Coming from peaceful Bali, Indonesia to Seoul, Korea is quite the dynamic contrast...to say the least.
Seoul, Korea is easily one of my favorite cities in the world. It's got the best public transportation in the world, the food is amazing, there's public parks everywhere, and there's something always going on. Every time I come here I know I'm in for a good time. The best part about coming to Korea is spending time with my family here that I get to see so little of, being that I live across the world from them. Especially my grandmother, who at 90 years old is still active and yelling at me to eat.
When I first stepped out from the airport it hit me that I was no longer in Indonesia. The weather was colder - I could actually see my breathe, the cars were more modern and larger, and the skyline was full of tall buildings.
So after being here a week. I've pretty much adjusted back to city life. I felt great back in Bali to be unplugged from the world and not get a bazillion messages or phone calls. The only time I had access to the internet was the occasional Wi-Fi hotspot at a cafe. Here in Korea I'm plugged back into the Matrix. Neo wouldn't be happy with me.
After finally getting settled in I decided to explore around Seoul and the surrounding areas a little bit. I first went to the National Museum of Korea or 국립중앙박물관. The last time I went there was for about a quick 30 minute speed run with no time to really examine anything. So this time I was by myself and took my sweet time. However, it didn't help that every middle school in Seoul pretty decided to send to their students to the museum that day as well. The place the crawling with adolescent boys and girls. I think one of those kids tripped an alarm causing the entire building to be emptied while everyone had to wait outside in the rain for 30 minutes.
I was there for about 3-4 hours, the longest I've been in any museum that didn't include a showing of cinema of some kind. I basically let no spot of the museum go unseen by myself. I felt like I made it my duty to look at everything inside no matter how insignificant the piece.
My favorite things were definitely the Buddha statues along with the celadon pottery. I was eavesdropping on one of the English tours that were passing through the pottery section and heard some interesting things. I don't really enjoy doing tours because I like going at my own pace going quickly through boring shit and slowing down at the stuff I like. The incense burner celadon pottery was done in stages and all of the pottery was made to last. Not like the glassware we have back home that breaks all the dam time, forcing you to buy more...oh wait that's their whole gimmick.
So no trip to Seoul is complete without a trip to Namdaemun Market or 남대문 시장. This the place where I learned to hone my haggling skills who I inherited from my mother. She is the queen of haggling shit. I once saw her haggle a big ass great wall of China souvenir plate from these two Chinese guys from $15 down to $1. I still don't know how that happened to this day.
Namdaemun is named such because is it the ancient south gate of entrance into Seoul. Nam meaning south Mun meaning door or gate. There are 4 gates for north, south, east, and west. The actual Namdaemun ancient structure was burned down by an arsonist a couple years back, but has now been recently restored back to its original glory or somewhat of it.
Well I came down here for two things to pick up another lens and some hiking pants, both of which I successfully attained. Namdaemun has an entire block dedicated to camera stores. It is heaven if your into photography and film.
Before I left FL I got some hiking pants from Dick's Sporting Goods but they turned out to be too large for me so I gave them to my brother in law instead. Those were $40 and the cheapest in the store. I come here and hiking pants are $12 at the most expensive. I of course haggled the pants I got. Shows how much of a mark up there is back home in the states...those commercial bastards.
One thing I wanted to get before I left the states was a 40mm F2.8 pancake lens. I had used my friend's 40mm and it was so light and easy to walk around with, I told myself I have to get this. So one of the first things I did when I got to Korea was come to this market and haggle for a new 40mm pancake lens that I got for $110. They sell for $150 brand new back home. BOOM BABY! The haggle master is back in action in his element!
Of the few people I know in Korea, one of them happens to be my friend from Mallorca, Spain. Aina is her name and I stayed at her place in Mallorca when I visited Spain for the first time. That was one of the most amazing experiences I've had in my life. The Spaniards know how to live! Now if they could only know how to work their economy and government wouldn't be so shitty. Well anyways I decided to meet up with her and her sister Lucia who happened to be visiting Korea as well. We met up in Insadong which is this little artsy district in Seoul.
So we talked and caught up. Aina is now living in Korea. She's married to a Korean man and has one daughter and another child on the way. Crazy how fast things happen for people in only a couple of years.
One thing that is definitely great here is the street food. It's not the diarrhea, vomit inducing kind that you might find in Bali. It's goooood.
Other than that stuff I've been spending a lot of down time with my family here. We went to the temple on Monday since it was Buddha's Birthday here.
I'm not Buddhist. I'm not very religious or spiritual at all. The only thing I believe in is the highest of any form of belief...in Masta Minch! He is the one who can save me, deliver me, and feed me.
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