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    Tuesday 13 September 2011

    Day Seven – Secret Gardens

    It’s our last full day in Seoul. We’ve really enjoyed our time here. It’s a city that only 40 years ago didn’t exist in its current form. It’s grown out of slums into a magnificent ultra modern megacity. As is the norm, we had breakfast down in the resident’s lounge where we leisurely enjoyed our food and a catch up on the previous nights UK Big Brother!
    Patrick outside Changdeok Palace
    The core plan today was to visit the Secret Gardens (Biwon) behind the Changdeok Palace. The Palace was built in 1405 as the secondary palace for the King. Alas it was destroyed after the war in the 1940s. Korea’s last emperor Sunjong passed away on these grounds in 1926. Entrance to the Secret Gardens is by tour group only, but as today is a national holiday, we were free to roam around on our own if we wished. We decided to keep to the guided tour to set context the Garden. Strangely you cannot buy a ticket for the Secret Garden only, you must buy a tour of the Palace and add on the Secret Garden tour!
    Vinnie trying to blend into the tour!

    Vinnie decides the lend a hand at The Palace

    Our tour group
    Patrick at a Pagoda
    The tour lasted around 90 minutes, after which both Vinnie and I were truly wrecked. Temperatures were in the high twenties, so walking up and down hills and steps in direct sunshine really tires you out. So what did we do afterwards, yes head on a nice 4 or 5 km walk in search of a vegan restaurant, which we eventually found was closed. We ended up having a snack from Irish Potato, an Irish inspired fast food restaurant, which we’ve found in other Asian countries. Naturally all items are made from potato. We had curried and pineapple chips/fries.
    Irish Potato!
    Before heading back to the apartment we took a pitstop around the city hall area. A Christian service was being performed outdoors. 20% of South Koreans identify as being Christian. A few thousand were out tonight to wave hands and sing the glory. It’s the real American style of Christianity that appears to go down here. We had learned about a church nearby which holds 7 services every Sunday to a congregation of 15,000 each time!
    Vinnie waiting at one of the Metro Stations
    A night view of the city from the Cheonggyecheon stream
    As we are up early to move onto Shanghai we headed back to the apartment early. Before packing we took in a swim on the roof under the mid autumn moonlight. Perfect.

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