Sunday, October 07, 2007

Korea: Day Three: Temples and Palaces

Day three is only just beginning, but I shot a quick video to prove that I'm actually here. . . after some readers questioned my actual presence in Korea due to the fact that I'm not in any of my own pictures.

Here's the video, more pictures and words to be posted later.

Got kind of a late start, despite waking up at 7 am. Ate some normal breakfast at the apartment, chatted with the family (where it was still Sunday evening), and shot a short video with me in it to prove that I'm actually in Korea. That's it above.

Headed out to the subway, then to the Insadong station, just so that Steve, Jason, and I would know how to get there tomorrow when Adam's at work.

Outside, we met up with PAK SongMi (the writing convention in this blog is to put surnames in all capitals), a friend of Adam's who makes her living as a tour giuide for Japanese tourists. She was worried that her English wasn't good enough, but it was actually very respectable. Better than a lot of my physics TAs in college even.

We walked by Changdeokgung Palace, so we could see where it was, even though it was closed today. From there we walked down to Jongmyo Royal Ancestral Shrine, where tribute is paid to many dead kings, queens, and royal family members.
Jongmyo Ancestral Shrine

Walk the Spiritual Path

A Door Able

From there to the Wongaska Site, inside Tapgol Park. There was some pretty cool architecture.
Random Act of Art

A Korean War vet (from the South Korean Army) came up and started talking to us. That was interesting. We walked from there to the _____ Buddhist Temple, passing many interesting street vendors along the way.
Career Man
Do you want fries with that?

There were plenty of Buddhists, and monks about. The temple itself was very impressive,
Get to the Point

with several HUGE golden Buddhas.
One Big Buddha

Out of there and over to the Gyeonkbukgong Palace and the Korean Folk Art Center. Took a zillion pictures on the grounds (the palace)
Gyeongbokgung Palace
Japanese Tourists in Korea
Adam in the Mirror

and inside the museum (the folk art center).
Korean Pagoda
Kimchi, Plate 2
Sixtieth Birthday Celebration
Unintelligible Sign
National Folk Museum of Korea

After leaving there, it was time for a cab ride with Steve, SongMi and me in one cab, and Jason and Adam in another. We made the short (~ 5 minutes, <$3 trip to Lotte World, which is a huge name in retail all over the world (not including the US.) We went up to the sixth floor and to the PTC (Panmunjom Tourist Center), a travel office that handles tours to the JSA, inside the DMZ. We weren't going to arrange a tour, but rather to meet three of Adam's friends who work there: LEE SeungHee, JIN Hyekyung, and LEE DongHee (no relation). They were very amusing and entertaining. After they closed the office, we walked out into the Meyong-Dong area, which is just loaded with lights, people, narrow streets, shops, and restaurants. Lights of Myongdong

I nearly lost the others half a dozen times because I was taking so many photos. The place was just amazing. I could've easily shot a full card and run out my batteries. It was a far cry from Mebane, to say the least.

We went to a restaurant called _______ where we got a table for eight, with chairs, on the second floor. We started with some kimchi radish in cold broth, and quickly moved onto two huge servings of _________. It was chicken, noodles, and veggies, like potatoes, onions, carrots, and cucumber, in a dark broth. It was excellent, and a wee bit spicy, of course. A side of cabbage kimchi accompanied, naturally. I twas loud, fun, and very filling. We learned some Korean traditions, like how to fill someone else's beer glass (you never fill your own), which varies depending on which participant is older or younger. Another great Korean meal. Are you seeing a pattern here?

We headed back to the street, took a bunch of pictures, in which I purposefully made the peace sign, Tourists and Locals (though not in this picture) as people in Asia nearly always do for some reason, and said our goodbyes to walk to the train and back to the apartment. Spent a few minutes enjoying the view from Adam's window, and called it a night.

The day wasn't a "death march" by any stretch, and with the terrific weather, food, and company, I could handle many more days like this in Korea.

(View my entire set of Korea trip photos here on Zooomr)


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