Entries in airport (17)

Sunday
Sep052010

Art and Seoul

Smiles start with the young and extend to all generations in this city.  It's when I witness moments like these that I wish my children join me on business trips.  They would have loved it.  Hundreds of kids playing in water puddles.  It looked liked so much fun and the weather was so sticky, I wanted to join in myself.

My free afternoon offered three hours for exploring the city during day light.  I managed to visit a temple on the first day, so it had to be a palace on the second.  I was delayed as I walked around and witnessed this vast number of children soaking in water.  Mothers had dry clothes ready, and fathers captured the action on cameras and phones.

I walked on to find my way around and cover some of the major roads, I heard this roar as I was crossing the road.  The screams of the children behind me halted me on the zebra crossing and I sprained my neck turning around to see what had happened.  It was round-two!  The water was back on, and suddenly the whole scene began to make sense.  I walked back to get a few more shots.

South Korea's interesting old architecture lives harmoniously amongst the modern glass-covered towers.  I had read in the guidebooks that there is always a 3D art piece, a statue or a sculpture, outside every single major building.  I checked and it's true!.  Every single building has one.  Not all to my taste, but every building has to have one.  The characters of the Korean language are also very beautiful.  Signage is always available in English as well as Korean, so I took this image of the news-stand instead.

During my walk I visited Deoksugung, the smallest of Seoul's royal palaces.  I can sit and look at the detail in the buildings there for hours without a minute's boredom.

Unfortunately, my walk through was very quick and I only spent the time to compose these shots.  This collection is partly to share with you, and partly for myself - to look at the art that goes into the building.

When I look at what the South Koreans have achieved over the last three decades, I find it difficult to imagine how things were.  Poverty, destruction and near-anarchy made up the scene back then.  The one thing that has clearly made a difference, and has sprung them forward to where they are today, is their strong work ethic.  The man in the shop-window below was working on a watch.  I cannot describe his expression of satisfaction when he closed it up again.

I mentioned the sculptures in front of every building, but art is also on the streets.  Have a look at the larger version of the above photo.  I love the many different expressions captured all around the painter.  You get these usual touristy caricature portraits, but I saw the men below sketching the buildings and waterway just for fun.  The older man was giving pointers and when I requested permission to take a photo, he said: 'Please do, it will embarrass him'.  Both men were smiling and enjoying the moment. I took my shot, and turned the lens onto the older man assuring him that we all have to get embarrassed sometime.  He asked to see the photos and quickly nodded in approval.

The afternoon was as busy as the previous evening.  People strolling, paddling, talking.  The numbers slowly dropping as people either headed home or settled in for dinner.

I left with  wonderful impression of this beautiful city and I hope to come back one day with my family.  I'm intrigued by what other parts of this country would be like.  Perhaps the most memorable thing about Seoul for me is the nice people.  Below is a traffic manager.  He has a badge with a smily face... just in case anyone forgets.  I've been to almost every airport in the world.  In Seoul airport, and as I was going through security for my departure, I read a message inside the trays they provide for the x-ray machine.  I have not seen this at any other place.  The message, which also ends with a smile, said: 'Have a nice trip'.

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