Seoul, December 17th
Asia trip 2018-2019

Today, I take it easy.

As I walk out of the Hotel, I see a Buddhist temple busy with people going in and out. It is the Jogyesa Temple. I can see the same mixture of practitioners, at Jogyesa they practice Korean Seon Buddhism, and tourists that I have seen in other Buddhism temples. At the entrance, a small water fountain pushes water up breaking the ice. It’s a cold day and it will take some more hours of sun to get it warmer.

Ten minutes waking from from Jogyesa, I visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace. As I approach the Gwanghwamun Gate, I can see the gate iteself and the walls with Mount Bugak in the background. It is a beautiful view.

When I arrive, there is a “change of the guard” act. Tourist gather around the main entrance to see the guards. A voice from the megaphone speakers explains what’s going on, in Korean and English. Some guards carry instruments that they play as part of the performance. I walk around the palace complex. There are visitors with traditional dresses taking pictures, it’s a very alife place.

I have noticed that my camera is a good conversation starter. Someone starts to look at the camera with interest. And then they will make some comment that allows for a conversation to happen.

In the National Folk Museum of Korea, inside the Gyengbokgung Palace walls, a kid talks with me. He says something about the camera and pictures, that I do not get. But, as I show interest he tries again and asks where I am from in English. I tell him and ask him back. He is from Seoul. I see that now he is happy, having practiced his English and moves on. I have seen quite an interest in practicing English by Koreans. And, as usual, the conversation starts with some comment about my camera.

The Folk Museum is an interesting place to see the historical traditions of Korean society, from birth to funerary rites the museum shows all stages in traditional Korean life.

I stop for lunch. I ask for some noodles to the surprise of the staff. At first, I don’t get what is so surprising about noodles. Then, a guy comes from the kitchen and asks me – in perfect English – to confirm the order. I ordered cold noodles and its freezing outside. I will have no problem eating something cold food in cold weather. But I actually ordered it without realizing that was a cold dish. So, I ask for what do they recommend. I get a very hot pork stew. It is delicious and hot. Maybe a little too hot as I am hungry and start eating as soon as it gets on the table.

I leave the restaurant, close to Seonjeongneung burial grounds, and go to the Gangnam district. I pass by some residential areas. It is a quiet neighborhood until I arrive at Gangnam-daero street. Gangnam-daero is a 10 car-lane street. As the cars pass by people are busy shopping on both sides of the road. Here, there is a commemorative sign to the 2012 worldwide hit “Gangnam Style“. Even that the song is about this neighborhood and its people, most of the locations in the video are from other parts of the city. So there is nothing else than the commemorative sign. I go shopping like everybody else. I will get some souvenirs for friends and family back home.

I planned to visit a historical site, but it is closed on Mondays. I snap a picture over the wall and move on.

I step down the subway one stop before where my hotel is situated. This way I do a small stroll before going to my room. I get the opportunity to see less touristic places, office buildings, homes, and average neighborhoods that many people just do not visit. They are not probably worth to cross to another continent, but once here it adds to the experience.