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Seoul Trip Report (part 4)

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Saturday, 23 January

Had a late breakfast, then met my friend from the chat room and went to Taehangno. Lots of young people there; it's a university area. A group calling itself "Cyber Youth Cops," modeled on Curtis Sliwa's "Cyber Angels" was holding a rally to encourage politeness on the Internet (fat chance, I say). Competing with this was a street performer who played guitar, sang, and made jokes that had the crowd in stitches. I was able to appreciate some of the humor; for example, when one woman started videotaping him, he turned his back on her and wiggled his backside for her. All of this without missing a beat. Apparently he used me as a part of his routine; he saw me and said hello in English; I responded, and he said something in Korean that cracked everyone up.

Crowd scene in Taehangno

Later,we went to the Kant restaurant and had shrimp kimchi over rice. It's a very nice place, with a restful atmosphere, good food, and an excellent view of the neighborhood.

Sunday, 24 January

In the morning, I went to the Korean National Museum at Kwanghwamun. One of the guidebooks says it's not to be missed; that's correct. The displays of celadon ceramics are truly gorgeous. Photography is not allowed in the museum, so you won't see any pictures here; you'll have to go there yourself to see it.

Then I went to the 63 building (it's 63 stories tall) near Yo-ui-naru station. Of course, I simply had to go up to the observation deck; tickets were W5,500, and the ascent is in an elevator with a glass wall. The view was good; on a clear day it must be spectacular. The building also houses an IMAX theater and an aquarium, but I decided not to see either of them, as the lines were very long.

View from 63 building
Promotional poster for Nant'a 99 Art outside Chongdong theater

In the afternoon came the absolute highlight of my trip so far. I went to the Chongdong theatre and saw "Nanta 99", which is a musical performance about chefs preparing for a wedding banquet. It's marvelous; there was a lot of comedy and audience participation. The show should be coming to the United States in the future; it's a must-see. I had a great time. In a reversal of what you'd expect in the US, by the way, I paid for a cheap seat (20,000 won as opposed to 30,000, since I didn't have 30,000 the night before when I bought the ticket). I didn't sit up in the nosebleed seats; instead I was only three rows from the stage. It was faboo. I don't have enough superlatives to describe this show.

Monday, 25 January 1999

I dropped off my laundry near the Idae station (one of the stations with a lot of stairs), and then wandered over to Hong-ik University in search of a T-shirt all in Korean. I didn't find one; most T-shirts have American or foreign logos on them. However, I did pass an area with a large number of art galleries and design schools.

Hongik University
Building at Yonsei University

I went back to Grand Mart, which is grand in name only; I've never seen a more tired collection of schlock. I continued on to Yonsei University, one of whose buildings is pictured at the left; it must have been the first day of classes because the area was incredibly crowded.

I picked up my laundry and returned to the hotel; then I went to It'aewon in the late afternoon to buy souvenirs. The evening meal at a restaurant back in Chongno was talk-kal-bi (boneless chicken with vegetables and red pepper sauce, cooked in a wok at the table), roll pizza from a roadside stand, with cake from Paris Baguette and yogurt for dessert.

Tuesday, 26 January 1999

I packed to go home; headed out to the airport, and had a final Korean meal of pibimbap before boarding the plane. The flight back was good; the plane wasn't too crowded, and I was able to sleep about six hours total on the eleven-hour flight.

I got back to Los Angeles right on time, had no problem clearing customs, and had a good flight back to San Jose. I had a great vacation, but, of course, it was wonderful to be home again.

And that's my trip to Seoul.

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