Saturday, November 13: This weekend I go to Seoul to see some sights and to visit my Egyptian friend Mithad. I leave Daegu on the 9:28 slow train and after I arrive in Seoul 4 hours later, I check in at the Rainbow Hotel in Namyoung for 63,000 won.
After I check in, I go out to meet Mithad and we head to Cheonggye-cheon Stream. According to the Official Site of Korea Tourism, until it was restored in 2005, Cheonggye-cheon Stream existed only as a neglected watercourse hidden by an overpass.
Narae Bridge, expressing a butterfly in flight, and Gwanggyo Bridge, symbolizing the harmony of the past and future, are just two of the more than twenty beautiful bridges that cross the stream. The ‘Rhythmic Wall Stream’, lined with fine marble, sculptures, and Korea’s 8th stone building, Palseokdam, adorn the Cheonggye-cheon Stream.
Today, in addition to the nice walkway along the stream, we are surprised to find there is a lantern festival in progress. We spend quite a long time walking along and admiring the brightly colored lanterns at the Cheonggye-cheon Stream Lantern festival.
It’s quite cold out, so we find a restaurant where we stop in to have a few beers, warm up and talk. Mithad goes into a diatribe blaming America for Egypt’s predicament. I understand America’s culpability for Egypt’s mess, as I did an extensive research project about just this subject in a paper for my Master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy. However, I do take issue with America taking all the blame; after all, corruption within the Egyptian government is also to blame. He also tells me he believes that the Holocaust never happened and that 9/11 was a manufactured conspiracy. This infuriates me. I think our friendship will be coming to an end.
After our drinks, we go out into the cold again until we find an Italian restaurant where we have dinner. I have one more day in Seoul tomorrow, and I think I will never come to visit Mithad again after this.
Today is the 22 year anniversary for Mike and I, but we’ve been separated now for 3 years and 8 months. It makes me sad to think of it.