Seoul visit

Last week we had the problem setting weekend for the next few AIOC high-school algorithms contests (fun & productive, the contests are looking good) so there wasn't much spare time to blog about my Seoul trip, but as this weekend has been much more relaxing (lots of Rock Band and Gran Turismo games...) without further ado, and mostly with pictures...

SEOUL (서울)

As I'm now working closely with a number of blogger teammates in Seoul, it was decided I should spend two weeks with them in person in the Korean office and meet them in person.
The overall experience was great (it's certainly much easier to work with all these people now that I know who they are and how they work) - though this post will mostly cover some thoughts of the city itself.

I was staying and working in Gangnam-gu, a financial district South-East of the center of town and overall not too populated. Other than the dozens of US chain coffee places, the local main had lots of greenery and provided a nice view of the sunset on the day I landed:
The city itself was on its best behaviour, in the middle of G20 preparations which meant that there were plenty of festivals and touristy exhibitions on throughout the city center;
During the weekdays, my main views of the city were walking along the main street to and from work, and for that part it felt just like walking around the more relaxed, spread-out parts of Sydney or Adelaide - not too many people, lots of trees, feasible traffic and a spread of small retailers within the surrounding commercial offices. That said, partially due to the G20, and partially due to the ongoing tensions with North Korea (this was before any shots were fired), there was definitely a military undercurrent to things:
The weekends gave me the best chance to explore the city - and while there seemed to be a large supply of things to do within 1-2hrs of town (the peninsula isn't very wide), the first weekend saw me navigating the Japan-ish useful subway system to attend a K-League match, where over 40,000 fans saw the local Seoul team victorious over Daejeon. That said, the most interesting weekend sight-seeing-wise was the second, where I went into downtown Seoul and looked around the Palaces:
Some of these were destroyed in previous occupations from Japan, but even the rebuilt buildings are hundreds of years old - I've always liked that style of architecture these palaces were full of intricate details, including these amusing statues (paved ground, area separating walls and mountain in the background all visible):
But most impressive were the structure of the fancy rooms themselves, and how they were scattered around the large cultured lands; lots of water, lots of coloured trees, pathways, really serene:
On the whole, Seoul (and in general, more of South Korea) is somewhere which'd be nice to visit again - mostly to see areas further away from town, but also maybe to see the DMZ if the situation with North Korea gets more stable. Also, for those interested, the entire album is available here:

For those of you in Adelaide over Xmas, I shall be too! See you then :)


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