Arriving in Seoul at 4:50 am I headed straight to the Hostel and crashed for 6 hours before heading out to explore the city.
ouch first world culture shock, no dirt roads and dust that stifles and clings to everything, no incessant hooting, no cars trying to run me over when I cross the road and copious amounts of beautiful fresh fruit….excuse me while I lie down for a short while. I am no big city lover but I think my body is going to like this…for a short little while at least
Then I turn a corner to Chungbu Market phew I AM in Asia. What a plethora of colours, textures and smells. The market sells primarily dried fish and seaweed, as well as some fruits and nuts. I spend ages just wandering around looking at the enormous number of dried shrimps in various sizes. Deciding to have lunch there was a good decision and I had a fried pork pancake thing which was very nice. I find the Korean people, like most people in the world very nice and friendly, helpful and polite. They also bow like the Japanese but it’s not as pronounced or apparent. I did FINALLY learn to say Thank you in Korean and think it’s the longest thank you of any language that I’ve used while travelling, kam sa ham ni da. Hello is easier: an nyoung (anyang)
Seoul is an interesting clean functioning huge big city and I enjoyed my days walking around it and sightseeing. The hostel is directly behind a street full of bike shops from Harleys to Suzuki’s. I can get my new battery here which is great, but not one of them has the carburettor screw, I can buy a whole carb, but they would need to specially order just the screw. Thank goodness Paul is sending one to Bangkok for me which should be there when I arrive. It was nice to wonder around the bike shops though and I did manage to get a new GoPro battery since mine does not work this is a shopping bonus for me, just in time for SE Asia 🙂
I ate a plate of chicken feet today and just to let you know there is nothing wrong with a good bowl of chicken feet, except the fact that they are tasteless and are just bone and sinew held together by a gelatinous mass of skin, but the accompanying stir friend veggies were scrummy . So I’m still loving the food in Korea 🙂
There is so much to see in this city, the palaces are stunning the museums extremely well setup and the parks immaculate. I could stay a week but I am already itching for the bike so am glad I chose to spend just a few days here.
Before I left Seoul I headed into one of the post offices near the hostel as I needed to send some unnecessary items home. Now this is a civilised experience, on the tables are plastic boxes holding huge rolls of packing tape, scissors, string and big black markers, everything you need to post a package. They also sell the boxes in every shape and size, it’s the little things in countries that surprise, delight and amuse me. The total contrast was in the late afternoon when walking down an alley I saw an old homeless man with a big roll of sticky tape sticking these small, roughly post it size, pieces of paper together, hundreds of them in order to make some kind of mat to sleep on. It made me so very sad to see him and I get really upset at societies which leave such frail old people on the streets, and yet they all do and I’m not quite sure what the answer is.
I have completely walked my feet flat exploring every bit of Seoul. My favourite parts are the food markets and Palaces. I love the labyrinth of rooms, passages and doors in the old oriental palaces. I think the Cyeongbok palace should be called ht palace of a thousand doors. I love the contrast between the beautiful old buildings, the old town houses and alleys and the new high rise buildings somehow it makes it all very picturesque. Last night I went to the IMAX just to give my poor feet a rest and since I have only ever been to the IMAX once in my life.
As far as big cities go I think Seoul must be one of my favourites, well I actually like it which is saying a lot for someone who does not like cities. It’s a real pity I don’t have time to venture outside Seoul and see more of Korea…maybe next time 🙂