It’s been a long time without a post here, but our time in Hong Kong is quite intense! Anyway, today another megacity came back to our minds, the capital of South Korea – Seoul. Hitchhiking back there from the rural side of the country, we were hit with the noise, crowds and the city lights. Fortunately, we made the most of the couchsurfing service before it changed its policies and let down the majority of their users recently… Yet again we were lucky to enjoy our stay in quite a place! The couchsurfing host named Bibi offered us the flat of her friend who was away, the whole place for us, for free and for as long as we want it, amazing!
In Seoul there are 25 wards, each with their own downtown, adding to it “main” downtowns like for example Gangnam, there are quite many places to check so we were not wasting our time! After the first night in the silent neighbourhood of Singyo-dong we set off on a long sightseeing trip. It turned out that it’s really easy to get lost in the labyrinth of the narrow streets there so we had to mark our new home address on the map. Palaces, gardens, museums, modern art galleries, cafes, traditional markets, there are tons of them! We hopped from one place to another enjoying sunny days, clear blue skies and autumn colours. Korea feels so much less touristy than Japan, the tour groups and solo tourists we saw, were all domestic. Korean people seem to love social networking, taking a never ending amount of selfies in front of famous sights or checking what is the next most trending cafe in the area where you can get delicious cold brew coffee. Restaurants seem also to be a common subject, everybody knows some great “secret” place where a particular dish is served the best. Bibi took us to two such places and let us tell you, once again it was proven to us that Korean cuisine is the hottest and the most delicious in the world. Even though we had to continue our evening walks with a burning fire in our stomachs and being drunk on soju, it was all well worth it!!!
Out of various smaller and bigger art galleries the biggest impression was made on us by an exhibition of Tomas Saraceno in Hyundai Gallery. Especially his art made in collaboration with spiders, worth checking out wherever you can find it! Also, it needs to be pointed out that the collection of the National Museum is astounding and the quality of the exhibitions is on another level. In aim to learn more about difficult and oftentimes tragic national history we’ve visited Seodaemun Prison Museum and The War and Women’s Human Rights Museum. The latter one concerning comfort women (or Imperial Japanese Army’s sex slaves) is the subject that would regularly come back to us during our travels through East Asia. Nowhere it is louder though than in Seoul, where flags and banners saying “Boycott Japan!” are everywhere. So are the protests, the major one being Wednesday Demonstration. Being nearby it, we were stopped by journalism students for a small interview about it. We strongly recommend learning more about this subject and about the awful stance on this topic by the current government of Japan. Such disagreements towards history are experienced by us in every visited country, here we got a new point of view learning about the one between 2 of the largest economies in the world. Nevertheless, it was very interesting to see how among governments of China and North Korea it is clearly the Japanese that Korean have the most negative opinion about.
With heads full of new facts and thoughts we went on checking every neighbourhood of this huge, wonderful and still quite underrated city.