Thanks to a kind invitation by the Odoms, we decided to hop the KTX (fast train) to Seoul for a day of sightseeing, including the Lantern Festival I’d been hoping to see since reading about it while still at home in Belfast. The KTX system is simple and easy and seemingly always on time, and a good thing, too, when you’re standing in the cold awaiting your ride! Yup, we’ve finally hit a true fall, with cold nights and cool days. And if the wind blows here in Daegu (and, likewise, Seoul) the temp dips lower than is comfortable. The kids liked the new way of travel. With their iPods, sketch books and colored pencils, they were happy as could be for two hours, which, by bus, would be more than 4.
I can say this for Seoul: it’s big, busy, bustling and bursting with life. First, we hustled our way to a Naem Dae Mun Market, only to flit through two streets and hustle our way back out again. The crowds were ca-razy and though it’s easy to spot the caucasians in the group, we couldn’t concentrate on anything and keep an eye on everyone in our group…insanity! Next, we visited an ancient palace in the heart of downtown Seoul. Surrounded by skyscrapers and neighbored by a Dunkin Donuts, the palace held a kind of peace inside its walls. It was a gorgeous fall day, with orange and yellow leaves still dangling from the trees and the sunshine peaking through. One could get a small sense of life as it was lived here hundreds of years ago. The changing of the guards occured here…a colorful, booming spectacle. I hope the pictures capture some of it. What struck me, and I’m sure you’re noticing the repeating of this theme…was the view of this ultra-modern city that served as the backdrop for such a revered, ancient ritual. The past meets the future and attempts to meld here in Korea, everywhere we turn. It’s fascinating.
Lastly, the Lantern Festival – worth the trip, for sure. It reminded me of a parade, only the crowd moves instead of the ‘floats’. Again, wall to wall people gathered and meandered around, enjoying the beautiful works of art. Enjoy!