In this post I will talk about Chuseok and what I´ve been up to the last week.
Chuseok, is Korean Thanksgiving (full harvest moon). It is one the most important holidays.Chuseok Day was celebrated on the Sunday 27th of September. Monday and Tuesday were off. So basically a 4 day weekend 😉 Traditionally, people go back to their home towns or visit their grandparents. You eat sweet/differently coloured rice cake (songpyeon). It is a time to spend with your family and to worship your ancestors. Most of my Korean friends, relaxed and ate a lot (sounds like Christmas and Easter to me).
Even though many things are closed on Chuseok, it is a great opportunity to travel. Many places offer special performances or activities for tourists. Chuseok is the only day that Seoul is not crowden. SAs everybody was going home, travelling somewhere by train was not very attractive. I stayed in Seoul, as there is a lot to do here!
We visited Jongmyo Shrine in the morning, hardly anybody was there. Then we went to the Namsangol Hanok Village close to Namsan Park. There were many activities offered just for Chuseok. We watched a Taekwondo performance, it was amazing. As we are in Korea, they even “danced”, did Taekwondo to music 😉 The Traditional villages are always interesting, as there is a lot to see and my can try out some things. We even had our personal tour guide, who showed us around. Afterwards we walked up to Seoul Tower. Namsan Park is a huge and beautiful park in Seoul. I´m always surprised how green Seoul is. Seoul Tower is popular amongst both tourists and locals. Everybody was there. Couples buy locks and hang them at the fence. The view is spectacular. We didn´t go up the tower, as it is rather expensive and many people said that it is not really worth it. You see enough from the mountain itself. We watched the sunset over Seoul. That evening I went clubbing at Itaewon. Koreans don´t really dance. It takes a lot of animation to make them move (girls and boys). Nearly only foreigners go to Itaewon. We took a taxi back, as Seoul does not have night buses.
Next day I visited Deoksu Palace, one of the palaces right in the center of Seoul. It was free admission and there was a free traditional Korean music performance. A mix of jazz and in my opinion, strangely sounding singing. The atmosphere was great!
Monday, was still a holiday and people started to come back to Seoul. I did some shopping in Gangnam and went to the Hanok village in Seoul. We had REAL italian pizza. I was very happy. Korean pizza is extremely sweet and always contains corn (for whatever reason). The restaurant was very authentic, but as we are still in Korea we got a side dish (pickles).
On Tuesday we were super active. We hiked up to Bukhansan mountain (836 meters). The weather was amazing and everybody was there. I´ve never hiked with so many people! Hiking is a national sport in Korea. There are extremly many outdoor stores. Especially people over 60 wear outdoor clothes and go hiking every weekend. You always see hikers in the subway! The mountain is inside a national park, very close to Seoul. We took the subway to get there. There are various paths you can walk, but we wanted to hike up to the peak. On our way we saw two temples and the scenery was beautiful. It started getting very steep rather quickly. To the peak it is only 3.6 km or something, but that means UP UP UP. The path was a combination of steps, steps made of rock and literaly “climbing” up the mountain. I´ve done some hiking before, but never was it soooo steep for such a long time. Appropriate shoes and lots of water is a must! The last bit to the peak was super scar. There was only a rope that you could hold on to. This alone was scary, but having lots of people around you made it worse. People were pushing and trying to get up first. When we were finally at the peak, the AMAZING view made us forget the tedious walk up. We had lunch there. In Germany, (Austria and Switzerland too), there´s a place to eat and drink on every hiking route. This is nonexistent in Korea. You bring everything yourself. Many koreans drank rice wine. We didn´t as we were a bit terrified of having to walk back down again.
Hiking was a very good experience. I plan to do this again. Bukhasan National park has a lot to offer.
Wednesday,I had a free day too. I visited the Hangaram Art Museum, as I did not intend to do lots of walking (if any in fact). I went to the Modigliani and the Chia exhibition. Both were great.
Thursday: I had uni.
Chuseok was really nice, even though I did not leave Seoul, I saw a lot of new places and enjoyed myself a lot. Living is such a huge and vibrant city really is amazing. Deciding what you´re going to do is quite tricky.
Weather, autumn has arrived in Korea. This means that evenings are chilly and it is not as hot during the day. Average temperature so far was 22 Degrees, so still warm compared to Sweden. The leaves are slowly changing their color.
That was my Chuseok summary. Have a great week!