Standing at the foot of the Tower, watching the sun set over Seoul. As dusk turns to twilight to darkness, the purple mountains and silver river and red-gold trees fade away. Orange bulbs of street lights dot the city, red lines of tail lights snake outwards, neon signs pulsate everywhere. The city has emerged.
What weird and wonderful foodstuffs we have eaten in Seoul: gimbap Korean barbecue dumplings hot dogs for breakfast (yes, seriously) seafood soup spicy stirfried tofu We inexplicably don’t have any pics, given that we ate it multiple times, but also bibimbap, of course.
A standard part of DMZ tours is a stop at Dorasan Station. Apart from tourist stops, it gets very little traffic, although in principle it is the last South Korean stop before onward trains to North Korea and connections to the Trans-Siberian Railway, Trans-Chinese Railway, and Trans-Manchuria Railway. In practice, of course, this the end of the line and the only business is visitors who pay 500w (about 50 cents) to go out and snap photos on the platform.
When the armistice ended (suspended?) the Korean War in 1953, the village of Panmunjom found itself right on the military demarcation line in the middle of the Demilitarized Zone. Accordingly it was cleared out and now plays host to the Joint Security Area and its conference huts that straddle the border. If Susan looks a little serious in her photo, it’s because she’s in North Korea at that point, and it doesn’t seem a fun place to be for long. The only obvious human connection of any kind with the northern side was the solitary guard who gave our tour
In a slightly disconcerting reminder that there’s a rather irrational and well-armed aggressor to the north of us here, the metro station has masks for use in case of chemical, biological or radiation attacks.
A masterpiece of urban renewal, Cheonggyecheon was a river flowing through ancient Seoul that was eventually covered over and then turned into an expressway. In 2003, the city government decided to uncover the old stream, and create a park right in the heart of Seoul. And it’s a great success, a truly lovely waterway in the midst of hectic traffic and bustle. The Festival of Lanterns officially kicks off tomorrow - we were lucky enough to get an early viewing.
Gwangjang Market: all sorts of crazy and tasty footstuffs to be had. Kimchi features heavily, naturally enough, but pig intestines and fried mung bean pancakes are also a big hit.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a Zaha Hadid project soon to open in Seoul.
Bicycling along the Han River.
If you think Changdeokgung Palace looks suspiciously like Gyeongbokgung Palace, you’re not far wrong. Changdeokgung was basically built as a replica of Gyeongbokgung when the latter’s location was deemed to be insufficiently auspicious. Changdeokgung, however, has an expansive “secret garden” around the back that was resplendent in fall foliage.