Well Bless My Seoul
Seoul – what a great city and so unexpected. Seoul is a marvelous and beautiful metropolis surrounded by hills and forests with a major river (Han) and several tributaries running through the city. It is spotlessly clean. I mean spotless, in a Stepford Wife kind of way. Perfect.
We are here in the winter, but I can still see how colorful and magical it must be when the trees are blooming in the spring, the pots of overflowing with color in the summer and the mountains are ablaze in their fall glory.
The history can’t be beat; given this city has been the capital of people of this region for almost 1000 years. Many of the sites we have seen in the past few days, (although damaged and repaired and rebuilt off and on due to fire, flood and war) are upwards 700 years old.
In stark contrast to the United States, the people of Korea have one culture and generations of heritage and traditions they cling to. This was demonstrated very clearly to us because we were here in the city for the biggest holiday of the year, the Lunar New Year – Seollal. Like Christmas in the states, everyone comes together as a family on this holiday. This past Thursday was the holiday and as we walked the streets and sites of Seoul we did not see a soul. It was eerie.
The next day families were all out in their traditional garments seeing the sites with us, and together as families. Many of the sites celebrated the holiday with special events, historic programs, music and lots of games and crafts for the little ones. The kids all ran around in their special Korean costumes. It was so colorful and fun to see.
And if you are a shopper, well Bless My Seoul. Only Tokyo rivals it. Yes commercialism is alive and well in Seoul. Shopping as a social event seems to be a national pastime. It is colorful and interesting and frankly inexpensive to spend the day enjoying the hundreds of markets, shopping streets and department stores.
The people are very friendly and many speak English. If they don’t everyone does a lot of pointing and bowing and we have had not problem finding what we needed. We are staying at the Hilton Millennium Hotel and the staff here speaks impeccable English. In fact the staff here is superior. I’m not sure I have ever stayed in a hotel where I have been treated so well.
Bless My Seoul.