Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Korean Adventure: Volume Two

A new day ...
 ...brought new adventures.
Herb and I walked back in to Itaewon.

We dined at Mr. Kebabs and I had a Turkish lamb wrap.
Seoul truly is an international city, food from around the world can readily be found here.
We then boarded the City Tour bus which stops at twenty-seven different locations throughout the city.
We disembarked at Namsangol Traditional Village.
This was a really cool day to visit the village because there were special festivities due to it being Chuseok (a harvest festival).
There were children in traditional dress
 playing traditional games.
 There were displays of traditional craftsmanship
and traditional foods.
We were able to view traditional housing and household wares.

 We witnessed families having their Chuseok meal picnic-style and kids playing the way that kids always play at such events.
 We drank of the original Seoul water.
 We marveled at how well their old and new melded together,
  how they acknowledge and celebrate both.
 And after taking a final moment... reflect on the beauty of it all...
 ...we headed back out in to the streets to catch the bus.
We had quite the wait for the bus because it was Chuseok and people were out and about enjoying their holiday.
Once back on the bus we decided to stay there for awhile bypassing the palaces and such because there were just so many people.  Nevertheless, we enjoyed the sights from the bus and had an interesting introduction to the driving of Korea.

 Towards what would be the end of our tour route we did opt to stop at the War Memorial of Korea.
We only explored the outside area of the memorial pledging to return another day and explore it more fully.  The sculptures were incredibly powerful.

 On a large dome with a stained glass-filled schism was a sculpture of two soldiers hugging.  One man is a South Korean and he is hugging his brother, a North Korean soldier.  It really illustrated well the drama and heartbreak of the civil war.  It also conveys the yearning of the South Koreans to be reunified.
 All of the statuary was powerful in that way.

 They also had a stunning display of military planes, tanks and other equipment.

This day was beautiful and powerful.
By the end of this day I was so in need of some rest but was also very excited about the possibilities available to me in the days to come.

A Korean Adventure: Volume One

I went on a large-scale grand adventure - a trip to South Korea to visit the hubby.
This was my first international trip, my first time off of the the continent of North America.
It was a lengthy flight encapsulated in a large jet in which I found it difficult to get comfortable and, thus, only got snippets of sleep but I did accomplish some pretty serious movie watching.  On the final leg of my journey I did become concerned that my mind would be too groggy to think clearly enough to get through immigration and customs and to find my bus that would take me to my rendezvous point with Herb.
But on that final leg I managed to get just enough sleep to give me a second wind.  I navigated immigration, etc. successfully and arrived at my destination where Herb was anxiously awaiting my arrival.
Exploring Seoul city is what awaited me after a good nights rest.
We started by walking to Itaewon, an area of the city that is primarily targeted towards international visitors - tourists and military personnel stationed at the nearby base.
This city is so densely packed - row upon row of buildings, businesses stacked one upon the other with only narrow alleys separating them.  
In this part of the city street vendors line the sidewalks plying their wares and business windows have quirky script and images trying to lure customers in.
For lunch Herb took me to a "beef and leaf," the same one that he took Christian to for his birthday.
They cooked the beef at our table and it was to be eaten with leaves of lettuce, kimchi and an assortment of other goodies.  It was tasty and fortified us for the next part of our day.
After leaving Itaewon we headed the opposite direction of Herb's apartment and checked out Yongsan Family Park.  This park is a sprawling green expanse with a small lake and trees,
statuary and a playground,
a vegetable garden,
and the most incredible barefoot walk based on the principles of reflexology,
a fitness area,
a pond with a waterfall
complete with a heron surveying that pond,
and further down the path are pagodas
and the National Museum of Korea.
There was such a contrast between Itaewon and the park.  Itaewon was an expanse of gray buildings stacked one on top of the other accompanied by the cacophony of traffic and people.  It was energizing.  The park, on the other hand, was an expanse of green.  There were a plethora of people at the park, as the Koreans really use their public spaces, yet the sound seemed to disperse, rising above the trees.  It was peaceful.
It was a delightful day!