These are some last views of South Korea from the air. You can see the layout of the peninsula. I always find it interesting that the land looks like a toy diorama like all the models I saw of the DMZ. I can't wait to visit again. I hope my next stay is longer so that I can learn more about the culture and sightsee more. Until next time Seoul!
28 August 2017
Gyeongbokgung part two because I actually had some money with me this time. I got into the palace area. There are lots of things to see in it. There is also a place in there where you can rent some traditional Korean costumes and walk around the palace all dressed up. Who doesn't want to play dress up in a palace? Well I never found the office to do that but it rained so I don't think it would have been as fun anyways. There is also a traditional tea service again I didn't go to that but I saw the sign. Matt had told me there was a museum on the premise so I went to find that. It was a bigger museum than I had imagined (more on that later). I also found where the king's throne is and some room where studying happened for what I would guess would have been for the children. There was a lot of Chinese on the doors and walls so I could guess on some of the rooms without the English tour guides.
The building that kind of looks like Taipei 101 with all of the layers is close to where the museum is located. The museum is about Korean folk history and culture. There are many things that I learned in there. I was looking at a movable printing press plate and the book that they made using the plate when a museum volunteer came and talked with me. He asked me if I was reading Korean. He must have sensed that I only spoke English. He continued to tell me about Korean history. He was of course curious about my accent and where I was from and where I was living. I learned from him that a Korean was the first person to use metal platings for a movable printing press. Gutenberg is just more famous but it was a Korean who used the Chinese characters because that was when South Korea was under Chinese rule. Also in the museum was a dedication to an exhibit in Marseilles about how humans are making lots of waste especially electronic waste nowadays. I would like to see the sister exhibit.
Here are the two biggest markets to go shopping. I walked through all the alleys trying to find face masks. When I finally got to the market behind the girls' school I discovered all of the beauty shops. There were so many vendors trying to give free samples of their face masks so that you would shop for more of their products. Many of them tried Korean with me. Good thing I learned how to say I don't speak Korean. I just stammered through in English though because they kept trying to hand me things. I also found some Kimbop (I think that's how that's spelled). The restaurant lady didn't want me eating there even though there was a family eating there. I walked and ate looking at all the cosmetics that the market had to offer. When I bought some face masks, the sales clerk also looked at my face then threw in another mask for free. Should I be offended or thankful?
Walked and took subway all the way to the biggest palace in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung. They have a very nice square where the American embassy is and on the other side is a like a Korean version or some big government building. In the middle of the square is the great king. You can go under his throne and learn about the history. There were some demonstrations of something happening near the US embassy and the Korean government building because there were agents in plain clothes. Anyways I walked into the gate of the big palace and waited in line for a ticket only to discover I left my money back at the Wasmund residence. Trekked all the way back and decided that I would visit the palace later after hunting for Star Wars face mask for some Taiwanese and Star Wars fans.
27 August 2017
Tour of the DMZ: this is the 3rd tunnel from North Korea to South Korea. North Korea decided that they would dig under the DMZ so that they could invade into South Korea and become one big communist country. The 3rd tunnel is pretty cool, both to look at and the feel. Going down the slope was easy. It was the return trek that was a little more difficult and sweaty. We couldn't take pictures while in the tunnel. We had to put all our bags and phones in lockers. They made us wear hard hats because the ceiling is low, but for a shortie like me the guide told me I had to wear it. I didn't hit my head but I heard lots of clanks from others. South Korea discovered the tunnel because it had water shooting out when South Korea decided to use dynamite to find the tunnels. South Korea claims it is a coal tunnel and they even painted the walls of the tunnel black so it looks like it but it is a lie. You can't go through the whole tunnel. South Korea blockaded it to protect us and keep us safe.
These are pictures from the Dora observatory. This is where you can see North Korea because it is a higher hill. They have telescope machines that will let you see even closer. I saw one farm truck moving very slowly and the North Korean flag and South Korean flag. You see the South Korean flag because there is one South Korean village in the area there.
Along the route to the tour you can see barbed wire. It is from when North Korea sent the 31 soldiers to kill the president of South Korea. They swam across the water to get to Seoul. Also on the road at points on the highway you get to see parts of North Korea. While we were in the DMZ riding from parts of the tour to the other parts of the tour we saw the military base for the soldiers. At the base I saw a church, it is interesting and awesome to see that. Our tour guide told us that 30% of South Koreans are Christian. It is great to see that a church is on the neutralized zone. You can also see the Dora observatory where you can see parts of North Korea.
Things I have learned from starting my DMZ tour. South Korea is our ally and North Korea is Russia's ally. We are enemies of both North Korea and Russia. There have been 31 persistent North Korean soldiers trying to assassinate the South Korean president. 28 were killed, 2 rand away like a bunch of girls, and one became a pastor. In the tunnel there is a memorial to that pastor.
While waiting for the tour guide, I took some pictures. I looked across the street and found countdown clock for the 2018 Winter Olympics. As I was walking across, I heard English voices behind me. Even with their cursing like a sailor, I somehow managed to ask if they would help take my picture. Decided to help another fellow take his picture too. He then asked me what the gate thing was on the other side near the Dunkin Donuts. So Seoul has Dunkin Donuts and I will now move here. Anyways I told him what the Chinese was above it. I couldn't read the middle character but I know it is a "big gate to somewhere with water" (that's the literal translation, I'm sure). Waiting for the tour to begin and I hear so many accents and languages. I also got to use my newly learned phrase in Korean (han gu go mo tae o - meaning I don't speak Korean)
Managed to find the meet up point for my rebooked tour of the DMZ. Glad that they didn't charge a cancelation fee, but the later tour is a little more expensive. Woke up after I was supposed to have met my tour. I can see why some would get lost on the subway stations.
26 August 2017
Finally made it through waiting almost an hour in line for immigration. Couldn't find an open exit out of the airport and then they wanted declaration papers even if we had nothing to declare. Found the All-Stop ticket kiosks. Got my ticket and made the last train. I found some interesting signs here in Seoul already. The one that warns that there are no shelves so if you try to put your things there it will hurt the person underneath. Also did you know that pregnant ladies sit in some giant's hand? Well according to the signs on the All-Stop train they do. Got to the last stop where I needed to find exit ten, but could only find signs for exit 15, 1, 2, and 3. I ended up walking all around trying to find the Wasmund residence. Another thing I learned Seoul Searching, google maps doesn't work well here or really at all. Lesson learned find a real paper map.
Packed in less than an hour. Then rushed to the bus station so that I could sit on a bus for a couple hours of sleep that I had been lacking. I knew it would be a short trip, but my extra light luggage gave me some worries that I forgot things. It would just add to all the surprises with solo traveling.