South Korea, 2008

On the way back to Australia from Canada, my husband-to-be (HTB) and I stopped in Seoul, South Korea. He had been before for a conference and said that the city was worth a look.

We stayed in a very small apartment in a very tall building with a very small bathroom and a view of city. The floor was heated to a higher level than I found comfortable, but was definitely nicer than the bitter cold winter outside.

The metro system was easy to understand as they had cartoon signs and pictures of sights on the carriage metro map. We sat next to an older gentleman who spoke English and told us he was a Vietnam veteran.

The first stop on my HTB’s tour was Tapgol Park which I loved as it had a tall pagoda and a giant tortoise. We also went to the old area of Insadong which was an interesting place with its mix of old wooden and new concrete buildings. We visited a traditional pottery shop to stock up on vases and teapots for unique gifts.

My HTB loves a market so we went to the Namdaemun Market near the impressive Namdaemun Gate. The market was full of coats and I saw a pig’s head or two as well. We also went to Dongdaemun Market and the visual and sensory delight of the Gwangjang Kimchi Market with pancakes and dumplings galore!

Heading back to our hotel as night, the streets became a neon wonderland with red leaves on the trees and flashing signs everywhere.

The next day we went to Gyeongbok Palace and were greeted at the main gate by the colourful changing of the guard. We walked through the courtyard to the throne hall whose entry was flanked by many stone animals. There was incense burning in the hall and the roof detail was amazing.

I thought Gyeonghoeru Pavilion surrounded by a frozen lake was the most beautiful part of the palace and the Amisan garden terrace of chimneys was also very interesting. We went to Sajeongjeon Hall that had a huge tapestry, the queen’s residence, the king’s residence and the queen mother’s residence.

Outside the National Folk Museum there were stone guard statues, a mobile traditional medicine shop (a cart on wheels) and traditional pots. I liked the look of the wishing poles and the stone animals of the zodiac.

On our last day of our holiday, we opted for a bit of fun and headed to Lotte World. Lotte World is a large amusement park located in a shopping centre along with the Lotte hotel (flanked by an imitation Trevi fountain) and an ice skating rink. The mascots of the theme park are two squirrels called Lotte and Lorry.

And boy do those Koreans know how to do a theme park. There was the Adventure balloon ride, the French Revolution train roller coaster and the Conquistador ship. The best area was outdoors at the Magic Island that had a castle, the Gyrodrop and my favourite ride the Gyroswing that would spin you around while swinging you.

Best way to end a holiday ever!

Related posts: New Year’s Eve on the Island, 2007, Christmas in Canada, 2007, Seattle, 2007,  San Francisco, 2007, Part 2: This is not the endSan Francisco, 2007, Part 1: Falling in love againUSA Road trip, 2007: Part 2Grand Canyon, 2007Las Vegas, 2007USA Road trip, 2007Disneyland, 2007Los Angeles, 2007

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