One of the best day I had in Seoul !!!
D. did not feel well, so I hit the city on my own in mind : today I’m gonna walk till my feet hurt, especially because the weather felt warmer than the past days. It was still freezing, but 1 degree more is still 1 degree more :-D. And the sunshine, yes the sun shined again, helped!
I headed spontaneously to Hyewa to have a nice little “hike” up the Naksan and to check out Ihwa mural village. The way to Naksan was filled with street musicians, sculptures of Art students, couples dressing up to take pictures, young and good-looking boys and girls and with family outings. The funny thing was, everyone was checking their phone. At first I jokingly thought they were playing Pokemon-Go, while I am also on the phone but checking for the route. In the end I realised… they WERE playing Pokemon-Go. At least 80% of them, no matter old or young..hahaha… that was really weird, but entertaining to observe. Naksan was beautiful. The hike was a piece of cake, and probably would be consider exaggerated to call it “hiking”. On top of the Naksan, one has an amazing view over the city surrounded by mountains and a mixture of high-rises with Hanoks in-between. I can totally imagine this place during summer or warmer spring days with friends, having a coffee and/or a small picnic. Actually, some older people were drinking and talking while enjoying the sun. It felt like a scene straight out of K-dramas, adorable!
On the way to down to Ihwa mural village I passed by a small store where I could buy some postcards, write and send them there directly. The owner was a lovely elder, with whom I had the pleasure to talk to a bit with my broken Korean. We communicated with a mixture of broken english/korean and mainly hand gestures. On that day, I did not bring my gloves, because it was not that cold at first. When she asked me whether I was not freezing without gloves, I said no. However she insist on gifting me a pair of gloves because she was worried I’d freeze. She even put them on for me and asked, whether I like the colour. They were blue, of course I like them :-D, but what I appreciate most is her kindness. When she got to know that I was travelling alone (on that day at least) she even run after me and told me to pose for some pictures. I’ve not meet a halmoni (grandmother) who is so enthusiastic about taking pictures for a stranger, ignoring guests coming to her store. She just told them to wait a bit, while taking a couple of pictures for me. Gosh.. I died at her sweetness and couldn’t stop smiling the whole day. Isn’t it fantastic, how people’s kindness can lighten up your day and makes everything seems better? Why are people often so grumpy, when a smile can break away the darkest cloud? I wonder…
Unlike in K-movies, where old people are being portrayed as conservative and reserved, I only met kind an open-minded elders during my stay in Seoul. In fact, it was harder to approach young people than elderly people. Even though they did not speak english, they still tried to converse with me and were happy just by me saying hello and thank you in Korean. I felt bad for necklacting my Korean. Goal: practice again my Korean so I could speak the language decent enough to talk to them a bit on my next trip.
Ihwa mural village was adorable. Many youngsters and couples came to take pictures or just enjoying a walk. Some of the famous paintings, like the coi fish along the stairway, were not there anymore, but it is worth a visit for sure! The walk through the village ended with me having some baked sweet potatoes – so good on the cold day! – and enjoying some sun at the Naksan pavilion whilst enjoying Seoul’s skyline. Afterwards I went to visit the Namsangol Hanok Village. Namsangol was preseved as a museum with free entrance though. Really beautiful old houses! It must have felt so special and privileged living in those Hanoks.