Seodaemun Prison and Gyeongbokgung Palace

Well, I was supposed to take advantage of my last three-day weekend by lying on a beach in Busan, but the rain began falling in torrents Thursday night without any sign of letting up, and the weekend’s forecast looked pretty grim. Therefore, around 9:00 pm Friday night, Erin and I decided to scrap our plans and make the most of the weekend in Seoul.

Seodaemun Prison Cellblock. Posted by Picasa

Therefore, we met up with some friends and spent a bit of time at the Rockssin open-mic night before finding ourselves in a Noraebang. It had been ages since I have partaken in the good-time Korean-style singing rooms, so I rounded up the troops and twenty of us crammed into the small space. We sang our hearts out until the manager had to finally kick us out at 6:30 am.

Saturday I was awaken around 10:30 am to the phone ringing and an immediate searing pain through my chest. My pain had been bearable for the past week, but this was the worst feeling I had ever had. I tried to shrug it off and accepted an invitation to a day of ice skating and shooting. However, once I was outside meeting my friends, I was doubled over in pain, unable to breathe or speak. I decided to bow out of the plans and get back into bed. I then awoke around 2:00 pm and knew it was time to see a doctor. So I went to a man who barely knows English, and after a chest X-ray and cardiogram, was informed that my heart was okay and that he would be prescribing me “mind medicine” for my “anxiety”…cue the anger. Long story short, I went off on him for even implying that I was a head case, telling him that I never suspected heart problems but just wanted something for the pain! He meekly gave me a prescription, and I got the heck out of there.

Gyeongbokgung Palace. Posted by Picasa

Saturday night, still unable to breathe, I went out for an Indian dinner for Kelly’s birthday in Itaewon. It was a short night for me, to say the least. Yesterday morning I awoke feeling much better, even though I still had not mustered the courage to take the pain medicine. I invited Kelly to be my sightseeing partner, and together we headed first to Gyeongbokgung Palace in North Seoul. We arrived just in time to see the ceremonial changing of the guards, but I really had no interest in touring the palace.

Seodaemun Prison Entrance. Posted by Picasa

After the palace, we went to nearby Seodaemun Prison. This is the famous prison that held the “patriotic fighters” during the Japanese occupation during the early to mid-1900s. The tour of the prison included the cells, execution room, and torture chambers. It was a very eye-opening and appalling experience, and a reminder as to why the Koreans still have such harsh feelings for the Japanese.

Saturday night I went out for another birthday dinner in Itaewon, followed by some dancing with friends. This morning I awoke feeling quite tired and run-down…it’s 4:30 pm, and I am still sitting around in my pajamas. Everyone needs a lazy day like this every now and again, not to mention it is probably just what I need to recover from my chest injury thing!

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