Seoul Day 4

Changdeokgung & Secret Garden

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Not another palace! They are all similarly shaped and coloured, like carbon copies of each other except the layout...... I thought to myself.

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This one is different. It has a garden that you need to pay to enter (on top of the entrance fee to Changdeokgung). No one is allowed to linger on their own, it is a must to follow a tour arranged every hour or so (in my case, it was a japanese speaking tour as i do not want to wait for the english one).

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It was worth the entry, for the beauty of this garden is such that it evokes the fiery emotions of passion and love.

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The king's private garden with a little island occupied by a pine tree. Very serene, even when filled with laughter and incomprehensible japanese in the air.

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Small mouth leading to big views.

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It was so surreal, like a scene from another world.

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South Korea is probably the fabled land the Qin emperor sent his envoy to in search of the elixir of immortality(most probably Mount Changbai bordering North Korea for the rich herbs) and not Japan. No one will have much of an idea how beautiful North Korea is until they finally open up. I came to Seoul in a flurry and left with more than what I had bargained for.

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Ongnyucheon(Jade stream) - U shaped water channel carved for floating wine cups. Brilliant idea! I wonder whether anyone(maybe a japanese or korean restaurant) would implement such a way of delivering drinks in their restaurant. Much cheaper than a conveyer belt system. Floating sake/soju session!

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A poet awaits spring along the ancient waterway.

Like fine sharp needles,
1001 regrets prodding the heart,
Pain would have been needless,
If I stay true to my art.

In days past,
Only poems of love I write,
In days approaching fast,
Only poems of sorrow feels right.

I long for your lingering affection,
How many times have we crossedpath this life,
If never again because of affliction,
I know we surely will in the next life.

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Glorious yellow imposes it's charms over the dull blue sky. Whither it goes when they return to the earth?

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Freakish looking pine tree... definitely scary after sunset, especially if there is not a light source around.


Insadong

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I call this souvenir street. It's a long street lined on both sides with souvenir and art shops. Tip: do not buy souvenirs from the mouth of the street, I paid double.

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Banner: South Korea's toned down version of Samy Vellu in action.

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Sinseon Seolnongtang - famous for ox tail soup.

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Seolnongtang (Ox tail soup with rice, W8,000). Watery taste with bits of beef.

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This is how they quell protests in South Korea - surround the protestors on all sides with cops until they get drowned out. Bersih wouldn't have happened if the big fishes got surrounded this way.


Sinchon Shopping Street

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Shopping street near Ehwa Women's University. Nothing noteworthy as it's mostly women's clothing. There is a Chatime somewhere here and opposite it is a fast food outlet with really good americano coffee. Drank 2 cups and was gliding the streets in tune with the blues.


Itaewon

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The bangsar of Seoul - a foreigner's favourite hangout. Not as lively compared to other places, this place is more for f&b.

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Learn how to say hello in a foreign language as you stroll along Itaewon.

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Spotted another mini with the same amusing number plate. Looks like it's standard issue in Seoul. Maybe mini drivers get teased and annoyed so often they have to come up with this, hahaha.

I came in search of spring, up and down i look, catching a fleeting glimpse of her one fine day, I held on to the connection, not realising she had merely moved to a different spot. She is sometimes here, she is sometimes there. I imagine she was flourishing somewhere just some weeks ago. Will i be where she is to be found? Only the future knows the answer. Until then, I am just a mad man in search of spring throughout the seasons.

Seoul Day 3

Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbokgung is originally a 14th century palace, it is now a 20th century reconstruction after it was destroyed by japan (what do they say about not destroying national treasures during times of war,  the yankees did teach them a thing or two on this, by not dropping the a-bombs on Kyoto or tokyo). This is the grandest among all 5 palaces in Seoul.

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Gwanghwamun gate - south entrance to the palace.

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National Palace Museum (free entry) - Just next to subway entrance and Gwanghwamun gate. A bit quiet inside, maybe it's because it was only 10am.

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Gyeonghoeru pavillion - Didn't get this entirely in the picture but it's really huge and used for state banquets. The Korean royalty really love to be elevated on stilts. Behind the palace is Mount Bukhansan. I think I've had enough of climbing hills and mountains because I don't think anything else in Seoul or probably anywhere in the world(with the exception of Mount Huangshan and certain inaccessible parts of the Swiss Alps) can compare to the majestic Seoraksan.

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Alas, they will fall to the ground soon, to be dearly missed until the next cycle.

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Hwangwonjeong - 2 storey hexagonal pavilion. If I have such a pavilion in my garden, I would be here every sunset.

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Just like a kampung house.... but with a touch of korean identity.

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There is a folk museum inside Gyeongbokgung and entry is free as long as the ticket to Gyeongbokgung is held on to.


Cheongye Stream & Dongdaemun

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This 6km stream used to be worse than the klang river. It is now a very pleasant place for leisurely walks. We never know what we have until we lose it. Or rather, we never really know what we have until we find it. One can go on chasing dreams but alas in nought; the timing, circumstances and intention has to be right.

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Dongdaemun gate. Near the gate are a few wholesale centers which deal with only cloth and comforters. Hidden somewhere behind these are the real ultra modern shopping centers for branded goods.


Myeong-Dong

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Myeong-dong is probably one the most liveliest place in Seoul, even at 10.30pm. Absolutely love the nature and energy of the place, so much so that I find myself strolling here nearly every night.

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I see this face every where in Seoul.

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Middle eastern people having kebab in a foreign land makes me laugh. Thanks but no thanks. I might as well have a korean pancake, being this far away from home.

Seoul Day 2

Mount Seoraksan

Another day another new beginning. Woke up at 4.30am and was already on my way to Mt. Seorak via the 6.45am non-stop bus, which took about 2 hours 15 minutes. It stops at Sokcho terminal and from there, the bus to Seoraksan( last stop) is just a short walk away along the terminal.

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They say spirit resides in the heart and does not come into being untill the eyes issue it. Touched by the towering flow of poetry in the background splattered with numerous colours on the fore, my spirit soared to the highs of the mountain top. High it soared, but not high enough to find what I came looking for.

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Cable car to one of the easiest hiking trail, the Gwongeumseong Fortress trail, just 1 hour to and fro. No luck as was at the counter at 10.45am after a long que but only 1.45pm tickets were available.

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Roof tiles near a sitting buddha where people can pay to write their wishes.

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One example of an amusing wish from someone of different faith.

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Bridge to paradise.

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Sinheungsa Temple - I have seen many of the most beautiful sceneries of my life in Korea and much of it is concentrated at Mt. Seorak.

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Shadow of China obscuring the north.

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Winding stream where a few locals enjoy picnicking.

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As the other hiking trails were too long, I took the Biryong Falls trail, a total of 2 hours up and down.

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The flowing of water reminds one that no matter how much things change in the world, there are still that which will always remain the same throughout time.

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The flow rejoins the stream.

A lone deer up in the mountain,
Still searching for his beloved is his story,
When will the tides turn,
Just another day in the flow of history.

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Though to the highest mountain one retire to escape from suffering, the cry of lone deer can be heard echoeing in the distance.

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After halfway up a really tough climb over jagged and slippery rocks, the scenery gets even better. Note: danger of falling rocks, hence the green netting.

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Untill......The peak - the view was non too rewarding compared to the view on the way up. They say it's in the journey, not the destination, how true. 

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I was panting like mad upon reaching the peak and after a few glances at the little top, I started making my way down.

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It was much more dangerous on the way down the wet and slippery rocks, with gravity being the culprit to blame.

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But it was worth it, to be greeted by colourful "friends" again along the way. I might be a lone traveller, but I have the sun and the trees as my friends. In the evening, it is the moon and my shadow and the three of us make quite a jolly trio. Why not? We see each other everyday, even thousands of miles here now.

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After I got down, it was already 3pm and the last meal I had was bread at 5am. Hungry like never before, I walked straight to the nearest stalls near the entrance. Seriously this meal of bibimbap (W8,000) at a corner stall is the best korean meal I have had in my 5 days here. Pardon me saying this, but every meal I have had in the city was really bland (even famous restaurants) that I had to resort to fast food. However, this bibimbap is different, there is a complexity in taste to everything in the picture even though it might seem a simple meal of egg, roots and fermented vegetables. Even the soup has got a really unique taste to it. Maybe it was because I was ravished? I doubt hunger can play such tricks on the sense of taste registered.

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This is how they stick their posters, not only in Sokcho but also Seoul. Hmmmmm, try guessing what will happen when it rain. Took the 5.05pm bus back to Seoul but was stucked in a horrible jam that stretches from highway near Sokcho and eased without reason near seoul.... took 5 and a half hours.