Monday, June 13, 2011

...just to say that S. arrived safely; a perfect day in Seoul--from a 15th-c. changing of the guard to a concert of operatic arias on the plaza

Instead of being delayed by 48 hours, my wife ended up being able to catch a flight through Japan and so arrived only 30 hours later than planned...So, S. is here safe and sound, flying in on Sunday night.

She, too, was able to stay awake until local bedtime, and so immediately has 're-set' to local time...

From yesterday, then, a quick posting with a few snapshots of a perfect early summer day in Seoul...After morning browsing and lunch in the medieval-alley-atmosphere of Namdaemun Market,
...we walked from the Myongdong area up to Kyeongbokkung Palace--dating back to the 1390's, when the new dynasty established Seoul as the capital. We timed it just right, as the 'changing of the guard' was being re-enacted, with period costumes and instruments:

(this is the ceiling painting inside the arched gateway)

a sentinel blowing a giant shell-horn from Kwanghwamun (gate)'s guardhouse:

 phesant-feathers for ceremonial soldier-hats!
(and you gotta love the boat-boots, eh?), that's a drum...

At the rear of the palace-grounds, this picturesque scene--one of the most photographed spots in Seoul:
(As the first established palace compound of the dynasty, Kyeongbok Palace is so important historically--it has been recently restored, and on Sunday, while I waited for Sara's evening arrival, I spent most of the day wandering the grounds, watching a performance of medieval court music/dance, napping in the shade of a giant gingko tree, eating a few wild cherries...and then I brought Sara back yesterday...
I'll have to upload an entire posting just on this palace later...)

As evening fell, we caught a free concert on the steps of the Sejong Cultural Center--the same place where I attended a traditional dance performance on my first night in Seoul almost two weeks ago...Every evening in May and June, the city is organizing performances here, and last night the Seoul Metropolitan Opera put on the's amazing to think of how quickly Western Classical Music implanted itself here and became so highly valued--in less than century, NE Asia has become one of the dominant 'producers' of classical musicians...and last night's concert was a free(!) example of world-class musicianship:
...arias and duets from La Bohème under the stars!

...and finally, a nighttime view of Kwanghwamun plaza, with its monuments and giant TV screens, taken from the roof-deck of a four-story Starbucks (!)
I've written it before, but this is one caffeinated city...
Along with ginseng and garlic, coffee keeps this city going at all hours...


  1. Whew. Glad your Mrs. arrived safe and sound.

    Thanks again for giving us a guided tour as you travel. So enjoyable!

  2. Hugs to the lady. And I have magnets on my fridge of those guards! Remember when you taught me some Korean phrases so I could talk to the little Korean girls in my class? They gave them to me. :)