Great weekend! I’ll try to give the whole rundown….
I learned the batchatta and merengue last night and danced at Itaewon until the clubs closed, fun but my feet are killing me! There were some amazing dancers there (at Club Caliente) and I hear they have lessons so I’ll have to go back sometime. Weird thing, there was Buddhist monk in robes dancing the night away and he had some damn smooth moves… what was his deal?
Saturday was cold and rainy so I thought it would be a good day for the bus tour and a museum. The Seoul City Bus Tour is hop-on hop-off with English recordings describing 27 stops. It’s two hours if you don’t get off the bus. It was a good way to get an idea of the layout of the city and to prioritize what sites I want to visit first on my days off. I can’t wait to go to Namsan tower on a clear day for a panoramic view of the city and the palaces all look cool. The weirdest thing on the tour was Pet Street; literally a street of pet stores, mostly specializing in small yippy dogs. There was a sea of puppies in the windows; papillon stores, poodle stores… weird. The other odd stop on the tour was the USO, why would you want to feature that on a tour of Seoul? Can random people even go in there? It just seemed strange. We got stuck in traffic jam for 45 minutes at which point I enjoyed a nap.
The National Museum was the only point I got off at. They have all new facilities that were just completed last year with a huge park setting. The interior galleries were beautiful and the collections I saw were really impressive. It was definitely a world class museum. I only checked out the archaeology hall (there are 5 others) and that took an hour even though I didn’t read everything. Korea has a really interesting Bronze and Iron Age with a lot of cool stuff.
I saw a swat team! With riot gear! But they weren’t doing anything, just hanging out around an armored car chatting. I wanted to take a picture but they were all looking at me, so I went away.
Today was sunny and clear so I went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace near Insadong. It was absolutley beautiful and I lucked out by getting there just in time for the changing of the guard. The music sounds strangley similar to Tibetan music. I’ve noticed the Buddhist artwork is similar as well… I don’t know why but I’ll look into it.
I walked over to Insadong (the artsy area) afterwards as I heard Sunday was the day to go. It’s pedestrian only on Sunday and craftsmen give demonstrations and lots of little stalls were set up. It was cool wandering around. I checked out a peaceful little tea house (there are dozens in the area) and tried cold cinnamon punch… it was really cinnamonny. I just basically wandered around untill I was tired, it took about 20 minutes to get back to Mokdong on the subway and I went straight to this internet cafe. A good weekend I think!
A few other interesting things…..
– you can get socks and coffee everywhere!
– apparently I have a beautiful nose, three strangers have told me so already.
– if your brastrap shows everyone will fix it for you (this gets old real quick)
– people puke in the streets alot, I mean really alot, what’s the deal with this?
– ginger wine is disgusting, do not drink this stuff under any circumstance (maybe there’s a connection between this one and the previous one)
– speaking Chinese to Koreans won’t get you very far (ooops)
– you can get cotton candy everywhere
– John Denver is universal
– If you are tired and want to be left alone do not speak a single word of Korean, if you do you are doomed
– “Luck be a lady tonight” has been stuck in my head since before I left… why! WHY!!!!