Posts Tagged ‘Travel and Tourism’

Funnily enough, when we hear “Japan” we quite often think of geisha, samurai and blooming cherry trees.

If we hear “Tokyo”, however, the first thought will be for the megalopolis, Harajuku, Shinjuku and the high tech gadgets that will be the new hype in the West about 2 years after being born in  the East.

Well, the same approach goes for Korea.

The country in itself is steeped in its rich history, and the way of life in the countryside has not changed that much.

Seoul is not Korea.

Seoul is ever changing, ultra modern and never quiet.

But even that futuristic side is based on the past.

How so ? Because of Confucius.

You might be thinking: “Right, this time she lost it.”

I disagree.

It’s the Confucianism that has been, and still is, the base of the Korean society. It shapes the moral system, the way of life, social relations and even the legal system.

What does it have to do with the futuristic Seoul ?


How long do you think you could leave an HD TV set in the Parisian or NYC  subway ?

I meant, a working HD TV set.

Yes, that’s what I thought.

In Seoul, not only do you have HD TV everywhere, but now the city is putting even more technology in the subway stations.

Enters the Giant Ipad.

This brand new device is a public phone, an interactive tactile map, internet connection, TV and probably a few other things that my lack of Korean didn’t allow me to understand.

It’s actually almost too much if you don’t know the language, but scrolling over Seoul with one swipe on a huge screen is… pretty cool.

Another nice thing with the subway is the T-money card.

T-money is used to pay the fare in the bus, subway, some taxi, museums, buy stuff at the Mart and to use the phone function of the Giant Ipad.

But this is Asia.

They won’t give you a dull, boring, horrendous card with the-worst-picture-of-you-ever.

Instead, they’ll sell you the cutest mobile phone decoration.

Mine is a Hello Kitty.

More examples:

Of course, if you want to get the dull original card, feel free to do so !

But cuteness is not only in accessories.

Why can’t your fridge be cute as well ?

Ok, Seung Gi does add to the cuteness, but still !

You can’t turn on the most basic Korean device without being greeted by a nice little jingle.

The air conditioning, but also the dishwasher, the washing machine and I expect the dryer to be the same.

Too bad we didn’t get to use an oven or a coffee maker, would love to hear what they would sing.

A last peak into what technology is like in Korea:

I’m pretty sure Confucius would disapprove.


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No, this is not a catchy title for a new fantasy book (could be though… I should look into that…) but a brief summary of what makes Namsan special.

According to Pungsu-jiri (Korean Feng shui or Geomancy), the ideal or propitious site (called myongdang) is a place surrounded by mountains-a high, rugged range to the north flanked by hills folded into many ranges.

The range to the east of the ideal site is called the blue dragon, while that to the west is referred to as the white tiger.

A building or tomb must face a low hill in the south; the center of the site should command a relatively wide expanse of plain to the front.

A river flowing through the plain makes it an even better location.

That’s a perfect description of Seoul, and it’s not a coincidence.

I can hear you: “What’s the whole mountain thing ?”

Well, Koreans believe that the mountains are alive.  It is said that the mountains share their vital energy with their surroundings and the people living on their slopes.

With almost 70% of its territory covered with mountains, it’s no wonder Korea has developed a strong relationship with them.

Enter the Sanshin.

The Sanshin, or spirit of the mountain, is usually an old man sitting with a fierce looking tiger.

A very important deity in the shamanistic pantheon, he embodies the power of the mountain and offers gifts and protection to his devoted believers.

Namsan, with its 262m, is the Inner-Southern Guardian Mountain of  Seoul. Its Sanshin was actually “married” to the woman Sanshin of Bugaksan.

Both of them were said to protect Seoul.

Back to 2010.

Today, Namsan is a symbol of Seoul, with the Namsan N Tower (236m) being visible from most part of the city.

A very popular spot at night, for its great view of the city, it’s a really nice place by day as well.

First of all, the road stops before the top. The last meters of the climb, in the middle of the forest, are quite steep, but it’s well worth the effort.

We even saw a squirrel !

Once you reach the top, having completely forgotten that you’re at the very heart of a huge megalopolis, the two things that catch your eyes immediately are the Tower and the Pavilion.

The highlight of the whole trip, however, is the romantic side of Namsan.

First of all, and I’ve been told that’s a Korean thing, every surface that you can write on is… well, written on ^_^.

Friends and lovers from everywhere write little messages, with permanent markers sold at the mart on the car park.

The Tower sits on the edge of a cliff, so there is a big fence for safety.

But not only.

The picture on top of this blog is actually a snapshot of that fence.

Here’s a better look.

Meet the Locks of Love.

That “Big Wall” is a regular fence covered with locks that lovers attached there, as a token of their everlasting love.

Here’s a close up.

Some are engraved, some written on, some have hearts and pictures, some are old and rusty.

But all tell the story of people loving each other.

It’s not just for lovers, mind you.

Friends do it as well.

Now, this is still Korea.

Lovers are not supposed to display their feelings too openly, and that’s really cute when put in context.

Those 2, for example, sat down together and started writing on their locks (yes, they had one each).

But, after  a few minutes, it became somewhat awkward, and the boy left the bench to finish writing on his own.

When he returned it was even more awkward, as she really wanted to see what he wrote.

They kinda fought a little to read each other’s message before putting the locks up.

They discussed the best place to put them, locked one lock into the other, took a picture of it… what am i saying ?

Took many pictures of it, had their picture taken together, and left with a knowing smile on their face.


The whole place is filled to the brim with positive thoughts and feeling of love.

It mind sounds cheesy, but it’s true.

Standing with someone dear to your heart, on top of Namsan, overlooking Seoul and surrounded by thousands of Locks of Love…

It feels like nothing is impossible.

Fly high !

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