Sunday, October 14, 2012

My trip to Seoul, South Korea

The first week of October was our end of term break. I was going to go by myself. I had wanted my mom to come visit me in Indonesia, but our camp week for school had been moved to after the break so it did not work out since it takes four days to get here and one week would not be enough time. It turned out that it was only a one day journey to Seoul and so my mom was able to meet me there. We had a great time together. I arrived on Sunday September 30th in the morning. My Mom had gotten there the day before so she could adjust a little for the time difference. When I walked into the hotel she was waiting for me downstairs to greet me. When went up to the room and visited awhile before I showered and changed. We ate in the deli at the hotel. Then we took a walk around the block to get some fresh air. My mom was still feeling tired and was feeling the beginning of a cold coming, so we just had dinner in our room that evening.

War Memorial Museum
On Monday we went to the War Memorial Museum. It was a holiday so many places were closed. We really enjoyed learning more about the history of Korea. Mom wasn't feeling well, so after that we caught a cab back to the hotel. I finally found a pharmacy that evening that was open and I was able to get my mom some cold medicine. I was looking for a place to get the passcodes for wifi access since they don't have SIM cards to use in cell phones or Ipads when a person is traveling. I came across this Olleh wifi information when at the museum. The information said that it could be purchased at any of selected stores and I could not find any of those stores that had it.

Changdeokgung Palace (one of the buildings)
On Tuesday Mom didn't feel well in the morning. We went to Changdeokgung Palace and the secret garden. My parents had been recommended this secret garden as incredible by someone that they had talked with. It was ok, but not what we expected. Some of it may be that we saw it in the fall so there were not tons of flowers like the person described. It was also a large group we had to go with as they require that to tour the garden a person goes on a guided tour. We went to Insadong market. There were lots of cool shops and I got some great gifts that I sent home with mom for friends and family. I wanted to also go to Jogyesa temple but somehow missed it. Saw the sign and turned off on correct road and then saw no temple or additional signage. Ate at Bibimbab, one of many restaurants in the mall connected to our hotel, for dinner; they had dishes also listed in English. It was ok. 

Part of Secret Garden

On Wednesday we went to the National Folk Museum of Korea and Gyeongbokgung Palace which was huge and nicer than Tuesday's palace. The National Folk Museum was very interesting. We learned about the culture and people of South Korea. I always enjoy learning about other cultures. It is part of the reason I am living overseas and traveling to other countries. Went back to Insadong. Still couldn't find Jogyesa temple but saw great little shops and galleries and got some gifts.

National Folk Museum

Girls in Traditional costumes taking pictures with Samsung products

Gyeongbokgung Palace (one of the buildings)

On Thursday we went to Myeong- dong area, Myeong-dong Cathedral,  Namdaemun market, and Cheonggyecheon Stream. We weren't really excited about the two markets. There was not anything that we saw that we would buy. Lots of it was very cheap stuff and cheaply made. Nothing was unique to Korea or Seoul.

Myeong-dong Cathedral
 We saw a show - acrobatic at the Seoul Festival. There was a guy from Spain. He had a pole and a four straps going from the pole that he had four guys volunteer to hold tight so that he could do his routine and climb up the pole and do tricks from it. I was interesting to watch. Cheonggyecheon Stream is set down below street level. It is a couple miles long. We walked down most of it but as we got farther along it was the older part and was not in as good of upkeep as the more recent part. There were lots of people that were walking along. There were some people in the river doing some sort of photo shoot. There was a wishing well and two waterfalls. Saw a stage set up for some concert. According to the cab driver it is Psy- Some dude and something about Gangnam style.

Namdaemun market

Cheonggyecheon Stream

A presentation at the base of Seoul Tower

One of many of the scenes at the Teddy Bear museum

Friday was our last day in Seoul. We went to World Jewelry museum. The museum of the jewelry was a lady's private collection that she had collected over the years of jewelry from different people and cultures over several hundred of years. The museum is not really well known. It is not well advertised because it is a private museum, so they cannot do any advertising in government museum. We saw part of Bukchon village as the World Jewelry museum was on the outskirts of the village. Couldn't find Hanbok museum. It was supposed to be outside of the gate of the palace we had seen the day before but since I could not access the Internet I was not able to look up the directions again. Also, went to Seoul Tower and Teddy Bear museum. The Teddy Bear museum has the history of Seoul shown through Teddy Bears. I thought it was a pretty clever way to teach about the history of Seoul and help even get young children interested.

Seoul Tower
 I had to get up early Saturday morning as I had a pretty early flight back. I left my mom in the hotel since her flight was not until early evening. It was a great trip and nice to see her after such a long time since I last saw her.