October 27, 2017
Voltaire’s departure worried me at first. He was the one who thoroughly researched and prepared our itinerary. Now that he is has left, Joy and I have only each other to rely on. Although we have made our mind to travel south, we have not prepared any itinerary at all nor do we have any idea on what to do once we travel there. Oh, what am I saying. We’ve gotten so used with each other so there is no reason for me to worry. If we get lost, I am confident we can find our way; that is the power of being friends for more than a decade.
In the meantime, following Voltaire’s departure, Joy and I decided to spend time on our own. Joy decided to go to Hongdae and check on the youthful scene the shopping district is known for. As for me, I made up my mind to go to Seoul N Tower, or Namsan, one of the must-visit places in Seoul. I first got a glimpse of Namsan on our first day. It was close to where we were staying; the lit giant needle-like structure was one of the things that hit me with the reality that I was finally in South Korea.
However, it is going to be my first solo venture in Seoul. Over the past six days, I relied mostly on Joy and Voltaire to direct me where we are going but now, I find myself relying solely on myself. The only advantage I have is that the internet sim is on my phone so I guess I have nothing to worry about. As the darkness has enveloped the streets of Seoul, I set out on my way. The proximity of the tower from where we were staying is another plus for me. To get there, I rode the subway to Myeongdong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and exited on Exit 3. I rode the Namsan Circular Shuttle Bus No. 5.
South Korea travel tip # 17: An alternative to the Namsan Circular buses is the Namsan cable car. To get to the cable car boarding platform, walk for 15 minutes from Myeongdong Station Exit 3. Follow the street on the right side of the Pacific Hotel. The cable car runs from 10 AM to 12 midnight everyday.
It was a short ride from Myeongdong as we reached Namsan in about 15 minutes. As it was a Friday evening, a crowd has begun to converge. There are a lot of things one can do in Namsan, such as visiting Hello Kitty Island and Ssentoy Museum or going up the N Seoul Tower Observatory. However, for me, the best way to discover the area is to simply walk around. And true enough, I just walked around the area, exploring every nook and cranny on my own pace.
The first part of Namsan I explored was the love lock area. The area beside the pavilion was less crowded. Lovers, and even single individuals, can buy locks in the stores at the Seoul Tower Plaza. They can write on the locks and then lock them anywhere in the area. This concept was from the famed Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, the love lock bridge. Unfortunately, due to the burgeoning weight of the locks, all love locks in the said bridge were removed. However, the love lock concept was warmly received all over the world. I saw one in Busan as well. I saw, through a friend’s post, that they have one in Malaysia as well. People all over the world are in love, but for me. Haha!
As I explored the area, I saw more love locks on the railings all over the area. Without any particular direction in mind, I just wandered around aimlessly, following my feet’s instinct. At the pavilion, I saw Korean children playing, and it made me smile. They were having fun playing the balloon. Oh, I do miss the innocence of youth – unburdened by the responsibilities of adulthood. How I wish I could go back to those sweet innocent days of freedom, before I was shackled to the ground by my job, by my bills, and my obligations.
From the pavilion, I walked down the stairs planking the Seoul Tower Plaza. Despite the cold, I found warmth in the company of myself. I was the only one trudging the path. I didn’t mind because it is this kind of unaccompanied walks that I enjoy the most. To the rest of the crowd, I may seem a lonely soul. But these rare opportunities of serenity give me time to meditate, to relax and to reflect, away from the tumultuous realities. This is my own brand of me-time.
As I was walking alone, I felt the irony hitting me – Seoul N Tower is supposed to be a romantic spot, with all those love locks and all. Lovers usually go to Namsan to experience the relaxing and romantic atmosphere. Yet here I am, walking all by my lonesome, not the least bothered by it. Perhaps someday I will bring with me the one who makes my heart skip a beat to this same place. We’ll jump into the bandwagon and we will lock the love we have for each other here, in the place that gave me tranquility.
Finding myself alone in a foreign country’s “most romantic spot” has certainly loosened the proverbial strings in my heart; nostalgia filled my soul. Instead of looking with spite at the cheesiness of lovers, I can’t help but smile. I didn’t mind the public displays of affection because it showed the proliferation of love into the autumn breeze. “What the world needs now is love sweet love”, kept resonating. It is indeed a wonderful feeling to be in love, especially the one that makes your heart flutter. How great it would be to link one’s arm with another’s and just walk endlessly, no destination in mind, just each other’s presence is enough. Oh, why am I feeling kind of romantic suddenly.
What made my evening stroll more special is the evening view. From Namsan, one can have a 360-degree view of the city. The city glistened; million lights floated, giving the city an ethereal feel to it. Seoul at night is very different to Seoul at daylight. I can’t help but snap pictures of the wonderful view. For those who want to get a better view of the city, they can go up the N Seoul Tower observatory. However, my friends discouraged me from it due to the negative reviews. Moreover, it was kind of pricey.
I was also lucky to witness a performance. A girl group was banging the drums while dancing in a syncopated motion. These kinds of entertainers can be found all over the city, considering the idol culture that the city has been known for. Their relentless drumming and dancing are fascinating. I was given a glimpse of Korean Pop Culture, something that I was oblivious of during our stay.
After cooling off at the tower, I headed back to our accommodation. I have become comfortable walking around Seoul. I don’t get anxious finding myself alone because I know I can always find my way without the fear of violence. Seoul is one of the most peaceful cities I have ever been to.
But in the meantime, annyeong!