My last two days in Seoul continued to deliver distinctive sights, people and culture. Motorcycle mopeds power through pedestrian crossings even before the lights have changed and maneuver quickly through the crowd. In narrow streets and tight alleyways, venders cook various hot foods, sushi and sweets amongst hordes of people and cars at all hours. It is an extremely clean city, without rubbish littering the streets. Men and women sweep the fallen autumn leaves from the footpath and people in general do not litter.
I walked to and through the sites again until my tired legs were begging me to stop! I saw the incredible original palace, in an English speaking tour and learn many interesting facts. I met the only other Caucasian I saw in Seoul on this tour, and he happened to be from Melbourne! This palace, originally built in 1395, and the tour (which took almost half a day!) was definitely the highlight of Wednesday.
I was approached a few times by Japanese exchange students, who were amazed to see a blonde 'American' girl - not sure why but all who spoke to me thought I was from America - and they practiced their English. I have some photos that I will upload when I can.
After (successfully!) experiencing a street market dinner (this no small feat), and another too short rest, Thursday morning saw me rushing back to Namdaemun markets to buy the purse I had promised myself. There was more I wanted to buy, but none of my cards worked in the atms I found! So it was rationing my final few thousand won (that is not as much as it sounds!) so that I could catch the metro (I could only afford one way so had to walk back!), negotiate the purchase, eat breakfast and have enough for the limousine ride back to the airport. Just made it!
My flight to Tel Aviv was not the quiet spacious flight I was expecting. At first I thought I was lucky enough to have two seats to myself again, but literately as the plane started to taxi, I was not impressed to find a late comer come to claim the seat intended to be my pillow.
It was a very busy flight, but all went quite smoothly despite the turbulence, my inability to sleep, and needing to be seated for the last 40 minutes of the flight (this is of course right at the moment I wanted to get up for the bathroom and to stretch my legs!)
I received a very warm welcome complete with a balloon and name sign... you know the ones you see in movies? :) No heavy security or interview questions for me, although I did see some being pulled to the side and being interviewed. I kept looking straight ahead and acting as though I knew exactly where I was going :) Everyone has been very warm and friendly and tomorrow, well today actually, as I am writing this at 4am Israeli time (oh this jet lag won't be fun!) Netta is taking me shopping and to the beach before I see Ran later this afternoon. I had better try to get some more sleep!