Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Getting lost in Seoul and finding ___________. (Yea, so I get lost a lot, so what?)

Ok, ok, so we've been getting lost quite a bit in Seoul the past few days, but we always find something interesting in the end.

Monday we found our way to Namsangol Hanok Village. This is a small "village" of traditional houses and museams. It's located right near The Korea House, where I guess you can watch traditional dance or music for a dinner show, but I think it might be expencive. You can arrive here by getting off at Chungmuro station (exit 3 or 4) and following the signs, it's very close. We also discovered that you can take the 263 bus here too, which also passes by wangsinmi, sindang and myeongdong as well. Entrance is free, and evidently they have shows in the evening, but I haven't gone to see any of those yet. The following are some pictures from Namsangol.
Women washing thier hands in the water. Not entirely sure why yet....
Boys playing a traditional Korean board game, which I believe is called Yut Nori. It's played by throwing sticks wich tell you how many spaces to move on the board. Kim chi pots.

Anyway, that was the most exciting thing we did on Monday, other than go to see a luxury apartment and realize how the other half lives...

Tuesday was a fun filled day of walking endlessly. First thing in the morning, we headed over to the USO office near Sookmyun Women's University subway stop on line 4. The USO is supposed to be the best place to get a tour of the DMZ. We were hoping to get on a tour this week, but the next tour we could get on was not until mid august. So, we signed ourselves up for that one and headed out to start our day. We decided that we wanted to go to Yeouido and maybe see the 63 building, but we realized that from where we were, there as no easy way to get to line 5 where that stop is. Seeing as how we're both from Boston, aka a "walking city" we decided, what the hell, lets just try to walk it. We know the general direction and it doesn't look.. too far... So we started walking... and we walked.... and we walked... and we walked.. and after about an hour and a half of walking and having no idea where we were, we looked up to see a strange sight.
A Catholic church right next to a very traditional looking building. I had to investigate. We walked right by the big catholic church and headed straight for the traditional looking building. Under further examination, we realized that this, too, was a catholic church. Everything was written in Korean, but we saw an open door, so we decided to check it out. It turns out that this is a shrine to the martyrs and they even had a small museum with photos and some very graphic visuals of how the martyrs were... well.. martyred. This might be somewhere interesting to check out in Seoul, although if you can't read Korean, you're out of luck. It was kind of interesting to look at the pictures, but I feel like I missed out on most of it. I did find out the actual name of the place, though. It's the Martyrs' Shrine at Saenamteo. Please don't ask me how I got here, I don't like to think about it. Supposedly its about a 10 min walk from Yongsan Staion though.

We decided to start looking for lunch.. but we couldn't find a suitable place and we suddenly realized that we were right near the Han river. We knew that the 63 Building must be on the other side. Unfortunately there was an entire highway to cross to even just get to the river. Crossing the river hadn't quite crossed our minds yet. We walked and walked until we found a foot bridge to cross the highway. We climbed up, and saw the 63 Building in the distance.It was exactly at this moment that we realized that there was no way that we were going to get there on foot. we had already been walking for 2 hours at this point, and that bridge crossing the river is just as long as it appears, maybe even longer. And, while yes, there actually was a sidewalk... I didn't see anyone else dumb enough to cross it on foot. We gave up our quest and grabbed the first taxi we saw and got out of there. We headed over to Seoul Station... basically going back to where we started... sadly. We grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria in the Lotte Mart, and planned where to go next. We decided to head over to the COEX mall to see that (get in the air conditioning, because we were dying of the heat), then to find the Buddhist temple by there.

We made our way over to COEX with no problems. I found an entire Nintendo store, but it really wasn't as impressive as I had hoped it would be... Then we headed out and over to the Buddhist temple on the opposite side of the mall.

They didn't have any tours, or really many signs in English for me to learn more about the temple, but I did realize immediately that this is a real functioning temple. I think about half of the population of Korea is Buddhist. There were various Buddhist ceremonies taking place, so we felt a little uncomfortable entering the buildings. We just tried to peek in from the outside. I wish I knew more about Buddhism though.... Anyway, I took these pictures. I wish I could tell you more about what they are, but I really have no idea.


  1. Great pictures!

    I think all the Buddhist temples are functioning temples.

  2. Yes, I know that now... This was a looong time ago!