Last Friday we took an afternoon flight to Seoul. Saturday we headed to the Jongmyo Royal shrine first followed by a visit to the Chandeokgung Palace. The palace can only be visited on a tour. Our tour guide reminded me of my dear friend in London, Nancy Bali. She had Nancy’s long dark hair and except for her very Asian eyes looked like her. I think is was the way she firmly told us that we were only allowed to take her picture in a certain place in the garden that reminded me of Nancy. She used the same tone of voice and choice of words that Nancy would have used.
After the palace we went to Namdaemun Market. On the map it said that it was a special tourist zone. This worried me a bit because I am definitely uncomfortable in situations where I am bombarded by people trying to sell me things. In China they were actually coming up and grabbing my arm and trying to convince me to buy what they were selling. A very old woman actually put a curse on me. The problem I had was not having enough money in small denominations to buy from all of them. How do you choose who to help? Next time I will be better prepared.
Anyway, this market was not like that at all. The vendors would clap their hands to get your attention and then call out what they had for sale. There was no following me or grabbing me. However, I didn’t buy anything. I saw more pairs of shoes and interesting articles of clothing than I could imagine. Everything imaginable was on sale at this market.
We ate lunch at the top of a department store in this area. As we walked around the food court to see what are options were a women working at on of the stalls showed us her menu and told us one of the dishes was chicken. Chicken was the only word she knew in English. It was a bowl of soup and we chose the set which meant it came with rice and other dishes (all the other dishes were kimchee). I always thought that kimchee consisted of cabbage with a very spicy red sauce. Along with cabbage, we also had bean sprouts, something that tasted like cucumber but was in much larger chunks and something that tasted fishy, all with the same spicy red sauce. My surprise was that my bowl of soup contained and whole chicken. Rick ordered a different soup and we think it had beef in it.
Our next stop was the Dongdaemun Market which was much of the same, so we didn’t stay long. We headed back to the hotel and I ended up taking a nap and dozing and reading the rest of the evening.
Sunday we woke up early and made our way across town to attend the Military District’s Conference. It was a good meeting and I was especially touched by the testimony of a French speaking sister from Cameroon.
That afternoon we went out to see a little more of the city. We saw some men dressed in traditional clothing after performing a changing of the guard ceremony at Deoksugung Palace.
While in Seoul, I only saw one McDonalds and one Burger King. I am sure there may be a few more but they are definitely not as popular as they are in other countries I have visited. There are many Starbucks and they seem to have almost as many Dunkin Donuts as Boston! (This photo is for you Kris)
Then we walked through Itaewon a market area frequented by foreigners (they sell large size clothes and shoes). After swarmas and ice cream we headed back to our hotel. It was a great weekend. It was fun to get around only on the subway system. We didn’t take one taxi!