Monday, November 19, 2012

A Weekend In Seoul Part 3...human frogs, zombies and a whole lot of padlocks

Love Padlocks in Namsan Park
The next day, following a hunt for a Halloween costume and a tasty octopus lunch in Gangnam (with all the hype about the song, it had to be done), we headed back to get ready for an evening on the river….dressed as Batman and a zombie bride. Laura, truly went to town on her costume and following some fantastic looks from the guests and staff at the hotel, our reluctant taxi driver, sped through the streets of Seoul for our river cruise. Full of expats but a welcome relief to have no language problems for the evening, the cruise was full of some incredible costumes and after being chased onto land by a sexually charged Catwoman our adventures headed from the Han River to the streets of Haebangchon helpfully guided by the frog, cowboy and V (V for Vendetta).

Arriving in at 5am after a night of good burgers (ok so I ate Korean food for ALMOST the whole weekend) and a cool little basement bar, I knew I would be in a fragile state when I woke up.

The next day with the bonus of a slight hangover (although not as bad as expected), we headed up into Namsan Park to enjoy the stunning views from the top of the N Seoul Tower. In a country proud of its ‘real’ seasons, the different golden shades of leaves reminded us that winter was on its way as we enjoyed the uphill walk. At the top of the park, a traditional festival and the surrounding crowds greeted us before we headed to the famous ‘love locks’ that covered the fencing. It was an incredible sight to see so many people declaring their love for each other overlooking the city. The 9,000 Won ticket to the top of the tower was worth it, even if just for the opportunity to look out the floor to ceiling window when you pee.

With a beautiful sunset, we walked back down and headed to Itaewon, Seoul’s primary expat district, for my first experience with Galbi, a Korean dish of beef or pork, cooked at your table and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Another one of Korea’s tasty dishes which also serves as a fun way to socialize, it was to be the last opportunity I had to learn about Korean food. We headed back to the hotel before then going on to Seoul station for Laura’s train back to Asan.

Traditional village homes in Bukchon Hanok Village
Determined to see as much of the city as possible, I woke up early the next day to walk into the quaint Bukchon Hanok Village, a small area of Seoul just north of Insadong with traditional Korean buildings. It was the perfect opportunity to feel like you were in traditional Korea rather than just the modern sights of a big city. After some great photo opportunities, I headed back to Insadong for my last attempt at Korean food, this time I knew what I was ordering, a far cry from my first day in this big city.

The coach back to the airport was quick and before long I was hunting for some Korean treats in duty free for the guys back at work. During my trip, I hadn’t been able to do the DMZ tour out to the border of North Korea, however, I know I will be back. Korea is such a great place and with so much to do, I’ll be making sure to fit South and North Korea (somehow) into my next trip to North East Asia for certain.

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