We had a tough choice to make. What would it be? A hike along Bugaksan or a night at N Seoul Tower (Namsan Park). Factoring time and our sapped energy levels, we chose the latter. Well, there was another reason. We had discovered a direct bus route from Gongdeok (where we stayed) to Myeongdong (popular night market), skipping the need for a subway ride.
We reached Myeongdong at 4 pm. A small board (near the subway exit) displayed the timings for the pick-up bus to the Namsan cable car point. We spotted a mini-van with the words “Free Ride” to Namsan Park. The walk to the park isn’t far, but if you want to save your energy, opt for the bus.
The line for the cable was long and the wait, even longer. After buying our (one-way) tickets, there was a two floor wait to reach the cable cars. Buzzing tourists, bawling babies, and bored couples looked on. Maybe, it’s best to avoid weekends. The irony of waiting for 45 minutes for a 10 minute cable car ride wasn’t lost upon us. But, looking at the hikers huffing along the mountain below, it was worth it.
Selfie addicted couples gurgled as cool mountain winds brushed their face. Everyone seemed to click a photograph of everything. Either of locks, themselves, or the locks with themselves. Swept by this wave of excessive photography, we found ourselves in front of the camera. I went to the extent of wanting to buy a lock. Put a seal on my love. Fortunately, better judgement prevailed.
There’s another viewing point after a flight of stairs. The view gets better with each successive climb. The Mongmyeoksan Beacon Mounds were disappointing. But, the view beyond them was stunning. It was a fight to find a quiet spot without being aimed by cameras. Namsan Palgakjeong Pavillion had a few tourists parked on its benches.
It’s funny how we had worked ourselves an appetite without doing much. The base of the N Seoul tower has a plethora of restaurants and we opted for a snack of nachos. The view from the balcony deck, above, is free, and spectacular. The theme ‘love’ runs through the deck. Be it a giant heart shaped statue or cheesy tipping benches, couples didn’t mind the surreal setting.
Obviously, better views come for a price. After buying a ticket for the main observation deck, we proceeded towards the lift. There’s this bit where you can strike your funniest pose, while the camera captures you, and later super-imposes your image against the backdrop of Seoul City. After-which, you’re escorted to the main lift. The attendant yells, “Look Up!”. All of a sudden we’re travelling in space. And soon enough we reach the main deck.
It was nearing 6 pm. We waited for sunset. What is it about sunsets? No matter how many times I see it, every experience is equally exciting.
It was nearing 8 pm. There are two ways to head down – if you’re not taking the cable car. Either take a bus or walk down a long flight of winding stairs. Strangely, we had stumbled upon the Namsan walking trail. The wall runs parallel to the stairs. In-between we stole moments to admire fleeting glimpses of Seoul city.
Despite, daylight fading away, we saw many tourists as well as locals climbing up the stairs. The stairs were isolated and strangely, peaceful. It was worth the effort. To be away from the maddening crowds of commercial tourism and into the lap of nature.
We were extremely happy to have completed a second walking trail (Naksan being the first), even if it happened by chance. We chose a quaint coffee shop to grab a bite to eat. Our walk back lead us down to Myeondong, into the streets of the night market, before, my legs had had enough.