5/6/2019- Seoul, Where Old School Meets Cutting Edge

In short, today was an amazing journey through the most enriching cultural sites Seoul has to offer. I’ll get into this in more detail, but first, I’ll briefly go through last night’s events after we got settled into our hotel. YJ and Rob, our gracious guides, led us through the bustling city streets to a classy underground restaurant where we enjoyed a spread that included a variety of Korean cuisine. After a brief orientation and schedule overview facilitated by YJ, we traveled back to our hotel through a lively Buddhist festival and parade. That concluded my day, as I gave into drowsiness shortly after. About 10 hours later, the sun shining through my window signaled the arrival of a new day, despite the complaints of my biological clock. After a few minutes of frustration, I mastered the shower’s controls and got ready for the day. Next, I took the elevator to the hotel’s basement where I enjoyed a buffet-style breakfast, including an interesting kind of “casserole” that was made of toast, bacon, peppers, and onions. Afterwards, we boarded our Asia Institute coach bus and took off around the city: visiting a variety of famous historical sites including Gyeongbokgung Palace, Jogyesa Temple, and Cheonggyecheon Stream. Overall, the thing that struck me most about these experiences (besides their beauty) was how seamlessly ancient, serene sites blended with one of the world’s most bustling metropolises. Within these visits, we also saw some interesting cultural ceremonies, such as the Changing of the Guard and the Bathing of the Buddha. Another visit we made was to the Bukchon Hanok Village, which is basically South Korea’s version of Colonial Williamsburg—a town of the past preserved for modern times. It was a very enriching experience, until Micah and I got separated from the group and were lost for twenty minutes or so. But all in all, I would recommend the village to anyone. Finally, we concluded our day by visiting the Namdaemun Street Market, which was an overwhelming sight to say the least. There were hundreds of stands selling just about every kind of item you could imagine stretching for miles in every direction, including a massive selection of knockoff designer clothes, which just about all of us bought. In addition, we tried a great selection of Korean street food recommended by Dr. Yun, including a cinnamon sugar pancake, an egg sandwich, chicken, and a spicy, ravioli-like food that was filled with rice cake. After meeting back at the bus, we returned to our hotel. Our Plus3 events for the day are now complete. Time to enjoy a night out in Seoul!

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