Love is in the air at Seoul Tower, Ginseng at Namdaemun Market
19th June. Today I am going to tell you all about Korean ginseng. Said to be the best in the world. And we will go up Seoul Tower…
After unexpected events had brought us to Seoul’s ropeway station, we thought that luck has turned our way and we would be riding up the ropeway to Seoul’s Tower, located on top of Namsan mountain. Nope, we wouldn’t. But we would see all of Seoul – from Seoul’s tallest landmark.
People were suspiciously walking towards and then away from the ropeway.
Due to maintenance for two days in a year – the ropeway was closed. Today.
Cables were in need of repair.
If you ask me, these cables look just dandy – they could have taken on at least a few more rides.
We did made it to the top taking a bus and engaging our feet.
The sofa had been prepared. We could take our gaze for a walk, as far as the horizon.
As much as people like to show off their greatness, countries have found their way of measuring dicks. Towers.
Which one has the biggest? Something of limited relevance when you think about it, but having the tallest tower is in equal measures a dick+chick magnet. It easily attracts and is a bonanza for cities. The Seoul Tower.
The measurements: The Seoul Tower is 236.7 meters which makes it the 10th highest in the world. The fact that they’ve placed it on top of the mountain makes it even higher.
We whisked up the observatory by a high speed elevator with psychedelic projections of the universe, I didn’t quiet understand. I mean, when I went out the elevator I wasn’t in space or nothing.
I was here. With other tourists – looking for Blagoveshchensk in Russia. Must be the Korean name for Moscow.
Spoiler: Let me tell you that anything further than the Han river which runs through Seoul is blocked out by dense layers of smog.
The sight is further impaired due to dirty glass windows.
If you manage to beat those two hindrances, beautiful views await.
I was fascinated by the surreal sight of satellite suburbs, grey vertical residential blocks sprouting densely in various spots. In the 1950s almost all Seoulites lived in traditional houses. High rise residential complexes began to emerge in the 1960s to accommodate a rising population. From about 1 million inhabitants in the late 1940s, Seoul houses around 10,5 million people today.
Interesting other tower.
So close, yet so far away.
The round hollow spot that looks like a nice crater landing platform for UFOs is in fact Seoul’s time capsule. It carries CDs, videos and some of Seoul’s cultural assets from 1994 into the future. To be delivered in 2394 – on Seoul’s 1000th anniversary, since it became capital. Too bad we won’t be around no more.
We were now ready to take the shocking step – promising a mind blowing sight.
This is what we saw.
You can rent an audio guide for 3,000 won but you have to fill in your details and leave your ID to make sure you won’t steal their precious equipment. But they do not make it easy to return those either.
The reason why I would not get an audio guide is another though. Just one level under the observatory you can read about the buildings of Seoul at each window. They could have said.
Seoul Tower souvenirs. I cannot imagine anyone buying this for someone they sincerely like. Maybe it’s word play. The clock-tower. Yes, I like it now.
This marketing strategy worked a lot better on people, who were busy filling out Seoul Tower postcards to be sent from what was described as the ‘highest post office’ in Seoul. A red post box placed in front of a catchy phrase.
Also, do not miss the opportunity to go pee on the high rise. The toilet room is neat.
Back down is a platform with activities for lovers.
Bring a lock with your name and the name of the one you love. Attach it to one of the trees (of locks), then throw away the key, as a symbol of everlasting love.
You can also manifest eternal love to the fence. Just don’t throw the keys out into the open – imagine what impact blind acts of love might have on the living.
Locked forever. Love confessions. Lovable!
Well, surrounded by so much love, I cannot say life hasn’t turn out lovely!
Appropriately enough, with all the cuteness, there is also the Teddy Bear Museum. Apart from cute teddies it tells you Seoul’s legend of a bear turning into a women and giving birth to the first king – the myth of Tan’gun.
The other myth is that you can test your love on one of the cool crooked benches. People who are a good match and sit on the bench will be pulled together by the force of love. The others will be pulled together by gravity. Some can’t be bothered.
Here our Seoul Tower visit ends.
As we were walking down the mountain (endless steps), another view point awaited. Called ‘photo island‘ it was a designated photo spot for lovers and photographers. We went for a quick stop and a picture.
Just your usual photo spot really.
When you decide to go by foot instead of taking the bus, apart from the photo platform, you will come across a public workout station. They are a common sight at green areas in Seoul.
A thoughtful idea to give people the opportunity to exercise without costly indoor gym membership.
Close to Seoul’s tallest attraction is Namdaemun Market (closed on Sundays). Location: 49-1 Namchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Established during the Joseon dynasty in 1414, it is the largest traditional market in Korea. More than 10, 000 shops and street stalls serve local bites, clothes, accessories and household items. Food alleys serve wang mandu (generously sized dumplings), kalguksu (noodle soups) and galchi jorim (braised fish).
Namdaemun Market is the perfect place for ginseng shopping. Korea is synonymous with ginseng and grows the world’s best ginseng roots. Ginseng is said to boost immune systems, improve concentration, learning, endurance and mood, as well as believed to treat cancer, heart disease, fatigue, erectile dysfunctions, hepatitis C, high blood pressure, menopausal symptoms and many more. Researches disagree about its health effects but with so much ado there must be something special about that root.
To get best quality ginseng, look for panax ginseng cultivated in Korea and avoid cheaper versions imported from China. A fun thing to do is to buy raw ginseng roots, called susam. You can try making tea or cook it in Korea but it is illegal to travel abroad with natural, untreated ginseng!
Ginseng, the tower and the clock all united at this bright shop.
Ginseng is a luxury product. Due to its long period of growth which can take up to six years, it is an expensive item. It is still cheaper in Korea than anywhere else.
Obscure looking specimen’s in tall laboratory glass containers. Frankenstein’s cabinet. For those not liking the taste of ginseng but sights of horror – welcome to the root freak show. A perfect souvenir. Red ginseng actually comes nicely packed.
If ginseng is too bitter for you, you can try ginseng candy, tea, tablets or energy drinks.
As much as I am sure that ginseng is in some way beneficial, the taste does not convince. The perfect alternative with fantastic health benefits and taste are coconuts!
Strawberry cake and shrimp burger do have their assets, too. I am sure of it.
Have a healthy day!