Friday, June 27, 2014

Namsan Park and North Seoul Tower (6.26.14 pt. 3)

Once I got back from the DMZ, I changed and headed out for Namsan Park. I had passed it my first night there and heard from a few peoe that the view there was amazing. Those people were not wrong. 

North Seoul Tower as seen from the National Museum of Korea

First, I took a train that got me close. When I got off if the subway, I had no idea where I was. The nice thing about the North Seoul Tower is that it is pretty tall and built on top of a pretty tall mountain. Boy Scout orienteering kicked in and I started walking, trying to keep it in my sight line. I ended up coming to it from the backside of the mountain. I found an 'elevator' that took me up the first part of the 45 degree hill. That put me at the base of a cable car that took me to the top of the mountain. It was a pretty good surprise. I paid my 8,000 won for a round-trip (just under 8 dollars) and headed up the mountain. 

Most of the mountain is wooded, so the cable car took me up and over the trees and took me higher above Seoul. The view from the top was breath-taking. I had no idea how large Seoul actually was. Once off the cable car, the first thing I ran into was a series of beacons. These beacons were built as a communication network between the east coast and the nation's Capitol, Seoul. Messengers would light fires in these beacons which could be seen by the next set if beacons on the next mountain. It was through these beacons, that messages were communicated through the country. 

From there, I walked to the base of North Seoul Tower where I was lured into a very American meal with a great view. There a Shack Shack with my name all over it. I couldn't pass up a shack shack with this good of a view.

    The western view from up top

After I finished my sandwich and beer (at least I got a local beer, right?) I headed up the tower where even more great views waited for me. 

I had absolutely no idea Seoul was this large. 

I did a couple laps around the tower, taking in the views and headed to the elevator. I passed a couple getting engaged. The guy had set up a dinner in the middle of the tower for the two of them and hid the table behind a screen that was playing a slideshow of their time together. The screen went up and there was a table for two and he was standing there singing to her. I didn't understand what he was saying, but the song was either very romantic or extremely sad because she was crying all over the place. I have no idea if she said yes, I decided to beat the very large crowd that had formed behind me to the elevator. 

Back at the bottom of the tower I figured out that the North Seoul Tower is a big date night kind of place. There is a tradition of putting your and your loved ones initials on a lock and locking it to the fence at the bottom of the tower. 

    Thousands of locks with initials permanently attached

Made me wonder if a couple has ever broken up and came back with some bolt cutters? Or can you just change the initials like you would on a Ill-thought out tattoo?

I took the cablecar back to the bottom of the mountain, started to walk home and promptly got lost in a street market. It was pretty awesome though. Through the little research I did, I guess the market is open every night until 5am. I am going to have to check it out again. 

I made it back home and settled in after a very long, great first day in Seoul.

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