Wednesday, January 21, 2009

some more

The palace was very nice. It was a cloudy day, threatening rain (which it never did) and warmer than the previous 3 weeks. (I think it might have hit 40 F!)

I thought this was interesting since I had read about the traditional murals of the Joseon dynasty when I was in the Museum the previous week. (Refer to early post.) So to see it in this receiving or announcement hall was pretty neat.

One thing I love (and I think I have mentioned it before) is the detail of the buildings. Most traditional Korean architecture seems much simpler and less overt that south east asia, but the detail in the ceilings, on the metal work, etc. is very beautiful.

These are from an ancient water clock.

I heartily wish I could see this place during the spring and summer. I bet it is beautiful.

I also went into the art museums they have there on the palace grounds. I liked several of the pieces of artwork, but was horribly disappointed when I went to the museum shop and could find no postcards, posters or other prints.
I have done a little hunting on the internet but still cannot find them.

After leaving the palace I stopped for some yummy food.

Greasy gooey goodness and so hot. It was fantastic (I was finally chilly after walking around in the humid though warmer weather.)
I then got on the subway to go back to the National Museum to pick up a few things for friends.
The problem with exploring and sight seeing by yourself is that there is no one else to take pictures of you. I tried placing my camera on a bench and using the timer. Here is the result.

Afterwards rode the subway some more. I love it!

Went to the HRC to pick up something for my nephew and had dinner there.

Then I did a little more shopping and came home. Thus concluded Sunday night.
Monday I went to the Sauna. Very interesting, Korean Saunas. Disneyworld is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, but I beg to differ. These spas are like nothing I have ever seen before. You shower and scrub down, maybe lay around in several different temperature whirlpools. Redress (sexes are separated so the bath part is not co-ed) in little soft pajama type outfits that they give you. You walk out into a huge room that has all these different rooms off of it - Charcoal Room, Oxygen Room, Foot Bath Room, Salt Room. The one I was at had two snack bars and a restaurant. It also had an internet cafe. Most of my pictures turned out too blurry to be interesting (think I needed some different settings for my camera) but these few were ok.

One of the things I loved about it was that whole families go. There are kids playing everywhere. Not being disruptive, just being happy. Clean and happy. Families take naps together, read together, play games together. There is even a Karaoke room. It is such a happy, clean, relaxed place. If I move back here, it will become a weekly ritual for me.

The rest of the week has been hectic and sad. Saying goodbye to students today. I said goodbye to my M,W,F class. I really wasn't sure I would make it out without crying. I will miss them. I will miss the fun and excitement when I get back to charlotte and everything is so winter-blues and ho-hum. But, for the time being, I guess that is where I am supposed to be.

More later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The super quick post

Sorry about the quality, but at least it gives an idea.

Several Days of Catch Up Part A

Saturday night Jess, Amanda and I went into Seoul to visit NamDaeMun and Myeong Dong again. Shop for a few things and enjoy the relatively warmer night (it was around 32 degrees, but so much warmer than it had been for the previous week!)

These little street markers are very helpful!

I bought something for my neice here.
We stopped and got some hot chinese bread - one was full of black beans and the other of pork and onions, etc. They were so good.

Sunday I was unable to get to church. I wanted to visit Life Church but realized it is only about 15 minutes from here - which would seem like a good thing, but the truth is that I can figure out how to get somewhere 2 hours from here, but getting around the Seoul suburbs is beyond my ability. I was disappointed. But the day turned out to be quite great!
I rode the 8100 into town and thought I would get off at the Lotte, but ended up getting off at the next stop which is basically in front of this building:

There is a bit of a story to tell about the building that you cannot see because it is behind a large construction wall. What you are not seeing is the #1 national treasure of Korea. Namdaemun (Sungnyemun) is the Great Southern Gate from the Joseon Dynasty. (I am learning that is a very important historic era for Koreans). The gate was damaged by arson in Feb. of 2008 and has remained hidden from the public since then. Apparently the fire was set by a man who was mad about a land deal gone bad. (You get to learn about so many interesting things when you travel!) I am sad that Korea lost the oldest wooden structure in Seoul but I have to admit there is another that looks just like it at Dongdaemun which I saw from a distance when I made a trip to that area last weekend to go shopping.

I decided not to go directly to the subway as I had originally intended and headed instead toward a sign that said something or other palace. On the way I saw this sign which made me giggle.

Just as I was approaching the Deoksugung Palace I heard what sounded like a marching band (drums, trumpets, etc.) turned out to be the changing of the guard. And I was there, just in time, on complete accident! How fantastic!

I have so much more I want to say, but I have to get to bed, so bear with me, another chapter will be included soon!