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Living in Korea.

August 17, 2011
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It’s not as hard as it sounds – living in Korea, that is.

We’d booked ourselves a room in the Somerset Palace – a serviced apartment complex in Central Seoul across the street from the Japanese Embassy and steps from Gyeongbokgung (gee-yong-bock-gung) Palace and the Blue House, Korea’s version of the White house – except that it’s blue…duh.

The Blue House is in the upper left hand corner of this shot – at the base of the mountain.

The Palace?  Very Asian, and a subject of another post.

The Somerset Palace furnished a full breakfast each day – enough to tide one over until dinner if one so desired.  I’d grab a banana and a Korean pear (which looks like a huge brown apple and is totally tasty, BTW) and save them for a fruit lunch.

The apartment complex was not without its charms, such as a penthouse garden deck area.

On the few warm days we’d have, I’d run up to the deck and pretend I was at a rooftop cafe’ in Key West.  Even though this was a 24 story apartment, I had the deck to myself, due to Korean preference to the great indoors.

We were but two blocks from Insa-Dong, the prime arts district of Seoul.

Calligraphy is a big thing here in Korea, and Koreans are proud of their alphabet – unique to Asian countries and supposedly super easy to learn.  Unfortunately, the letters spell out items in Korean, so I’d have to learn the language and grammar before they’d make any sense.

One of the quirks of this very, very modern city is something called combined sewers.

A combined sewer is just that – a storm sewer combined with the ‘other’ kind of sewer.  In certain parts of town, the sewer is vented to the street, which means one may be wandering through a picturesque area and get a whiff of some serious stank.  Koreans love their garlic – and it’s less palatable to the nose after spending time in a human digestive tract.

But that’s about it in the complaint department, as the same is true of Tokyo.  Seoul is actually more modern than Tokyo, as evidenced by our apartment building.

In what I consider to be a distinctive dichotomy, Koreans don’t like to be outside – except when hiking.  they love to hike, and the mountains around Seoul are filled with trails.  I made a point of getting out on the weekends to explore the area on foot.

It was kind of neat to be able to stand atop a mountain ridge and overlook the city in less time than it takes to get to a trailhead by car in the mainland US.  Also, it was interesting to see how crowded these trails were – there are literally hundreds of hiking clubs in Seoul.

These were not trails for the weak of heart; elevation changes of 1000′ were not uncommon.

I’d started out gradually, walking a few miles on Namsan, and then increasing my distance and elevation change until I’d peaked one Saturday with 1500′ of elevation and 16 miles of trail.  And for those of you who are interested in such things – yes.  I did it in flip-flops.

It was an enjoyable time, living in Seoul.  I found it much more pleasant than I’d expected.

Mountain hiking in the middle of the city – imagine that!

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 17, 2011 9:15 am

    It was a awesome experience. Too bad Seoul gets so cold in the winter.

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