Sunday, October 25, 2009

Korea Day 10 - Meandering on Cheonggye Stream

Since it was Sunday yesterday (yes, we're a day ahead of you here, neener neener neener) we started the day by sleeping in, then loafing around the apartment in our jammies, and didn't hit the streets until 11 am. We decided to take a long, leisurely walk in a direction we hadn't yet explored. We headed south from our hotel, through a vibrant neighborhood filled with activity. Next we headed into the Cheonggye Streem walkway that we had briefly glimpsed the night before. This time we walked it to the end, and it was just as beautiful and playful by day as by night. So many families had their children out playing on the stepping stones, and listening to the music, and taking in the many fountains and water features. Some of the walls were decorated with a long tile frieze depicting Korean history. One particularly beautiful section was preserved using stones from ancient times instead of the more modern ones on most of the course, both on the ground, the walls, and the overhead bridge.We emerged into a huge, open plaza where the atmosphere was like a giant party. People were swarming around enjoying the sun, the giant sculpture, some musicians, street food, and a number of tents where artisans were working with children (and also adults) for free, making jewelry, ceramics, masks, paintings, etc. At another place we passed earlier, there was a small alley filled with booths offering activities for children. It seemed as if this was a normal weekend activity, not some special occasion.We walked south again, went to the big Seoul Plaza in front of their city hall. This old building is now covered with a dotted fabric facade, while construction of a new, ultra-modern, ultra-high tech city hall goes on behind the screen. Across the street, at a distance, we saw the changing of the guards in front of Deoksugung Palace (this happens three times a day, with sonorous drums and bells that can be heard at a great distance).We went back to Lotte basement for a fabulous teriyaki lunch at about 3 pm, then set out again for the Namdaemun Market, an area where there are street vendors hawking their wares for about 10 blocks in all directions. Up and down the alleys we went, taking in the local color, looking at the people and the children and the endless wares for sale. Didn't buy much of anything, but we sure enjoyed looking! By about 5:30 we had walked for 6 hours, and so we did what we have come to refer to as "use the idiot card". Betsy got plastic cards for each of us that must say something in Korean like "I'm a hopelessly clueless foreigner. Please return me to the Fraser Suites. Here's how to get there". Works every time in the very inexpensive cabs ($3 for that ride).
Last night we stayed in, had a nourishing beer and potato chip dinner, kimchi of course, (courtesy of the local 7-11) and played Spite & Malice until late! Only a few days left, so sad..... Oh, and of course we practiced our nightly ritual of looking at the computer hoping for emails from back home (wink wink, nudge nudge!). (Note: some photos courtesy of Daniella today). (Note: photos of the family on the mirror behind the computer).

1 comment:

Nancy Natale said...

Kim, you have done such a fabulous job of posting about your Korean adventure! Thank you so much. I have really enjoyed reading and looking at the photos. It is all very inspiring and points up how parochial we are in the U.S. and how little we know about other cultures. It is just great to see you all enjoying yourselves so much and soaking it all in. I look forward to continuing episodes! XOX