Seventh and penultimate destination of my 30 day adventure for eight Asian countries, a country where I never thought I would be lucky enough to visit, and one of the most interesting destinations and “architecturally” wonderful of this my trip. The history of this country began in 2333 AD, a suffered history which can still be seen in the eyes of the people there. This time I went to SOUTH KOREA to meet a friend with whom I used to work in Australia, he is Korean, so I could not have had a better host to show me what is most valuable in the culture of that country. I boarded from the airport in Phuket, Thailand, and my destination was Seoul, capital of South Korea and one of the cities with the most populous metropolitan area in the world. About 25 million people live there, basically half the country’s population. Korea was already inhabited since the pre-Paleolithic period, just to get an idea of how old that country is. A country that deserves respect only considering this important fact in its history. Speaking a little more about the city of Seoul, it stands out as extremely modern, well organized and great public transportation system with a giant rail network. On the streets you feel safe, in a first world country where people demonstrate education and especially respect for others and the environment where they live. You can communicate in English everywhere, but to my surprise, the local spoken English is not the best.
My friend told me that happens because Koreans, generally, are afraid to speak English because it is very different from Korean, especially by their phonetics, they do not practice or feel confident enough to communicate in English, but they can understand everything. Seoul is full of modern buildings and unique architecture, contrasting with the palaces and other buildings in Korean Asian architecture. Many colors, wood use and those incredible roofs are found in these magnificent architecture heritage to the world. All this set among the modernity of the cities. Of course surrounded by walls that when we cross seem to take us back to the seventh century. And that was how I felt when I visited the Mireukjeon Temple built in 599 more to the south, near the city of Jeonju, after traveling on a bullet train, a wonderful tour where at the end we met my friend’s aunt, she led us to the temple of the seventh century, belonging to Geumsansa complex, the oldest I’ve ever been to. We entered the main building where we could see three giant Buddhas coated in gold. It was a transcendent experience, followed by a stop to have some of the typical local tea, the world’s best! And that was a winter day so, it was perfect. Returning to the local architecture, that made me think, after all, the temples I visited in Cambodia are from the twelfth century, five centuries after the ones built in South Korea. Those of stone, without any work in carpentry or painting, but the ones in South Korea, FIVE CENTURIES BEFORE, already had windows, carvings, painting, carpentry, strikingly more advanced for the time when compared to the ones in Cambodia. We have all to take our hats off to this very suffering people by constant attacks from their greedy neighbors and even today still divided north with North Korea. A country that today has one of the best educations in the world and some of the largest multinational companies. Visiting South Korea broke any paradigms that I had about that country, all surprised me and makes me miss it more and more every passing day. More about South Korea through the lens of my cameras, please visit my facebook, hundreds of photos are worth observing. Gamsa (Thanks in Korean), until next month!