Sunday, March 27, 2011

One Day Trip to Seoul

Korean War Memorial

This is the Korean War Monument.  It is the first thing visitors and passersby notice due to it being erected at the very front entrance to the Museum plaza.  The Korean War Memorial houses six exhibition areas inside a pretty big museum and also has an outdoor exhibition area displaying numerous military vehicles and aircraft.  The museum itself had many very cool, well put together exhibits.  One negative aspect is that it didn't have the true feeling of a museum since many of the exhibits, namely the ones vehicles, aircraft and ones with large structures allowed children to climb in them.  I assume that's why there were literally hundreds of little kids running around climbing up on anything they were allowed to.

I stopped by the cafeteria to grab something to eat.  It wasn't much of a cafeteria but actually just a cafe.  I had a caramel macchiato and slice of cheesecake and sat at a table overlooking the outdoor exhibit area as well as a view into Yongsan Army Garrison where I was back in December.

Here are some snapshots of some of the outdoor and indoors exhibits.

This is an awesome statue.  It's the, Statue of Brothers, symbolizing Korea's division.  The elder is a South Korean soldier and the younger a North Korea soldier.

Statue of Brothers (left) and The Clock Tower of Peace (right)

Mini temple exhibit.  You can't tell in this picture but there were a dozen or so kids climbing all over this thing.

This would look great on my bed!

Flags of members of the United Nations during the Korean War.

The numbers are staggering.  This is why the Korean War was one of the deadliest wars in such a short span of time.

The Drop.  An exhibit in remembrance of the Korean soldiers and UN military participants who lost theirs lives in the Korean War.  The respect towards the warriors (1,300 identification tags) has been embodied as tear drops.  The iron thorns symbolize the horror, suppression and danger of the tragic war. The circle on the sand below represents the waves of the drop.

South Korea's future soldier.

South Korea's CornerShot.  Unveiled in March 2010.

The atomic bomb "Little Boy" dropped on Hiroshima.

The view from the cafe I ate at.  This is a view of one of the Wedding Halls.  Notice the people standing around the alter area.  There was actually a wedding practice going on. 

View of the Seoul Tower from the Cafe window.

I used my handy mini tri-pod shown below to take this picture.  People standing around and walking by were looking at me like if I were a nut case because they had no idea I was trying to take a picture of myself.  The camera was off quite a distance which was where the closest platform was.  Good thing it only took one take!


...and I'm off to the Gyeongbokgung Palace

The front entrance to the compound which contains several palaces and a museum within its walls.

Archway to the entrance of the museum.  Below are some snapshots of the inside.  I didn't spend too much time in the museum so I didn't take many photos.

The Gyeogbokgung Palace "Golden Palace".  

A view of the inside of the Golden Palace.

View of Seoul Tower from inside of the compound.

...and I'm off stop, Seoul Tower

My ascent up to the tower itself.

As I approach the bottom of the tower where all of the shops and restaurants are, I pick up the sound of shaking maracas and spanish music.  I quickly made my way over to where the music was coming from and to my amazement there was a no kidding spanish guy performing in front of dozens of Koreans.  The music was on point and refreshing and the guy even spoke pretty good Korean.  Well I hung around for a bit, enjoyed the singing and music then moved along to wait in the long line to buy a ticket to the tower observatory.

There is a teddybear museum on the bottom floor of the tower.  Random I know.  This is outside of the teddybear shop.  I took a peek to see if there was anything the boys would like.  No winners.

Waiting in line to take an elevator up to the Tier 2 level.

Nice view of the tower's shadow.

View of the Han River.

This is the best shot I could get from inside of the tower.  Too much light coming in from the outside.

After I came down from the tower, I saw this burger joint.  I was running low on won and this fit with what was left in my pocket so it beat out the other restaurants.  Despite it taking 15 minutes to get my order, I was really impressed with the seasoning of the meat and the way it was grilled.  All of the burgers I've had so far in both Japan and Korea seemed to have been made with the same seasoning which give it this distinct non american made taste.  This burger on the other hand had a good old american taste to it and not the fast food kind but the homemade, american beef kind.  Sorry no pics, I was too hungry and didn't think about it until now!

View of the tower from about half way down the mountain.

View from a lookout point coming down the mountain.

The walk down from the tower back to street level was one of the best walks I've ever had.  It was a long walk but listening to some tunes on my iPhone made the time go by.

On my way back to Daegu

Seoul Station.  That's my train on the right.

Okay, here is a picture of me of course but there's a story behind this.

Here's the semi-short version:  There were two drunk twenty-something year old Koreans on the train.  One had a ticket to the window seat next to me and the other obviously didn't buy ticket but boarded the train anyways.  He was trying to talk me into giving him my seat and I moving to a seat in the aisle in front of mine.  Well, I would of obliged so he could sit with his drunk friend but he didn't have a ticket.  So he sits down in the aisle in front of mine.  Eventually an old korean couple board the train and try to claim their seats.  After about five minutes of the three of them going back and forth the drunk korean gets up and posts himself against the seat in front of me.  By this time, both of the drunk koreans had a freshly cracked beer in their hands and were pretty wasted.  The guy standing up is holding his beer in his right hand which is laying on top of the headrest of the seat in front of me ever so slightly brushing the hair of the old korean guy sitting in the seat.  As the train is moving, he proceeds to spill some of his beer just to the left of me.  Really?!  At this point communication between the two drunk koreans and I was impossible so my frustration with them was not particularly obvious to them.  Now I'm hoping that the train attendants will do as they usually do and go around checking tickets.  Not thirty seconds later, a train attendant enters my cart and immediately asks the standing drunk korean for his ticket.  After about two minutes, the the two drunk koreans and the train attendant leave and go over to the standing area at the rear of my cart.  I look at the gentleman sitting to the right of me on the right side of the cart and he starts shaking his head in discuss.  I immediate realize I may have an ally.  I ask him if he speaks english and amazingly he replies in english with no accent at all, "...yes I do."  Great, I ask him what they were saying and he said they were basically saying that they bought two tickets but lost one of them.  Riiiiight!  Even if they lost a ticket that seat would still be accounted for so he wouldn't need sit in someone else's seat.  Scammers!  

Okay, about ten minutes pass by and the train attendant approaches me squats next to my seat and starts asking me something in korean.  I look at the guy sitting to my right and ask him what she is saying.  He says, she's offering you an upgraded seat in first class.  He's like, take it, it's a better seat.  So I grab my things, thank the guy and begin following the train attendant to the rear of the cart.  As I make my way through the standing area, I pass my the two drunk koreans friends who are being haggled by an older korean guy with a badge on his blazer pocket.  Score!!!  Anyhow, after about six or so carts later, I make it to my first class seat.  More leg room, water, snack, wifi, check!!!   Sometime after I was approached by another train attendant and asked to give my name and phone number which was to be given to the police.  She smiled and told me that my two drunk korean friends were taken away by the police at the last stop.  Well, my return trip started pretty crappy but ended rather nice.  Ahhhh, a great way to wrap up an awesome day!

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