This year, I had a pretty special birthday. I'm away from my family and friends but thankfully, I've met some pretty great people here that I was able to spend the time with. It's pretty awesome that my birthday coincides with the Korean Thanksgiving Holiday, Chuseok, so I've been off since last week Thursday and able to stretch out my birthday activities all week!! It's been quite a few days so I'm glad to have today to rest and enjoy some "me time".
But you wanna know how I spent the weekend don't ya?
Well, where does royalty spend their birthday, at the palace of course! I went to 2 palaces: Doeksugung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace. Absolutely stunning pieces of history! It's hard to put it into words. I kept trying to imagine what it would've been like to live during that time in a place so grand. If I could go back in time, just to witness...
I also got a chance to walk along the Cheonggye Stream. I walked for quite a while...taking in the beauty of this stream in the midst of Seoul. Surrounded by modern buildings and skyscrapers. The infusion of the past and the present here in Korea is amazing! I'm intrigued by how the 2 seem to come together so beautifully.
After the palaces, something I've always wanted to do: Ballroom Dancing!! Went to a Tango class, rocking a pair of low-top chucks...lol. Needless to say, I had to take them off. Man!! Ballroom dancing is intense! It's definitely harder than it looks and toes were stepped on repeatedly. It was a lot of fun! Some of the people there were really good, been dancing for years and others were beginners like myself. It was nice to get out and do something different!!!
Tuesday, I went to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). It's an area between 2 military powers, where military activity is not permitted. Kind of like a boundary of peace... Seeing as how I visited the DMZ between North and South Korea, I had to abide by very strict rules from dress code to gestures. North Korean soldiers look on as tour groups come around and if they see anything that could be construed as offensive, then we have a problem so no waving or pointing and picture taking is only allowed at certain times. Not gonna lie, it got a little nerve wracking standing on the North Korean side of the conference room, next to a South Korean soldier...but what a moment!!!
They have a bridge, called the Bridge of No Return. After the Korean War ended, soldiers were allowed to choose which side to live on. Once you made your choice, there was no going back. Many South Koreans have family members in North Korea that they have not been able to communicate with since the war.
A very different, very special birthday this year. I plan to embrace every new experience and moment that I have whilst in Korea. There's so much more to see...and while I just turned a year older, I feel 5 years younger!!
For pictures of the weekend, check out the Photos page!!!
Until next time...