It’s almost 40 years since I was last in Korea, in 1969. I stayed only one night. It was an RAF training flight around Asia and we got there in the evening and left early next morning. All I remember is that there was a curfew after dark, and no-one except the patrolling military were alllowed on the streets: so we stayed in our hotel till we left to take off again the next morning. Hence I saw nothing of Korea then.
I spent 4 days there this time, but found it not really very interesting. Seoul must rate as one of the most boring cities I’ve ever visited – no redeeming features at all; not even an old quarter, or stunning temple, of any note.
I found this temple at the back of my hotel.
The food was “interesting”. Almost everything tastes like Kimchi (that spicy with chillies cabbage dish) – they use that sauce on everything (almost). They do eat sashimi, but they also have meat sashimi. I was served raw strips of beef (not good for me) and also raw calves liver!!! When I asked I was emphatically informed that they DO NOT have mad cow in Korea, and that theirs is the best beef in the world. Certainly they are big beef eaters. I only spent 3 nights there (got in late the first night) and was invited to 2 dinner banquets. The 2 meals were different; 1 was a Korean BBQ – which I do like actually (but it was same-same as any other I’ve tried elsewhere in the world) even if it did start with those raw meats; and the second was a royal cuisine banquet. The latter was REALLY nicely presented, even if 1/2 the food was odd (raw lobster and raw crab this time).
This was a tank outside a restaurant with fresh food in it!
They do have one uniquely Korean aspect at the dinners though. Like most Asian meals they like to drink a lot of liquor, in shots – bottoms up toasting each other. Well here they drain their glass then hand it over to you and the hander refills it for you to drink – it’s a respect thing. I was aghast – even in Asia I have not seen people sharing glasses (communal dishes, but not communal glasses). Thankfully I was not drinking the liquor (my op last year gets me out of those games) so I didn’t have to swap used glasses (they did offer me cleaned (shot) glasses with beer in, to include me in the hospitality).
This little garden I came across while I was walking around.
This was interesting – a Lady directing traffic into a mall parking area. Note she has a Mic on and her talking comes over outside loudspeakers. I thought the uniform was interesting.
Maybe next time I go I will find somewhere a little more interesting in the city, as I can’t believe it really could be that boring (reminded me of some mid west boring places in the US).
So having waited 40 years to come back it doesn’t seem like I missed much.