Seeing Seoul with Yun Hui

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Incheon Airport Oceanside Hotel

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Poor Yun Hui - she came in search for me at the hotel as arranged.  I saw her walk in, not knowing it was her but thinking, could that be Yun Hui?  I waited – she waited.  I walked in to the first floor and checked.  No one.  Finally she came out and found me.  Later I found out how worried she had been and I felt bad.
 I mentioned that many of the museums were closed because it was Monday.  We tried was closed…then we checked out the Jongmyo Shrine (the Royal Ancestral Shrine) but that only had an English tour in two hours so we walked along one of the popular shopping districts.  There were lots of interesting ceramics, fans and other handicrafts there.  Too bad I wasn't ready to do my souvenir shopping so early in the trip.  We had coffee at Starbucks and then it was time to go to the tour.  It was different from most of the other palaces because this one was devoted to the ancestors and honoring their spirits.  I had trouble understanding our English-speaking guide because she was so fast.  Her approach was fast as well - she should have been saying "chop, chop."   Always hurry, hurry.  One of the buildings housed some of the ceremony ritual utensils and photos plus we saw a video of a reenactment of the ceremony.  The spirit tablets of kings and queens would be brought to Jongmyo Shrine when they - the kings and queens--died.

We made a number of subway rides and I was beginning to get the process down although I had no idea where we were going.  It was wonderful to chat with Yun Hui and she would tell me more about places because she had once been a tour guide.  We had lunch upstairs in a small restaurant and Yun Hui had the soup with anchovies I think while I ordered the bean curd one.  It had cold noodles while hers had hot.  Mine was good but I couldn’t quite identify the flavor.  We had some barley, kim chi and pickled greens to start with and some pickled radish.  Yun Hui had her laptop out and she talked to Terry via Skype during our lunch.  He looked very tired.  We are 12 hrs. different here from New York. 

Yun Hui and I visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace next and it was amazing – pavilion after pavilion with some lakes and a garden to boot.  The official king’s pavilions had a dragon lined up on the roof but his personal residence did not.  There was another residence for the queen and she had the garden with the chimneys in it.  There was a very beautiful pavilion for entertaining envoys and other dignitaries.  It was open and surrounded by a little lake.  You could see the famous mountain behind some of the buildings and that made the whole complex more picturesque.  In the other direction you could see skyscrapers from downtown Seoul.  One of my favorite features was the animal sculptures . . some were very whimsical and some had quite comical expressions.

 Yun Hui noticed that I was flagging a bit during some of the subway jaunts.  Not a good sign for Fuji san but we next went to the Namdaemun Market and my energy level did pick up.. This market had lots of food, toys, clothes etc to create a festive look and even a man dressed as a woman with bras on in different places…all so he could sell more women’s clothing.  We walked around the market after first having some very delicious pineapple on sticks.  I dropped my last piece and was upset to lose even just a little of the wonderful sweet pineapple.

 Now it was time for dinner not far from the market or maybe it was in it.  Yun Hui had kim chi soup and I had rice with mixed vegetables – it was a beautiful dish and great tasting.  At this point, it was time to head back to the hotel so I could catch the shuttle.  I sadly said good-bye to Yun Hui at the hotel.  I will miss her …I asked her to go to Japan with me …I don’t know why she didn’t want to go.  When I asked at the hotel about the shuttle, I found out that the last one went around 7 pm and it was now closer to 9 so I had to take a much more expensive taxi.  I fretted a bit but decided the extra time in Seoul with Yun Hui was worth it.  I got to the airport, managed to get the free shuttle to my new exotic Oceanside Hotel with a Mediterranean theme and am getting ready for bed so I can wake up at 5:30 am to get my flight to Osaka.

It has been quite the day...Oh, yeah, there was a drunk driver who almost ran into the shuttle van but our driver escaped him.  Once we safely passed and he saw some police officers, he told them to pull the guy over….and it looked as if they did.  Too bad I don’t have time to try out the jacuzzi here.  And there is a steam sauna in the shower stall.  Quite the bathroom.  I wonder.....

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