ChanggyeonggungOne bright and sunny afternoon, I took advantage of some of Seoul’s major palaces being free to foreigners (a tourist board promotion) and had a look round Changgyeonggung and Jongmyo. They struck me as being kind of similar, though I’m sure there are a whole raft of subtle differences I’d be able to spot if I knew more about Korean history and architecture. The light was pretty bright and overbearing, which is why there aren’t any grand-sweep-type pictures here – I plan to do a return trip at a better time of day.

Pimping what?Before too long, Chuseok (the Korean harvest festival) came around and the whole country grudgingly enjoyed a three day weekend (typically, the holiday spans five days but the dates just weren’t auspicious this year). We had our usual delicious dinner and board games at Amy’s place, and then I went back to Seoul on my own to do a short course in photography (you’ll have to judge the results for yourselves). We had Sunday to walk around, and decide to give the Seoul Chicken Art Museum a try. Contrary to our information, it wasn’t open over the holiday and we ended up looking in at a minor royal residence before walking down to the city centre, where we stumbled upon a street magician swallowing needles and shuffling stacks of coins around. After bewildering the assembled crowd for a little while, he started promoting some miracle cream that would do just about anything – clean old coins, cover chipped paint, repair scuffed headlights and so on. Amy mused that demonstrating how good you are at tricking people by illusion before trying to sell some dubious miracle product wasn’t the best marketing strategy, but he did end up selling a couple of bottles.

No chickens over ChuseokJongmyo roof statues

Rice/milk drinkA student in my Korean language class had invited all and sundry to a Nepalese food festival over at a Nepalese Buddhist temple in the north-east of the city. Being no strangers to food from that area of the world, we announced ourselves and sat with a whole host of local Nepalese expats to find out what was going on. I turned out to be some kind of address by the ambassador to Nepal, the head of the temple and a couple of other people we couldn’t identify, followed by some food and entertainment (mostly karaoke). It was fun and interesting, though not a food festival as you or I might understand the term. Our Chuseok holiday ended with some more board games, and then it was back to work – the semester is almost a quarter over already.