A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

View from my room

Gyeonhuigung Palace

Seoul Plaza

No idea....

Deoksugung Palace

Tae Kwon-Do demo

More Korean tower blocks

Chonggyeonggung Palace

Guardian at Chonggyeonggung Palace

Chonggyeonggung Palace

Typical alleyway near my place

Last night (Saturday night), the street outside was lined with diners spilling into the road from all the little cafes. They were in full swing at 2 a.m. and some still going at 6, though despite this I managed to have a nice long night's sleep again, and woke up feeling really rather happy. It may have been the lovely spiced pork I had last night, although I should stop eating in these faux-rustique places in the posh end of Insa-Dong even if they and their food are great, as it is twice what I am used to paying (i.e. a tenner with drinks instead of a fiver).

Today was another two of the five Royal Palaces, the National Museum and a lot of general wandering around. First I walked a fair way over to Gyeonhuigung Palace, and while I was there I spoke to the guy who runs the Tae Kwon-Do classes for foreigners. These turned out to be basic introductory, and I wanted something more my level. He was all for me joining a normal Korean black belt class, misled by my finely enunciated Korean, but he's going to mail me about options for when I'm back in Korea. After that I walked the short distance to Deoksugung Palace, and then got the metro to the National Museum. There was some great old Korean art in the museum, which is an extraordinary building in its own right. There were lots of very 'chinese landscape' ink paintings, I learnt a lot about different brush strokes! And while I was there I saw a 'fun' Tae Kwon-Do demonstration, which was...fun.

A nice end to the evening when I found somewhere nice to eat in the cheaper end of Insa-Dong where my hotel is, very tasty, cheap and really fast. I swear within less than two minutes of ordering there were two gas rings sat on my table with food cooking for me to finish off to taste, a plate of sizzling pork stuff and eleven cold side dishes. Who could complain about that?


So far today it has done nothing but rain heavily, which is cramping my plans, but at least its better to be rained on in the city than in a National Park. No Koreans wear coats, they all use umbrellas - which I hate, along with their users - so I am pleased to still have my eyesight. In between the nearly constant rain - some of which was downright tropical in its force - I visited the last of the five royal palaces - Chonggyeonggung - and the nearby Jongmyo Shrine, and generally mooched around Insa-Dong doing a bit of shopping with my small amount of remaining korean currency.

As is so often the case, all the really nice stuff to buy was either too big, too expensive, or unlikely to survive several weeks in a rucksack (or all three). I got myself an inkstamp made with my name in Korean to go with my Chinese one, from this little shop that the Pope and various European royalty had also patronised, including our very own Good Queen Bess! I also tried the local brew with my evening meal. It's called Soju and it wasn't very nice, pretty much like neat vodka, and comes in bottles about the size of a half-wine bottle. I have noticed that it is what all the homeless here drink, of which there are a few. And that's it really. Back home to pack again and prepare for Japan a bit, and then tomorrow early to the airport, and next time we speak I will be in Tokyo!

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