My introduction to South Korea was my significant other saying “Want to go to Korea for the weekend? We can go to the border and see into North Korea.” My first thought was that I certainly have no interest in going anywhere near North Korea. Especially with all of the nuclear test they have been doing lately, just not my cup of tea. Of course, the experience of being able to go to such a historic place did excited me, so it was off to Seoul. As soon as we arrived, such a great idea, we were given a quick guide card on the basic Korean language. Hello, Goodbye, thank you, please etc. I feel every airport should give out a card like this. It is small enough to carry around and pull out to use. It is very much respectful to try and speak the language of the country you are in.
A great start on our Korean adventure was to go to a world heritage site specifically Changdeokgung. Such a beautiful place and garden. it was very humbling being where kings and royalty once were. Next up, was the National Museum of Korea. Where I learned about the past of North and South Korea. In Canada you do learn about Korea but not nearly as in-depth as this museum. It was great, it gave the history of the dynasty and different rulers and kings. There was even other sections for different countries. I could learn about China, India, Indonesia and Japan; all of these wonderful countries history in one place.
Of course, we had to see a baseball game! I saw one in Japan and Korea was very similar. The opposing fans would cheer and chant the whole game, while there opponent was batting. So much energy and excitement! I saw a 4D video game here which was cool. You sit in these chairs with 3D glasses and controls. The once I saw was a driving game. The chairs move and lift your around creating the 4th dimension of reality.
The subway system is a bit dated, with no air-conditioning. They have “relief goods storage” containers, which had about 34 or so gas masks in them. There’s a Chemical, Biological and Radiological mask on top and smoke masks on the bottom. I recently learned the subway stations act as bomb shelters in case of North Korean attacks. The other masks are, of course, in case of fire.
I have learned in Asia when it is a national holiday, a type of Independence Day, they put their countries flag everywhere. Along the roads about every three meters. It really makes the city look beautiful.
Ah, bibimbap. This is where my love for it began and Kimchi as well. I also have a new interest in Ginseng. I bought some Red Korean Ginseng when I was there, as it is said to have great health benefits. As well as be stronger and less demanding on brewing instructions than ones from other countries. Also, Chicken and beer, I can’t have the beer of course, but this is big here. The chicken wings are spectacular!
As a photographer, there are so many beautiful landscapes and city streets to capture. The night market is always a colourful with the different look of Asian foods, and don’t forget delicious. Tons of temples and shrines to explore and capture from many angles. The original city gates are still in place their original place, now in the middle of the city streets. Again, the history mixed with city life is so unique.
The North Korean border, Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Freedom Bridge and 3rd infiltration tunnel. This is a DO NOT MISS. You get to go in the 'third tunnel', one of the three so far found, in which North Korea tried to sneak underground to attack South Korea after their peace agreement. The boarder can be defined by the power poles South Korea’s are white and North Korea's are grey. South Korea still has farmers living and growing in the South portion of the DMZ. North Korea has a fake village posted on their side. Showing how "prosperous and much better" life is over there. This is a brilliant history lesson and has taught me so much about this beautiful country. The people are also very respectful, helpful and nice.
I kind of went off on a rant with this one. I will try to keep it shorter next time, lol :)
Thank you, South Korea, for your hospitality I hope I will be able to return one day. Maybe even explore the North with in my lifetime.