Published: June 10th 2012June 6th 2012
real time is actually Sunday night 10 June and I am really behind so must catch up with this blog. I have had an extremely slow day today due to a relatively hard night drinking and eating last night with my American buddy Uday but you will hear about that later.
6 June is actually Memorial Day in Korea but from the couple of Koreans I spoke to they did not seem really clear on what it actually commemorated! I think it is basically the same as Memorial Day in the USA which notionally honours the efforts of their armed forces generally in various conflicts. It is certainly not the same date as that of the start of the Korean war, 25 June 1950 as I recall, nor the "ending" (of full scale hostilities only) of it also in June, but 1953. Anyway as it is a national holiday many things, like my proposed trip to Panmunjeom/DMZ were not running that day. I was therefore relatively left with the option of doing something that was open, namely the National Museum of Korea. I had had a brief visit there earlier, the day I ended up having my gourmet experience in
Sinchon green local bus
with the driver waiting to leave
Itaewon, but as it closed at 6 PM this meant I only had half an hour or so. I had also decided that I would go to the Istanbul visiting exhibition from Turkey which cost about $10. Although I normally hate them it was a good idea to rent the audio tour as the captions in English were absolutely minimal, only really stating the nature of the object you were looking at. The objects on display ranged from old Sultan type material and various Muslim bits and pieces, like ancient Korans, highly decorated Koran stands and that sort of thing.
After about an hour or so in there I went in to the other wing of the Museum -- and it is a massive building as you will see from the photograph which is taken in the courtyard sort of area between the two main buildings. Fortunately they had free lockers with a 100Krw key deposit which you get back -- an excellent idea you see in European museums. This allowed me to leave my somewhat heavy backpack and just trek around with my camera with normal lens on it. This was much more comfortable and allowed me to
snap a number of pieces of pottery and so on as you will see. Although the Shanghai Museum has a virtual encyclopaedic history of Chinese porcelain, the Korean tradition is obviously equally long and there is some very fine celadon ware there in particular.
Around midday I had also changed hotels from the hanok trad style room to a rather more modern Hotel WS in Sinchon, a new neighbourhood for me. This was chosen largely on price as being around $55 but even so I was somewhat surprised how small the room was (barely room to get around the bed after my bag was on the floor). However I ended up having a very long two-hour chat with Won Suk (hence WS) who had a degree in hospitality etc and had actually worked in hotels in Australia, although his time at the Marriot in Sydney had essentially been as a housekeeper. He had also been in New Zealand for a while, so there was no shortage of things to talk about and his English was naturally pretty good. With some family money he had bought a rundown hotel and had completely renovated it, which had been done quite well,
you can see how big the 2 wings are
although there was not much he could do about the room size obviously. I could hardly chill out all day in that room as it was so small, unlike my current 26.5 m² room -- but more on that later!
There are more photos below