Sept 8 2008 – Seoul


We have become regulars with the ‘sandwich lady’. Today we didn’t even need to order – as soon as we got to her truck she started cooking our breakfast. It’s so convienent. She is located just at the entrance to the subway. She seems to do a pretty brisk business.

The plan for today was to go to Changdeokgung, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On the way there we picked up cold canned coffee to go from a 7-11 type store. Our side the store was a woman with a cart making fresh donuts. We both got one -mine was stuffed with Red Bean curd. It was good!

Changdeokgung is the palace of Illustrious Virtue. One thing we learned is that Korean cultural attractions do something that ours do in Ottawa. They close on Monday. We got there and there were others, Koreans and Foreigners all discovering the same thing.

Plan B. After sitting and having some water we consulted the guide book and there is a Buddhist temple close by. So we were off in that direction. Yogyesa was established in 1910, it was moved in 1937 and is very beautiful. We arrived and the monks were conducting a prayer ceremony. We toured around the Great Hero Hall and were granted permission from the tourist office to enter the Brahma Bell Tour. Normally I think you must go with a tour – they saw us looking at the tour of two people who went up and felt sorry for us. At the entrance to the temple and in the Great Hero Hall there are lanterns that are lit once a year for Budda’s birthday to pray for health and happiness for your family.

There appeared to be a protest behind the temple. An area with the tent erected and people appeared to be living there. I inquired at the visitor office about this and asked if it was a protest and the volunteer said it was a protest. I asked about what – but she smiled clearly uncomfortable so I thanked knowing that no information would be forthcoming. I think the answer is here: but i’m not sure. The other clue is that the laterns when seen from above spell the word OUT.

We wandered by to Insadong, we were then on Saturday but it was very crowded. This time Darlene had time to shop! The other thing we learned is that Korea is a city where something is always happening. While in Insadong we came accross the filming of a Korean drummers. This was a real filming for a movie or TV show, so not only have we been caught on film kneading bread, now our hands are clapping in the soundtrack of a drum sequence. Carrying one down the street we came across the filming of a comedy TV show. I don’t get the shows here. Alot seem to have to do with food.

After Insadong we headed to the island of Yeouido. This is the financial and polictical centre and has the tallest building in Korea. So we went up it. On the 60th floor they have the highest art gallery in the world . The exhibit that was on display was a Hello Kitty exhibit. The funny thing is Stevie Harper and George Bush are in the exhibit holding Hello Kitty Balloons! I think the balloons were added to the art work. From the gallery we have a great view of the haze over Seoul and some fo the apartment blocks that people live in. There are also alot of helipads, though we have seen very few helicopters.

Off to the fish market. The Noryangin Fish Market is huge – several football fields of seafood. We were there about 5:30 and while some booths were closed, many where open. You have to get there before dawn to see all the action of selling bulk fish. This was all people buying fish and seafood for dinner. While we recognized most things – others were not anything we recognized.