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15 June 2012

On the Road to Seoul

What does a girl do for five hours at Incheon Airport's Hyatt Regency Hotel? It was seven thirty and I had a plane to catch later in the afternoon. I decided to take the ninety minute bus journey into Seoul.
Having suggested all sorts of jolly tours I could take, none of which started until after nine, and all of which ended far too close for comfort to my departure time, the helpful hotel staff suggested I visit Gyeongbokgung Palace. They wrote a note for me to show the bus-driver indicating where I wanted to alight, and off I went.

This is the view from my Hotel room across to lovely Incheon Airport

My mental image of South Korea has always been rather flat and grey. And so it proved; grey sky, with low hills, trees, buildings and bridges looming out of the mist. There is a lot of grey concrete as well, and expanses of grey water. A maze of freeways and bridges of all sort crossing canals and other roads. I tried taking some photographs from the bus, but most were too boring to post.

approaching Seoul

the blur is partly because it was taken through the window, but
more because a gloomy grey mist lay over everything

it's a worry when something like this overtakes your bus

The bus driver obligingly told me I'd reached my stop, and I went to visit the Palace. This is one of those 600-year-old monuments that have had to be rebuilt every now and then. It is currently being rebuilt after being almost completely destroyed by the Japanese; about 40% is complete. It houses the national folk museum, and it all looks self-consciously Cultural. 

I took photos of details of roofs and doors, and found a lot of grey stone statues all copied from originals elsewhere in Korea. Even the fanged – so presumably fierce and evil – ones were rather comical and cute. So was the lion guarding the gate.

There were some costumed people marching around a courtyard; a group of musicians accompanied them, drummers beat time and a young man in a crisp white shirt ran around shouting directions.

 Eventually they all disappeared behind a canvas wall painted to match the surrounding stonework and I went back to the bus stop.

Here are some more photos, around the palace or on the way back to the bus stop - I only had a little over an hour there, after all.

I think this is the Hyangwonjeong pavilion.
I also think it would have been nice to have more time to look at it

Some of the busy people who keep it all tidy

all right - so I took a photo of the bus stop

this bus stop was further away; lots of stops were improved
by the addition of flower boxes, which should be encouraged

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