Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SeoulForSimon: Part 2: Bukchon - Gyeongbokgung & Part 3: Namsan - Namdaemun - Baseball

SeoulForSimon: Part 2: Bukchon Village & Gyeongbokgung Palace . Part 3: Namsan Tower, Namdaemun Market, & Korean Baseball After our first visit with Simon we hit the subway and headed to a part of Seoul called Bukchon Village. Bukchon is located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changoek Palace. It features a great deal of art galleries and small stores running throughout limitless alleys and is quoted as being a 'preserved 600 year old urban environment.' We didn't really purchase anything, but enjoyed seeing the interesting shops and buildings. We made our way over to Changoek Palace only to find that it was closed on Mondays and so then walked for quite some time along a main city street towards Gyeongbokgung Palace. We got to watch the changing of the guards and then went into the palace to explore a bit. The "G Palace" was built in 1395 by the Joseon Dynasty. It consisted of more than 300 different elaborately painted buildings. It was beauiful and mind blowing to read about all it has been thru in the last seven hundred years. We then headed over to the Insadong area of Seoul to meet a fellow adoptive family for the first time in person for dinner. The restraunts in Seoul are so different and difficult to explain. There are so many all packed into every building. We spent many conversations mulling over the assumption that rent must be very cheap for so many small stores and shops to stay open when competitors souround them. On this night, as with many others, we ended up going up an alley stairway to the third or fourth floor and heading into a cozy restaurant. There were 8 of us and we lined a wall mixed with chairs and benches. Unlike many restraunts in Seoul, this one had no pictures and no English and so we were very thankful to have our Korean speaking friends with us. We got a wide assortment of food and I was very thankful for my friend attempting to explain my shrimp allergy to the waiter as food allergies are not at all common in SK. I of course also got some version of Kimchi Jigae. This is a kimchi soup that Patrick makes at home for me once or twice a month and I was determined to find the best batch in all of Korea so I ordered a bowl along with our meals at nearly every restraunt we went to. It was nice to sit and eat with great company, but as the long day and jet lag started to catch up we were all eager to get back to our hotels to rest. On Tuesday we woke up and took the subway to an area of Seoul where we would be able to go up into Namsan Tower to look over the entire city. It was fairly hot and humid and we were sweating up a storm even just trying to hike to the cable car building. (We noticed many times that Koreans seem to have a much different tolerance to heat as we were often the only ones sweating! Haha) It was an incredibly clear day in Seoul, which is rare, and so our cable car ride up the hill was beautiful! Namsan Tower is the tallest point in Seoul and quite amazing to look out and see how far the city of ten million reaches. However I got a bit sick and was eager to get back down the mountain. ;) After the tower we headed over to shop at a traditional market called Namdaemun. This market was definitely our least favorite, but I've heard that their indoor shops have more to offer. It was very very busy and loud and seemed to be filled with socks, purses, and sunglasses. Late that afternoon we ventured up several floors to a coffee shop where, as often happened, we were the only customers. We had a humorous ordering experience and just spent an hour or so visiting with the Grays before we jumped on the subway to head to a Korean Baseball game. The baseball game was very different than that of an American baseball game. The stadium and attire were quite similar, but the prices on tickets and food was much lower. The highlight of the game was what my husband referred to as the Hype Man. Basically each side of the stadium (separated according to whom you were cheering for) had a hype man and a few cheerleaders. When your team was up to bat there was CONSTANT LOUD singing and cheering and banging of plastic tubes. The energy was incredibly high and everyone in the crowd participated. It was a lot of fun. My husband and I splurged and each got a team hat and were excited to be able to one day share with Simon all about the game in Seoul. It was a perfect night and we just enjoyed each other's company as we walked the streets back to the subway to head back to the guest house. According to Patrick's watch we had been averaging around seven miles a day or walking. We were determined to stay busy and take in as much of the culture as possible. My husband and I both remarked early on that we felt very safe and comfortable in Seoul. The subway was easy to acess, the people were helpful if needed, and there was so much to explore.

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