Conversation at the hotel after Day 1
- Me: I just want to apologize for being such a flake.
- Chase: It’s alright mom, we know you miss Halmi.
- Me: I know, I’m trying my best to keep it together.
- Chase: Don’t worry, I talked to Julie already.
- Me: What do you mean? What did you say to her?
- Chase: I told her my mom sometimes has breakdowns.
- Me: Did you explain why? Did you tell her about Halmi dying?
- Chase: No.
- Me: What? You know, just saying that makes me sound like I’m crazy!
- Chase: [shrugs shoulders]
The N signifies “New” not North. It also happens to be located on Namsan Mountain, but N still means New. This is an important distinction because it provides a bit of insight to the Korean mindset of today. Compared to the Japanese, Koreans are eager to change and evolve and “N”-ovate. It was obvious from Day 1. Seoul today reminds me of Tokyo 20 years ago. Money flying all over the place, people from all over the world coming together, everyone is working at the crack of dawn and the air just feels electric. It saddens me to see how stagnant Japan has become in the face of an ever-changing, ever-growing global economy. While the rest of the world looks to expand and grow beyond their borders, the Japanese grow more and more insular. The views from N Tower are incredible and it is easy to see why there are so many visitors. The trek uphill ain’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it. N Tower is also popular for lovers and wedding proposals. Many couples will come with their own padlock promises:
KOREAN FOLK VILLAGE
One of the joys of going to a folk village is seeing your children doing “back-breaking” work. It’s also fun to see the different tools they used to do everyday activities. BTW, the broom has not evolved so much. This village did a very nice job of showcasing the differences between the way the rich and poor lived. Instead of wearing designer labels or driving imported cars, you knew this was a wealthy household when you saw tile on their roof and color in their clothes. Everyone else had rice straw roofs and could only wear colors when they married. Otherwise it was beige. This folk village is a popular set for historical Korean dramas. It is definitely hard to be in Korea and not appreciate the influence Korean dramas have had here and everywhere else. Trust me. People watch!
Back in the day, only boys were deemed worthy enough to get educated. Sungkyunkwan Scandal was about the first girl who pretended to be a boy in order to attend school.
Again, back in the day, women were not allowed to be doctors. Dae Jang Geum started out as a cook’s apprentice and went on to become the king’s first female physician. Looks like someone has “yellow fever!”
This guy was hard as cardboard! Is this a compliment? I don’t know.
After we finished taking a bunch of goofy pictures, and molesting some more cutouts, we strolled through the rest of the village. It was easy to see why October is such a popular month to travel.
Hwaseong Fortress: Great Wall of Korea? It is actually a tomb so it is more likely a cross between The Great Wall and the Taj Mahal. The body buried here is an unjustly condemned and murdered king. This structure differs from similar ones in China and Japan because it managed to combine military, commercial, and political functions. The Fortress has had immeasureable influence on Korean architecture, engineering, and history. The only thing I regret is not seeing the archery area. There is a huge field with targets and for 200 Won you can rent arrows and shoot targets. Do this first because they rotate in 30 minute intervals and it’s easier to knock this out first and then walk around the fort. Most likely you’ll see a bunch of business men on a tour lined up proving how good they are.
Myeong Dong literally means “Bright City” but it should mean “Shop til you Drop”. After 2 full days of sight-seeing, my droppability probability was pretty high. I wandered around and bought a few things for our new “baby” but I really didn’t buy anything for myself. I kept seeing fantastic things to buy, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Of course, the next morning I was kicking myself. I did get my chestnuts. You know Korean roasted chestnuts are the best in the world.
Stay tuned -next blog, Korean Food!
Until next time…