This is a slight tangent, but see the apartment buildings in the background? There must have been, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest, over 5 million apartments in Seoul. As we left the airport I saw a group of about 20 tall buildings like this each with at least 500 or more units. Then we drove a little more and in the distance there were more buildings. I can't express how many there actually were, but it was amazing, almost comical at the number.

OK, we are driving back from the DMZ and some guys from Connecticut in front of us ask if they can be dropped off at the Palace, so we say us too and then everyone falls into place as well. We get to the Palace only to find it is closed on Tuesdays. Why would you close on Tuesday of all days? Why not Sunday or Monday, but Tuesday? Whatever. So we walk around the outside and I can only take the pictures below. I would like to go inside someday, but that will be another trip.

The entrance to the Palace itself. The outside gate of the Palace. A long shot of part of the Palace.
How the Palace looked before. How the Palace looks now. Read the last few paragraphs. A back shot of the gate showing it's in downtown.

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As we were leaving we noticed several school trips of Elementary school aged kids. They were curiously staring at us since I guess they don't see many foreigners. I waved and a few shyly waved back. Then one ventured toward me and said Hello. So I said Hello back and gave him a High-5. It was all down hill from there. They swarmed me and were all screaming HELLO and waving and wanting a high 5.

They were all really adorable and it just confirmed my desire to teach elementary school here in Japan. I think it would be more challenging, and also more rewarding than high school. Today, like many days, I had no classes. I read a sci-fi book while trying to stay awake at my desk. Amazing.

After the kid-mobbing at the Korean Palace, we went back to the Hotel on our own via the Subway. It was amazingly easy to use and we had a stop directly in front of the hotel. We went in and asked where a theater was since Lord of the Rings was out in Thailand and Korea, but not Japan. They told is it was back near where we were so we dropped off our stuff and headed back out via the subway.

When we got there they said there was a movie in 20 minutes and another in 3 hours. We all wanted the one right away, but Dave really wanted to do shopping and kept urging for the later show. So we all gave in and bought tickets for the 8:15 show. They were 7,000 wan which is like $7. Then we went walking and looking for a pizza place. We just walked and walked and looked and never found one. Then I ran into a convenience store and asked and they said there was one a bit of a ways away so I suggested we forget that and look for something else. So then we walked and walked and passed a Popeye's Fried Chicken place, but kept going. I got tired of walking and wasting time and said I was going back there to eat. They all agreed.

The food was fine, just like normal. We even ate at a Burger King twice since there are none in Japan that are convenient. We sat there for a bit and then went to the Starbucks in the theater. I had a Caramel Frappuccino, my favorite, but in the small size so it hopefully wouldn't keep me awake all night. We sat there for a good hour just shooting the bull. Then finally we went into the theater a little early and got popcorn and drinks and waited.

We never did any shopping.

There were no previews or silly theater commercials. The lights went out and the movie started. The theater was very steep. The people in front of me were at my feet level. I'd say there were 100 rows each with about 10-15 seats and then 4 on the outer rows. We watched the 3 hour long movie and all agreed it was pretty good. My problem was one character was a wizard, yet seemed to have zero wizardry powers. He flashed his big flashlight at some dingo-birds and they flew away. That was it. Other that that he fought like a regular old man with a sword. They all had little technical comments since they were nerd kids and read the books while I was out picking up girls. Or at least trying to. And usually failing. So I guess I was the nerd really.

Then we took the subway back to the hotel and crashed since we had to check out at 7am the next morning. When 7am rolled around our tour guide was there with a van and they drove us to the airport and checked us in. It was really strange, and yet terribly convenient. We boarded and flew back. With the help of the Jet stream it was only 1.5 hours back. We flew Asiana Air and they were super polite and courteous. I will fly them again when possible. Plus I could use my United Air sky miles and get credit.

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