Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bits and Pieces : ChangdeokGung Palace and Samakson

Why hello there, blog. I’m sorry for neglecting you for longer than usual, but we needed a break for a bit. I’ve been feeling like a scatterbrain lately and I have been attempting to re-root. Just like any expatriate in a foreign country, I’m continuing to experience ups and down, pros and cons, things I love and things I dislike. Together, they make this experience unique and so, some how (not always easy), I can find it in my soul to accept them all. Lists are a scatterbrain’s best friends and in true scatterbrain fashion, the items are in no particular order.

Things I currently love:
  1. Heated wood floors
  2. Planning my winter trip (I’ll share more about this very soon, but let me tell you, it will be epic.)
  3. Finishing Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” and moving onto Jeannette Wall’s “The Glass Castle”
  4. Today’s bright blue winter sky
  5. Japanese food with a touch of Korea
  6. Winter hiking

Things I currently dislike:
Are the shoes really necessary? I don't know...
  1. Encountering careless motorists anywhere I travel on my bike
  2. Feeling out of touch with friends and family
  3. Missing the presence of animals around me (not half foot dogs dressed in sweaters, shoes and scarves or sickly pets in animal shops)
  4. The though that I will not be at home for the holidays.

A couple of happenings:  

ChangdeokGung Palace (昌德宮), Jongno-gu, Seoul
The direct translation of the palace name is "the palace of prospering virtue" and it is one of the Five Grand Palaces of the Joseon Dynasty. Unfortunately, much of it was destroyed during the Japanese occupation, so what my friend Elise and I explored was the remaining 30%. It was absolutely breathtaking. Before the palace, though, we just had to travel to Itaewon for Seoul's "best burgers," so we were a little behind schedule (worth it). But this meant that the "Secret Garden" of the palace would be closed by time we got there. I don't know much about this garden, but we both agreed that after having fallen in love with the book with the same title as children, we MUST see this place. We will return in the spring when cherry blossoms are in bloom. 

Samakson, Chuncheon, Gangnam Province 
This last weekend, I rode my first train to Gangnam with my MeetUp group. We trekked up Samak Moutain in temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius! In true Korea fassion, there were times when it seemed much more like amateur rock climbing, but I have zero complaints there. I love hiking with this group, but when hiking, it is sometimes necessary to separate oneself to thoroughly take in the surrounding beauty. Luckily, during the second half I found myself far enough ahead to do just that. At the end of the trail, we all met up for Dakgalbi (my first time) and wow, was it tasty.

Samakson, Chuncheon, South Korea: it's a tad bit chilly. from Lana Wright on Vimeo.

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