Dear Travel Diary,
After the massive posts of the previous travel Diaries, I’m going to try and keep this one short and sweet. Mainly because, well, not much actually happened in the day following my adventure at Changdeokgung.
I took the subway into the main centre of two; which took me about 20 mins to half an hour depending on how many connections I had to make.
The subway system in Seoul is surprisingly accessible to foreigners. There are readily accessed maps and diagrams online that are friendly to read and also in English. The announcements in the train are all made in three languages: Korean, English and Japanese, which makes it really easy to know when your stop is coming up. Not only that, most the signs in the stations are also in both languages.
My plan today had originally been to make my way to yet another of Seouls awesome palaces (Yes, I planned to do them one after the other), this time shooting for Deoksugung Palace, which stood right in the middle of the City Hall precinct. Deoksugung holds the interesting novelty of being the only of Seoul’s main palaces to be open to the public at night. It is supposed to be quite the sight with all the lights lit up, but alas, for me, it was a sight destined to escape me.
When I arrived there in the afternoon, my plan was to visit Deoksugung in the daytime, walk to another sight nearby (a remnant of the old wall that used to stand around Seoul) and then return to Deoksugung when the sun went down – which wasn’t late in Seoul, at the beginning of winter.
However, much to my dismay, it turned out that Deoksugung wasn’t -strangely- open on Mondays to Tuesdays. And sadly, I was there on one of those two days. So I stood there,
staring at the sign, wondering what to do with my life like some kind of disassociated character in a Woody Allen film. Instead, I was determined to make the most of the day, and set about exploring the city. The first little street I walked past was decorated in the most bizarre way; along the street alongside the palace, all the trees were wrapped in snuggly blankets.
I wandered around a bit more, almost got lost in an underground shopping centre, and the got completely turned around before finding my way back to the subway station, and tracking my way back to the front entrance of Deoksugung. I filtered my way through the streets and alleys surrounding the palace, eventually walking past a very cool-looking coffee shop.
It just so happened that by fortuitous circumstance, I was wearing my DC superheroes hoodie that day, and the barista shouted at me from his shop: “Hey, Superman!”
I looked left and right. Behind me. I looked to the the smiling Korean, and he was looking clearly back at me. I approach, and he shakes my hand and starts talking to me about my jumper; his english is super good, so of course, I chat back happily, and eventually order myself a filter coffee and take a seat with my notebook.
Turns out my new barista friend studied coffee in Christchurch, which is exactly where I’ve been living for the past five months, so we chat about that, too. I order another coffee. It’s a good day.