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Published: June 25th 2009
Yay finally a clear day in Seoul, about time! You always read that highly industrialized countries like China are so polluted but you never really grasp the immensity of the pollution! In fact even when you get here you kind of brush it off thinking that it’s maybe just a little fog until you head down south to places like Gwanju and you actually experience a truly beautiful clear day where the sky is properly blue and not the murky grey which is what we experience here in Seoul on a “beautiful day”. What is sad about the murkiness of Seoul is that it means heading up Seoul Sky-way or up Namsan tower or the 63 building to check out the sights from above, ends up being a bit of a waist of money cause you can’t see the sights. I’ve been a little disappointing cause I have wanted to head up Namsan and up the 63 building since I got here but I’ve been waiting for a clear day which just never seems to come.
The other Sunday was an unusual exception. I woke up to a bluer sky than normal and I decided I would take my chances.
The true test, in my opinion, of the clarity of the day is when you pass over the Hun River by train. If you look out across the river and you can actually see the bridges all the way down the river then you know it’s a good day and to my surprise and delight this day would be as good a day as any to venture up the gold monstrosity, newly renamed by me the 5 start Carlton Tower :-)!
Ok it does beat the Carlton tower by 15 floors (although you do take the lift from two floors underground so in that case I suppose it’s only 12 floors taller). It’s really nice to get a sense of Seoul from above and to see just how many bridges span the Hun but it’s very weird because it’s like you are looking down on a Sim City computer game screen.
What’s also very interesting is the difference in the clarity of your view on the two opposing sides of the building. The Namsan Side of the tower offers a far better view than the side that looks out toward Incheon and way beyond towards China.
still not a 100% perfect day it was definitely worthwhile to go up. What was also so nice is that they hold art exhibitions on the 63rd floor and while not all of it was particularly to my taste there were two pieces in particular that were magnificent, one of which was a video intervention that had me captivated for ages. I’m slowly but surly making my way through Seoul’s land marks now all that’s left to do is to get out of the city a little more and see more of what lies beyond Seoul!
Oh another sight I can tick off my list is Incheon’s Gaesan-dong bus depot....yeh trust me to end up at the bus depot!
I’ve been on a mission to master the local buses in my area and I have been doing pretty well so far which is making my life that much easier to get around. Trouble is when you are mastering buses and particularly the buses in my area, you have to be able to read basic Korean (so you can see where the bus is headed) and you have to be prepared to get on the bus going in the
opposite direction to your desired destination (cause I am yet to discover where the direction markers are).
This Sunday I hopped onto the trusty number 88 bus so that I could get to the station. Now ordinarily when I get on a bus the drivers seem to automatically ask where I’m going, specifically when the bus is getting to the end of a circuit. Clearly on this day the bus driver was well over conversation so he happily let me sit on the bus until we were not 100m away from the bus depot when he finally piped up and asked me where I was going. When I said Gaesan station he happily laughed and told me I had got on the bus on the wrong side of the road, as if I hadn’t ascertained that 100m from the bus depot!
At least I can claim to have seen the bus depot, not an ordinarily spot you would seek to visit. Luckily the 88 bus has a stop, going back into town, right outside the depot. Nothing like feeling a little like one of Oxford Streets late night workers when you are standing there on the side of
the road by the depot in the back end of town waiting for the 88 bus driver to finish his coffee break, get back on the bus and come past to pick you up hey!
The number 88 bus driver that did finally pick me up was a classic man who was very interested in the random western girl who had stood outside the depot for a good 20 minutes and since I ended up being the only person on his bus for most of the journey back to the station he spent a bunch of time bantering in Korean to me, most of which I couldn’t understand. I did a whole bunch of nodding and smiling.
I did unknowingly manage to entertain the guy when I confirmed that I wasn’t American but rather South African to which I was met with a completely surprised and perplexed looking bus driver, yes you do get pasty white Africans contrary to popular belief. I think he spent a good deal of the journey mulling this fact over in his head interjecting with regular glances at me through his rear view mirror while motioning to his face trying to come
to turns with my light complexion! He even rewarded me for providing him with entertainment by giving me one of his sweets, classic classic, I love having random adventures!
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