Monday, September 24, 2012

A Chill Day in Seoul (Weekend pt. 1)

This past weekend, I made another trek up north to the Capital, from much farther away this time, and on my own. It was a giant step up from my last excursion outside of Changwon, but I was ready to embrace everything, mishaps and all, as an adventure.

As it turns out, everything was pretty chill. I woke up at 5:30am and left the house by six. It took me about one hour to get to the intercity bus terminal (시외버스터미널) due to my unfamiliarity with the lines that run super early on a Saturday morning. But I had plenty of time. My 7:20am bus arrived at Seoul Express Bus Terminal (in the Gangnam district) at 11:45am. The projected length of the trip was four hours and ten minutes; we encountered a bit of traffic going in. The first thing I did was get some lunch: pineapple pork 볶음밥 (and I'm sorry, but Taiwan does it way better).

From there, I went to meet up with other Fulbrighters in Itaewon, the international district. They had just had brunch at an American diner; I met them at 1:20pm. All in all, it took me over seven hours of travel to meet up with friends! Once we did, though, it was time to relax. We took the metro to the Yeouinaru station, which is located on an island of sorts in the middle of the Han River. We were told that this would be the best place to experience the awesomeness that is the Han River Parks (한각공원), a series of parks and public recreation spaces scattered along the banks of Seoul's big, beautiful river.
Jumping for joy at the Han River Park!
To put it simply, we did experience the awesomeness. Cecile, Kristen, Ben, Julia, and I just chilled on the banks of the river for hours, talking, eating ice cream and chocolate, and watching speedboats and ferries go by. We were later joined by some other friends. We basked in the sun. Cecile painted. We watched an amateur traditional drumming performance. And we saw this:
We were going to take a photo, and then I saw this, and then we were all mesmerized for five minutes. He was doing dolphin dives and stuff; everyone on the docked ferry was watching, too! Amazing.
It was blissful. Very relaxing. The beautiful clear weather and autumn-is-nigh sunshine were a bonus. After spending so much time outside, though, my allergies started to act up. Later in the evening, I felt like I was at Swat in the springtime: runny nose, headache, and consequent irritability, which seemed to take the form of bossiness... Well, we'll not think about that now. Photos!
Kristen and Julia enjoying ice cream (red bean fish-shaped ice cream pastry! and a Melona bar!) at the Han River Park.
The kids we saw drumming and marching in a circle for hours. It looked like quite a workout, but also lots of fun!
Fulbright 친구 in Seoul! From left to right: Ben, Julia, Kristen, Cecile, and me. (taken by Julia's friend David)
In the next post: evening in Hongdae (홍대) and the Namsan Tower (남산타워)!

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