Monday, June 23, 2014

Seoul (Day 1) - Monsoon!

Amanda and I have a knack for traveling to a place during the, shall we say, less than ideal time of year.  (Witness our trip through Morocco in July -- 120 degree daytime highs and Ramadan.)  We seem to have done it again this year by visiting South Korea during monsoon season.

Cindy and other locals mentioned that monsoon season had begun like two days before we got here, but they assured us that so far they hadn't really seen any of the typical rains.  Maybe, they said, you'll be lucky and the rain won't hit until after you leave!

Ha, well, that was not to be!  We left our hotel in the morning in search of breakfast under heavy skies and made it only about a block when the heavens opened.  Fortunately there was a Paris Baguette cafe nearby so we could duck out of the wet and eat some pastries.

See this waterfall?  Well, that's what it looked like after the rain
had let up enough that we felt comfortable venturing out again...

That downpour lasted about 30 minutes and was only the first of many more to come.  Of course there was no point in sitting around inside until it stopped raining, so we just pulled out our raincoats and umbrellas (no Seattle anti-umbrella idiocy here!) and pressed on.  After years of living through DC summers, with their monsoon-like rainstorms, I could usually tell when the next cloudburst was about to hit -- fortunately, we were able to take shelter in some pretty interesting places when they did.

We waited out one downpour amidst the columns of this performing arts center.
We saw a poster for "Mozart das Musikal", an Austrian musical done in high-glam rock style.
 Obviously we instantly bought two tickets for tomorrow night.

We took shelter from another downpour in a building that operated as South Korea's first
post office.  The postal system was established in the 19th Century after Korea opened
itself to the outside world.

The next deluge came while we were visiting a temple complex,
so we sought refuge under the eaves.
And what pretty eaves they were.
After the temples, we were able to make it quite a ways before the next drencher hit.  By then we were visiting a traditional house in the Bokchun neighborhood.  We took a seat on the floor looking out on the courtyard and watched the courtyard turned into a swimming pool.  Check out the video:

This is a rain spout, not a fire hydrant!

By late afternoon the volatile weather had passed by, leaving a sky filled with moody clouds and the occasional intrepid ray of sun that managed to break through.  

Farewell rain.  See you again in the morning!

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