Monday, 26 August 2013

Namsan Tower: Part 2

Click here to read Part 1 of this post if you haven't already.

A view towards northeast Seoul.
Looking down at the bus stop.
You can see Bukhansan in the background, while the cluster of tall buildings is City Hall and Jongno.

An antenna standing next to the tower.

Sightseeing is exhausting.
A view of Namsangol Folk Village, which we visited in February.
Soon the sun began to set, casting the city in shades of orange.

I took a few snaps of various spectators watching the sunset.

Dusk turns to nightfall, and the city starts to glimmer with neon lights.

At the giftshop.

More lovey-dovey stuff.
Lining up to go back down to ground level.
One last glimpse of the metropolis, before descending to Namsan.

During the evening the tower is illuminated in blue whenever the air quality in Seoul is 45 or less (anything under 50 being considered "good" air quality). Personally I think it would be more appropriate to light it up green.
Even at night the terrace is packed with people.
We were tempted to get the cable car down but decided just to walk, this time a different route to the one we took coming up.

Back in the city.
We headed to Itaewon to eat some Bulgarian food at Zelen Restaurant. It was delicious!
Cheese-stuffed tomatoes. I don't usually like tomatoes but these were yummy.
To end with, here's a touristy photo we got at the tower.
Though I think there are better views to be had in this city, I can see why N Seoul Tower was recently voted "Number 1 Landmark in Seoul" by tourists. Namsan Mountain is a pleasant place for a 15-minute hike, the views give you a strong sense of just how vast and sprawling Seoul is, and as you can see, there are tons of photo opportunities. If you're interested in visiting the tower yourself, you can find directions here.

Namsan Tower: Part 1

On a recent day off from work, Angela and I visited Namsan Tower, or as it's more formally known, N Seoul Tower. Located in the centre of Seoul, it is the city's highest point, and allows wonderful panoramic views of the area. It's also great for getting a better spatial picture of the city. Seoul is so sprawling (it's probably the least the least walkable city I've ever visited) that it can be difficult mapping its shape in your head: you get used to navigating it via interlinking metro stations and bus routes, never managing to build a mental map of how each district fits in with the others. But from N Seoul Tower you can see everything. You get a sense of how the Han River arches around the lower half of the city like a loose belt. You can visualise Myeongdong and Itaewon's antipodal relationship at opposing sides of Namsan Mountain. You can see how the grounds of the royal palaces are nestled between the mountains of Bukhansan to the north and the skyscrapers of Jongno and City Hall to the south.

While I think there are more impressive views of Seoul to be found - such as from Inwang Mountain or the 63 Building - none of them give you such an all-encompassing "living-map" panorama that Namsan Tower provides.

The tower stands on a huge hill called Namsan, and there are various areas you can approach from. We decided to start at Dongguk University station, located just northeast of the hill.
An escalator leading to the university grounds, which would provide access to Namsan hill.

It's a steep hike up to the top of the hill, but most of the paths are paved with stairs.

Our first glimpse of our destination in the distance.
On the way we passed an archery centre. The sport is very popular in South Korea, and the country has excelled in it at recent Olympic Games.
The road to the tower was lined with a stream.
As we climbed higher, we caught glimpses of the nearby city through the trees.

After a short but sweaty climb, we reached N Seoul Tower.

Being one of Seoul's most popular tourist attractions, it was crowded even on a Thursday.
A traditional Korean pagoda near the base of the tower.
Near the tower are these padlock trees, on which people can hang their messages of love in padlock form.

A couple looks up at the tower from below.
Even without going to the top of the tower you can find some pretty impressive views of the city. This is looking south towards the River Han and, further still, Gangnam.

You can see the gold-plated 63 Building standing on the south banks of the river.

Korea can't get enough of love, hearts, romance, etc.
Finally, inside the tower.
But before riding the elevator to the top, we visited the Teddy Bear Museum, also located in the tower.
The museum displays hundreds of miniature teddy bears in scenes from Korea's past and present.

There are also some larger teddy bears to take photos with.
Now some teddy bears in contemporary Korea: a K-Pop concert....
Nanta Cooking...
...and a certain song you may heard of.
Taking the starlit elevator to the top of the tower.
The observation deck, where we spent most of our time. There's also a rotating restaurant higher up, but we didn't visit that part.
A view over Itaewon, on the south side of Namsan.
Looking over the hill we just climbed, towards the southeast.
Some bear got loose and caused a ruckus in the gift shop. He was quickly escorted out of the building by a security guard.

Angela bought this pretty hanbok apron.

Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2!