Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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!

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