Sunday, April 18, 2010


What an AMAZING city. I can't even list the reasons why I love Seoul, but let me start my day.

First, I took a cab across the city to one of the many palaces, Gyeongbokgung. Truly beautiful, and I got there early before the crowds. Just a pleasure to walk around and look in the quiet. They are all walled with temples and residences inside along with gardens and walking areas. Very spacious. Beautiful.

I then walked and got lost in the little hills to the east of the palace. It reminded me of San Francisco or Valparaiso, Chile - skinny roads leading to houses with entry only off walkways, up steep stairs. Crazy. Gorgeous. Modern houses next to traditional Korean houses. Every once in a while you run into a cafe or a boutique. Views were spectacular of the city. Just amazing, fun, surprises around every corner. You could spend a week just exploring the tiny roads. Interspersed were streets of blooming cherry blossoms, brilliantly white under the hazy sun.

Then I went to a Buddhist temple (Jogyesa temple) which was absolutely gorgeous, and as it was Sunday many people were inside for prayers. Outside the temple were 10,000 paper lanterns of 100 colors all lined up hanging from sets of poles. It was so beautiful.

The best part was next... a walk through Insadong. It's billed as "antique row" but really a mix of shops of junk, shops of nick-nacks and shops of very nice cloths and antiques. Tons and tons of people, just fun. Then... I walked into a five-story square building with an open courtyard. You can climb each level which is slanted and just keeps going up, one side overlooking the courtyard, the other shops of nick-nacks and cafes. In the middle was a Rock Band playing AMAZING rock music, and on all the balconys overlooking must have been 5,000 kids. It was SO much fun, it was infectuous. I must have stayed an hour just jamming. The band singer looked up at me at the top floor (he was so high from singing, just JAMMIN) and he pointed at me (of course, I'm the only blond for 1,000 miles) and I pointed back. IT WAS AWESOME.

After ambling further down the street, I made walked for a while and hit a river in the city center in which they lined it with a beautiful walkway on both sides and stones to cross it, and waterfalls. A beautiful way to handle an otherwise boring river, it was really nice. Then, off to Myeong-dong which was a massive shopping area that reminded me of Shinkjuku in Tokyo, just a million people and 16 story department stores. It was awesome to hang with all the Koreans going shoppping.

Ended the day with a Cass beer and caught the Hyatt shuttle back to the hotel to check out the amazing night view. Have to start work at 10:30 tonight.

I must say I started the day with no expectation and absolutely loved it. I was exhausted, my senses overloaded with REAL culture. I've heard from so many people over the years that Seoul is a bore. I counter that argument: they must be a bore to think it. It is a true JOY.