Sunday, April 20, 2008

Autobahn in Seoul and Changdeokgung Palace

I went to Seoul in the early days of April. Travel to Seoul in ANA airplane was pure luxury – there were almost no other passengers. I felt I am flying my private jet or I have chartered whole plane!

After airplane climbed to cruise altitude, I spotted Fuji just outside my window. It seemed so small from such height. I could easily spot my climbing route and rocks around crater. My heart rejoiced as seeing old friend.

Fuji from Ana's window
Image: Fuji from airplane

Korea from sky is different from Japan – not so high mountains, many houses with blue roofs, straight roads, many factories etc. Just before landing I filled landing and customs cards. There was questions like do you have firearms, explosives, poisons, fake goods etc. These cards mentally prepare passengers that customs and border crossing is not an easy deal.

Border guard asked if I have friends in Korea. I replied that not yet and I am here to make friends... After official part was over in airport, I found myself in Korea.

Video: airport bus

I did not have any guide book or information about Seoul. Luckily I reserved hostel just before leaving Japan. Free Seoul map I picked up in hostel was my guide for next 4 days and it’s pretty well made.

First impressions about Seoul – everything in Korean and I could not understand anything, streets and shops reminds me China, small dust everywhere – on shop windows, cars etc. Also - people are very helpful on the street. It’s easy to approach anybody and ask for directions. Some people are even ready to help me when just seeing me walking with the map. There is also some danger – bikes and mopeds sometimes ride on sidewalk, so really have to watch and give way to them. Cars can take right turn on the red light, which is different from Japan.

First day program is seeing - Changdeokgung Palace and N-tower. Changdeokgung Palace provides just guided tours. Only tour in Japanese language was left for that day, so I got myself of Japanese tour.

Image: Changdeokgung Palace and N-tower in one picture. They are actually far apart

Video: touring palace

When spotting me in Japanese tourist crowd, others probably thought – why this strange foreigner joined tour in Japanese language ? Thoughts running through my head were – I do not think I really left Japan or did I ? Changdeokgung Palace tour was interesting, but they did not show all palace. It is much bigger. Probably self-guided tour is the best (they are only on Thursdays from April to November). We spotted plum trees blooming and also some pupils who just graduated and came to palace for some kind of ceremony.

Next stop – N Seoul Tower. It is 360 m high tower above sea level for TV, radio, telecoms broadcasts with observation platform and restaurant floors. Tower itself is not high, but is located on the top of hill and could be visible from large area of Seoul. Around tower is park, where people go jogging and for walks. I got lost in those roads, so I had to take cable car to the top. I also have to mention that after dark there is laser show and moving images are being projected on tower wall. This all is accompanied with music. Pretty interesting place indeed!

Seoul night
Image: View from Seoul N-tower

Changdeokgung Palace from the sky:

View Larger Map

Other pictures and observations:

Image: Seoul during twilight

Some Korean food sold on street
Image: Famous Korean food - topoki is being prepared in the street stall. Rice paste cooked with red pepper souce. Tastes very well!

What I liked about Seoul is that it’s very easy to go online – ether at paid or free wifi spot and what I disliked was air pollution and sand dust everywhere.

I should also mention that Korea is country where it's most easy to become millionaire - need just 560 euros, which is one million Korean won!!!

Trip to Suwon
Climbing highest mountain in Seoul area


Alison said...

I love this night view from Seoul N-Tower, every building looks so clearly defined. It inspires me to want to get a decent camera - I just use my mobile phone!

Mountaincat said...

Thank you for comment! You should definitely get digital camera. It also easier to share pictures from digital camera than mobile phone.

I am using Samsung myself, but if I can suggest, then I think Canon is one of best from cameras available in Japan.

Alison said...

Yes, and I missed your 'Fuji from the plane' photo last time I looked. Superb, you could publish some of these photos!! Even in 'safe mode' it's usually frowned upon to have your phone switched on to take photos, probably because of the scare factor. I saw Fuji once from the plane but it's been elusive for me for the last 2 years!

Mountaincat said...

Hey, thank you for your words and commenting. I am really glad about feedback.

That’s true – I also don’t take pictures if I would feel embarrassed. For example – people in their private moments, inside temples and churches etc.