Looking back, it was fun.
I had managed to travel as much as I hoped, okay, maybe a little less, cause I missed out the DMZ.
The evenings at Chongechon, feet in the water, watching psychedelic lasers shows being projected on the walls and the water, the rainy day climb to Namsan, the chat with the flautist at Insadong, are memories that I will fondly cherish.
At Namsan, near the Seoul Tower, thousands come to tie locks commemorating their love. The area near the tower is a forest of locks of all sizes and shapes..chains, locks, handcuffs...a forest of the bonds of love.
At Insadong, the Korea of yore comes alive. The traditional tea houses serving tea and sweetened rice cakes, called ttok, take you to an age lost but not forgotten. I visited a couple of them, yet the one I enjoyed the most, was less traditional compared to the others.
Perhaps it was the books. This one had a book rack from floor to ceiling which was stacked with books, mostly old, in all languages. And the ceiling itself was punctured by numerous skylights that filtered in beams of light. As the light beams traced their path on the spines of old books, and jazz music played in the background, I sipped on my Ginseng tea.
On a particular Sunday, I went hiking to Achasan. I had gone there in search of a fortress, the Achasanseong, which held an important place in ancient Korean history. After hours of hiking, finding an awesome riverbank, that I had not expected, and some more hiking, I found the fortress or what remained of it. Beyond barbed wires, lay the excavations of the fortress, not walls as I had visualised, no wonder then, that the locals were not able to give me directions when I asked them for the "fortress". While coming down, I saw something even more heart warming. All the locals had gathered at an open auditorium in the hill and a concert was going on. Every Sunday the locals here climb the mountain, and on their way back, there is always a concert awaiting them.
One perception that I came back with, is there is a lot of love in Seoul. Couples of all ages can be seen hiking, cycling, sipping coffee or simply chatting in a quiet corner. Till the wee hours of morning,they are out on the streets...unafraid, undisturbed.
Will India be ever so tolerant to lovers, I do not know.
In fact one of my friends made an interesting observation. He said, "Seoul's streets have couple entry."
Finally, I will always remember the bombshell. A devious mix of soju and beer, consumed as a shooter. If you want to get drunk quickly and without fail, this is your drink of choice. Little did I know of its potency when I downed 20 shots, but when I tried to get up...well, well, well. Suffices to say, I somehow tottered back to the hotel and spent half the night sleeping in the toilet.
P.S. Pardons for the inactivity, but the Delhi heat and humidity is taking its toll.