A Travellerspoint blog

Gangnam Style Exhausted

Yesterday, I awoke early after a night of drinking and a few hours of sleep. i wasn't up for museums and other attractions, so i, went to the Gangnam part of town, which involved a ride on the metro through 15 stations, which seemed like it was 45 minutes. i heard that there wasn't much to the Gangnam part of town, which I found was true. It is many upscale stores, hotels and restaurants. I did find a monument to the song "Gangnam Style", though, after getting off on the subway. Not sure what to do then, i walked around past stores playing blaring music, inviting me to come in and be cool for about 5 seconds while I listened to their music and looked around. Then I got on a bus to the Hyundai Department Store (not sure what was there-but i figured what I would see). I never found the Hyundai Department Store, but stayed on the bus until the end of the route, where i found a Canon store, and looked around.

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Fortunately, the metro was there, and my lack of sleep was catching up with me. So i got back on the metro (this time, it was 17 stops back). The metro was standing room only. After roughly 13 stops, I couldn't stand any more. I saw a bench in one of the stations we stopped at, so i got off the train and sat on the bench and took a nap-for about 15 minutes (i think)-and went back to the hostel and slept for a few hours.

i had a second wind in the evening-so i took a few other metros to the Seoul Tower-which is a radio tower. I got off the metro, stopped at a bar and had a beer, and walked up the hill. it was getting cold out. I went to the tower, and found a huge crowd of tourists, but it was nice. i stayed there and walked around for a while.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 15:59 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoul South Korea-Museums to Beer Pong

Yesterday i awoke on the late side-around 7:30, simply because of the cold. i don't like cold and stayed in bed. I didn't leave the hostel until around 10-after breakfast and showering, talking to others, etc, and went to Gyeonbokgung, the largest palace in the city, which is really a recreation of a large palace which was destroyed by the Japanese during their invasion, so much of it was reconstructed during the 1980's forward, with the rest of it due to be completed by 2045. The whole complex was quite striking, with once again, lots of Koreans wearing traditional uniforms (I learned they get in free with the uniforms). I took a guided tour, and saw where the king lived, where he held meetings and where he held banquets. I learned that many kings only lived until their 40's, as they had a lifestyle without much physical activity, since the servants helped them do everything. We saw the throne, with dragons, the red sun and the moon, and the 5 mountains of Korea. I learned that the wife of dis ceased King has a separate residence on the property.
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After the hour and a half tour, i walked to the Folk Museum of Korea which was right next door, and learned some interesting things about the common folks in Korea as well as the upper class. The upper class competed for government jobs by taking exams, like civil service exams, and this was a path to wealth. Intricate wedding ceremonies we're held, with a live goose presented, and the marriages we're prearranged by parents. i also learned that the life expectancy was way lower in those days, and a party was held for the parents when they reached 60 years of age. (Parental respect is very important in South Korea). I also learned acupuncture and other natural remedies we're developed in Korea, (or at least heavily used). They didn't reconcile this with the fact people lived shorter lives. The poorer people in Korea had hard lives and mostly did farming.

After the museum, I walked along an outdoor exhibit which showed life in Korea-during the 70's-it showed an old fashioned printing press, a room with an old fashioned tv, and a garage with a 1978 Hyundai Pony, one of the first cars made in Korea.IMG_2260.JPG

I was booted from the complex, since it was 6:00 pm, so I took a walk along the side, up a hill, towards some old fashioned houses. After a few hours, I went back to the hostel and took a nap.IMG_2286.JPG

i woke up around 11:00 pm, some folks we're going out to the entertainment district, a few blocks a way from the hostel in Hapsong. I went out and had a few drinks. I one bar we played beer pong. Nobody over the age of 25 should ever mention "beer pong", i thought I succeeded at one thing I haven't before-getting the ball in a cup of beer-I was proud of myself, but learned I leaned over the table too much so it wasn't much of an accomplishment. A few of us left, had some dumplings, and got home at I don't know what time.

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:29 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

South Korea-Run Run DMZ

Yesterday, I awoke early to visit the DMZ zone, which is the demilitarized zone between North And South Korea. A small bus took me to the big bus from the hostel for the hour and 1/2 ride. I was seated on the bus next to a 20 something American girl who said she was travelling around the world, going to Europe, Asia and Australia for 2 months. i probably should have sounded impressed but I remarked how that seemed like a rushed trip-she didn't like that, she remarked "well it's never enough time"

We arrived to a touristy area, with the Freedom bridge, which is the bridge that POW's from North Korean returned on. There was also a park and a bombed out locomotive used on display, which was used to carry ammunition from the South to soliders in North Korea, and it was riddled with bullets. The park also had a giant observation deck (you couldn't see much except some mountains which weren't too far off, even though it was a sunny day). There was also a small amusement park, cafeteria, and other tourist-oriented places.
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Then we got back on the bus and went to the third tunnel, which was discovered in 1974, created by the North Koreans so they could secretly attack South Korea. This involved a LONG walk down to the tunnel, and then a long walk in the tunnel, hunched over with hard-hats. Of course we didn't walk through the whole tunnel, where there is a concrete barricade. We then took the long walk back. Of course, there was another souvenir shop and we we're herded back on the bus.

For the third stop, we went to an observation point, where you can actually see North Korea. We saw a city on the other side of the border, complete with the North Korean flag and a statue of Kim Il Sung-the first leader of North Korea from 1948 (the small white thing in the middle of the first picture). it was pretty neat-but again there we're so many tourists around. (the little white thing is supposedly the statue of him). Once again, we we're given a short amount of time and taken back to the bus.
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The last stop in South Korea was a train station, called the Dorasan station, which was built in the early 2000's, for the expected unification of the Koreas, but is only used by tourists on 4 trains per day. It is the last station in South Korea (although the tracks go to North Korea).

We then stopped at a Ginseng store where we we're told how great Korean Ginseng was. I went back to the bus.

After the bus dropped us off downtown, It was right at the Deoksugung Palace, which hasn't been used in a long long long time(since 1910 I believe) but there is still a changing of the guards ceremony three times a day, with 28 folks in colorful costumes banging on drums, marching, and repeating commands. I then went into the palace which was peaceful since there weren't many tourists there.
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After that, I found a big English bookstore, read for a while, and went back to the hostel for a nap. I then went out for dinner. It got cold out, so I had my sweater and jacket on and I was still freezing.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:32 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Seoulday #1-South Korea

Yesterday, was my first full day in Seoul. After having coffee at McDonalds, I took the metro to Gyeongbokgung, which is the station for the main palace and museum, it seems. I learned it was Children's day in Korea, which means it was a public holiday. Lots of children we're running around in old fashioned Korean dress, and adults as well. I am not sure what it means.

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After that, I decided not to go into the museum. i walked along and found a Korea-Israel-US rally, with speakers, a band, and lots of people watching. I took a seat near the front, and listened to a band play and people waving Israeli flags. I tried to find out what it was about but couldn't because of the loudness. i sat near the back-and asked someone. She mentioned that they we're convinced that Moon Jae-in, the President of South Korea, is a communist-and his meetings with Kim Jong-un are a smokescreen to combine the Koreas under Communist rule. They we're hoping Trump would bomb North Korean and be done with it. They thought that South Korea was similar to Israel, in that they we're both celebrating their 70th birthday, and Syria was trying to target Israel like North Korea was trying to target South Korea (that's what i got).

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So this was a prayer service, to pray for Trump to invade North Korea, from what I understand. An Indian preacher got up and spoke for a long, long time. He said how great Koreas innovative history was and how he has nice memories of his Nissan Sonata. (Hyundai is pretty huge in Korea so that was quite a snafu). I took a nice nap during his speech.
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Then I walked along to a huge street market covering different streets, looking at various items, like old clothes, food, etc. I walked further along to a long bridge over the highway that had folks playing outdoor pianos, and walked back to the market, and had some food from the street and went back,
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Posted by DavidPearlman 15:17 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

China to South Korea-what my birthday is really about

Yesterday I left China after 29 days (my Visa was for 30 days). I really enjoyed my time and the people in China. Sure, the hygienic habits of some older Chinese folks i encountered is a little bit different-they tend to love to cough up phlegm and spit it out anywhere (including women). Also, some older folks like to save water by showering less-i noticed this (A) on the cruise i was on, where i believe in a room of 4 I was the only one who used the shower, and (B) anytime I was in crowds in China. But the people I met, even those who don't speak English, are very friendly and accommodating, and the county was spectacular, with pagodas, temples and construction equipment creating new cities.

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The next stop Seoul South Korea. I chose Seoul because it was an inexpensive airfare from Beijing, and it was an inexpensive airfare back to Hong Kong after 5 days, where I was going to go back to but that feel through. So I don't know where I will go next. So far Seoul is quite different then China-everyone i met speaks English. The signs are in English. I can use the internet freely and use my credit card (which isn't able to be done in China). I went out for dinner to same area with lots of bars and restaurants and last night of some spicy seafood and then a rod of spicy chicken.

It was also my birthday, which the world doesn't seem to care about. Flying from China to South Korea I showed my passport numerous times to airlines, gate officials, etc, and nobody seems to care. And that's not unusual. The folks are too busy to catch that. Nobody else cares either. Folks say how lucky I am to travel, and they are convinced i am wealthy or won the lottery. They don't see how I live at home, or how I stay in hostels on the road. But that said I guess in certain ways I am. But what I gain in being able to travel I lose in peace of mind. Not working I don't have a work network of friends, which i used to have-but many friends I lost along the way. Other friends I used to enjoy their company-but I said/did something that angered and or disgusted them, and we don't talk anymore. Travelling there are many single serve friends-that I hung out with once or twice but we went our separate ways.

When I was at the Central Perk Cafe in Beijing the other day (world reknowned Friends-homage cafe)-the episode of Friends was on where Chandler was worried about being alone the rest of his life. Even though it is a 20 something year old sitcom-i wonder why would a 20 something guy who has 6 people to consistantly hang out with worry about that?

Posted by DavidPearlman 16:17 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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