Seoul…is Back

November 1, 2011

Although I’ve only been abroad just over a week….it feels like its been a life time….because in large part…in just this short amount of time, I’ve had a life time of experiences….I am, indeed, taking it all in…reflecting now….and to reflect up further later on….

Back at the airport to leave Bali, I’m just laying back and reading a book.  Up comes our flight crew.  Normally, I wouldn’t mention it as it probably would not register.  In this case, most of my flights have been on Korea Airlines….and let me say it is better than the commercial.  Very thorough, very polite…and definitely about the business.  Soooo….they are having a team meeting before the flight….and you can tell they take everything they do very seriously….most impressive 🙂  Ironically, “Outliers” has a section on Korean Airlines.  I hate flying….the chapter talks about their turnaround into one of the excellent airlines, including safety…I am a bit more comfortable now….Thumbs-up for Korea Airlines 🙂

Landing at the Seoul/Incheon airport, I must admit….once you leave the airport for the drive into the city…it is easy to wonder…ehhhhh…..what’s up with this….dreary or smoggy….with all the wonderful things I had heard about Seoul, what I’ve seen thus far gave me pause….

Quite a bit open space, buildings off in the distance, all of them appear to be made out of the same materials….they all have the same color and the same architectural style….

All of a sudden you get to Seoul, and then your eyes open up…in a sort of “wow” kind of way….

I’ve seen my share of cities….and of course, since city planning is my field…I’ve studied more than my share of municipalities….but, Seoul provided quite the different experience….such beautiful buildings, both day and night, the city is extremely clean….

UNESCO, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization is very involved in this city and Seoul and received several awards and plenty of recognition for their uniquely advanced governance practices….most Impressive.  One this that stands out, is that everything is in its place….everything is in order.  When standing on a corner, you very rarely hear a horn.  In a city with over 10 million people in it, that is a complete anomaly….it is rare to hear someone talking loud on a cell phone, or even in conversation amongst each other….the volume is only high enough for the person participating in the conversation to hear….in fact…even during rush hour….the only sound you hear is the sound of the bus engines driving by….another main point….is that it can be in the late hours of the night….60 people may be standing at a cross walk waiting for the green light to come on that lets you know it is proper to cross the road.  Even when no cars are coming….imagine…every single person standing there waiting for the light to indicate it is proper to walk….imagine that…that is so prevalent…that once I stepped out into the street….yes…like an American Guygen :)….and no one else moved….it felt so strange that I easily slid myself back up into the crowd…and waited like everyone else…powerful feeling that was….and amazing city 🙂

My home for the week – the Koreana Hotel…very nice….learned some Korean in that place 🙂

Koreans are highly involved in governance.  In fact, every night I was there…I witnessed a protest…a political rally….informational sessions on certain issues with North Korea….every night you could hear the bull horn sounding off 🙂

The first day I walked the downtown area, I came across several groups protesting the free-trade agreement between the United States and South Korea….they were also in the process of electing a new mayor….you could hear music and bull horn every night…although My Korean is a bit rusty…ok…non-existent…you could feel the energy…made you want to join in…. 🙂

Right in the middle of the city, there is a striking display on a historical component of Korean history.  The first statue is of Admiral Yi, in the foreground, a golden image of King Seonjo is the background…both sitting in front of one of the royal palaces – Gwanghwamun.

Took a stroll down to the Imperial Palace –

Had a “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” “Curse of the Golden Flower” “Hero” and “Red Cliff” kind of moment 🙂  The meticulous nature of the design and the colors were absolutely brilliant….

Absolutely Beautiful….

The royal reading error for the Emperor….

areas for members of the royal family and their staff….

Beautiful to see the seasons change….water is full of fish…nice….

Pots storing the royal rice…and other palatial goodies 🙂

Deoksugung, another palace, where we witnessed the changing of the guards…

Not uncommon to see a monk walking the street….I enjoyed that….really made the environment even more eclectic….

Yes, I am in Seoul….Yes, on the other side of the world…just proves that everybody has at least one of them…. 🙂

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