Seoul - Day 137-139
Trip Start Jan 31, 2008
254Trip End Aug 02, 2013
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Where I stayed
Holiday In Korea Hostel
Jumped on the bus from Kowloon to the Airport this morning at 5am to catch my 8am flight to Seoul, South Korea. Just made it to the airport before check-in closed due to the bus taking some obscure route which it didn't take in the other direction. It was a bit of a mad dash from the bus stop outside the terminal building to the check-in desk!
On the plane, the flight attendant was handing out landing cards for immigration. One card was for Korean nationals and the other for foreigners. When the fight attendant came to me, she asked, "Korean or foreigner", I looked at her with a straight face and said "foreigner", a Korean couple sat behind me burst out laughing, can't believe I controlled myself. Didn't know I could pass for Korean.
When I arrived at Inceon airport, caught another bus to the Insadong district
After checking in and having a much needed shower after wandering the tight ally's of Insadong for an hour trying to find somewhere to stay. I had a walk around the beautiful cultural streets of the area to get my bearings. It's so easy to get lost in Seoul, you really need to concentrate on where you're going and look out for landmarks, otherwise you could be walking around in circles for hours. I've read that Seoul can be a frustrating city due to the lack of road names. I did pretty well, I was only lost for around 5 minutes before finding a landmark I recognised.
Spend the evening sat outside the hostel speaking to some of the other residents. An interesting bunch of characters, an Indian, a Frenchman, a German, an American from Hawaii and a couple of Koreans.
Day 138 - 09/07/08
Visited Gyeongbokgung palace this afternoon which is only a short walk from where I'm staying in Insadong
After leaving the palace I headed to the N'Seoul tower in Myeongdong, got there by metro, then walked to the cable car which took me to the hill station where the tower is situated. The highest observation desk is 360m above sea level. The views of Seoul, the Han river and the surrounding mountains are fantastic, 360 degree views of the Metropolis. You don't realise the city is so large until you have a view from this perspective. Luckily it was a reasonably clear day so the views where truly stunning.
Returned back to Insadong and walked to the adjoining district of Jongno. Had some dinner and wandered around the neon lit streets. Jongno is downtown Seoul and is one of main entertainment districts with bars, restaurants and shops. A cool and vibrant place
Day 139 - 10/07/08
Visited Changdeokgung palace today, which is the location of the famous secret garden or "Biwon". Such a beautiful and majestic place with ancient trees, some of which are 750 years old. The garden is an exquisite and calm place with ponds, tea houses and colourful flowers set in a beautiful landscape. Never seen such huge Japanese maples before, one of my favourite species of trees. In the Autumn I bet this place is even more beautiful and colourful. The architecture of the buildings here is the same as Gyeongbokgung which I visited yesterday, but the landscaping is by far more impressive.
After leaving the palace I headed for Bukhansan national park and Dobongsan peak (820m). Bukhansan is a very beautiful area just north of Seoul. Caught the metro there but didn't do any hiking unfortunately. Arrived at 5pm which was late, so didn't have time to trek to the summit. I had an urge to see some peaks. I needed my mountain fix! Spend an hour there and took the metro back to the hostel.
In the evening visited Jongno again but this time went to place called "The Stream". The stream is beautifully thought out waterway with waterfalls, stepping stones, bamboo, reeds and walkways. People go here to relax and get away from chaotic Seoul for a while. When walking by the stream you wouldn't think you're in a big Asian capital city until you look up and see the sky scrapers towering above you.