City of Seoul…Visa Conundrum!

After going through that action packed day to get here, we can now relax for a bit.

The transit system is great in Seoul – low cost and very clearly posted signs everywhere. It only costs one dollar per ride and you can transfer to other lines for free. It takes a 10 min walk to get line 4, which intersects all the other lines so we can get to places efficiently. Sometimes you’ll see someone on the metro sales pitching a ‘wonder’ product. This guy was selling some shamwow thing. I like the way it wears on his neck. Sooo fashion! 🙂


The taxi fares are cheap. Fares generally start from 2400-2800 won dependent on time of day. A ten minute cab ride with normal traffic conditions shouldn’t cost you more than $4cdn. A few shots from around the city:


Dongdaemun


Now our next immediate task was to apply for our Chinese visa so we can enter China when we leave Korea. We metro’d it to the Chinese embassy and found out that it was closed?? There were several guards there so we asked. One of them pointed us to a piece of paper attached to the booth which states that visas can only be applied at the Chinese consulate now. Bummer! Well we jotted down the address and decided to go there tomorrow instead.

Since we were close to the Gyeongbokgung palace, we headed there to check out our first sight. The palace was huge. It seemed just as big as the forbidden city although I don’t know the exact dimensions.

We were fortunate to arrive right on time to witness the changing of the guards. They had bright uniforms and some carried large flags, others had weapons. They marched from the main gate out to another gate on the side. Overall, the architecture looks similar to the Chinese buildings in terms of design and colours.


 


In front of the gates where they stand


Inside on of the buildings with the throne


Nice outfits hehe


Interior of other rooms


Map of the place. BIG.


Find your animal!


Pagoda


Looks like the style of homes back in the day


Korea’s version of the guardian


I’m starting to see a resemblance with the seven dwarves for some reason…


The next place we went to check out was Myeong-dong, which was the main fashion district. Here you’ll find most of the retail brands that you see at home as well as mixture of Korean brands. It’s all clustered together so it’s the typical crowded streets you’ll need to plow through.


The following day was visa application part two. We took a taxi to the consulate attempting to save some time but the traffic jams prevented that. Would have been faster and cheaper just to take the metro. We get there and near the gate were several ajimas approaching us asking if we were applying for a visa. Thinking they were scammers we sorta brushed them off after a brief conversation. When we got to the gate, the guard took a look at our passports and told us we can’t apply here but only through designated travel agencies. Huh? He directs us to the bulletin board with another sheet that explains the ‘procedure’ The list of agencies were all in Korean and we had no idea where they were located. Luckily the ajimas we saw earlier told us they were just down the street from here. But of course they wanted us to go to the ones they “recommended” We got to an agency and they flip through our passport…Viv can’t apply because her new passport didn’t have a previous china visa in it (it was in her old passport that was sitting at home). The alternative is if we had a Korean alien registration ID in which we didn’t. Soooo, now we have to FedEx her old passport here before we could apply again.

The process just got a bit longer 😦 It took a few days but we finally got her old passport in hand. Visa application part three is coming to an end. We just sent in our application today using express service so hopefully we’ll have it approved and ready for pickup so we can head to China.

Back to traveling we go! We went to Lotte World, apparently the world’s largest indoor amusement park. General admission is 25000 won and the all day pass which includes the rides and ice rink was 40000 won. We made a mistake and just paid for the general admission thinking there was more to offer than just rides. Not much! It’s ideal for families because they do have a lot of kids rides and the atmosphere was somewhat like a mini disneyland. There were adult rides too – the pirate ship, hellevator, etc.


Am I not turtle enough for the t-t-turtle club?


Another landmark that was nice to walk around was the Bukchon Korean village. It’s a neighbourhood with traditional style houses that fared well for photos. It’s actually right in the central area of Seoul near the Gyeongbok palace so you don’t have to go far to see this. Quite a few houses offer workshops of traditional arts such as gold leaf imprinting, fan painting, tying knots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One more popular place we went to was the Seoul Tower where you can get a panoramic view of the city. Unfortunately the day was rather hazy so we couldn’t get any good shots. However, the other main attraction besides the observatory has become really famous and that is the locks of love. In an area below the tower there are thousands of locks with messages attached, all chained to a surrounding fence and some tree shaped structures. This has definitely become a couples destination. Its been such a craze over the years, the gift shop has capitalized and sell the locks and notes as well. It’s a neat sight.