Day 3 in Seoul

7 am. Again. I know that doesn’t seem that early but it feels early – it’s before sunrise by just a tiny bit. Also we wake up feeling tired which is really getting on our nerves. We’ve been walking around so much our legs and feet are achy and we just get tired so easily – a good nights sleep is what we need but can’t seem to get a really great one. We just keep trying to go to bed when we should, but we will wakeup without any reason at 7 am. Tired.

Today was our first work week day – we’ve been hanging out with other Koreans during the weekend but now everybody had to go to work. So we were battling with commuters to get anywhere at about 7:30 when we began our breakfast foraging. And our day began by getting shoved out of the way by a Korean reporter who was dressed like a princess and running full speed (in heels) to the Korean news high-rise. I can’t be sure but she looked a lot like the main anchorwoman.

It was interesting to witness the commute, this is a very populated place so seeing bus after bus after bus just pulling up to the same bus stops was impressive. They don’t have anything on Germany for trains but they may have this bus thing down a little better.

Since the first day we’ve been here we wanted to eat at Paris Baguette, so we finally did. I got a ham and hard boiled egg sandwich which inexplicably had garlic and sugar in it. Strangely delicious. Chris got a red-bean filled donut (just like a jelly filled donut with all the powdered sugar on it) and we shared a blueberry-filled pastry (which had a strong cheese taste). All very good. A fun place, the employees dressed with stripy shirts and little berets and even the coffee cups looked like little Frenchmen.

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We walked to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. We’ve seen it from afar a couple of times (during the protests we witnessed on the first night) but now we were going to actually go in. It’s not expensive at all, about $3 and it’s very extensive. Come to find out only about 40% of structures have been reconstructed so at one point it was much much bigger.

The entrance gate:

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Just at the entrance was a Haitai (aka Haechi, Haetae or even Xiezhi). A mythical animal after my own heart. In China he looks a little different and he settles arguments by ramming the guilty party, which I love. In Korea he has a horn as well but he doesn’t use it for justice-ramming. He has the body of a lion, a bell around his neck and is covered in scales. He is more of a protector, he is good at judging good vs evil and is supposed to protect Seoul (from both weather/elements or from crime). He can move super fast, forward and backwards through time and he can (and will) bite the moon which explains why the moon is sometimes half eaten.

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I actually got a Haechi pin earlier because I thought he was so cool, but now I’m seeing him on everything (he is, after all, the symbol of the city of Seoul)

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Gyeongbokgung was first constructed in 1395 but has been burned down, abandoned, reconstructed, destroyed, burned again, and finally reconstructed to what it is today. It did serve as the main palace off and on so there is a throne room, concubine gardens, visitors quarters, servant quarters, food storage, kitchens. Everything palaces need to entertain and be the center of rule.

The throne
The throne

The palace was the site of a couple assassinations and was pretty much at the heart of the final takeover of Korea for Japan’s occupation. They destroyed quite a bit of it and built a government building of their own in front of it – in traditional colonizing fashion.

Now it’s just a rebuilt monument, although the “Blue House” the president’s house is almost right next door. So government is still grouped around the palace.

We watched a changing of the guards ceremony

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Then explored a bit

An entertaining hall - the king threw large banquets here
An entertaining hall – the king threw large banquets here
What constantly amazes us in Seoul is the old-new contrast.
What constantly amazes us in Seoul is the old-new contrast.
A pavilion built to represent femininity in the rear of the concubine's garden. Nearby to here was where the queen was assassinated by Japanese in 1895
A pavilion built to represent femininity in the rear of the concubine’s garden. Nearby to here was where the queen was assassinated by Japanese in 1895

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After the palace, we went to lunch, then we went home for a bit to recover from lunch.

Feeling a bit better we went to a coffee shop to try some new coffees. Chris got a sweet potato latte which was actually very good. We’re pretty sure we saw the barista muddling some sweet potatoes and sure enough, at the bottom there were bits of real potato. It actually goes very well together. I got a Black Tea Latte – Chris and I couldn’t decide so I got the next most interesting thing on the menu. It was awfully tasty as well.

Sweet potato latte on left, black tea on right
Sweet potato latte on left, black tea on right

After our tasty-but-not-what-we-wanted lunch. We wanted Western food. So we did a pretty common Korean dinner – Chicken and Beer.

We went to “Madfry Chicken” which was amazing. You pick 2 sauces, we were looking at options of red, yellow, white, white-yellow, and another red. We had a couple guesses as to what they were “Mustah-du” sounds familiar. And one was definitely ketchup. So we ordered the ones we didn’t know, white-yellow, and white.

Also, still scared from the bones from lunch, we got boneless chicken. Served on a bed of homemade potato chips.

DSC01439We also got pickled radish for a side, some kind of corn chips. And two half liters of beer.

Amazing. Just what we needed after what happened at lunch, haha. But really, we’ve been balancing (after all, Korea is all about balance) our meals, one Korean meal and one Western meal every day. We have the whole rest of the year to eat as creatively as we want. But for now, we like the balance.

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