Seoul: City of Many Faces


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June 5th 2018
Published: June 9th 2018
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The view from our 8th floor Manu Hotel room. Work on this huge construction project goes on all day and night.The view from our 8th floor Manu Hotel room. Work on this huge construction project goes on all day and night.The view from our 8th floor Manu Hotel room. Work on this huge construction project goes on all day and night.

Woke early due to jetlag and watched the diggers, front-end loaders and guiding workers doing their barely-dawn work.
Have you ever heard the tale of the 6 blind men who "saw" an elephant? (A terrific reading of this poem can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJVBQefNXIw, and I recommend you listen to it for the sheer pleasure of the reading if you have a little time (2:22) to spare.

As we have travelled through many countries in the last few weeks, we've seen bits and pieces of each one, largely the exteriors of buildings accompanied by the commentary (historical and otherwise) of local guides. We've had a terrific time, I think we've learned a lot, and we're so motivated now to read far more of European history. But I also realise that we have "seen" no more than the blind men or than what amounts to a few dots in a pointilliste painting, so I have only been able to present a tiny glimpse of each place and day to you.

"It's better than nothing," as my mother would say.

Our last two days were in Seoul, South Korea, as a restful stopover after the flight Amsterdam-Seoul and before the last one which was Seoul-Sydney. As a non-sponsored comment I can certainly recommend Korean Airlines and breaking the
Woman shelling peas while offering her vegetables for sale on the footpath.Woman shelling peas while offering her vegetables for sale on the footpath.Woman shelling peas while offering her vegetables for sale on the footpath.

I remember in Kenya being surprised to see women selling little pyramids of 4 potatoes, neatly stacked on their blankets as they sat by the road in the late afternoon. Because we had always bought potatoes by the bag from the supermarket, this seemed strange to me. But of course 4 potatoes would do for a family dinner, and when people live from one day to the next, that's all you need today.
flight between Australia and Europe. On the way to Europe from Australia, you get a 16 hour break which includes complementary dinner, grand overnight accommodation and breakfast plus shuttles to and fro. On the way back the break is only 5 hours, so we decided to take a couple nights off and see some of Seoul, out of our own pockets this time. So here are a few glimpses for you.

Thank you so much for "travelling" on this trip with us. I'm very motivated by your reading the blogs and by your occasional comments. It's fun to know that many of you whom I rarely get to see have been journeying with us. I hope your year continues well for you and you also enjoy some travels.


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Steamy dumplings at the Namdaemun Markets fairly close to Seoul Station.Steamy dumplings at the Namdaemun Markets fairly close to Seoul Station.
Steamy dumplings at the Namdaemun Markets fairly close to Seoul Station.

A vast sprawl of outdoor shops selling all sorts of specific things. One shop seemed to sell only elastic bandages.
Below ground at the markets is another vast market place. Safe from wet weather and VERY crowded. Below ground at the markets is another vast market place. Safe from wet weather and VERY crowded.
Below ground at the markets is another vast market place. Safe from wet weather and VERY crowded.

Both markets, above and below ground, were mobbed with buyers, especially middle-aged and older women.
This is part of Seoullo (also known as Seoul Skygarden or Seoul Skypark).This is part of Seoullo (also known as Seoul Skygarden or Seoul Skypark).
This is part of Seoullo (also known as Seoul Skygarden or Seoul Skypark).

Opened in 2017, Seoullo is the repurposement of a vehicular overpass scheduled for demolition near Seoul Station. It is 1km long and goes over several busy main streets and train tracks. It is the result of an international tender which was won by the Dutch firm MVRDV.
Seoul Skypark has many of the features you would expect in a public park. Seoul Skypark has many of the features you would expect in a public park.
Seoul Skypark has many of the features you would expect in a public park.

Here is a wading pool for children next to a kiosk and shaded benches for those adults with them.
Seoul Station, old and new.Seoul Station, old and new.
Seoul Station, old and new.

In the foreground is the old station and in the background left is the dazzling new station. We were trying to get into the old station to buy tickets to the airport and couldn't figure out why it was locked.
View from the Skypark.View from the Skypark.
View from the Skypark.

Seoul is a virtual forest of highrise buildings.
Water lilies and pine trees: Seoulgarden is a public botanical garden as well.Water lilies and pine trees: Seoulgarden is a public botanical garden as well.
Water lilies and pine trees: Seoulgarden is a public botanical garden as well.

All the trees, waterplants and other plantings are labeled in both their Korean and scientific names.
I loved the potential of this: a theatre!I loved the potential of this: a theatre!
I loved the potential of this: a theatre!

It would suit puppetry and small dialogues.


9th June 2018

Lovely blog - thanks
Great photos - travel safely back home - Fran
9th June 2018

Architecture
Did you see the late Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid’s amazing construction in Seoul? Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Did you visit the DMZ?
9th June 2018

Soeul
Thank you for the intro to Soeul. I’ve been to Japan many times, but never to Korea. Next, we want to see your blog about your travels in North Korea. And your meeting with Kim Jong Un.
10th June 2018

Seoul
Really enjoyed your travel blogs! You certainly covered a lot of ground! Glad you both had a wonderful time on your combined birthday celebrations! Love, Denise
11th June 2018

Hello from Tvlle!
Hi Martha and Phil, thanks for sharing this wonderful journey with us around the many countries and places you visited and providing us with a glimpse of the cultures, places and people. I'm travelling from Budapest to Amsterdam in August so will be a little bit informed now. Love you guys, Florence
11th June 2018

Thanks Martha!
It’s always great to follow your travels, with your insightful commentary! I hope we see you back in Portland before too long.

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