Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tashkent to Seoul

One final note about Uzbekistan: If you are leaving the country by plane (as i was) and you have some s'om left over (as i did) and you plan to spent it at the airport on snacks and souvenirs (ditto), don't do it. Take the last of your s'om and spend it or give it away before going inside the airport, because once you're in there, they won't take it nor will they exchange it. It's Euros only at the Tashkent airport. Now what am i going to do with the 24,000 s'om burning a hole in my pocket?
$200 US and its equivalent in s'om
I arrived in Seoul at about 7am on Saturday and took the Arex train to Seoul Station. (A word of advice, if you are doing this, take the commuter train, not the high-speed train. The high-speed train is about 4x the price and is only 7 minute faster than the commuter train.)

Once downtown, i was hit with the brutal humidity of Seoul. It was not nearly at hot as Uzbekistan, but was so humid that it felt a million times worse. I had rivers of sweat running down my face into my eyes and into my kimchi. Hideous.

Anyway, i visited the grand Gyeonbokgung Palace - an enormous complex of pagoda-roofed buildings separated by a network of courtyards and with a large, lily pad covered pool. It was originally built in the 14thC, but has been destroyed many times over the centuries, so it has been entirely restored. With the misty mountains in the background, it was all quire serene and lovely. There were masses of tourists there, but the place was large enough that i could look around without feeling overwhelmed by people. As i haven't been to far east Asia, it was quite unlike anything i have seen before and i really enjoyed myself.

After that, i went to the very touristy Insadong neighborhood. I had walked through there on my previous visit to Seoul, but as it had been so early, everything had been closed. This time, however, it was teeming with people. It is lined with lovely tea shops and souvenir stores and curious restaurants. I finally found a restaurant that had a vegetarian bibimbap on the menu, so i ate that, which was very good (especially after 2 weeks of Uzbek vegetarian cuisine).

I then walked many blocks, stopping to sample food from street vendors or poke around in shops, before returning to the Namdaemun Market, where i spent an hour or two walking and browsing and making a few purchases.

Back to the airport 2 hours before my flight home. It was a delightful day. It is amazing how much looking around one can cram into a 12 hours layover.

I am home now and am resting and trying to get over the illness that has been recurring since Samarkand.

As soon as i can make some sense of the hundreds of photos i took, i will post some here.

Thank you for keeping up with my Uzbek adventure.

Dale R. North


Anonymous said...

Welcome home Dale.

Nozima Abdullayeva said...

tashkent airport