|Home Page Commentary Seoul Trip Report (2)|
I met a fellow whom I'd talked with in an Internet chat room. We met at Shinsa station and went to a small restaurant to eat pibimbap (rice, hot red pepper paste, veggies, and fried egg in a bowl; mix and eat).
Shinsa itself is an area south of the Han river. The atmosphere, at least near the station, is more of a business area such as one you'd find near a residential area. In fact, this was the first place in Seoul where I'd seen children riding bicycles with no parents in sight.
I spent the rest of the afternoon looking for a new hotel; I ended up with the Seoul Tourist Hotel near Chonggak station. In the evening, I crashed for an hour or two and then went to a curry joint. There was a slight commotion behind me as I was eating. After a while, another diner said to me, "Mouse." Too bad the cat from yesterday morning wasn't available when we needed it.
I moved over to the Seoul tourist hotel; what a world of difference, and at a very good price difference - 67,000 won per night. I went out looking for pictures to take, and saw a small mountain obscured by phone lines and traffic poles. I decided to approach more closely, and, lo and behold, there was Kwangwhamun and Kyeongbokkung (Palace); I walked around for a time there.
In the afternoon, I met another chat room friend who showed me around the Insa-Dong area, where there are lots of art galleries and antique shops. Because it was Sunday, the area was closed to vehicles; it was crowded, but not too difficult to walk around.
Today I took a trip off the beaten path; I just started walking north of Chongno 3-ga and got to an area with a hill that would rival anything in San Francisco. I wandered back down to the main road, passing Seoul Science High School, and then met a professor of Mechanical Engineering who had studied at Berkeley. I met him at the local post office, where I'd stopped for directions. I figured that if anyone knows where things in the neighborhood are, it's the people who work at the post office. I saw a few very nice tile patterns inlaid in the paving while walking to the post office.
In the evening I went to the It'aewon area; it's basically a highly commercialized tourist trap. [Perhaps this perception is colored by the fact that I paid way too much for a pair of blue jeans there.] In any case, It'aewon gave me a weird feeling; it's not really pure Korean and it's not really Westernized; it's an uncomfortable blend of the two.
I took another trip way off the beaten path, south to Sadang station by subway. I started walking south and got to a residential area. The pictures above are of a house and a gate decoration in Sadang.
I saw some children
who asked me to take me their picture. I did, and they said, "Chu-se-yo"
("Give it to me.") I couldn't explain to them that it wasn't possible,
and then one said, "Paek-won-chu-se-yo" ("Give me 100 won.") I said "No, sorry,"
and walked away. I hope this doesn't irreparably destroy any future
Korean-American foreign relations.
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