Sunday - North Seoul Tower

September 25, 2011 - Seoul, South Korea

Another lazy morning as I waited for Jayme and the kids to go to church.  I had originally planned on attending church with them until I learned it was a Catholic church and I just couldn't do it.  I have worked too hard to put that part of my life behind me. 

We started our day off with brunch at the Alaska Mining Company - a restaurant here on post.  The kids wanted smiley pancakes.  Then we drove back into Seoul to Yongsan and took the subway to get us into the area near the N Seoul Tower which is at Namsan Park.  We followed the directions to getting to the tower that Jayme found on their website.  My guess it was the long, get yourself a great cardiac workout way about it.  The instructions said to take the road left of the convenience store walk up past the merchant stores and take the stairs on the left.  The only problem was that there were several stairways on the left that looked like they didn't go anywhere we wanted to go. We finally reached the top of the hill where the street curved back around on itself and finally hooked up with the main street that took you up towards the tower.  After making it up that street (and taking a quick break because I was dragging at this point) we made it up to the cable car that would take us up to the base of the tower.  (Or at least what I thought was the base of the tower.)  The building up to the cable car was all stairs and at least a 15 minute wait in line to get on it.  And then we are packed into the cable car like sardines.  I have no idea how many of us they fit into there but it made me wonder how much weight that car was hauling up the side of that mountain.  Then after we get off the cable car I discover there are stiill MORE stairs to tackle before we actually get to the base of the tower.  And worse yet these were wooden stairs that were not of standard size and there was no railing.  I wasn't going to go that far to just give up so I took the stairs one at a time.  Finally I had made it to the base of the tower.  

At the base there are some shops and a bear museum and some observation areas.  There are also some trees that at first looked like Christmas trees until you get closer to them.  They are actually locks hanging all over the trees.  I had read that there was a fence at the tower that was full of locks (the locks are put there by couples as a symbol of their love) but I was not aware of the trees. I did finally see that the fence full of locks was up on an upper level observaton area.  More stairs.  Forget it.  Jayme decided to wait there with the kids while I took the elevator up to the main observation deck near the top of the tower.  The main observaton deck is where you can view the city.  On the windows are the names of cities around the world that are in that direction with the distance to that city.  The closest city I could find was Chicago which is over 10,500 km from Seoul.  It was getting close to dusk but it was hard to see too much while I was up there because of a haze that had moved in.  Smog if you prefer.  My travel guide refers to it as yellow dust from China.  The one thing I found interesting was a video screen on the floor that played a video on the floor that shows the floor breaking apart and you falling down to the ground.  I made a video of it but can't get it to upload to this journal.  Figures. 

After I came down from the observation deck we made our way back down all the stairs and down on the cable car.  At this point we were trying to figure how we were going to get down to the main street level - walk downhill the way we had come up or take the tram that we had discovered once we got up to the cable car building or by taxi.  I was more than willing to pay for a taxi to take us down to the subway.  The taxi won out.  But due to the language barrier we ended up going only God knows where.  Itaewon was finally the closest place we could get the driver to understand so he let us off there.  Turns out we got dropped off across the street and up the road a piece from where the van was parked.  And it only cost $5,400 Won (about $4.58 US).  Made my evening! 

Before we headed back to the car Jayme wanted to walk down to McDonalds to get the kids something to eat for the drive back home.  I decided to wait at the corner and found myself a place to park myself.  I sat there and did some people watching.  There are so many Americans here.  And while I have seen other foreigners I haven't seen too many of them.  I watched an older homeless woman dig through some trash at the edge of the street.  It was sad watching her find and drink somebody's discarded drink. 

I guess the biggest news of the night was that we made it into Seoul and back again without taking any wrong exits or taking any extra scenic routes.  Yeah Jayme! 


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