69 Soul Searching in Seoul

Late night excursions through the city warrant sleeping in as much as possible. There is a need for rejuvenation and renewal as the energy spent takes its toll. I walked and walked so many miles and seen things that surprised me. This day will be no different as around each corner is something new to me. 

The first order of business is always a search for coffee. I was pleasantly surprised to find my favourite coffee shop nearby. I was however very disappointed with them. Their wifi required a Korean number to get onto their network. I’ve encountered this before and you could just use your own number and they SMS the code to you. Not this time. The other outlets I’ve been to here didn’t have such a hassle. It kind of got me mad as I was hoping to write yesterday’s post and be on my way. It’s the inconsistency that gets me. The coffee tastes the same wherever you go and the stores look very simmilar to one another yet this problem persists. Westerners come to these shops because they know what to expect this problem is not one that they would like. I didn’t like it as this is my way of communicating with the outside world and in this day and age connectivity matters. 

Anyways I was not going to let this ruin my day. I left with my coffee that now somehow tasted bitter and headed back to the hotel. I sat in the lobby writing and communicating. It was actually quite nice. I even went so far as booking the hotel for my first nights in Japan. A conversation developed with this man who was in the process of checking out. He just happened to be from Fukuoka my first destination. He, in his broken English told me where to go and which area to stay in. They liked the fact that I was from Canada and I told them about how beautiful it is. 

The weather wasn’t the greatest and the receptionist said to take one of the complimentary umbrellas. I balked at taking one of theirs and went and got my compact one I got in China. Rain began to fall as soon as I stepped outside the door. Walking through the jewelry district the gloom was offset by the sparkle of gold and diamonds that reflected the light directed at them. The displays were being put in as the day awoke. Things start late here. A lot of shops are still closed as noon approached. 

I sat down in a coffee shop to look over the map and decide how I was going to tackle the day. I won’t go to the tower as the visibility is poor. I decided to go to the East gate and then to check out the electronics market before getting to the Korean National Museum. My lack of proper rest and the remnants of the bug I had attenuated my ambition. Besides I want to relax a little and enjoy my time here. 

I went to the east gate and I was struck by how simmilar the construction style is to Chinese architecture. The gate has been rebuilt in the 1800’s sometime but it was originally constructed in the 1600’s. It was one of four entrances to the city and the entire city then was surrounded by a wall. 

The electronics mall is far so I jumped on the line that took me directly there. I went to the gate strategically as it lies close to the line that goes directly to the area I needed to go to. I’m getting used to the metro here. The amount of stations and lines is staggering but somehow it’s easy to navigate. The carriges are always busy with people and overall it’s a really good system. 

 I had a walk to make it to the area which held the electronics and when I got there I was a bit dissapointed. The latest and greatest isn’t found there instead it’s the old and used that is on offer. I just really wanted to buy another wifi enabled SD card as it has worked like a charm. There were none to be found there or at any of the other shops that sold newer things. It’s off to the Museum I go then.

The distance was a lot longer than I estimated but it was a direct-ish route to get there and I had a chance to stop and take pictures of the interesting things along the way. One of those was a Catholic Church built like a pagoda. It was quite beautiful. I went inside and sat there admiring the strange altar they had built. There was a commemorative stone marking the occasion that Pope John Paul II was there. It’s been a while since I’ve been inside the church and as I sat there contemplating the lights began to turn on illuminating the scene in front of me. The attendant was preparing for some kind of service that was about to take place. I felt at peace when I left and continued on. 

The vast majority of people live is huge complexes that are scattered around the city. These tall residences line the motorways that criss-cross the city. They have numbers and letters indicating their place. The metro lines connect them as well. I passed over the line in a curious spot. There was an attendant stopping traffic every time the line was used by the metro train. It’s kind of a weird point as these two modes rarely meet. I was close to the museum now. 

The National Korean Museum is huge. It is also set in beautiful surroundings. There is a really nice pond in front of it that has a surprisingly large amount of fish swimming in it. There was a band performing for the crowd playing a neat rhythm. It was pretty cool but I wanted to get inside and explore the museum. The place inside seems bigger than from the outside. There are three floors with the history of Korea housed on the bottom one. 

I was interested in how Korea developed into what it has become today. The first floor traces the earliest settlements to prehistoric times with displays of stone tools and fragments discovered in the area. This continues as the civilization develops farming techniques and eventually becomes civil some 2500 years ago. This is when the first semblance of an organized society develops as trade and knowledge is exchanged with neighbors. Korea the. Goes through periods of unification and separation as feudal times invariably are. There were times of occupation by the Japanese before modern Korea emerges with the introduction of technology. Western influence had a profound effect here. 

As I took a break outside I realized that I didn’t have the energy to see any more of the museum. It was getting dark and I wondered if I could capture the sunset from my rooftop at the hotel. No such luck it turns out. The sun sets behind the mountain and some taller buildings. Oh well at least over the course of the day the weather improved and now I had a chance to sort out some chores. I stung out a line in my room and made plans with Michael to meet him at the Hostel he is staying at. 

It was a bit of a trek to make it there but it was worth it to hang out and chat drinking a giant bottle of beer. I had to leave though so that I could catch the metro back. His hostel is a trek from where I am. I got on a train heading the wrong way and then the train stopped one stop away from my intended destination. Everyone had to file out and leave the station. We passed a bunch of homeless people who were setting up for the night with their cardboard boxes. The soup kitchen was handing out meals as we exited the station. 

I landed in the middle of the bar scene. There were a lot of drunken youth leaving the slowly closing bars and restaurants. It’s kind of a weird scene. I didn’t encounter so many inebriated people in other parts of Asia even though drinking is just as prevalent. Had a chat with Joe over Skype as he proudly showed off his renovation. It looked good. 


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