Thursday, July 21, 2011

Year 2 - Playing Tourist in Seoul

Another one from the old e-mail bag.



Since I have been feeling better I have become more active, and remiss in writing.

Last weekend I went to Seoul. It was a blast. I didn't get to stay at the hotel I had planned on, but the one I did stay at was a 3 star and very nice. It even had a Captain Kirk toilet seat!

Right now you are probably thinking WTF? In Korea high tech Western style toilets seem to be all the rage. You can buy add ons to make them more comfortable or functional. The one at the Pacific Hotel was such a toilet.

There was a control arm on the right side of the seat. You could start the bidet, heat the seat, and there was even a blow dryer for after using the bidet. (Yeah, I know, I was thinking the same jokes well before I typed that. ;)) The instructions on the use of the toilet are posted on the wall across from it, in both English and Korean. I almost lost it laughing when I read the part about being able to warm the stool. It meant warming the toilet seat, but of course it has that double meaning. I am still chuckling thinking about it.

I played tourist a bit while in Seoul. On Sunday I visited a couple of sites. The first was Tapgol Park. It literally means Pagoda Park. The name is due to a 10 story marble pagoda that resides there. It is surrounded by a metal and glass protective barrier which is pretty ugly. The pagoda isn't actually 10 stories tall, it has 10 different stories or levels. Some are large some are smaller as you get to the top.

The park was also the site of the start of the March First Movement. On March 1st 1919 Sun Pyoung-hui and other Koreans opposed to the Japanese occupation drew up a Declaration of Independence. Two days later it was read publicly in the park and thus started the Independence Movement. Thousands of Koreans were tortured and murdered by the Japanese for daring to dream of being their own country again. There are several statues and monuments commemorating this. The main monument contains the text of the Declaration in both Korean and English. I was going to visit the park on March 1st, Saturday, but it would have been too crowded.

After touring the park I met up with my friend SJ. She took me to a place called UnhyongUng. The site is considered Historic Relic Number 257 by the Korean Government. It was the private residence of Prince Regent Hungson-Taewongun ,who was the father of King Kochong, the 26th monarch of the Choson Dynasty. King Kojong lived here till 12 when he rose to the throne. Taking the reins of government, Prince Regent Hungson-Daewongun made it the main center of politics during the late Choson Dynasty. Currently, the Unhyongung, reduced in size and facilities, contains only Noandang Hall, Noraktang Hall and Irodang Hall.

Irodang Hall was a place for women only. Men were not allowed to enter. The building itself is square shapped, with smaller entrances to prevent men from entering.

While the area was small compared to other spots like GyungBukGung. However, it had a lot to offer. Unlike some areas you could look into almost every room and they were occupied! Mannequins were done up in period dress, and artifacts from the era were in place. This really made the place feel as if you were seeing it as it looked during the Joseon era.

It was a strange contrast in style to see this old building surrounded by modern ones. All in all it was a good way to spend a Sunday.

This week we start a new year for the kindergarden classes. There are a lot of new students. We are also starting a new curriculum for some special classes. That will be keeping me busy as we get used to the new schedule and content.

I will try to write more often.

Take care


I had forgotten all about the Captain Kirk toilets and blow dryer. :) Yes the info for the tourist sites was taken from tourist sources. :)

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