So, it's really cold outside.
Like, this may be the coldest day yet. At 6pm, when I was on the subway, I saw it was -11 outside. And I think for the first time it was accompanied by a bone-chilling wind that blew most of the day.
But today was a good day in Seoul!
I slept in a bit, though still not enough. I have bloodshot eyes, though I don't know if it is due to all of good sleep, the cold, or the dry air. I can't wait to get back to my warm, quiet apartment tomorrow.
But today was a good day in Seoul!
I started at Changdeokdung Palace (don't ask me to pronounce that) right at 10:30. The English language tour of the "secret" garden wasn't until 11:30, giving me about an hour to run around the palace grounds to take pictures. It's a large palace, and if I had had more time and the weather was nicer I probably would have wanted more time to explore. I also fought the cold with my camera. The batteries don't work so well when it's below freezing outside, so I had to keep one in my pocket while using the other, to keep it warm. Then I could just trade them out, and I managed to not drain my entire batteries using this method!
The secret garden tour was great. There is a very beautiful library back there which can only be seen on the tour. With yesterday's fresh snow, it was even more gorgeous. I'm sure the snow helped out all over the palace grounds, because it looks like there is a lot of brown dirt instead of green grass or shrubbery. Though it looks like the garden area will be just as good any time of year!
My next stop was Sejong University Museum. This is housed in a large building designed to resemble the city gates. The first floor has examples of what houses/rooms were like in the past, while the second floor is devoted entirely to the hanbok, the traditional korean outfit. The best displays are on the third floor, which is essentially a collection of various crafts and household items. There are wooden shoes, roof tiles, mirrors, and tables. It's easily the best part of the museum. Though the first floor was certainly impressive as well.
While I was at the university, I tried to get some wifi to check on a few things. Caffe Bene is a huge coffee chain here in Korea and there's one at the entrance to the university. The connection was spotty at best, and my ₩4000 peppermint drink ended up being peppermint tea. It was still good but I was hoping for peppermint mocha, since you can't get it in Japan. Starbucks has it, so I guess I'll have to go there. Anyway, Caffe Bene served their hot drinks above the boiling point. I don't know how they do it, because that defies the laws of science, but it was about 20 minutes before I could even sip it. And I had left the lid and sleeve off! Be warned: hot drinks are super-hot!
My last tourist destination was the Seoul Olympic Museum. But I first stopped back at WeFAN, the sports store I saw KBO merchandise at. This time they were open! They don't carry everything in the store that they have on the website, but I got some souvenirs. Plus after talking with the salesman, I'll be able to go back tomorrow afternoon and buy little packs of tissues so I can have souvenirs with every team logo on them! Yeah, goofy. But it works.
The Olympic Museum is very nice, especially since it is free. I have to give Korea credit for the number of tourist destinations with really low or free admission. The amusement parks aren't cheap (about average, actually - Taiwan's parks were really cheap), but museums are mostly free and the other sites have been low-cost. They don't have much on display but what is shown is done well, and there are plenty of signs in English explaining everything. There was less on display here than at Tokyo's museum, but the Seoul museum has a fresher, funner, more energetic feel.
Happy with my day's adventures and purchases, I went for dinner a Dillinger's. Located in Itaewon, with many other western-style bars, it stood out to me because I learned about their ₩400 wing special. For ₩4000 ($4) I got ten spicy wings. Super-sticky sauce coated each wing and it had heat but wasn't overwhelming. They were so good I went for more: ten honey garlic plus ten more spicy. The honey garlic should be called garlic honey, because the sauce is basically honey. There's some garlic flavor, but it's not a sauce with garlic and honey added. It really is honey, with garlic added. They also have plain, regular, teriyaki, and green curry. I wish I had tried green curry because it sounds interesting. I guess the next time I come to Korea I'll have to come back to find out!
So back to my hostel I go. I fly back to Tokyo tomorrow evening. I am hoping to have enough time to see all of Gueongbokdung (another palace - it could take up to five hours with the two museums it houses). Plus, I have to get back to WeFAN to get those other souvenirs. It's time to pack. So I'll see you again when I get back to Tokyo!