Saturday, November 18, 2006

out of asia

on my last day in korea, after organizing my bags for the final plane trip towards my southern hemisphere summer home, i headed down underneath the streets to travel in style on the seoul subway.
with my frequent rider's card, i cruised all around during my visit: east seoul, west seoul, north and south of the han river, holiday backpackers, traditional restaurants, buddhist temples, and the yo young spa (twice).

user friendly public trans:

photo by mefford williams

my lonely planet guide book (choice birthday present aunt amy and uncle jules. thanks much) had a subway map, and that was pretty much all I needed to get anywhere within the city my heart or stomach desired. 800 Wan per ride < US $1, and you're off. the trains come by each stop pretty frequently; the most i ever had to wait was four minutes; so it's super ADD friendly. with cell phone translators inside the subway tunnels, every other korean on the train would be chatting it up, while the rest were just thinking of who to call next.

on my last day i set off to visit the top of the many peaks that surround and divide the city. seoul is asian for smog; so the granite hill tops loom around the city like grey shadows behind the skyscrapers
up close their natural beauty contrasts that of the noisy metropolis just below:

photo by mefford williams
you can just see some of the trail's railing on the right at the top of the ridge.

access to the hilltop hiking trails comes from various locations around the city, i walked up through a small buddhist temple community off of the "dongnimmun" exit from subway line 3. no photos as i wasn't sure about how respectful whitie photographer would be in this sacred neighborhood.
once beyond the religious quarter, you begin to climb and traverse your way up and away:
stairs and rails make up the steep sections of the trail; helpful signs remind you not to fall off the side:

photo by mefford williams

getting a last look before a hike down to my rapidly approaching departure flight:

photo by mefford williams

i really enjoyed my time in seoul. quite a hustly bustly big city, but an extraordinary place nonetheless.
even in a city of over 10 million, the friendly locals go out of their way to make you feel welcome. so don't think that they don't notice or care as they bump you out of the way getting on or off the subway or ignore your "annyeoung haseo" while cutting you in line at the bakery.
i was even thrown a nice little going away party. cheers guys. pour the saki.

photo by mefford williams

i followed up my last day's hike with a visit to my favorite korean establishment: the yo young spa for the frowski quad: shower, sauna, hot soak, cold soak.
many happy thoughts and best wishes to all members of the blogging family.
more soon from the far south.

5 comments:

Shanna said...

:)

Blogtronbot said...

Yo Frowski- Glad to see you have been having a good time. I'll be checking in on you. Had my 3rd day on the slopes today, but the resort is still closed, so it is all about hiking. Later,
Moose

Anonymous said...

Another great entry. Thanks for the travel log! I do want to know what is in the middle of the "pile" between the two Koreans. Are they building a small fire?
Love, Mom

Mefford said...

mom. i have no idea what those two koreans were up to...
they were right by one of the busiest intersections, having their own serene picnic and relation session.

ebeth said...

Mefford, I hope that you continue to have a great time. Keep us up to date with pics and blogs. Merry Christmas!