A cold dry day in Seoul

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February 18th 2015
Published: June 22nd 2017
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.For some reason, I had expected that Seoul, the capital of Korea would be exotic. Not so. It is a huge modern city and is one of the world's largest with a population of over 10 million people. Surprisingly they have a dropping population as fewer people are having babies and the suicide rate is one of the highest in the world. The ship had docked in Incheon a huge sprawling seaport on the west coast so it was an hours drive to reach Seoul, passing loads of tasteless apartment blocks on the way. There was no countryside as the two cities merged into one another. The centre of Seoul contains many modern sky rise office blocks, the best one of course being the main government building. Why is it that the best buildings are often for the government no matter which country you are in?

Our first stop was at the inevitable Buddhist temple, the Jogyesa temple. It had some beautiful painted doors. However a monk was leading a service and it was full of praying Koreans so we did not go in but did see the beautiful gold Buddhas from outside.

We drove round modern Seoul passing by the Presidential Palace complex. This is huge and has a large blue roof with lovely old style surrounding buildings. However we were not allowed to take pictures following a previous incident when someone had tried to assassinate the President!

Next we were dropped off in Insadong Antique street or "Mary's Alley for an hour when I suppose they hoped we would buy souvenirs. We saw nothing that took our fancy but Stefan was hungry having skipped breakfast so we called in a cafe and had some interesting dumplings and soup.

Our final destination was the Deoksugung Palace complex. An elaborate entrance and royal road for the Royals only to walk on flanked by areas for the Military and the Government Ministers numbered by their importance. It also contains one of the first missile launchers ever made, which could fire 100 arrows all at the same time, a huge 1462 Bell and a water operated striking clock.

When we came out of the Palace the guards had changed and we were able to get some good pictures. Fortunately they were very obliging at having photos taken rather like our guards outside Buckingham Palace.

The ship was decorated for Chinese New Year and we had a party in the atrium. The clocks were going back an hour so we did not mind being late up yet again!

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19th February 2015

can you get me one of those?

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