Field Notebook title graphic
Home   Previous   Next

Old Seoul

All throughout the city of Seoul are castles, temples and gates of old dynasties. It's very interesting to see all of the old buildings right next to the new ones.

Namdaemun - Great South Gate

Old Gate
Nice Wall

Across the street from the theatre is a statue of Yi Sunsin (1545–1598), a Korean naval leader noted for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598) during the Joseon Dynasty. He is reputed to be one of the few admirals to have been victorious in every naval battle (at least 23) that he commanded.

Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-sin

Near the theatre is one of the old castles called Gyeongbok Palace. I had a chance to go there on my way to work one day. It is the largest palace of the Joseon Dynasty and was built in 1394. It consists of 330 buildings sitting on 410,000 square meters of land. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of time to tour the castle as I had to get to work, but at least I got to see a little bit of it.

Gyeongbok Palace Gate
Gyeongbok Palace Gate
Gyeongbok Palace Gate

The gates of the castle are guarded outside by two large animals

Palace Guard
Palace Guard

The gates of the castle are highly ornate.

Gyeongbok Palace Gate

Inside is the castle forecourt and the entrance to the castle itself. Just inside the gates is a large drum, called a Buk, used in changing of the guards and various other ceremonies. It is barrel- shaped with a large wooden body and animal skin on both ends.

Geunjeongjeon, the throne hall of the king.
Buk Drum

In one of the large intersections of the city, there is a huge kiosk. I'm not sure what it signifies, but it's quite colorful and interesting.


One day during my stay the city got very hazy and everyone was wearing dust masks to keep from breathing the dust. It turns out that it was yellow sand blowing in from a sandstorm in China. It was amazing how thick it became. It's hard to imagine that it could travel so far and be so thick.

Another day I was walking around the city and I could hear a loud drum. When I got near the Deoksu Palace, there was a ceremony taking place. The Deoksu Palace is a walled compound of palaces of varying construction. I never got to go inside, but the ceremony was quite interesting.


There is always something going on in Seoul. One day near the theatre there were some street performers

Street Performers
Street Performers

On another occasion near the river there were some mimes.


And in another location there were people staging a protest.


Everything in Korea is a new experience. Even going to the bathroom can be a challenge. I was in a department store and went to the ladies room. I was disappointed to see that there was a line, but in the end I was thankful there had been. While standing in line I noticed that each of the ladies took some toilet paper from a large roll by the door. Sure enough, that's the only toilet paper provided.

On another occasion, we had stopped at a rest-stop on a highway. There were several busloads of school children also at this same rest-stop. Even though there were about 30 stalls, there were about 80 people trying to use them. In this case, they didn't make one big line to wait for the first stall available, everyone just picked a stall and lined up outside of it. I didn't know where to go, but I found a line and got in it. When I finally got up there and the door opened, I discovered it was an eastern style toilet - one that's at floor level. It actually looks like a small men's urinal lying on the floor. You're supposed to squat down over it. I thought about getting in another line but decided to give it a try. It actually wasn't bad at all, and not nearly as difficult as I would have thought. Sorry, no pictures!

The food in Korea is another new experience. I did most of my sightseeing on my own so when it was time to eat, I didn't know where to go or what to order. I'm not too crazy about hot foods, and Koreans like their food spicy and hot. I had to be careful about that, but that's easy to do with sign language. Most of the restaurants have picture menus so that you can at least get a glimpse of what your food is going to look like. I was still never sure if I was ordering beef, lamb, pork or whatever, but most everything I had was good. I tried foods in restaurants,

My dinner - don't ask me!

I sampled the foods sold on the street which were also interesting and good.

Street foods

There were some sidewalk markets which sold fruits and vegetables and wagons which sold popped rice and other interesting things.

Fruit Stand
Street Wagon

The grocery stores were a new experience. Many things looked and tasted wonderful, but I still rarely knew what I was eating. It would be fun to have the time to try many things.


Home   Previous   Next

Ad for Calendars

Irma Hale
McMurdo Station, Antarctica

Copyright © Irma Hale. All Rights Reserved.
Thanks to Design Computer Systems, Inc.

Korea Counter
Free counters provided by Vendio.

Valid HTML5     Valid CSS!