Is that Scarlett Johansson? Riding a rocket?

I can’t believe how quickly time is flying! At the time of writing this post my time in Seoul has already come to an end, and I have just finished my first full day in Busan. As my body has come around the clock with the jet lag, I am feeling better and my days have become longer. Sorting through pictures is time consuming, so I have postponed sharing my adventures in Seoul until now…

After Bukchon Hanok Village/Gyeongbokgung Palace day Saturday, I spent Sunday focusing on some good ol’ R&R. I took it easy, and woke up feeling ready to embrace another day of adventure. Sleeping an obscene amount of hours the night before had me up bright and early before 5 am the next day. After a morning session in the tiny hotel gym and some hotel room breakfast, I made the trek to the bottom of the tower. I carried a map with me everywhere, but after identifying a basic direction, usually chose street signs to navigate with. Street signs brought me up this scenic hill route…I didn’t find the bottom of the tower stair entrance (I had to go back down the hill and around the street for that)…but I did stumble upon some nice sights!

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Scenic route up to Namsan Seoul Tower

There is a cable car that you can buy tickets to take up to the top…but I was there before anything opened with my early start to the day, sooo I ended up climbing all the stairs to the top – Google says that’s about 1.5 km of stairs. Below is just a snapshot of the climb.

 

I also passed this landscaping crew during my adventure to find the stairs. There was a nice scenic trail that many people were out hiking on, and it made for a nice start to the day – even if it didn’t get me closer to the top of the tower!

I only got one picture of the landscapers because I didn’t want to be TOO creepy, but they were using these brooms to clean out the stream, all 8-9 of them in a row brushing downstream!

It was quiet at the top of the tower, since all the shops were closed and most people hadn’t arrived for the day yet. The locks were there to greet me though, and boy are they a sight to see!

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You can buy locks at the top of the tower, write your love notes, and then discard the key in a box after locking it to a tower railing. There were SO many.
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The view after the climb.
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This older couple was so sweet, there was a whole family cheering them on for this photo – they got some smooches in, but I was trying not to be too creepy…two photos was enough!

The rest of N Seoul Tower day I watched a lot of Friends episodes in my hotel room because I was so beat… I’m on Season 9, for anyone who is interested šŸ˜‰

I woke up feeling much better the next day, after sleeping A LOT. It was Buddha’s birthday – May 22nd – so I decided to head towards the subway to Jogye-sa Temple where they have many lanterns strung up to celebrate.

Before I went into the station, I stopped for brunch at a small “mom ‘n’ pop” shop just down the road. The man gave me a big smile as I came into the restaurant and brought me a menu. I pointed at the bibimbap, and he asked me a few things in Korean while pointing at the menu. I think there was a meat option, but I wasn’t sure what it was so I just kept pointing at the first picture until he accepted my order.

He brought me a plate with two different kinds of kimchi and some tofu strips, as well as some miso soup, followed by my big steel bowl of bibimbap. Part of my attempt at reducing the rice in my diet was to just eat the mixture on top of the rice and have half of the rice portion with each meal, so I just stirred a bit with my chopsticks before I started eating.

Most of the restaurants are small with few customers, so the staff mostly just sit and stare at you while you eat. Chef Grandma came over from the kitchen when she saw my pitiful attempt at stirring the bibimbap. She took my spoon and spent ages mixing everything together to make sure I got everything with each spoonful – so much for my new strategy!

I was very pleased after making it through my plate of kimchi. When the man came over and picked up my plate, motioning to the kitchen, I told him I was done and it was okay to take it away. He brought me the plate back, replenished! I even got out my translator app to try and tell them I had enough and didn’t need anymore, to which the plate was brought back with even more kimchi, and then again with just the tofu strips. Eventually I admitted defeat, and realized they only take your plates away when you are done your meal – so I should always expect to get more back. When they refilled my miso soup bowl, I just ate that without complaint.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of this meal to share – which surprises me…

When I got off the subway to the temple, I stumbled across a vibrant pedestrian shopping street. There was someone doing break-dancing on a street corner, but I didn’t get a good photo of him because of the crowds. I could hardly see him and didn’t understand what he was saying, but occasionally caught a glimpse of his head or his feet…

The street performer above was playing this steel drum-thing, and it sounded pretty neat! Performers really add to the atmosphere of street markets.

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I’ve sorted through these photos a couple of times now, and this one always stands out. This older couple steals the show, I’m glad I caught them!

Hidden among the shops on this street was this amazing complex called Ssamziegil. There were colourful paper airplanes strung up all over the building, and paper flowers. It was so beautiful, and the shops had some really neat stuff in them too!

During my time wandering around the many levels of this complex, it started to rain. It didn’t stop raining all day; the umbrellas added something different to the scenery throughout my day which I am grateful for!

My travels were throughout the day were filled with colourful lanterns. They were everywhere, and so beautiful.

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I stopped at this shrine place on my way trying to find the temple. It was a spacious complex with many empty pavilions and buildings like this.

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Cute couple I have a few too many photos of…

After wandering many streets, I FINALLY made it to the temple I had set out to visit. There were many lanterns strung up all over the place, but this tent of colourful lanterns were the only one’s lit up.

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More lanterns at the entrance to the temple.
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A woman praying with incense at the temple, behind the crowded area.
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Lit candles for more worship of the Buddha.

When I first got to the main stage area the whole place smelled of incense, and there was much chanting going on while these monks bowed and prayed. Towards the end of my time at the temple a group of people dressed in the traditional outfits below made their way to the stage for their dance performance.

I met a woman from New York who brought me up front to collect a poncho during the event. I didn’t feel I needed one since my umbrella was doing pretty well, but as the evening wore on I was grateful to her as it offered some insulation against the cold after the sun went down.

During my time at the temple, I also met a kind student from Colombia. You can’t always assume when someone speaks English, but we generally find each other given how much it stands out among the Korean! She was very gracious when I asked her if her first language was Colombian…hahaha! I’m becoming less culturally illiterate, one continent at a time. At least, I like to believe that anyway…

After 7 pm when my new Colombian friend was heading home to finish her assignment, I decided to leave the temple in search of my dinner. I hadn’t ate anything since I entered the subway before noon and I was quite hungry!

The city lights made for a lovely walk to find food, even if I was hungry, and soaked! There were so many restaurants with dishes to choose from, I was having the hardest time deciding when a man advertising for his restaurant handed me his menu. He seemed very kind, and I saw Spicy Beef Stew on the menu which sounded wonderful given how cold and wet I was. I told him I would like to try, so he brought me to the restaurant and ordered for me, sitting me down at a table in the middle of their shop. It was delicious, and I can’t wait until I get to have another bowl! I’m getting better at eating kimchi every meal, since I eat it all the time now.

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I was so happy to go back to my hotel and get cleaned up after all my adventures in the rain. It was only during my ride back on the subway that I remembered it was my last night in Seoul. I spent the rest of my evening packing up my many belongings in preparation for my trip to Busan.

My time in Seoul was filled with so many amazing experiences, and I can’t wait until my next chance to go back. Until then, I’m looking forward to discovering unique things about Busan, and eventually my new home – Changwon!

Above: Namdaemun Market pop-up stalls, ginseng vendor, and a meatball-vegetable-patty that I very much regret eating…Just because street deep-fried things are part of the experience, I’m still me, and I don’t like deep-fried patty-things.

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