Tag Archives: seoul

A pigeon sits on the head of a statue outside Jogyesa Temple, Seoul.

(And no, Tumblr will NOT let me rotate this photo.  But I’m too stubborn to admit defeat and delete it just because it’s sideways.)

(And WordPress has finally let me put this photo upright.)

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Gyms

I went to the gym tonight for the first time since I got back.  While I was working out I thought about the last time I sat on an exercise bike: at the hotel gym in Seoul.  There I sat on the sole upright (i.e., not recumbent) bike, facing the massive window.  It was early, before sunrise, so I could see both the morning’s first cars crawling along and the reflection of the gym behind me.  A note on the bike boasted that it was built for smaller people.  It was true: I had to position the seat higher, and higher, and higher before I could get a comfortable cycling position.

Behind me was a row of machines I didn’t recognize from gyms back home.  A man went up to one of them and laid down, securing his legs in substantial velcro straps.  “It must be a machine for doing situps,” I figured.  I looked back a second later, and the machine was creeping upright, pulling the man’s legs upward.  Soon he was completely upside down, held by his strapped-in legs with his head dangling near the floor.

Definitely not sit-ups.

Once I started to get over my utter astonishment, I imagined how great it would feel to have my back stretched out like that.  But the machine’s instructions were all in Korean, and I started picturing myself doing it wrong, falling on my head while half-way up, or my glasses falling off as I dangled helplessly upside down, unable to see the switch that would bring me back.  So I stayed put, right-side up.

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I walked right into these guys in the plaza by City Hall. It looked like they were heading to take part in the changing of the guard ceremonies at Deoksugung Palace. It was great to see the historical dress and drums in the middle of downtown Seoul.

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Signs in Seoul

Note the (slightly out-of-focus) sign that reads
SEOUL MUSEUM OF CHICKEN ART.

I really should have gone. 

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Photo Op

The commercial side of Gyeongbukgung Palace, Seoul.

Like those fake Wild West photo shoots, but Korean, and at a royal palace. 

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Deoksugung Palace

One of the buildings in Deoksugung Palace, Seoul.

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Cards

The #1 thing I wish people had told me before this trip:

Koreans take business cards very seriously.

I mean, really, really seriously. Exchanging cards is a ritual. When meeting someone new, you are introduced. With a nod or a bow, you each hand each other your cards and shake hands. If you’re sitting down, people lay out their new acquistions so that everyone’s information is visible.

We had business cards made up with hangeul on one side and English on the other, which people think is a hoot. Problem: I don’t think I brought enough. I gave out more Korean business cards yesterday morning than I have English cards in the past year. Seriously. I’d only brought a thin stack, having no idea I’d need so many.

I also didn’t know I’d need them at the ready, all the time. In theory, that shouldn’t be difficult, but women’s suits aren’t well-built for this. They never have inside pockets. When there are pockets at all, half the time they’re just decorative. My suit yesterday only has pockets on the jacket, not the pants, and they have big buttons, so it looks really stupid with the pocket unbuttoned. Ah, the tribulations of business travel. Heh.

We leave tomorrow. I’m already kind of sad: I’d like more time to explore here. I’ve experienced just a little bit of Seoul, and there’s so much else to the city and Korea as a whole. I want to come back someday.

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