Since Thursday, I have been running ragged. Now I sound like my mother. But seriously, it’s like people say. You’re typically exhausted when you come back home from vacation. I don’t think that will be the case for me since, as I mentioned in my previous post, many of the sightseeing spots are closed on Mondays. I’m not sure why. I asked Sang Lee and she said she really didn’t know.
So Monday I slept in. I woke up around 8:30, but didn’t get up until about an hour later. I did some blog writing, got up and took a shower, and then got ready to leave the apartment. I left around 10:30.
One thing—I can’t remember if I mentioned this previously—was the enormous amount of coffee shops in Seoul. Seriously, it is absolutely ridiculous. I know we say back in Houston, or in any big city, that there seems to be a Starbucks on every corner. In Seoul, and I saw in Busan as well, that there isn’t just a coffee shop on every corner, but one on every turn. Literally packed against each other.
My first full day in Seoul I noticed this saturation of coffee shops. Then I looked it up online. There has been a massive surge in coffee shops over the past four years. In fact, there are nearly 50,000 coffee shops in South Korea. Keep in mind that South Korea isn’t very big—think near the size of Louisiana. Anyway, there are approximately 17,000 coffee shops in Seoul alone.
I said all of that to say this. The first thing I did Monday, when I left the apartment, was get a cup of coffee. There is this place down the street called Tous le Jours. It’s French, obviously. But it really isn’t the coffee. They make these delicious pastries with the softest bread I have ever felt, mixed with cream cheese and cranberries. I am seriously going to miss having those. I am absolutely hooked on them.
From there, I traveled throughout the city on the subway and via the ole two legs. I have begun to feel a bit of pain in the Achilles tendon of my left foot. I am certain it is from all the walking and the numerous hills, and that stinking walk to the Tower.
MOTORBIKES AND THE POWER CORD
Regardless, I went through the heart of an area where these mopeds and bikes roam the streets delivering goods and packages. They are everywhere and they worry very little about rules of the road. In fact, I think the rules only apply to vehicles with four wheels. It was really neat watching them go back and forth from their hub where there were practically hundreds of motorbikes. From there, they would drop the packages off to these people with brace-like carriers on their backs and haul them to their final destination. It was a sight to see. Everyone is moving and shaking. Well, maybe not shaking.
I saw one of the walls built about 600 years ago for the protection of the city, along with a massive entrance gate. During this time, I began looking for a cord that would fit my camera. The reason being is that the plugs here in South Korea are completely different than in America. Why we can’t have universal plugs is beyond me. I think it’s a sure sign of why we can’t have global peace. If we can’t even have the same plugs, then peace is out of the question.
I searched for an electronics store, but found none. Then I searched the local vendors with their tents. One old man had a bunch of cords and I sifted through them. I found some hanging from the top that looked to match my battery pack—at least from my memory. I bought it. It cost 1,000 WAN, which calculates to less than $1. There was really nothing to lose.
Then I grabbed some lunch to go and headed back to the apartment. Boom! Perfect fit. My battery, which was on one bar, was saved. I was really worried that I wouldn’t be able to take many more pictures.
I ate my food, and I’ll tell you now, I have become pretty proficient with the chopsticks. After I filled my tummy and let my camera battery charge for a bit, I headed back toward Ganghwamun Square.
KOREA’S FIGHT FOR “COMFORT WOMEN”
For those of you who don’t know much about the history of Korea, even its recent history, there is still plenty of animosity toward Japan for its past offenses.
Quick review: Late 1800’s, Korea was forced into an unequal treaty with Japan; 1895, Japanese murdered the queen of Korea, Queen Min, with the help of Korean progressives (mainly the queen’s father-in-law); 1905, Japan annexes Korea; 1910, Japan colonizes Korea and does so until 1945 when Japan is defeated in World War II. During WWII, Japan forced Korean women to be “comfort women”, or, more to the point, sex slaves. The apologies set forth by the Japanese government, even as of recently, have fallen flat for many Koreans.
Currently, there is a “Comfort Women” statue in front of the Japanese Embassy. Japan wishes for it to be gone, but the requirement to meet the apologetic demands of the still surviving “comfort women” have yet to be met, therefore it remains.
The embassy is just a couple of blocks from Ganghwamun Square, and so I went there and took photos.
FOR OLD TIME’S SAKE: STARBUCKS
It has become pretty chilly and so I wanted to grab a cup of coffee. A Starbucks was right around the corner. I figured why not. I’m an American; let’s have a cup of joe on the ole US of A. I have actually never been to a nicer Starbucks. Two stories and elaborately decorated. And they’re definitely prepped for Christmas. Already had the tunes going. Mom and Dad would have been proud, especially since it is Halloween. After sitting for a while drinking a specialty drink of which I can’t remember, I left for the apartment.
BACK TO MYEONGDONG
I decided, since it was my “off night” that I would dress for the environment (not in a Halloween costume) and head back to Myeongdong and check out the shops and perhaps grab some grub for the evening.
It was enjoyable walking around just to walk around and taking random photos. It was another full day that left me waiting for sleep. I got back to the apartment around 10:30 after eating some yaki noodles and fried shrimp on a stick. I wanted to get a good night’s sleep before getting up early to visit the DMZ. Also known as the 38th Parallel. Also known as the line of separation between South and North Korea.