Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seoul Day 3 : Sunshine and History

Yesterday was the first non-rainy day since I've been here. Once the mists and rain receded, the city came to life. Seoul is beautifully situated, surrounded by heavily wooded mountains looking like Chinese ink brush drawings, a natural grace that contrasts fascinatingly with the headlong rush for modernity you can feel all around you. 

To celebrate the change in the weather--and as an antidote to the hyper-modernity I had been experiencing--I headed down to the UNESCO world heritage site listed Changdeokgung Palace, with its much fabled Secret Gardens.

Before and after my visit to the palace, I spent hours walking around the adjacent neighborhoods and ended the night with a night-bus tour of Seoul.

Following are some of the things that I saw; as mentioned in a previous post, please click on images to see much larger, more detailed images. Well worth it, I assure you!

Dead cicada.

Men in the park, playing the Korean equivalent of chess on a very hot day.

Many of the back alleys I traversed allowed me to see into the rear
of a variety of restaurants and shops.

"Mahabodhi Temple, the mecca of the Independence Movement on March 1st, 1911"
This temple was built by a Buddhist Monk, Zen Master Yong Sung,
who built it to celebrate the liberation of Korea from Japanese occupation.
He worked on the temple from 1911-1940. 

Don't touch your eyes after touching the peppers!

My new favorite drink! Purchased at the Palace coffee shop.
Corn tea. Like macerated popcorn kernels, in the best of ways.

Our Secret Garden tour guide almost drowned out by the sound of insects.
This sound is ubiquitous.

Good lord! Bulgogi might well be the best food in the world.

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