I have no idea what that title is supposed to mean but it made sense in my stir-fried brain for approximately 4 seconds. But even still, here is another blog post about, what else, KOREA. As if you’re not totally over it by now (see also: 8 posts ago).
We got up nice and early on Wednesday, March 28th to set off for Myeongdong station in order to begin our hike up to Namsan Park / N. Seoul Tower, but first: HOTEL ELEVATOR SELFIE. Henry had grown to abhor Elevator Time because Chooch and I were in this constant vacuum state of giddiness and we were known to lose it and start cracking up in front of other hotel guests several times. I know what you’re thinking and I agree: “WOW THAT SOUNDS SO ADORABLE HENRY IS LUCKY TO BE IN YOUR COMPANY.”
Once we got off at Myeongdong station, we had pretty clear directions (for once) on how to get to the start of the trail. When I say we “hiked,” I hope you guys know that this was 99.9% an urban hike and we didn’t have, like, REI survival packs on our backs or even basic hiking boots on foot or anything like that. It was mostly just very wide steps or steep concrete paths that we were walking on, but shit you guys, there was still a certain degree of effort involved. The tower literally crowns the top of Namsan Mountain, which is also considered the guardian mountain of Seoul. (I just learned this now; thanks, Google.)
The other option is to take the cable cars to the top, but I had read that walking is so much better because 1) nature and 2) exercise and 3) you can feel less slothy later on when you’re downing your third serving of ttkeokbokki and twigum. Every single person we encountered on this trek was over the age of 60 and in fantastic shape. BECAUSE THEY HIKE FREAKING MOUNTAINS ALL THE TIME. Native Koreans cracked the code of eternal youth, you guys. It was inspiring to watch them, especially when we reached one of the level checkpoints that had an area with exercise equipment and every single one was occupied by an ahjummas and ahjussi and they were GETTIN’ IT. I posted about that in more detail here.
I bet this spot looks so dreamy in the summer!
We paused occasionally to take in the view, where I would start to feel mild panic because I’m afraid of heights. I kept feeling like Chooch was going to tumble off the mountain even though there were railings everywhere but I still kept screaming, “GET AWAY FROM THERE. STAND NEXT TO ME. HOLD DADDY’S HAND. BE CAREFULLLLLLLL!!! WHY DID WE STOP USING A STROLLER??”
I’m either NOT A PARENT or SMOTHERINGLY MATERNAL out of nowhere. You never know.
You damn well know Henry had to stop and look at this map.
This isn’t actually fog. The yellow dust levels were really high most of the time we were there, in case you were wondering why you often see photos of people in Korea wearing medical masks. It’s actually not a fashion statement! (Well, it is for some people, probably, and there are certainly really cool mask options out there if you feel the basic white ones are too plain; in fact, all of the kpop shops sell masks with different kpop group logos on them, so if you want to protect your lungs while supporting EXO, you’ve got options.)
There are apps that you can use that will let you know what the air quality is for that day, and there was one day while we were there when we actually received an emergency warning text that was all in Hangul and of course our knee-jerk reaction was “NORTH KOREA” but then Chooch looked it up while we were digging a bomb shelter on the side of the road and said, “Oh, it’s just about the yellow dust, guys.”
It’s bad in Korea, but REALLY BAD in China.
It felt like the tower kept getting farther away, the higher we climbed.
Most of our ascent up Namsan was done on very nice brick paths like the one above. I loved that everytime we turned and looked back behind us, we got a different perspective of Seoul. That city is such a motherlovin’ babe and I could stare at it all the livelong day, for serious.
If you squint, maybe you can see my HEART DOWN THERE BECAUSE I LEFT IT IN SEOUL, WAHHH.
A rare picture of Henry and me. Chooch also have a version where he zoomed in on Henry’s face and cropped it and we kept laughing at that during the rest of the trip and Henry was like, “IT’S NOT FUNNY” and then Chooch did it again to another picture but on that one he added green snot dripping out of Henry’s nose and we were peeing ourselves over it and Henry really hated that one the best. Why was everything so funny!?
MAYBE IT WAS THE YELLOW DUST.
Anyway, this day was monumental because it was the first day of the trip that Henry wore a shirt with a pattern on it.
“How many more of these mountain-things do we have to climb?” I told him none, but hahaha just wait until Busan!
We finally made it to the top after maybe an hour, a little less even, and Henry bought our tickets for the tower. We got there at a great time (I think it was still sometime before 11am) because we went up in the elevator alone and barely anyone was in the observation area. It’s weird, but I felt like I had been there before since there was an episode of, wait for it, Running Man which took place there.
Oh yeah! Before we took the elevator up, there was a photo zone which Henry tried to bypass but I was like “YOLO, Henry” so we allowed the Namsan girl to take our photos and even obliged when she told us to make finger-hearts which Henry probably taught himself how to do while watching Twice videos in the bathroom at work, and Henry claims his jutting middle finger “wasn’t on purpose” which is what I’m going to say after I sprinkle his stew with hemlock tonight.
Meanwhile, Chooch was like, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
I was excited because the gift shop had post cards with stamps that you could buy and mail straight from the tower!!
Writing about Henry in our postcards, probably, lol.
We could have stayed up there all morning, but about 30 minutes after we got into the tower, the crowds started to file in. We made it to the cafe before it got packed though and it was really fun to sit by the window and write our postcards. Sending postcards is a dying form of communication, and I get so happy when our friends Chronica and Alyson Hell send us postcards from their travels! DONT EVER STOP.
This is the postcard Chooch wrote to our friends Jessi and Bill. <3 (Yes, he signs off as Douchecup, but only to Bill & Jessi. My favorite “douchecup” moment was at his 5th birthday party when he was running around calling Bill a douchecup and one of the preschool kids’ moms was like, “Wow, sounds like he really wants a juice cup!” YES, THAT’S IT EXACTLY.
OMG as I’m writing this, the mail room lady that I thought was a high school kid here for an internship thing when she first started (it’s a long story so the tl;dr version is that my eyesight is pathetic) just delivered the post card I sent from Seoul Tower to my co-workers! Glenn just read it and tried not to smile but then he smiled and immediately tried to disparage the situation by criticizing me for writing too much but that is just how I do postcards, OK?
Here’s a fun fact about the tower, thanks to the postcard that just arrived at work: It was designed to offer a full 360 degree view of Seoul and it was also Korea’s first radio tower delivering radio and TV signals since 1969!
This is the mail box I dropped the post cards into at my own risk.
View from 236m up, whatever that means.
View while peeing, taken after I peed—I wasn’t peeing on the floor.
There was this one activity where you could stand in front of a screen and connect to Busan Tower! However, at the moment Chooch and I did it, there was no one in Busan Tower waiting to connect, so that was sad. (We visited Busan Tower while there, but didn’t actually go up inside that one. More on that in a few posts!)
After hanging out in the cafe for a while, we left the tower and milled about the area at its base, which is filled with various shops (yes, you can buy your skin care even at Namsan Tower!) and a million places to attach a love lock if you feel so inclined to purchase one from the gift. We made Chooch use his own money to buy one because Henry was running low on cash and needed to find a bank. I can’t believe Chooch actually did it; he’s such a fucking tightwad with his own money.
“I bought a stupid marker, too,” he snottily spat when he returned from the gift shop.
This where I sat and painted my nails with $2 bottles of nail polish (hot pink and fluorescent orange) that I bought that morning at Daiso because my current nail polish was looking haggard. This is also where Chooch realized that he lost his subway card, so that was cool and not really a big deal because there was only like enough fare for one trip left on it I think and it only costs around $4 to get a new card to load, but we still made him feel like the most irresponsible child on the face of the earth because we’ve earned that right as parents.
LOL back off, CPS whistleblowers. We only harped on him for like 5 minutes and then moved on with our day.
The area around the tower is really beautiful, with lots of overlooks and colorful love locks to snoop on.
It was really nice to slow our pace a bit and just enjoy the mindblowing view. I know it’s a super touristy thing to do and Henry was kind of like, “merp merp” about it but then we made it to the top and he was like, “Fine. This is fine.” But probably had it been crowded, he’d have had a different, more sad tuba-y tune.
Chronica got Chooch this shirt for Christmas.
And then we began our walk back down the mountain to Myeongdong, where we had lunch before going to Gangnam! STAY TUNED LOLOLOL.