Dokodemo Door!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Journey to Seoul #1

Visiting Seoul was really enjoyable for me; I found myself wishing that I had a bit more time than three days and four nights. Additionally, the weather didn't cooperate every day due to a typhoon which had the temerity to pass-through the Tsushima strait on the morning we'd arrived. Seoul was worth the trip, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you've already seen the larger and grander historical sights which can be had in Beijing and Kyoto.

The hotel location was hard to beat. We were located one block north of the square facing city hall and a short walk south of Gwanghwamun plaza and Cheonggye stream, which are two of the city's major beautification projects of the past decade. Gwanghwamun plaza is the closest thing Seoul has to a public square and it is there that one can see statues devoted to the two big guns of the Jeoson Dynasty: Sejong the Great, he who commissioned and promoted the Hangul writing system, and Admiral Yi Sunsin who arguably rivals Horatio Nelson as the biggest naval genius of all time. (If that sounds like hyperbole, try to find another naval commander who won 23 out of 23 engagements, one of which he was outnumbered at least 10 to 1 in.)

(In case it's of any interest, the second building on the right is the U.S. embassy.)

Gwanghwamun is the name of the southernmost gate of Gyeongbukgong palace, the largest of Seoul's royal complexes. This gate had been under restoration for the past few years and was scheduled to be officially opened the day after we left, which helps to give some sense of how much work (both historical and beautification) is being done.

Inside, they put-on a little reenactment of the changing of the guard and I happened to be experimenting with the video function on the camera. I had to elbow a few people in the head to get this, so you'd better enjoy it...


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