I’m sitting in the loft and typing out a quick post before I have to go to the Seoul airport. I’m leaving for Tokyo today, and it’s bittersweet. I’ve had such a blast in Korea. I know that in Tokyo I’m actually going to have to do work, but I guess that’s the reason why I came here in the first place. Just don’t expect and death-defying mountain climbing stories coming out of Tokyo (which, actually, is really okay with me).
Yesterday was my last day here, and Max and I did so many things. We called it the “Seoul Sampler.” The day could have spawned about eight different blog posts, but I don’t have time to write them all. Unfortunately, this post is going to be more of a photo dump where you can get an overview of the things we did.
Before we get to the photos, though, it has come to my attention that Max’s parents are reading this blog (Because his mom texted him about having too many pizza boxes in his apartment. Oops! Sorry Max! But I’m glad you’re reading, Uncle Bill and Aunt Beth!). So really quickly – to make up for that – here’s my short list of “Things Uncle Bill and Aunt Beth should know about Max.”
– He’s been an absolutely fantastic host. I can’t believe how much we packed into three days.
– For all of our excursions, he carried the backpack with our stuff in it and never let me carry it. What a nice guy.
– If there was only one seat on the subway, he always told me to take it.
– From my limited experience at his school, he seems like a great teacher. The kids all love him, and his coworkers love him.
– Not only did he let me use his washer to do some laundry, but he actually did it for me because I couldn’t understand the Korean controls. What 23 year old guy does his cousin’s laundry??
– He’s basically a fantastic human being, and I hope you’re really, really proud of him. Even if he has fifteen pizza boxes in his apartment. Which, really, is impressive in its own special way. Ha ha.
Okay, damage control complete. Now on to what we did yesterday:
Kind of a random picture to start on, but this is a bathroom stall in the subway. When I opened the stall door, my immediate thought was, “Absolutely not. Not happening.” But I really had to go. Luckily, they had a stall at the end of the row with a sign that said “Western Bathroom.” Never have I ever been so relieved to see a toilet.
These are what the winding roads look like in Old Korea. Max took me here to find an old tea house, but we got lost a bunch of times. This was fun in itself, though, because look at this place. I was fascinated by everything.
We finally found the tea house, and I can see why Max got lost so many times. It was a tiny little house on top of the highest hill, and it overlooked Seoul with some awesome views (which we could see from the safety of a house while drinking tea, which was a totally different experience from Bukhansan!)
One of the rooms. This is where we sat to drink our juice. Okay, I admit we got juice instead of tea. But it was like, 34 degrees out (check me out, I speak Celcius now!) and it was WAY too hot for juice.
This is another room, next to the one where we sat, and there was a traditional Korean bed next to the window. I don’t know if the shop owners sleep there or not. Max guessed not, that it’s probably just there for decoration to make the place look like a real house.
The courtyard of the tea house (straight ahead is the space where we were sitting, so the wall was open and we could look into the courtyard. I’m getting annoyed with these pictures. They can’t come close to the real thing! A photo can’t capture a mood, which at this place could be described as “totally serene.” Absolutely quiet, small breeze, sun warming the lilies in the courtyard….Shoot. I just can’t describe it. You have to come to Korea.
Looking over the tops of the houses.
This is the room with the bed in it that I showed you earlier, and we both stood at this window a while enjoying the views of Seoul.
The side of that room.
Max enjoying his juice.
We had to take off our shoes before we went inside.
After the tea house, we went to some shops. Here is a traditional Korean dress.
A road full of shops.
We stopped at “Burger B’s” for lunch, where Max said I could get an authentic American burger. Trust me, I’ve eaten a lot of Korean food. I think it’s okay that I took a break to eat something I recognize. Their menus were newspapers – cool!
This was in the top three best burgers I’ve had in my life, which is either because it’s actually that good or because American food after so many days without it was like a desert oasis. Mmmm…trans fats.
This is a building in downtown Seoul. City hall, maybe? It looks like a wave of glass.
A statue of Korea’s most revered military hero, who saved them from a Japanese invasion.
This guy invented the Korean alphabet, which is fairly simple and has brought Korea’s literacy rate to nearly 100%. It was much lower when the country used mostly Chinese characters, because apparently there are a bazillion of those.
Here’s the alphabet! We stood here for a little while and Max taught me all of the sounds (as you can see, there aren’t too many letters). I spent the rest of the day sounding out words like a kindergartner, and I felt really cool when I sounded out something right.
This is the entrance to the palace. Notice the guards in front. They were dressed pretty funky.
What is this called? A hallway? But it’s outside… Hmmm…anyway, it was beautiful.
Some Korean women dressed in traditional clothing.
The throne room!
Max and I walked around the gardens for a while, which was fun. It was weird to see so much nature in the middle of such a huge city. Here’s a boat that was on the small lake.
Another part of the palace.
This is a building in the middle of the lily-pad covered water.
A bridge over the water.
The building reflected in the water. It was beautiful.
As we were in a taxi, I sounded out the words on this bus. It was my first successful attempt at reading Korean (even though Max had to give me a few hints).
Cakes in a bakery! Yum… I want a birthday party in Korea this year.
We went down to the Han River to watch the sunset there. Here are the buildings by the river.
Here is a group doing sunset yoga by the river. It looked fun.
I will miss this place. So much.
The lights on that building change colors. I caught it when it was yellow, but it changed every few seconds. Also, can you see the kites in the sky? Some children in the courtyard were flying kites.
We went to Max’s favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner (I know, I know…burgers for lunch and burritos for dinner. Not exactly Asian. Whatever. They were delicious). This was the smallest restaurant I’ve ever been in – only two rows of tables. You can kind of see how small it is by looking in the mirror.
This is the front of the restaurant.
I suppose that should end this post… I have a lot of packing to do, and I have to leave here in twenty minutes. Eeeeeek!
See you in Japan!