April 1, 2010

Korean Diaries : Yet Another Day In Seoul

It has been more than a month since I landed here in South Korea. Life in Korea is going on as usual with me starting the countdown of when I will be back to my beloved city of Bangalore. Felt a bit home sick when my birthday fell during this week. Anyway to keep myself busy on the weekend we went roaming around and this time we were back to Seoul. This roaming in the streets of Seoul was quite memorable with us returning quite late (i.e. 11 pm)to our respective rooms.

We had initially planned to go to 3 places, Namdaemun Market, 63 building and Han River Cruise. But as always we try to fit in more places into our iternary. This time it was just me and Rakeshee(tats how all koreans call him :P) for the trip. Our plan was to leave our guest house rooms at around 11 am in the morning. Had a staple breakfast of corn flakes (I am kinda addicted to these corn flakes... they are yummy over here :P) and extra helpings of bread and jam in order fight hunger till dinner. Took the bus from our place to the Suwon metro station and from there caught the train to go to the Seoul station. Since this was our second time we have been travelling in the metro train , we didnt face any problems and it was seamless.

[Entrance Gate To Namdaemun Market]

The train journey lasted for nearly an hour and it was quite boring. Reached the Seoul Station and proceeded towards the exit from where we had to move towards Namdaemun Market which is around 10 mins walk. This market is supposedly the biggest market in all of South Korea and legend says that if you dont find something here, probably you wont find it anywhere else in Korea. The market officially closes on every Sunday , but majority of the shops were open baring a few. Maybe they had heard the phrase "Rules are meant to be broken " :P.

Roamed around a bit in the market doing some shopping. The prices here are slightly less than one would be quoted in other regions. One would find shops filled with clothes, bags, accesories, fruits, vegetable, trekking stuff etc. The list is endless.Also the entire market is filled with eateries, a common thing in all korean markets. Also now I can stand the smell of the korean food and not feel like fainting as earlier :P. Now keep guessing "Next is What !!!!! ":D. Also there is one underground market. This was completely closed and not even one shop was open.

By the time we left this place it was around 2 pm and we bought a couple of bananas to keep our stomach's under control. Now Rakesh had got an idea to buy a camera from Yangson market. I also didnt have any problem with it since I too wanted some spare batteries and a bill for the Indian Customs. So we went towards the Seoul Station. Now this time it flashed to me why not include the Korean War Memorial(the interiors which we missed the previous time) too in our iternary since it was kinda near to the Yangson Electronics Market. From Seoul Station we decided to take a taxi since the War Memorial Stop was just next to the Seoul Stop, but we didnt know the exact distance. So asked a couple of police men . They tried their best to understand us and help us but in the end we got nothing out of them. So flagged down a taxi and told to go to the war memorial. That he didnt understand and then we gave the metro station name.

[An Ancient Korean Way Of Announcing in War : That We Have Arrived]

Got down at that metro station, but we were completely new to this area. Had expected to see War Memorial at this place.But it was nowhere to be seen. But we say the huge WorldMark building which is nearer to the war memorial. Now this building was visible. So keeping this building in view we started moving towards the War Memorial. This is nothing but GPS in its most simplest form :P. Finally reached the place.

[Sunlight Illuminating Crystals]

Took the free tickets to enter (wats the point of tickets if the entry is free ??????) the place. The interior of the building were quite impressive. The roof to floor height of the entrance hall was a good 30 metres. In this museum there are various displays related to Korean past in terms of warfare. How they did in the ancient, medieval and in the modern times. Initially all the displays were interesting and caught our attention, but soon the same things got repeated again and again and this made us go faster , similiar to WRC cars racing through the circuits overtaking other cars endlessly :). We took nearly an hour to complete the entire museum when in fact it takes nearly half a day to complete this.

[Age Of Empire Players Will Recognize this warship]

From here moved to Yangson Electronics Market and went inside. Got a couple of batteries and was checking out the picture frames, but didnt get any in my required resolution of 800x600. So decided against buying it. Also Rakesh now had decided not to buy an Canon SX20. By this time it was already around 6 and we moved towards the 63 building in taxi. It is around 20 mins taxi ride from the Yangson area and this part is known as Yeoidu.

[View Of 63 Building From A Bridge]

[View From The Top]

[Not Much Difference Between These 2 :P]

We reached to the base of the 63 building and the feeling of standing on the foot of the 3rd tallest building in Korea is amazing.You have to literally crank up ur neck, perpendicular to the body, to see the entire building . But we didnt have the time to enter the building. We directly went to the Han River Cruise boarding area, which is just a few hundred metres from this golden building. By the time we had reached the place we had just missed the 6.30 pm cruise and the next one was at 7.30 pm. This 7.30 pm cruise had comparatively longer route as well as had some opera show (next cruise was at 9 pm). So obviously the price was also higher as compared to the normal cruises(5k W extra, total 16k Won per head).

So having nearly an hour to spend we went directly to the 63 building. The sun was setting now and darkness was falling.So we expected some beautiful images from the top. So we took tickets for the Sky Art Gallery situated in the 61st floor of the building. This art gallery is the highest art gallery in the world situated at nearly 250 m from the ground. This art gallery has various displays, but most of the people are more interested in the outer view than the inner view. There are huge windows and view was enchanting at this time of the day. Also there is one section called the SkyThriller which has a glass floor and one can see the nothing but air below this glass. But to our bad luck this was closed as it had developed some cracks !!!!!!!!!!

[Seoul Tower Seen From The Cruise]

Spending nearly an hour on the top we came down and reached our cruise boat at exactly 7.30 pm. By this time it was completely dark. The Hang river is quite wide and when cruising in the middle of this river one gets the feeling of being in an ocean and not a river. Also the distant building all lit up was giving a very pretty sight to watch. There were a lot of people in the cruise, but few people were coming outside to enjoy the view since it was very-very chilly. Also some dude was giving an orchestra performance inside, which didnt interest me much . The bridges along the river were lit in a very asthetic manner. The cruise lasted for nearly 1.5 hrs and by around 9 pm we reached back to our original boarding point.

[Cruise View]

[Comparison Between nature and Man-made]
After this we went looking for a train station. Wherever in Seoul, a metro station will be within a stones throw distance ,such is the dense network they have build in and around the city. Caught a train and came back to our guest house rooms by around 11 pm. Now with this day of travel I have got the confidence to travel anywhere within Seoul, only thing required is to remember these Korean Station Names which believe me is the toughest job :P.

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