Chugging down Cheonggyecheon

The day after Chuseok (so, Friday – I’m already well behind on the blog! But lots of adventures – and moving to Japan – have happened in the last few days) we FINALLY went grocery shopping with Aunt and Uncle – where we found all the kimchi and other fun delights.

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Waiting on the platform at Seobinggo for the train to Yongsan.

After shopping and a spicy noodle lunch, Aunt and Uncle very nicely lugged our groceries home, and Don, Aardvark and I took the subway to City Hall to the start of Cheonggyecheon, this great little river park walk that runs for 10 miles through central Seoul, which was one of the main things I wanted to do while in Korea.

Apparently, this was a $900 million (USD) renovation project in which an old, raised highway was removed to revive a river that used to flow through this part of the city (but transportation infrastructure had covered up).

Since it was the day after Chuseok, and a long holiday weekend, the river walk was crowded with families out enjoying the (unseasonably) hot day. img_4492

I didn’t realize the camera was set to square photos, so not a great view of the waterfall in the background, but that is what kicks off the river walk. Apparently water is pumped from the Han River, the major river that runs through Seoul, dividing it in half. The water from this river then flows back to the Han. So it’s like a giant, re-circulating water fountain. With loads of fish.

img_4494Another view.

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Dozens of people were soaking their feet in the cool river. Don was shocked that so many were just sitting on the ground, since that is usually a no-no in Korean [and Japanese, for that matter] culture, since the ground is considered dirty. But it was totally worth it for a nice, cooling rest by the water – and a view of the thousands of fish, all maybe 5 – 6 inches, trying to swim upstream. Among these fish, there was one white carp, maybe a foot and half long, swimming very slowly compared to the little fish, and *everyone* walking by stopped to point and look at it. Apparently it was very unusual.

We enjoyed a little snack while sitting with our feet in the cool river.

And then Arden fell in.

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She got completely soaked from the waist down. So here she is, stripped of her skirt. Thank goodness she was wearing a tunic style shirt that day! (Also, as always, I love city juxtapositions, including this wilderness-ridden stretch of the walk – with city buses passing over.)

Falling on the slippery ledge did not stop her from bounding over various boulder walkways back and forth along the river. At one point, as she was scrambling up a boulder to climb to the other bank, a woman looked at her funny. Thinking it was because we were letting our kid run around pants-less, I pointed apologetically to the wet skirt Don was holding.

She then pointed to the wet skirt her husband was holding, and their daughter (about Aards’ age) who was also running around bottomless, and laughed. Apparently falling in is all the rage among the preschool set. (She also said some things in Korean, which we did not understand, but I assume the gist of it was, “Kids: what are you gonna do?!”)

Eventually, and far sooner than we’d hoped, our walk came to an end when Aardvark took a digger while running full steam ahead, cut her knee, and we had to ascend to street level to find some bandaids. She was devastated (but ultimately fine, of course) so we wandered around….well, we have no idea where we were, because we’d planned on coming up much further down the river.

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But we found a fun area that seemed like it was the most sign-posted shopping district we’d seen (until I went to Myeong-dong the next day, more on that later!) Unfortunately, since it apparently wasn’t too touristy an area, most shops were closed for the holiday.

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Aardvark amused herself by popping into one shop and taking dozens of key chains off the rack. She was in love with all of them, apparently, and refused to put them back until she’d lined each one up “on the bus to school,” and then lined them up differently for “Circle time. Shh. The teacher is reading them a story.”

 

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