Seoul Searching

We have now left Seoul and arrived in Hong Kong and the contrast between the two cities has made me want to show a little more Seoul to you 👧.Arriving in Seoul from London is a little like stepping into the future.  Everything is so clean and efficient, and everyone is so polite.  There aren't all that many people, at least compared to London, and we saw very few other tourists.  I was surprised by how many of the signs are in English as well as Korean, the metro announcements were given in both Korean and by a Suri type disembodied American lady.  The city is full of glass fronted high rise buildings (although not nearly as high as Hong Kong) and the air is clean.  For two of the days we had bright sunshine ☀️, and although it was icily cold ❄️, the chill was similar to being in the snowy alps, it was very pleasant in the sun.We ate amazingly - the best food 🍜 was slightly off the beaten track and we ate at a number of places without a menu, we arrived, sat down, the food turned up and we got stuck in - some of the best place were in the Bukchon area.  A side of kimchi 🌿 comes with almost every meal, and I have to say I'm a fan, apart from when it gets too spicy.  I really enjoyed the Korean BBQ, cold noodle soups, the buckwheat pancakes too and most of all the spicy fish stew we ate at the Gwangjang Street food market.  It is really quite refreshing to have not eaten or seen a single Pret sandwich for five whole days.  And I have become a master with Korean chopsticks - they are flatter and thinner than Chinese ones.  There are modern coffee shops ☕️ and bakeries everywhere, the coffee is excellent, and they always ask if you would like your coffee hot or cold.  It was nice to see that the 'Flat White' has not yet taken over Seoul - we happily ordered cappuccinos, and the matcha lattes were great.  And of course the dessert cafes 🍧 which are open until 10pm each night, I did not sample enough of these - there is even one dedicated to just green tea products.Everyone is Seoul is incredibly polite 👦👧, and very accepting of ignorant tourists, I suspect we made many faux pas.  They are very quiet people too and no one seems to be in too much of a rush, and they are expert queuers, very little pushing and shoving.People are very well put together 👗👠, and I like the style a lot, for the girls it's quite girly in a way, lots of swing coats in fun colours, tidy loafers and of course much fur.  They have also got the beauty 💄 thing down to a T, all the girls are subtly made up, a hint of lip stick, neat eye make up and pale skin.  There are beauty shops everywhere, if you want an anti-aging face cream that might actually work, Seoul is the place to find one.  And it is definitely not a city in which you hungoverly pop to the super market in a pair of leggings, greasy hair and no make up,  and pretend you are on your way to the gym when you bump into someone you know.  They have perhaps gone too far though - there are adverts for plastic surgery everywhere aimed at young girls.The internet 💻 is also crazily fast, everybody on the metro is deeply absorbed in their phones.   It is so fast I actually wrote my last post at Incheon airport using the free wifi, and the photos uploaded faster than they do at home in Sussex.It was a really wonderful trip, and I loved getting to know the city 😍.  Maybe the most amazing part was meeting up with friends in a city half way across the world.I have added quite a lot of Seoul photos below, and if you would like to know the names of places we ate do let me know.Alice xxximg_2925img_2956img_2979img_2976img_3338img_3330img_3332img_3329img_2985img_3350img_3021img_3020img_3041img_3096img_3095img_3216img_3231img_3233img_3234img_3238img_3314img_3323img_3340img_3347img_2991img_2993img_2997img_3119img_3165 

A Visit to a Secret Garden

img_2929Today we woke up very early ⏰and went to explore the city.  It was a beautiful day in the sun ☀️although it is VERY chilly ❄️❄️here, I've never been anywhere this cold, and we thoroughly wrapped up in thermals, hats and gloves .We headed for Changgyeonggung Palace 🏯 and had a excellent tour by a very sassy tour guide, and then a tour of the Secret Garden 🌳at the palace.  The photo above shows the palace wall, with the secret garden ablaze with the red leaves of acer trees on the other side. 🍁The direct translation is not quite correct - really it should be 'private garden' as this was the private garden 🌳of the Royal family when they were in residence.  It is quite a large area, set into a hill, and the garden path weaves through the hilly landscape.  There are many temples in the garden and a library or two, the King was very keen on his reading 📘, although no books anymore 📚.  There are also lots of ponds, and even one in the shape of Korea, and they are all currently iced over ❄️, with lots of red and yellow autumnal leaves 🍂 🍁 frozen in, creating colourful.  It was a beautiful walk in the sunshine, and I love the combination of the dark green pines 🌲and bright red acers 🍁.Next we went to Bukchon which is a charming place, the hilly streets are lined with 'hanok' the traditional Korean houses 🏠 and there are many tiny boutiques, places to eat and coffee shops.  We had some lunch 🍜(only one thing on the menu, ideal) and then had some radish tea 🍵 sitting on a cushion on the floor of a hanok house.  It is such a peaceful area, with the sun out, and very few cars (and not a plane in the sky!) it was wonderful just to wander about through the maze of little streets.   We are going to go back tomorrow.We then wandered down to Cheongyecheon 'stream' 🌊 - which is more like a very shallow clear river running through the city, below ground level.  It is rather nice to walk along, as although some of the main roads of the city cross over it, you can barely hear the traffic.  And there were stepping stones 🚣!It has been a super day, and most excitingly more people are arriving for the wedding 👩👦👧, it is really quite amazing meeting up with many friends in a city half way across the world from home.Alice xxximg_3029 img_3018