Sunday, May 9, 2010

mother's day sightseeing

ughhh...having a cold and allergies at the same time is a deadly combination for your sinuses. i sound like the dead right now. still, we managed to see a lot today. being sunday, we first went to the English church service at Saemoonan, which was the first church established in Korea during the 1880s by the missionary Underwood. it was also the church that my mother's family attended in the 1960s, and it brought back a lot of memories of her and her grandmother, as well as the pastor who led the church at the time. we also got to pass by my mom's old elementary school, which was right around the corner. i tried to picture my mom as a little girl, walking down these streets, but it's hard to imagine the same person who constantly reminds me not to enjoy my vacation too much because i have bar ads coming up.

after church, we went to the Korean National Museum, which is something like the fifth largest museum in the world. it was pretty huge, and we only had time to explore a portion of it, so we focused on the history of korea. i have to say, it was pretty enlightening to learn about the thousands of years of Korean civilization, but the most interesting thing i learned today was that while i can't speak fluent Korean, for some reason i seemed to have picked up some Chinese.

ninja stars. korean style.

a ten-storey pagoda built, like, a thousand years ago. koreans are pretty amazing

after the museum, we browsed through the dongdaemun markets, particularly the pyunghwa clothing market, but i found that unless you have a burning desire to buy skull-printed suspenders or ridiculous hats, there wasn't much for vintage clothing shoppers like me. we did enjoy perusing through the various designer stands at Doosan Towers, which was amazing simply because of its sheer size - imagine a Bay Street skyscraper, filled with clothing shops.

by then, my cold had overpowered my excitement for fashion so we headed home, walking along the Chunggyechun stream. This is a particularly beautiful part of Korea, a stream that runs through the downtown core. it used to be a stinky place where people would dump their garbage. then the government filled it up and built a road over it. then the next government decided to open up the stream again, clean it up, and open it to the public as a nice canal to walk along. it sure beats garbage river or cement city any day.

look how ridiculously fat i've gotten on this trip. it's a wonder i didn't break the rocks i was walking on to cross the stream.

okay, going to bed now. i have some epic backpacking ahead of me for the next few days and there is a korean-war style battle going on within my body right now...