Monday, January 25, 2010

Seoul with Ben and Amy

We met Ben and Amy at the train station at 6:40am to make sure we got on our 6:55am train. We chose the train for two reasons. The bus gives Amy motion sickness and it usually gives me a virus. It was really nice, I think we'll be taking it from now on.

We intended to get coffee and go to Namsan Tower first, but ended we got off at a subway station that was so close to the War Memorial that it had a sign showing which exit to take. So, we started there and placed coffee and food on the back burner.

We didn't take any pictures inside the memorial/museum because it looks like any other museum dedicated to Asian studies. It was very interesting, but I don't think museum exhibits fulfill their purpose in photographs. So, here are some photos from the monuments outside the museum.

A water mine with children's faces on it.

There were jets outside on the lot.

The center sculpture is a fusion between the Korean tree of life and a golden sword. Around it are sculptures of Korean people from "all walks of life" participating in or feeling the effects of war.

This is the Statue of Brothers. One is southern, the other northern. This statue, like many things in the plaza and museum itself reveals the nations hope for forgiveness, reconnection and eventually reunification. The division is referred to as "the tragedy."

The Clock Tower of Peace has two clocks. One telling current time. The other stopped at 4 o'clock on June 25th, 1950: the beginning of the Korean War. The two girls are sisters, representing the two nations as separate, but with an eternal familial bond.

It says that this clock will be placed on the tower when the North and the South are reunited. It will capture the time and forever mark the reconciliation.

We failed to take a picture of Memorial Hall. It's a corridor leading to the building that lists the names of all the Korean, American and all other U.N. nation soldiers that lost their lives during the war.

Just inside the lobby. Drums are used as a symbol of Korean culture and pride. The rest of the memorial was very much a museum. Ian and I expected it to solely cover the Korean War (the civil war), but it actually covered every war the country has been involved in since prehistory, with an exhibit discussing the "shameful" time in which Korea was occupied by Japan.

After the memorial, we headed to Starbucks. I tried the seasonal special, a Honey Orange Latte, and it was amazing. I wish we had a coffee place near us with (first) decent coffee and creative flavor specials. I like black coffee and vanilla lattes, but there's something special about drinks that coincide with the weather or seasonal food. On our way to Starbucks, we witnessed a bum fight. You don't see many bums in Korea, even in Seoul. I think they were fighting over sleeping territory and no one stepped in to stop them. A man near us excitedly explained that they get drunk and fight everyday.

This isn't the Starbucks we went to. I think it's the headquarter store because of the sign and the Koreanized building.

We wondered through Namdaemun Market a little and Amy got some wooden chopsticks and little cups at a shop and Ian and I got Korean flag patches (for his rucksack and my rucksack that I'm planning to purchase for our trek home).

Near City Hall at a design exhibition for the future of Seoul, Ian helped power a giant educational wind tunnel (the faux-ice sculpture behind him) that has something to do with Antarctica.

Amy and I got a good look at the changing of the guards ceremony outside the Gyeongbok Palace gate.  Be sure to watch the video.  I'm pretty pleased with what I got.

When the ceremony was over we headed over to Krispy Kreme so that Ben could get his fix (he held out at Starbucks in anticipation). Ian and I split a cheesecake donut that was pretty damn good. Then we wandered around the Lotte Department Store to kill a little time before heading to the pub. Yes, we needed to kill time between gorge fests. Living in a rural area can bring out strange (read: terrible) eating habits when one gets back to an urban setting where choices are available.

The Wolfhound!  The pub was mostly full of foreigners and our waitress spoke perfect English and had no idea where Jecheon is.

Amy with her Kilkenny and Ben with his Coke.

Ian is deliriously happy about his Guinness.

And I about my Kilkenny.  It was amazing.  I had forgotten that I actually like beer.

Ian and I started with curry chips (french fries with curry sauce) and then got their house made veggie burgers with side salads.

Delicious.  I didn't manage to get a photo of the curry chips that didn't make them look disgusting.  The burger patty was soft (black beans and chickpeas) with a crispy breading.  So good, but I wish it were just a little firmer.  I didn't manage to finish it, so Ian was treated to a another quarter of burger.

Ian made a spaceship out of our beer coasters.

After siiting, talking and digesting a little, Amy and I shared an apple crumble.  It was good, but a little over buttered and under salted.  People always forget that baked desserts need salt.

We hopped on the subway and headed to Costco.  We had bought our return tickets in the morning, so we had a time limit.  When we came up from the subway station, we accidentally walked the wrong direction, so we had to hop a cab.  We ran around Costco for forty minutes getting Tillamook cheese, Cheerios, croutons, pretzels, and Whoppers.  We split the pretzels and Whoppers with Ben and Amy.  We came out of Costco a minute or two behind schedule, but we found a cab quickly and directed him (with much effort) to the train station.  Several figure eights later, he finally took us there.  His taking advantage of us caused us to have to run (truly, run) for our train.  We made it, though we were worried for Ian who trailed behind due to his Costco loaded rucksack.

His stuffed bag on the train rack.

Relaxing on the train.

The trip was great fun and exhausting.  It was a good change of pace to share it with friends.

Good night!


  1. I am so so so so SO happy that you have made good friends there. It makes all the difference. I mean, if Dominic and I didn't have Kara and Eric I think we might be really miserable. I know there is the whole "But at least you are with someone you love" excuse, but that doesn't mean you won't get sick of them or need a little girl time or he won't need a little guy time, you know? And the fact that you have a couple to couple with is even better!

  2. Looks like you all had a great time. The war memorial was nicely done. I really liked the clocks and what they represent.

  3. wow your war memorial pics are great! I took lots and thankfully got a few good ones. I forgot to mentio the bum fight in my blog LOL! I'll never forget that guy telling Ian "everyday they fight!" hahaha! mmm beer and lattes I miss them already!