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Wanderings and Misadventures of The Toes Ramblings of a fledgling traveler...

Feelin' Happy, Even in the Rain! Sharing it with a Smile!

SOUTH KOREA | Thursday, 6 May 2010 | Views [719]

I'm always horrified when I log on to this blog and realize how little I have updated. That makes for a lot of catching up. I am now groaning...

Soooo... I'm in Seoul. I had the wonderful "Korean Airport Experience!". Basically a lot of noise, pushing and line cutting. Luckily the check-in counter lady was on my side. Take that Mr. Line Cutter with 6 boxes of oranges! I WIN! Bwa ha ha ha!

Got to the hostel after wandering the unnamed streets for over an hour. The hole time I was only a street or two away from my destination; basically circling it. Luckily a nice old lady noticed my perturbed look and mumbled curses as I stared at a map (also useless without street names or building numbers). She guided me to my home for the week, my hero.

Originally there wasn't a bed for me the first night and I was going to find a hotel with the help of Kim, the hostel owner. Luck being on my side a second time that day, she did in fact have a bed. Top bunk but at least I didn't have to move from back and forth between lodgings. She told me that if I was quick enough I could claim a bottom bunk the next morning when some people left. "Be quick, very quick!". And I was. I now have the darkest little corner, which is good since people tend to turn lights on at all hours. I'm always the only chick in the dorm rooms too. What's so scary about sleeping in the same room as a bunch of dudes? Just learn to change your clothes without flashing anyone. Pretty easy.

When I arrived in Seoul I realized I had no idea what to do here. I knew I'd go to the World DJ Festival this coming Saturday but that's it! The first place I decided on almost at random was a temple. I made my way out there and found that it was closed on Mondays. Plan B! Oops, no plan B prepared... Okay, nearby market then!

The market was the coolest and gave me hope for this city. It was basically an arts paradise with small stores dedicated to people's handiwork as well as various free art galleries from traditional to way out there pieces. I spent many hours just wandering around. My personal fave was a four-storey building with a ramp path that circles up around an inner courtyard. All along were small shops with people selling their works. At the top I had some fancy coffee and cake. Yippee!

I also visited one of the palaces here. I can't remember the name at the moment but that doesn't matter. It covered a huge area and had many buildings and walls to play around in. Courtyards and pagodas and actors, oh my! I finished the day at the folk museum. Pretty standard fare; historical this and that.

There's a giant market that covers a large area. I perused the vendors and picked up a cute dress, some bicycle shorts and a bag of dried fruit. I honestly don't know what half that fruit is. Dried kiwi tastes odd. Fact. THen I went to a park with a path around a mountain. No grass... poo craptacular! It was still very pretty but I was killing for a lay-down on some grass. I did stumble upon the Seoul Cartoon Museum on my way back though so it was definitely worth being in that area.

The best part of this visit so far has been my mountain climb. At first I was unimpressed since the path was mostly paved or some other form of "too easy". There was a huge crowd too; "bring your kids", y'know? I kept finding openings to pass by and continue at my own pace. Though feeling cynical I continued since it was a pain to get out there. I'm so glad I did! Holy shit what a view!

I found a path that lead off the main one and up into the woods. It got narrower and more natural so I knew I was headed in the right direction. I didn't know what the direction was, just that it was a good one. It got progressively steeper to the point of climbing up rock faces with my hands and knotted ropes left by the park ranger folk. I made it to the peak. My breath was pretty ragged from the climb but the sight took it right out of my lungs. I stood on bare cliff edges and stared out into oblivion... or just a really long drop into a forest valley. Across the way on all sides were more mountains with bare rock jutting out of the folliage below. I could just make out the shapes of other hikers climbing the paths on adjacent peaks. I am pretty certain I have mastered my fear of heights. I only get wobbly when the wind catches at me now.

I enjoyed that scramble through rocks along the mountain's spine. It was honestly one of the most incredible things I've seen. I wish there was a machine that could project exactly what I saw and how I felt then. I'd love to share it with everyone.

Today was to be a rainy one (didn't rain, surprise) so I chose to visit the cartoon museum. It was a lot of sculptures, figurines and interactive displays. They had games which captured your movements through cameras and displayed them on screens with which you would interact. There was even a television that showed 3D animation without the need for special glasses. The only downside is that some angles make a double image. Anyhow, it's a very cool museum and even the bathrooms were fun!

Another building has a free library with comics and manga. The second floor has more displays of old comics and figurines but best of all a HUGE collection of animation from common to obsure. I saw some titles that brought back memories of my childhood. Truly exciting. They allow you to choose any film and watch it too. I layed back on a beanbag and viewed "Kiki's Delivery Service" with a giant grin. I would love to have a place for people to do that. Sooooo cool. I'll have to remember it when I open my kick-ass hostel one day.

(that reminds me, I saw the movie "Kick-Ass" and loved it. Great soundtrack too. It's wonderful that they show movies in their original language with subtitles here)

Today I was in a euphoric sort of mood. I don't know why; I just was and that's dandy. I got weird looks from people because I was grinning. That's a sad statement, don't you think? A person is looked at oddly for being happy. I kept thinking up the type of lines you would find in a book like "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff". That's a great read if you're feeling down... though it might just irritate you if you're truly in the wrong mindset. One line I thought up is "No one is happy all the time but being miserable is a choice". Really, it's all in the mind. I know since I can be very miserable far too often. When I get into my happy moods I just wish I could stay like that. It feels so great and warm. I can feel the happy all the way in my stomach like a kind of excitement that wants to burst out. I wonder if I'm bipolar since my moods can be such extremes.

I walked around smiling despite the looks. I hope my smile made at least one person out there a little happier. So many of us are so fortunate.

That's the super short version of my "happy" rant from my hand-written journal.

I think that's it. Oh, noooooo. I forgot the really funny bit. I meant to save it for last anyway. Well I arrive at the hostel and I am smelly! Shower time. I get in there but I don't see a lock (so we know where this is going but I'll drag it out in true Tonie style). Okay, I assume the rule is, if the door is closed the shower is occupied. Obviously just when I'm completely nude and about to turn on the water the door slides open. "Occupied!" I say and there stands a dude looking confused and stunned. He sorta just stared for a moment before a switch flicked and he closed the door again. I was surprised that I didn't really care. I felt bad for him as he probably felt awkward but I personally didn't. I guess I'm pretty comfortable with my body nowadays. I didn't get much of a look at his face so I'm not sure who it was. Probably someone who tries to avoid making eye contact.

I'll leave you with that.


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