After the IAGG conference work was done, Shirley and I really enjoyed doing some sightseeing in Seoul.  Seoul is a fascinating city.  At first glance, the city seems very modern.  It does not seem like an ancient city at all; it seems very modern.  Our first reaction is that it seemed like a modern U.S. city, like Los Angeles or San Diego (except all the signs were in Korean!).  After I had been there for a while I told Shirley it reminded me of San Francisco sometimes, because of the hills and neighborhoods; the sights and sounds, and the hustle and bustle.  Of course this is likely because much of the city was destroyed by wars, and was rebuilt into an amazingly modern city. 

But tucked into corners you can find amazing historical sites; ancient palaces for Kings that date back hundreds of years.  For example we visited the very beautiful and spectacular Changdeokgung Palace (pictured below), which dates back to 1405 (though it has been restored and rebuilt several times, due to fires).  This actually was a secondary palace for the King, as the original palace is nearby.  But we read that one author thought this palace is more beautiful.  It certainly seemed beautiful.  We especially loved the “Secret Garden” pictured below as well.

We also loved the amazing Buddhist Temple, Bongeunsa Temple that was actually just across the street from hotel, as you can see in the picture below, where Shirley is pictured.  You can see the amazing contrast of the ancient temple, dating to 794.  We walked over there right before lunch one day and note that there actually were many dozen Koreans (mostly women) participating in Buddhist services (see picture below).

Korea is a very beautiful country, with great people and wonderful traditions.

one of the main buildings in Changsaekong Palace

The Secret Garden

Shirley at Bongeunsa Temple, across the street from our 5-star hotel, the Coex Intercontinental, which you can see in the background.  The old and the new!  This temple was first founded in 794, the oldest temple in South Korea. 

Another couple pictures from the Bongeunsa Temple:

We happened to arrive at the Temple near lunch time when a ceremony (right term? not sure) was concluding.  It was beautiful to watch. 

A wonderful picture of contrasting statutes at the Temple.  And yet, tucked away in another corner.. tiny Buddhas...