe not kept in top condition, and possibly not even open to the public. In the last few decades, these sites have been made into Unesco World Heritage sites, or have been opened up for tours, or have been completely renovated and enhanced for sightseeing and education. You can go home, but you might not recognize it.

    The Seoul tower starts with a “Tower experience”, a kind of low-end Kpop meets sci fi movie experience, and then it’s a direct elevator to the observation tower. A beautiful view of Seoul, and directional signs that point out just how far I was from anywhere I’ve ever been: 8 or 9 thousand kilometers (over 5 thousand miles for those who refuse to go metric) to London, Paris, and Berlin. A little bit further (and the other direction) to Seattle and Denver. I was on the other side of the world.

    Seoul is a much more beautiful city than I had anticipated. I thought “massive Asian city with tall buildings and full of people.” It is that, but I had no idea how lovely the surrounding area would be. Alice said she remembered more cement as a child, so it is possible that some of the green areas are improvements from the past 20 years. Seoul is surrounded by a series of small mountains. I had seen photos, but I thought it might be the kind of photographic trickery that is often seen. I’ve seen photos of Denver that make it seem to be directly at the base of huge mountains. The mountains are close to Denver, but Denver is not nestled in them. Seoul really is built right up to and into these hills. They aren’t the Rockies, but they are prominent enough and covered by lush greenery, and in the late autumn, colorful foliage.

    We took the bus up to the top of Namsan, so that we could walk the paths back down. This was absolutely the smartest way to attack Namsan, but make no mistake…1.2 kilometers of straight down left me achy for the rest of the week. Traveling while old and out of shape keeps one humble for sure. We walked slowly down the hill heading towards one of the oldest markets in Seoul, Namdaemun Market near the South gate.

    Next up: Noodle soup, the best kimchi, Maria’s search for chopsticks
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  • Day7

    Seoul Day 2

    November 7, 2017 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Es scheint so, als ob heute jeder zweite Koreaner ein Polizist ist. Überall ist Polizei, weil Mr. Donald Shithead heute in der Stadt ist. Der schöne Platz, wo ich gestern drüber gelaufen bin, ist voll mit Polizei. Überall stehen welche rum.
    Um noch ein bisschen mehr heute von der Stadt zu sehen, bin ich mit dem Touristenbus gefahren. Die Stadt ist doch etwas zu groß um alles zu Fuß zu erkunden.
    Leider war das Wetter heute etwas overcasted, so das der Ausblick vom Namsan Berg, wo auch der Namsan Seoul Tower steht, nicht so toll war. Aber naja, ich kann halt auch nicht immer Glück haben.
    Danach ging es für mich weiter in den Changdeokgung Palast. Zuerst dachte ich, verdammt das ist ja der gleiche wie gestern. War dann aber doch ein anderer. Die sehen sich irgendwie sehr ähnlich. Haben vielleicht den gleichen Architekten gehabt 😂
    Danach war ich noch kurz bei der Trump-Demo. Ob dafür oder dagegen habe ich leider nicht verstanden. Ich war aber dagegen. Innerlich.
    Als nächstes wollte ich mit der Metro zu der Station fahren, welche dem Hard Rock Cafe am nächsten ist. Aber schon der Ticketkauf stellte sich als schwierig heraus. Ich konnte nicht mit Karte zahlen und Bargeld hatte ich keins. Also den nächsten ATM suchen. Der wollte mir kein Geld geben. Also den nächsten gesucht. Mit dem hat es geklappt. Dann wieder zurück zum Ticketautomat. Endlich ein Ticket und ab zur Metro.
    Das Hard Rock Cafe ist mitten in einer riesengroßen Shopping Mall. So eine große hab ich schon ewig nicht mehr gesehen. Eigentlich wollte ich nur was trinken und eine Kleinigkeit essen. Aber weil der Weg so lang und gerade Happy Hour war, musste ich dann doch was richtiges Essen und zwei große Bier trinken 🙈🙈 Kurz hatte ich das Gefühl, dass ich aus der Mall nicht mehr rauskomme. Habe es dann aber doch noch geschafft 😂
    Und weil ich gerade in der Nähe des Lotte World Towers war und zwei große Biere mutig machen, bin ich auch noch auf das Observation Deck von dem Tower gegangen. Immerhin fast 500m hoch. Pünktlich zum Sonnenuntergang bin ich oben gewesen. Leider war es immer noch etwas overcasted gewesen, sonst wäre der Ausblick noch besser gewesen.
    Abends bin ich dann noch mit Nacho und seinem indischen Kollegen ins Kneipenviertel von Seoul gegangen. Das ist etwas aufgeräumter als Sachsenhausen in Frankfurt 😂
    Und hier gab es in einem Irish Pub Guinness mit Schokoladeneis!!! Weltklasse!!!
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  • Day2

    Arribem a Seül!

    October 25, 2019 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Després de mil hores de vol, arribem a Seül. Comprem una targeta SIM, les targetes de transport i treiem diners en efectiu. Provem a diferents caixers i al final funciona. Anem cap a Seoul Station per deixar les motxilles i anem a explorar una mica la zona. Passegem per un parc i anem al mercat de Namdaemun. Allà hi ha un munt d'andròmines i menjar. Mengem quatre xorrades i agafem les motxilles per anar al pis. Intentem fer una migdiada normal i ens surt una de 5 hores. A la nit sopem pel barri una barbacoa coreana. Nyam nyam.Read more

  • Day16

    מנעולים בכל מני צבעים

    August 17, 2016 in South Korea ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    בנאמסאן (הר נאם) מקובל לנעול מנעולים צבעוניים על הגדרות ועל העצים, כסמל לאהבה. בני זוג רושמים את שמם על המנעול ו"נועלים" את אהבתם בנאמסאן.

    גם בנמל בת"א יש איזה גשר שקושרים עליו מנעולים, אבל נאמסאן יפה יותר בהרבה.
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  • Day14

    Bullet train to Seoul

    September 20, 2010 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    A big shout out to Sherri Hufford for the tip on Dunkin Donuts coffee. There was a Dunkin Donuts in the Mokpo train station, where I enjoyed a lovely Americano before boarding. I rode the KTX train up to Seoul this morning. It reaches speeds of 300 kph (~180 mph), but you'd never know it. It’s a smooth ride, even with the countryside zipping by. I was in the city in no time.

    I left my bags off at Jay’s apartment and walked down to Itaewon’s shopping district. It’s a lively street with souvenir shops, brand name stores, coffee houses, and Dunkin Donuts lining the street. It feels much more international here than in the south. Of course, I am quite near the embassies and the US Army barracks, which might have something to do with it. As I was lollygagging, someone called my name. Yes, someone called my name. I turned my attention to the voice, and it was the Canadian I met last week at the barbeque. What are the odds: I know maybe 10 people in a city of 13 million, and I happen to run into one of them. Weird. Anyway, he invited me to lunch, which I declined, but I did join him and a friend for a drink. I got some shopping tips, as well as recommendations on where to find the best items. I’ll be checking out one of the markets tomorrow, while I’m out exploring. Until then, I figured there was enough to keep me busy in Itaewon.

    In the first store, there was a Korean woman working the floor. She was showing me everything I should buy. I was considering a robe but didn’t feel like I could make a good decision since I hadn’t visited any other stores. She was able to corner me in the back, behind a pile of textiles, where she wanted to show me more styles and colors. There, she started turning up the pressure and lowering the price, but I wasn’t convinced that I wanted anything. "Maybe you buy one for daughter," she suggested. Yeah, not a point of sale for me. "Or maybe you mother might like one," she continued. Yeah, don't have one of those either. But she was persistent and went for the kill. She explained to me that I was her first customer of the day. In Korean culture the first customer must buy something, otherwise she will have bad luck for the rest of the day. I tried to emphasize that I had not done any shopping yet, and I wanted to look around first. More forcefully, she again explained Korean culture and added that it was very offensive if I did not buy anything, being the first customer and all.

    I think she had bad luck all day.

    I got back to the apartment just ahead of Imy and Jay. I emptied my bags (filled with merchandise from other less insulting stores) directly into my suitcase, then Jay and I chatted while Imy kindly cooked up a Filipino dinner for us. It was fantastic. I definitely think she should open a restaurant! Kim and I will have to visit Jay when he gets back to the States, just so we can enjoy Imy’s cooking (of course his living in Hawaii will have nothing to do with it).
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  • Day15

    Wonder Woman, Wet and Wild!

    September 21, 2010 in South Korea ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Last night when Jay asked what my plans were for today, I listed three sights I wanted to visit-all of them are outside. This morning, when I got up, I looked outside and couldn't decide if it was foggy or cloudy. I pulled up the weather report on the internet and saw that there was a 90% chance of precipitation. Even before I could shut the computer down, it began to rain. And rain. And rain… I pulled out Plan B and decided to hit a couple of museums instead.

    I arrived first at the Prison Hall History museum. I love old prisons! They’re so creepy. And this one didn’t disappoint, especially given the dreary, overcast atmosphere. It was built in 1907, during the Japanese occupation, to torture and hold political prisoners. (I’m excited to try a few new pain-inducing moves on my little brother next time I see him!) There were several cell blocks, as well as the execution house. It was chilling. There was an area where they hung the prisoner, who then dropped through the floor. Once a person was deceased, he would be removed from the rope via a room in the basement. From there, the Japanese would take away the body through a side exit.

    The last building on the tour was the women’s holding facility. There was a young woman highlighted in the history of the facility. She was 17, when she organized and led an uprising against the Japanese occupants in 1919. She was subsequently imprisoned, where, a year later, she organized the inmates in another protest on the anniversary of the first one. Although she met a very early death, she is revered in Korean history, with posthumous decorations and monuments in her name.

    As I left the Prison Museum, the rain really began to pick up and become a constant, heavy downpour. I was soaked by the time I got to the National Museum of Korea, but I figured it would let up by the time it took to view the displays. The museum is three floors, and I started on the first floor, which contains the Korean peninsula’s history beginning in the Paleolithic Age. The museum is well-organized, with great displays of the nation’s past. I was very fortunate that they had a special exhibition running of the articles found in the Silla tombs in Gyeongju. These are the same tombs I saw last week, so I was particularly interested in the display. The Silla artifacts were amazing. I particularly liked the royal crowns. They were made of the thinnest gold, with three tree symbols along the front of the crown and two antlers rising from the back. Each was as flat as a piece of paper, with small discs adorning the entire headdress. They even had shoes to match! I ended up strolling the first floor so long I didn’t have the time to get to the other two stories. I had dinner planned for tonight, so I needed to get back to Jay and Imy’s before 5pm.

    The rain was torrential when I came out of the museum. I got to the end of one set of stairs and had to traverse a 6 inch puddle. As I was scoping out other ways to get around (of which there were none), an older Korean man asks, "You American?" I answered affirmatively, then we both plunged into the water. We walked together, and he had a lot of questions for me. I was trying to be polite, but he was walking really slowly, and I was getting soaking wet. No bother to him. He just kept asking questions, and I would frequently have to ask for clarification because I couldn’t understand his English. Finally he looks at me and says, “You said you were American. English is your native language. I’m speaking English. Why can’t you understand me!” Well, maybe it’s your accent? I was thinking, but I just smiled and said his English was good. It wasn’t until we arrived at the subway station that he looked around and noticed his friend was no longer with him. He turned to find him, and I made a bee line for the train. I had never seen him with someone, and I wondered if he hadn’t left his friend at the museum.

    I then learned what I hope is my last transportation lesson in Korea. The subway doors don’t automatically open when you put your hand in to stop them. Specifically, when they are closing, they will squish you rather than open back up. Luckily, my boob stopped the door long enough for the rest of my body to get in, but I think it’ll leave a mark. Unfortunately I was not wearing my breast plate; however, I would have made Wonder Woman proud. I suppose there would have been no harm in waiting for the next train, but I really wanted to get back to Jay’s apartment and out of the weather.

    Now, remember I used the word torrential to describe the rain? Well, that was probably an understatement. Jay said he was evacuated from work and his car almost floated away due to the storm. I watched the water in the streets get so high that the traffic movement caused small waves to crash over the sidewalks and onto the buildings. Then there was walking up the stairs and hill to the apartment. It reminded me of hiking in Thailand, where we had to walk in a creek the whole way, except this one had intermittent waterfalls. The good news is that the rain let up for me to treat Jay and Imy to dinner. We had yummy Thai food, which always makes everything right in the world.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Namsan, 남산

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