If I subtract the mini-visit to L&H Japan from the total length of my stay in Asia, I'm surprised to see that I have already passed the halfway mark. I am now able to associate many names on the city map with images and recollections and I can understand simple Korean sentences. Needless to say, though, there is still a lot to discover and learn.

park

Time and again I realise that Seoul is a city with a myriad of different facets. Each district has its own special character and the urban landscape can change completely within a few hundred metres.

I had included in my first report a photo of high-rise blocks located directly adjacent to our office building. Yet this palace complex is also in the immediate vicinity of the office – in fact, you can see our office building in the background (third tower from the left).

 

namdaemun

The Namdaemun Market is another impressive sight. Countless little market stands have sprung up near Namdaemun (the Great South Gate to the old city). Here in the small alleyways just about anything imaginable can be bought. There are belts, items of designer clothing (some more genuine than others), souvenirs, but also marinated pig's feet and various other grilled snacks. Price tags are just for guidance – the final price is a matter for negotiation.

Just a few more kilometres away is a mountain which rises up out of the middle of the city and hence offers a wonderful panoramic view of Seoul. Up on the mountain is a communication and observation tower with restaurants and a very popular cable-car station. This so-called N Seoul Tower also has a viewing deck with a fence to which couples attach padlocks – this place reminded me greatly of the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne.

 

colours

On the previous photos you could sometimes see an overcast summer sky. Now, however, we are moving into autumn, which means that the sun is shining down from a clear cloudless sky with temperatures of around 25 degrees – the perfect recipe for a good mood while taking a lunchtime stroll with a cup of coffee in one hand. I especially enjoy taking a walk with co-workers along the nearby Cheonggyecheon. This is a stream that was covered under concrete for many years and all but dried up. Some years ago the watercourse was restored and an artificial waterfall was constructed as its new source. A seashell-like statue (which must surely be a work of art) and a modern interpretation of the city's mascot can also be seen at the waterfall. The name of the mascot, a mythological character, is Haechi – a fire-eating dog with wings who protects the city from fires and disasters.

I still find the work thoroughly enjoyable and my colleagues really are incredibly nice. No matter whether I have questions (in relation to Korean or work) or other concerns – they are always there for me. They show me how people live in Seoul and where they go to eat. We went to the cinema together and we went hiking on a mountain further to the north, something which I really enjoyed. Further activities are in the pipeline, so a lot more is surely still to happen. I am excited to see what awaits me in the remaining five weeks!

Best wishes from Seoul,

Mariko Wassy

 

Two weeks in Japan

Goodbye!