Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Trip To South Korea - Day 1


Yesterday was my first proper day in Seoul, having not really done much on the day of my arrival yesterday. I was pretty jet lagged, so ended up waking at about 5:30am, a couple of hours earlier than I'd set my alarm.

First on the list of things to do was to visit the War Memorial of Korea, just to give myself a bit of background knowledge on the Korean war, which I have to admit, I barely knew a thing about.

Anyway, I left the flat to walk to the subway station, not really knowing where it was. Good ol' Google Maps came to the rescue, although there were a lot of small alleyways and you could easily get lost.

After getting to the subway, all I needed to do was to get to Samgakji station, which happened to be only one stop away. Easy!

The War Memorial of Korea is really close to Samgakji station; on arrival just head for exit 12 and you're pretty much there. Just walk straight on and then round the bend and you'll come to the main entrance.

The first things you probably see are a number of statues and monuments, as well as an area with a load of vehicles, including tanks, planes, boats, and various other weaponry.

You'll also see the museum itself, which is a really grand looking building across from a massive square. So I then decided to go inside.

Much of the museum covers the Korean War, which began in 1950 up until the ceasefire in 1953.

I had been reading online, that you should allow three or four hours to see everything here, however I ended up reading pretty much every piece of information that had been translated into English, and ended up staying there for about eight hours in total!

For me, it was fascinating. I'm not usually interested in warfare and the history of these conflicts, but this museum really covered everything in an interesting and informative way. The only other time this had happened was about eight years ago when I visited the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima, Japan.

A few other rooms were devoted to other conflicts in which Korea had been part of, such as the Vietnam War but seeing as I'd spent so long looking at the Korean War exhibits, I could only devote an hour or so to the rest of the museum.

The museum opens at 9am and closes at six o'clock in the evening, although I didn't arrive until about 10am.

So fascinated was I that I didn't even stop for food at lunchtime; there's a cafe/restaurant there, but I never tried it so can't really comment. There are also a number of drinks vending machines dotted around, which I did use just to keep me going.

Come 6pm, I had walked so much that my legs were aching quite a bit and I was also feeling ridiculously tired and sleepy (not from being bored! I think the jet lag had caught up with me at this point).

I had planned on visiting a few other places that day, but in the end didn't have  enough time, so I returned to my accommodation to shower before grabbing some food.

After showering I messaged my Airbnb host to see if she fancied going out for some food, but unfortunately she was still at the office and had to work late. I had read already that when it comes to working, South Korea works the most number of hours per year in the world.

So I asked my host if she could recommend anywhere nearby that was good for food. So I tried this place Si Rae OK, which turned out to be a Korean Barbeque (Bulgogi) restaurant.

Upon entering, I asked for a table but was told that they don't serve single diners, and that maybe next time if I was with someone I could eat there! After looking online, it turns out this is quite common for Bulgogi restaurants, that you would have to buy two plates if you did want to eat, although i didn't get this option. So I opted to go to a steak restaurant nearby, which turned out to be pretty nice.

Anyway, that was my day yesterday, today I'm off for a tour of Panmunjom! It's 6am now and I need to be at the meeting place for 7:40am. I'm fine now while  I'm a little jet lagged, but I don't know how much longer I'll be able to wake up super early and write. Hopefully I'll keep it up!

Anyway, more on the tour later, and I'll have to add photos at a later date. See you next time!

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