If you ever get the chance, hike up Mt Soraksan, about 3 hours north of Seoul by bus, on early autumn and just take in the colourful view of the countryside and mountainside. An easier way would be to ride a cable car to go up and walk the rest of the way up to the top. It can be quite windy at the peak and you can rest by sitting on the rocks/boulders around. Nice view, too, of the flame-coloured trees all around. The food! Authentic bibimbap [the trick is to mix everything well - the rice, veggies, pickled leaves, egg. Great during a cold winter's day and with hot sake. Then there's kalbi and it's great wrapped in lettuce leaves and topped with kimchi. During summertime, try a big bowl of cold buckwheat noodles - refreshing! Then good ol chapchae, the glass noodles with an attitude! :) Of course, all these must be taken with kimchi on the side. A good Korean meal is not just complete without it.
Hero from Netherland
Guus Hiddink, head coach of PSV Eindhoven, is the most popular and the most famous foreign person in Korea. He became their hero when Korean national football team advanced to the last eight under his supervision at 2002 World Cup. Someone insisted that Korean government should have given him Korean nationality and then they would recommend him as the president of the Republic of Korea. Anyway, every foreign person who will work for Korean national football team as a head coach is in the grips of comparison with Hiddink’s performance in 2002. After the world Cup, many Korean business leaders tried to study his philosophy to get some hints to win international competition like their national football team. This picture is taken in front of a traditional Korean restaurant. It appeals that Hiddink came to their restaurant before. Does Hiddink know about Korean cuisine? That’s not an important thing for them. He came to their restaurant. It’s more important thing than the quality of their menu.
THE HERITAGE OF JOSEON DYNASTY
JONGMYO Royal Shrine is where the ancestral tablets of the kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty are enshrined. On the 1st Sunday of May each year, rituals are conducted according to strict procedures in an austere ambiance.
DEOKSUGUNG was the residence of King Gojong (1896-1919). Interesting structure inside the palace include the Royal Museum, which houses approximately 5.800 relics used in the Royal Court. It is the first renaissance-style building in Korea. Royal Guards Changing Ceremony everyday except Monday and rainy day.
Subway line 1 City hall stn exit 2 or 3 OR Subway line 2 City hall stn exit 12
UNHYEONGUNG is was a private residence of the father of King Gojong, the next-to last king of the Joseon Dynasty. King Gojong was born and grew up here until age 12. On the lst Saturday of every April and October, GARYE the Wedding Caremony of King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong is reenacted here. Closed on Monday.
Subway line 5 Jongno 5-ga stn exit 4 or Subway line 3 Anguk stn exit 4
Cheerleaders at Baseball games
I have been to professional baseball games in the U.S., Canada, Japan, Taiwan and Korea and the only place I have seen cheerleaders is in Korea. Okay, Japan has guys with whistles choreographing chants and songs, so I guess technically they are cheerleaders, but what I'm talking about is young women with pom-poms that dance and gyrate to the music. That's what they have in Korea.
Be a Seoul Survivor
I highly recommend packing lightly, and if you don't have access to on-base USPS mailing, an extra suitcase per person. The shopping in Seoul is out of this world, and you will buy a wardrobe a day, if you don't watch yourself. If you have access to the Yongsan Camp, consider yourself lucky, and start sending back your plunders as soon as you can. I was in Seoul in the Fall-Spring. My advice? bring a cheap, warm jacket and as few outfits as possible, because when you get there, you will no doubt see that American concepts of style and Korean fashion don't mix, because they dress 10 times better at all times. Go to Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, &c and get some nice looking clothes! Bring one pair of shoes, because, again, you are going to end up buying shoes here, for dirt-cheap prices. STOCK UP on medicine. It is sometimes difficult to find medicine if they don't have a repackaged US brand where you are shopping. I cannot stress enough- if you don't have access to a US base, BRING ENOUGH DEODERANT for your entire trip. I didn't believe it at first, when I saw this gigantic, multi-floor Wal Mart with NO DEODERANT. I used a Canon EOS 10D. I would recommend the same, as it is a bargain since it has been replaced by the 20D. My problem- I brought only a 50mm lens. You HAVE to have a wide angle, you HAVE to. It has ruined my photos almost the whole time I've been here, but I have gotten really good at the 50mm (which is more like 75mm when placed on a small-sensor DSLR). I highly recommend the Tamron 19-35... it is a bargain on ebay or new in the states, but in Korea, expect to pay $300 or more even the CHEAPEST lenses. Seriously, do not use a cheap camera. I would recommend using a 10D as well as a Canon Powershot S60, also a bargain because it was replaced, to keep in your pocket when lugging around the Canon is too much trouble. Also, invest in a decent, light-weight tripod. I learned the hardway that night shots, some of the most beautiful in Seoul, can escape even a decent amateur photographer without a tripod. It is cold in the winter. Just keep it in mind. Down south, it hovers about 10 degrees F hotter than Seoul. My personal number-one item is an Apple laptop. I am on tour with three other people. Two have Apples, two have PCs. The PC guy and girl have constantly had trouble with configs in hotels, public wireless access points, &c. It is getting silly. I build PCs and know how to handle networking, and I've still encountered problems on their PCs trying to negotiate a connection from time-to-time here. You will need a laptop, because it is very easy to find a wireless connection in Seoul, and you will constantly want to read Virtual Tourist, or try to find translations for Korean or basic phrases. Trust me, Seoul is overwhelming. Don't depend on your hotel to have computers that even work, if at all, or working internet or wireless, if they offer it. A laptop puts you in control.