Next week, Diego’s jetting off to South Korea for a family holiday. Now travelling with other people might not be his cup of tea, but when the chance for an excursion paid almost entirely out of parental pockets comes by, he’s not one to let the opportunity slip past.
As an appetiser for (and a nice seasonal counterpoint to) the autumn field reports that I’ll write after that forthcoming journey, I’ve decided to post a series of field reports documenting my solo trip to Seoul this past winter. It’s been months since that trip ended so these reports may contain less commentary than usual (a sad consequence of not having a memory card for a brain), but the photographs will no doubt speak far better than I ever can.
Day one: the 9th of February 2013. Temperature: high of -3 degrees C, low of -12 degrees C.
In a word: chilly. The lowest temperatures I’d ever experienced in my life (up to that point at least).
My flight arrived early in the morning and I was in no fit state to do much sightseeing, so we’ll have a short field report ahead. All for the best as I took in some of my best sights on the 10th, so the sooner I get this out of the way, the faster I can tell the tale of that much longer day.
(Oh dear. I’ve just rhymed, haven’t I?)
As a history nut, I couldn’t have allowed this trip to end without paying a visit to Seoul’s mammoth National Museum of Korea.
There’s a beautiful garden outside the museum’s main building, but the morning air was so intensely cold that I couldn’t expose my hands long enough to take more exterior shots. Let’s just hurry inside and get warm.
The open platform outside the entrance offers great views of the city, including the iconic N Seoul Tower to the north.
A few shots of the vast interior, including one of the museum’s highlights: the so-called “ten-storey” marble pagoda of Gyeongcheonsa Temple, originally erected in 1348 and (after a long history of relocations and restorations) was finally set up here in 2005.
I also paid a visit to the massive War Memorial of Korea, a sprawling museum-cum-monument complex that contains some very moving exhibits describing the Korean War and other martial episodes in the nation’s history.
Oh, and did I mention that admission is free? Make a beeline for this place if you’re on a budget – but even if you’ve got pockets bursting with won, come here anyway. The exhibits are well worth seeing.
If memory serves (and it rarely does, that rebellious fool), I only toured the grounds on this day and visited the interior exhibits on another occasion, though the reason for doing so escapes me.
Off to one side of the memorial grounds is an outdoor exhibit featuring some interesting pieces of military hardware.
All right, that’s day one done. (I did say it was going to be a quick report.) Let’s move on to day 2, which was so full of attractions that we’ll need more than one post to go through it all.