Korean Culture

Trip Start Sep 05, 2011
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17
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Trip End Nov 07, 2011


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Flag of Korea Rep.  , Seoul,
Thursday, October 20, 2011

We really like Seoul, it seems to have everything: Lots of unique tourist attractions, a cheap transport network, and a wide variety of restaurants and bars. The people are so respectful here; they bow their heads when saying Hello and Thank you.

It has taken us a little while to get used to the new currency after being in China for several weeks. It still doesn't seem right to be spending 20,000 on a meal or withdrawing a quarter of a million won from a cash machine!

We have been quite fascinated by some of the daily gadgets you cannot find in England. Not only are the cash machines touch screen and have the option to choose your denominations, it is quite common for cars to use a lift to park in a multi-storey car parks. We have also walked past a small parking space in a street where there were three cars on top of each other! They also have street vending machines that are touch screen and you can scroll through the menu haha.

We find the Seoul Metro quite amusing as a fanfare is played before a train arrives in a station. The first time we heard this we were both expecting a horse and car to roll into the station!

Over the last few days we have visited Chonegwadae, the house of the Korean president. The house is in a great location and overlooks a mountain. Over the road is an exhibition hall you can visit that has gifts on show the president has received from various people, including Bill Clinton & the Obama's. The gifts were mostly ornamental. There were also some extracts from the official visitors book on display, This was a fascinating exhibition which also supplied some interesting information about Seoul.

We also visited a traditional Korean village called Namsangol Hanok village. Here we got to experience traditional Korean medicine during a visit to the "Doctor". The medicine was actually green tea but it was fun. There was also a fantastic Taekwondo show at the village It was a great place to visit and it was free! 

Today we decided to climb a mountain. Seoul is surrounded by lots of mountains so we were spoilt for choice. We found what we thought looked like a good one and luckily the climb was not too difficult. The views were stunning as expected and we found that getting up into the mountains is a great way to escape the city and tourists, we only passed a few people all of whom were friendly and said Hello. 

A fellow English traveller at our hostel recommended a traditional Korean music concert which is only on once a week, so we decided to go along. The concert is held in a small hall in Insadong and consists of several musicians who play the Kayagum, a traditional Korean string instrument. The musicians were very talented and played a variety of songs including traditional Korean songs and two songs by The Beatles. We should mention that we were the only two who turned up to the concert! This made it feel like a special performance just for us. The narrator even translated it into English for us. In the middle of the concert they had a meditation break, this was a bit awkward and we were trying very hard not to laugh! The Korean music sounded good and the singer had a great voice, they didn't really deserve such a bad turn out so we felt a little sorry for them. It was really fun to experience some Korean tradition.

In the evening we went to 'Cheonggyechon' which is a small stream which runs through Seoul. The stream was recently restored back to its original form after being filled in and used as a highway for some time. The stream provides a peaceful and quiet place to sit and relax or walk through the city. In the evening there is a show where shapes are formed on the water using lights. This was quite impressive.

Unfortunately we leave Seoul tomorrow to head to Busan. There are so many things to see and do in Seoul, we have not had enough time to do everything but at least we will have new things to do on our next visit.
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