Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Namsan Tower in Seoul, South Korea

This past Monday morning Julianne and I got into a taxi to go to Namsan Tower on Namsan (or Nam mountain).

I told the taxi driver in Korean to take us to the tower and foolishly assumed he would take us to the cable car that sits at the bottom of the small mountain (Namsan) that the tower is on. The cable car ride up, or down, is very cool. It's fun to ride, and of course, you can take pics of the view of Seoul.

Instead of taking us to the cable car he took us ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP--wow. I had no idea you could drive up to the top of Namsan. I have walked up the path before with all of the stairs, etc, and that's alright as long as it's not insanely humid and hot (like it was in July when I decided to go in 2007). We'll probably go again sometime in the future and make sure we take the cable car too.

It was an awesome winter day for taking pictures. Before we had left for Seoul I had been reading up on how to take good landscape pics--I think the tips helped me out as I got a lot of really nice shots.

Because it was Seollal (Korean New Year) there were a lot of Koreans and tourists at the tower too. Some people were playing traditional Korean games.

The sky wasn't just a pure blue and the clouds seemed to be working in my favor to add a nice element to the pics.

This pavilion sits below the tower in a kind of large open courtyard where people were playing games.

At the base of the tower there are two observation platforms. The one on the right has power binoculars you can use to look at Seoul. It also is surrounded by a fence covered in locks that lovers have written messages on and then locked onto the fence.

Some of them even put their picture on the lock too--hope they're still together, lol.

Taking pics on the observation platform with the sun shining towards my camera was 'interesting' in terms of trying to get the right exposure settings . . .

On the second observation platform where the tower sits along with two restaurants and an outdoor covered eating area there were more lovers' locks. I'm not sure why the locks are put on this bell-shaped thing but whatever floats your boat, right?

Just below the tower and observation platforms are these beehive shaped smoke signal chimneys . . . they sit on their own platform and offer a spectacular view of Seoul.

I love the sky in this picture . . . there's a whole Simpsons thing goin' on here, lol. These shots are taken standing on the small platform on which the beehive chimneys sit.

As I said in another post, lately I've been on a taking portraits with a landscape in the background pics spree . . .

This Korean grandmother was working a MANUAL cotton candy making machine. There is a foot pedal she was pushing to spin the machine to make the cotton candy--wow. Older Koreans make the elderly I know in Canada look extremely weak. When I think of the number of times a Korean grandmother or grandfather has PASSED ME while I was hiking an insanely steep mountain path or set of stairs it makes me grin like a fool and yet at the same time be in awe of their health and stamina.

Some more landscape shots . . .

This shot has to be my all time favorite (so far, lol) picture of Julianne. I love how her gorgeous red hair is floating a little in the wind, how the color of it is accentuated by the sunlight, and of course, everything about how she looks here.

We then took some of the obligatory "I was there" shots . . .

And then a few more portrait with landscape shots . . .

And then a few more landscape shots of Seoul . . .

Having taken several hundred pics we were tired and cold so we started walking down the long winding road that the taxi had driven us up. You can also take another way down from the tower on a path that is much faster but I hadn't walked the mountain roadway and wanted to see what views it had of Seoul.

About midway down the road we came across a stone wall that runs up the side of the Namsan . . . we were too tired to explore it but will maybe go back some other time.

We decided it was time to head back to Chuncheon by train. To kill time, as usual, I took pics of the landscape as the sun was setting.

Sitting at one of the train station stops I looked out the window and noticed the reflection in the windshield . . . cool.

Just outside of Chuncheon (sorry, not sure exactly where) there is a hotel with the Eiffel Tower sitting on top of it . . . the first time I saw it I nearly wet myself laughing . . .

On the train ride home, however, with the setting sun sitting behind it, it was beautiful yet a little bit surreal . . .

The temperatures were so cold that large parts of the river just outside of Chuncheon had frozen over. I noticed these very funky pattterns in the ice and wondered what had caused them.

The river takes on a whole new look when it's covered with ice and snow. Add the lighting of a setting sun and it's really nice.

Back in Chuncheon and walking towards the train station I saw this . . .

I LOVE the blue skies of late fall and winter in Korea. I'm NOT looking forward to the spring and summer and the crappy skies that the Chinese yellow dust brings . . .

. . . so for now I'll just enjoy the gorgeous night blues in this shot.


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