Visiting Pieter in Seoul (Korea)

15-16 May 2010

A year ago, Pieter came to visit me in Tokyo, and since then I had the plan to visit him in Seoul, but due to experiments and finishing my PhD, I stil hadn't. I just didn't want to delay it anymore, and I decided to go and see Pieter over the weekend.

I had been in Seoul before, with another ex-housemate of mine (Post 30, part 1 & part 2), so I had already seen most of the tourist attractions. Now I asked Pieter to show me some of the "normal life" and we went to walk over the city walls of Seoul that had recently been opened to the public.

Small building with several kimchee (Korean spicy preserved cabbage) pots and stone statues

I was surprised to see that many of the trees in Seoul had some kind of infuse. I wonder what they give these trees and why...

At the Bongwonsa temple there was some events for the upcoming "Buddha's Birthday" celebration, which is a national holiday in Korea. I wonder if they sing "Happy birthday to you... Happy birthday dear Buddha... Happy birthday to you~~~". I don't think this is being celebrated in Japan.

Pieter showed me around the campus of his university (Yonsei) and we had lunch closeby. Then we went to the Han river where we met some of Pieter's friends who were hanging out there. Finally we went back to the university area, where we met Pieter's girlfriend, a roommate and another friend, and dinner in a lively area full of cafes and restaurants. We finished with "a few" drinks here and there before going home for a well deserved sleep.

The next day we slept until late, went for a relaxed lunch on the garden terrace of a building on the edge of the Yonsei campus. Then we took the bus for a few stops and hiked up to Inwangsan (Korean:인왕산, Kanji:仁王山). This trail leads up to the city walls of Seoul and is quite heavily guarded by the army to make sure you don't take any pictures of the "blue roof" building where the President resides. Pictures to the south are ok, so here, on the right, you see Namsan (the "South mountain" which is just south of the inner city center of Seoul.

From Inwangsan we hiked north-east along the city walls. They are renewing it all to make it into a tourist attraction, as well as a nice trail for the citizens of Seoul to get "out of the city". The trail is freely accessible, but there are guards carrying guns everywhere, which creates a bit strange atmosphere. To be sure, I asked whether it was ok to take this picture, because the mountains in the back, or just beyond it, should be North Korea already!

Then the trail went down, back to the city. We bought some snack and drinks at a local supermarket, before starting part 2 of the hike.

Part 2 of the hike was up to Bugaksan (Korean:북악산, Kanji:北岳山 = North Peak Mountain = Mt. Kitadake in Japanese ;-) ). This mountain is in the backyard of the president, and once someone knocked the president's door after entering over this hill, so security is paranoid on this trail. You also have to register with your passport to enter here. Taking pictures was mostly allowed I think, but actually, the first part of the hike was nicer. This part up Bugaksan was all made into stairs and with wooden platforms to accomodate large groups of tourists, whereas the trail over Inwangsan was more natural.
We climbed to the observatory on the peak, and then went back the same way to be sure I had enough time to pick up my stuff at Pieter's house and get to the airport.

<< Hiking Kumotoriyama Berlin (Part 1) >>