The weather here is strange. Late October, and a Sunday afternoon of 20 degrees Celsius. That being said, two days later it’s four.
We took a trip to Gyeongbok Palace, a massive royal oasis in the North of Seoul. It is surrounded by craggy mountains, secluded from the chatter of the city. There are five major palaces in Seoul, and among them Gyeongbok is the largest and most well-known.
The subway stop takes me immediately inside the walls of the palace, and a few hours burn away under the uncharacteristically warm sun. Sweating in October is a strange feeling. The trees have begun to change colours to vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow, and yet I am still wearing a t-shirt. The rain has almost completely ceased to fall in the last few weeks.
Gyeongbok is breathtaking. The now-familiar black stone roofs with their dark, obsidian patterns. Mazes of walls and buildings of all sizes giving way to wide, man-made lakes with schools of Koi poking their heads above water. The crowds are lazy, almost hedonistic in their explorations. Couples swooning over each other, taking a thousand photographs of themselves in romantic poses. Magpies are the official bird of Seoul, and they zip from tree to tree, hop along the grass and pick the dirt for food.
Not far from the palace, we stop for galbi and later coffee in Jongno, among the buildings of restaurants stacked on top of each other, clashing architectural designs punctuated by every colour light imaginable. For a few moments I wonder how long this city can possibly keep my attention so intensely focused on its vast display of offerings. It is possible that forever would be a reasonable answer.