Sunday, March 27, 2011

I’ll see your week and raise you another week

In our experience, capital cities rarely warrant more than a few days of any travel schedule so we were surprised when LP recommended a visit of 5-7 days in Seoul.  Well, after our original 3-night stay turned into 6, we’ll even go one step further and say that Seoul is a city you could easily get lost in for a couple of weeks.

We climbed old fortress walls to the top of Mt Bugaksan where we were rewarded with stunning views of the city and made a new Korean friend who acted as our tour guide for the rest of the day (pointing out the nearby presidential palace, the bullet holes in a nearby tree and more).  In return, I promised to give his daughter advice on going to U.S. law school.  Little does he know that I’ll likely persuade her that law school is a waste of time and his dreams of a comfortable retirement will be crushed.

We stared in awe at the timbered roofs painted with brightly-colored, delicate patterns in the 15th century Changdeokgung Palace.  The side trip to the “Secret Garden” was a lot less rewarding and with an additional entrance fee of 5000 won ($5) a piece mere highway robbery  (okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration but it certainly wasn’t worth the hype in negative 2 degree weather without an English-speaking guide).

We went to a performance of JUMP, a non-verbal show with Marx Brothers-like slapstick interwoven with unbelievably impressive martial arts, wandered through the Ssamzie-gil art gallery where I only bought one pair of earrings despite wanting 50 and admired the tokens of love that teenage Koreans leave at Seoul Tower in the form of wall tiles and locks with love notes attached.

We’ve also fallen in love with heated floors, hand sanitizers in the subway, dumplings made by Korean grandmothers and getting lost in small alleyways full of hidden treasures.

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