A Travellerspoint blog

transition

overcast 10 °C

The time lag between Seoul and Seattle is 16 hours. We leave Seoul at 11 AM, fly to Beijing, wait for 3 hours and fly again for 11 hours and arrive at noon, same day. Now, 3 days later, we’re still coping with the jetlag.
Then the freight forwarding routine starts: immigration, luggage collection, looking for the car rental company, checking in, getting the car, driving to our new home, trying to get in, getting in, checking, unpacking. This time we don’t need to buy local currency and we postpone the purchase of a local telephone card.

In normal circumstances this is a wasted day, but this is Seattle where Lisa, my daughter, lives with her husband Ryan, whom I’ve never met face to face. We meet at 6:30 PM and reconnect. We have our first experience with the local pubs, learn to play shuffle board and appreciate the diversity of the production of the local breweries.

Posted by jefvincent 05:01 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Just married

sunny 20 °C

Deoksugung is the scene. First day of spring, an old palace, cherry blossoms. Just like in Jeju the perfect recipe to attract producers of wedding albums. As we finished our visit and had a coffee at the museum cafeteria we saw them coming: groom and bride, the photographer and the stylist / choreographer. The latter gave instructions on where to stand and how to kiss and the groom obviously was embarrassed and highly uncomfortable, the more as a busload of Chinese tourists gathered around them and cheered them up. Hold this hand here, the flowers there, straighten the tie, brush the hair one last time, it went on for almost 15 minutes and as an addicted photographer I could make a wedding album about the making of the wedding album. Eventually they went, we finished our coffee and strolled to the exit, where bumped into the same party, with again a bunch of tourists taking pictures. This time they had to hold a “just married” garland and I wouldn’t like to be in their place.

With this I end the Korea chapter. As I write this I’m sitting at gate 16 of Beijing airport, waiting for our flight to Seattle. Where Lisa, my eldest daughter, lives. And Starbucks has its head quarters. I’m not sure how intense the blog will live from here onwards. The project is quite labor intensive and we have decided to have a more relaxed approach during the last legs of our journey. If I can, that is.

Posted by jefvincent 12:42 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

flashback to Jeju: Dolhareubang

I realise that I didn't publish this last entry on Jeju, while I already uploaded entries related to our last day in Seoul (post Jeju). I don't know where this will appear, likely at the wrong place in the sequence. Sorry!

sunny 19 °C

As we walked away from our cherrytunnel we arrived at Dolhareubang. I have to confess: completely by accident. It is a shrine built on the place where 3 demigods came out of the hole in the earth and created (I skip the details) the population of Jeju and its first kingdom. Nothing to worry about, they’re dead. The shrine is in fact a quite big piece of land with multiple buildings and –surprise surprise- cherryblossoms. As unromantic the blossom tunnel for cars was, this was an orgy of romantic settings, and as ants flock together around sugar, romantic couples swarmed around the buildings that had some cherryblossom around. I can’t blame them and we joined the party.

This is the last entry on Jeju. On the way to the airport we made our satisfaction survey. The first days were cold and windy and there were few disappointments, but we could count our many blessings: the olle routes, the hike on Halla, the lazy day around Seongsan, the fabulous seafood (I didn’t tell you everything), and as an unexpected cherry on a very decent cake, Dolhareubang. All within budget (and I may tell you more about that at some point in time). We left Jeju at 9 PM and checked in at our hotel in Seoul by midnight. Hardship.

Posted by jefvincent 12:33 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Deoksugung

sunny 20 °C

As much as the cherry blossoms, both clean and polluted, marked our last day on Jeju, our visit to Deoksugung Palace was the highlight of our last day in Korea. I will not share the pictures of our shopping spree at the duty-free stores or the interesting dinner at a restaurant specialised in innards or the discussion why 20% of our Seoul budget is spent in Starbucks.
Deoksugun is the last of the 4 royal palaces that I hadn’t visited yet. It is the smallest and it was occupied by the last 2 kings, before Japan transformed Korea into a Japanese province in 1910. Part of the palace was built in Japan-Western style, a few buildings are old and there is a fusion building that combines Korean, Japanese and Western styles. And there were cherry blossoms. The Cherry blossom tree was imported by the Japanese and in the other palaces their place is taken by a native tree that has equally beautiful but less abundant flowers. Political correctness.
By luck we arrived at the moment that a reconstruction of the changing of the guards took place. Very elaborate and the actors took their role very seriously – nothing is sloppy in Korea. It was spring. The city suddenly looked much friendlier. The sun shone, the temperatures hovered around 20 degrees. The haze was gone and I could see Bukhan mountain.from the centre of the city.
Slowly I start to find my way, at least in the historical centre. The starting point is the eldest palace. Behind the palace there are 3 parallel streets, quite distant from each other. The first street, Jong-ro, was for the houses of the higher nobility, the second for the lower nobility. The commoners, traders and craftsmen lived and worked from the third street onward (but still within the city walls) and that is where we saw the markets, where the streets are still specialised per trade and where I found the statue of Chan Te Il.
As I write this blog and have to decide how much details I can share, I realise that thanks to my relationship with a native citizen I start to get a feel of the culture, the unwritten rules of conduct, the logic behind apparent contradictions. I can live here.

Posted by jefvincent 12:31 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

streets of Seoul

semi-overcast 12 °C

A reality check. All along I have written about targeted topics and the pictures were very specific to the subject. Here I don’t have much to write, I just present you a potpourri of more or less interesting streetviews, by day and by night, and I hope that it will display the diversity of this big city. For the parts that I walked this time there were 5 different environments. The business district with high rise modern office blocks. Catchy, sexy, shiny with some large open areas. The high rise living blocks, where Shin’s friend live. Less shiny, less sexy, very functional. Then the run down quarters with buildings that are 40 to 60 years old, a bit run down, combining living and business. The shopping streets, each quarter with its own flavor and population. And finally the suburbs, reasonably chaotic, that combine different styles and ages as only a Belgian neighbourhood could rival it. Gugi Dong is a fine example.
I also add a few pictures of Cheonggyecheon (청계천), a 10.9 km long canal that is also a public recreation space. The canal is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development caused it to be covered by a road (says Wikipedia)
And then there is I Tae Won. I haven’t been there this time.
Yet.

Posted by jefvincent 12:20 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

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