One week in Seoul! Life in Korea has started for real. We have a place to stay in a single room in a hostel and it is tiny, but we manage to upgrade to a double 7th of September.I have applied for Foreign registration card, so I can leave the country (I only have a single entry). It took a day to fix the application; we were at the wrong office first waiting for 4h. But now I get my card 2nd of September so I can go to Japan the 3rd . Yes we are going to Japan. We got help from the very friendly hostel staff to book flights to Japan and we are going there 3rd-7th of September. We are flying to Tokyo, but actually we are going to stay in Yokohama were they have the Dislocated08 Media Art festival. On Saturday there is the opening of the gallery where Andy's work is exhibited, so that's why we go there already now.
Okay, let's get back to Korea for now. It's really nice to be back in Asia, the atmosphere is just so great. Seoul is a very clean city and in all the ways friendly and nice. We have had time to do some sightseeing to. We went to the Gyeongbokgung palace and our temple allergy started right away. We have both travelled before in Asia and it's just a specific amount of temples you can do in your life time;) But it was nice. Then we took a cable car up to a hill to se a nice view of Seoul. We decided to wait for another time to go up the Seoul tower on that hill because we wanted to go there night time. There was also a fence full of locks, the lovers put together a lock there to symbolize their love, but we didn't have one, so we got to get up there again anyhow;)
We also went to a park at Hangang River and it was really nice there. On Wednesday we met Kim and his wife for dinner and had a good time. Then on Thursday we decided to get a bit out of Seoul so we took the subway and a bus to a Bukhansa National Park. As they said in the guide we got of where all the other Korean hikers got of and just followed them. So we started to climb up the highest peak in the park. The Koreans really take hiking seriously; they have the best shoes and ultra modern material on their cloths. Also a walking stick, a a backpack and a small foldable chair is part of the compulsory equipment. An the old people are really fit here. Most of the 70+ men just ran up the peak. An old couple was asking us where we were from when they passed us, and when they passed us the second time we were still on the way up and they on the way down laughing, hello, hello Finland and Austria. Yes, after hard work and sweating also we made it to the peak. The last 50m was a bit dizzy because of the heights. But it was worth it all, the view was amazing. We could see a 360°panorama view over the national park and Seoul. We descended another way, and got a bit lost, but we just kept on walking until we came to a small village with a bus station. We got help to get on the right bus to hook up with Seoul subway system.
On Friday I had my orientation day at Hongik University. I got help from a law student to find the right building and our department is on the 11th and 12th floor. At the orientation I meet the other 7 foreign students, all from France. So maybe I learn France too;) We got a bit more info about the courses and to my disappointment the 3D animation course is only in Korean…but I still plan to take it as a challenge. They said that it could be possible so why not at least try. We also got a short tour in some of the facilities. It seems really interesting and I am excited to start studying soon.
In the evening we meet Kim and his wife again when we were invited to their place for dinner. The food was really good as usual and we also got to taste the local rice wine…but it's not at all as bad as the Chinese one. The apartment was super nice and we were also invited to stay overnight so we slept on the floor on a traditional Korean bed. Next day we all went together to a Korean Sauna. And this place was the best ever. There were different saunas, relaxing rooms, oxygen rooms, salt and crystal saunas, cool rooms, movie rooms, game rooms, karaoke, foot massage, massage chairs, exercise rooms, gym, fish eating your feet pools and anything you can imagine in a sauna wonderland on 6 floors. We went to six or seven different saunas and tried the massage chairs, we fell asleep at some point in the oxygen room and of course we could also have dinner there so we ended up spending the whole day there, and that is pretty much the point. You can even stay the night because it's open 24h. The saunas and other areas were mixed men and woman and you had a kind of pajamas on, that was a bit weird first but some places the floor where you sat was so hot so you were happy to have something on your ass. And yes it's very different from Finnish sauna, you sit on the floor on mats and there is now water to throw. The Showering room was separate for men and women and here everyone was naked. You could also go to different saunas there and then go to different tubs of water. Some were hot, some cold and some with herbs. The experience was so nice and relaxing so we are already planning a revisit with Andy, now when we know how to behave.
In the evening we still had time to go to the movies and manage to go and se Batman. They show movies here in original language with Korean subtitles so that is nice for us.
Today we have been here for a week and Seoul starts to feel a bit more familiar. I like it a lot here and I don't think I have a problem to stay here for 4 months. The only thing I want to get rid of now is a cold that I have had for a couple of days, probably from the humidity and ac combination. Today we took it easy and bought some Korean picnic food and went to another park by Hangang River. It's very nice to hang around there and a lot of Koreans do the same thing. They also come to the parks to exercise and I really want to join one of the mass aerobic events that we witnessed today too.
Tomorrow is my first real school day, though the first weeks it's mostly presentations of the different courses. Excited and nervous like always before the first day in school;)
Hugs from Seoul!