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The Calm Morning

The beautiful island of Jeju off the southern coast of South Korea is effectively the Korean version of Hawaii. The weather is generally nicer, there's lots of tourist attractions and plenty of leisure activities like golf. It's also just an hour's flight away from Seoul making it far more accessible to Koreans than Hawaii is to Americans.

I made Jeju a three-day vacation at the tail-end of a long business trip, and I have missed it since. I went in late November when the island was still nicer than the Korean Peninsula, but not exactly oozing tropical warmth. It's fall into the category of one of the many places I hope to make a return visit to at some point.

Blogged: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/6/7/the-calm-morning

#jeju #southkorea #korea #ROK #asia #travel #photography #urbanlandscape #urban #canon #city #KALHotel #hotelroomview #morningcalm #morning #mountain #clouds #travelphotography #제주 #한국 #여행
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63 Building

Some cities just offer more than others to travelers. There's cities that are great for museums, but have little else to offer. And then there are cities that can cater to a wide range of tastes. Seoul has a great combination of the latest technology intermixed with ancient cultural and religious sites, and just generally my all around favorite city to visit. Admittedly, it can be a little intimidating for non-Korean speakers, but it's really not that bad and you can get around quite easily.

Dividing Seoul into both northern and southern halves, the Han river has seen a fantastic revitalization over the years bringing with it updated parks and recreational areas. Given the sheer size of Seoul, taking a river cruise lets you see quite a bit of the city, and there's no better time than at sunset. If you time it right, you can even see the rainbow fountain that spouts out of the Banpo Bridge at night in a beautiful array of colors.

That tall and slender golden building on the left is known as 63 Building. It does have 63 floors, but it's a little misleading as 3 of those floors are actually underground. Don't hold that against it too much though - it's not the only skyscraper in the world that uses such tricks to embolden its claims as a tall skyscraper.

At the time it opened in 1985, it was the tallest building in Korea. A title it would hold until as recently as 2003. It is believed to still hold the title of the tallest gold-clad structure in the world, so it has that going for it. Even though I've been to Seoul many times, I still haven't made a proper visit to this building as there is just so much to see and do, and the city keeps evolving. Don't worry 63, you're still on my list to visit!

Blogged: http://www.aisleseatplease.com/blog/2016/5/18/63-building

#63building #seoul #korea #southkorea #han #hanriver #asia #travel #photography #canon #skyscraper #cruise #river #explore #yeouido #travelphotography #urban #63빌딩 #서울 #한국 #여의도
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A Walk In The Park

One of the nice things about Seoul, is that there are these pockets of peace and quiet throughout this major megalopolis. The grounds of Seonjeongnueng, Royal Tombs from the Joseon Dynasty is just a 5 minute walk from Seolleung Station (Exit. 8). At times, you can lose yourself with the trees shielding you from the urban jungle that lurks just outside the grounds. Visiting on a Saturday morning, I was a little surprised that there were a number of small groups of students with teachers, presumably on some sort of small field trip learning about Korean history. I guess, business trips are the adult version of field trips?

While there are a few other Royal Tombs (also from the Joseon Dynasty) scattered throughout Seoul, Seonjeongnueng is probably the most accessible of them all. All of the Royal Tombs from this most famous of dynasties are inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List and worth spending an hour or so of your time exploring.
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Quiet In The City

One of the most accessible Royal Tombs in South Korea is that of Seolleung, just a few minutes walk from Seolleung Station in the Gangnam district of Seoul. It's a bit of solitude from what is otherwise one of the most wired and 24-7 cities in the world. 

This dolmen, or burial mound, is a traditional tomb, and one of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty. The Korean peninsula is actually home to the largest concentration of dolmen in the world. At an estimated 35,000 dolmen, Korea accounts for roughly 40% of the dolmen in the world.
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Empty Till The Next Stop

If you travel far enough away from Seoul, like say the relatively new (and virtual ghost town) smart city of Songdo, you too can have a subway car all to yourself! This is the only time I've ever had an entire subway car to myself in all of my travels, especially in Korea - it was rather unexpected.
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Traditional Korean Dancheong

Throughout Korea, as you visit various Royal Palaces and Buddhist temples, you might notice that the undersides of the roofs are painted in beautiful patterns and colors. This is Dancheong (단청) - a traditional decorative coloring for style based on five basic colors: blue (east), white (west), red (south), black (north), and yellow (center).

I really like the repetitiveness and harmony of both the architectural style and dancheong. Taken at Jogye Temple in central Seoul.
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Adrift

Hundreds of personalized lanterns float through downtown Seoul in the Cheonggye stream. 2012 Seoul Lantern Festival.
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Samseong-dong at Sunset

Bongeunsa Temple in the lower-left intermixed with modern Seoul all around. Taken from the 22nd floor of the Intercontinental COEX Hotel, River view.
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Lotus Lanterns

Every year, on April 8th (lunar calendar) the city of Seoul celebrates Buddha's Birthday with the Lotus Lantern Festival. Lotus shaped lanterns are hung around Seoul leading up to the festival, particularly at a couple of the larger Buddhist temples: Bongeunsa (pictured) and Joggyesa. Even if you're not Buddhist, you can enjoy seeing all the decorations and other festivities such as a parade and performances. Be mindful of the parade though, as it can cause some traffic.
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Hyangwonjeong Pavillion in Winter

The Hyangwonjeong Pavillion is one of the most beautiful parts of Gyeongbok Palace. This was my first time back to the palace after first visiting some 3.5 years ago. I hope I'll eventually capture it in each of the 4 seasons.
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