The Soul of Asia

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If it wasn’t for the invitation from the National Archives of Korea to participate in the International Archival Exhibition 2010 (IACE 2010) organized by the UNESCO, I would have never thought of visiting South Korea. However, I being much fascinated by traveling and being an avid traveler, decided to go along. The first thing, I noticed was the impression of Korea, that the people here had. I’ve had enough of people asking “oh wow, where are you going?” and when I say “Korea”, I could see their faces dropping down and them asking “ oh..Uh..mm…near Japan right?” and since this was when the South –North Korean ties were severing, there were people who were like “Oh..There is a war going on there..Come back soon!” All these thoughts were ringing in my mind and came to an abrupt stop when I set foot at Incheon International Airport. It was a tiring journey, with a cancellation in the first flight we had to travel which resulted in us reaching there five hours late! The tiredness disappeared instantly, at the sight of this green airport! It was a huge, majestic, glass and steel structure. From here, it was a long drive to the country’s capital ,Seoul (which is pronounced as Soul).

The roadway itself was beautiful with amazing greenery and flashing lights and metro trains here and there. The Korean people were so down to earth! Where else would you find people who would accompany you all the way to a taxi stand and give the driver instructions when you had just asked them the direction to get back?. They are like the kindest people I’d ever seen and had that pretty smile bubbling with hospitality. At the IACE, I was surprised to see thousands of people flocking towards Coex (where the exhibition was held), to catch a glimpse of the archival material there .My dad represented India for the rich palm-leaf manuscript heritage we posses. It was indeed surprising to see people spending their weekend on viewing archival culture rather than in a movie theatre.

The Yumm Food

Korean food is just awesome! Here, you can taste the most amazing food without adding on to your calories. Every serving has loads of greens and veggies, which are surprisingly tasty! And every meal had plenty of citrus fruits and yogurt to go with it. The herbs and spices added to each preparation is just enough to make you live a hundred years! No wonder, I never saw a Korean who was obese. To top it all was the ever-famous Kimchi. The pickled cabbage was to go with every food you eat and was sure a perfect accompaniment. I was really surprised to see, Indian Style Chicken Curry on one of the menus. The product however, was nothing close to one. It had the same Korean spices and Kimchi with it!

One of a Kind

We visited the Korean Cultural Centre in a Dragon Train and saw the age old fortresses which shined in all its glory! Samsung- the country’s famous electronic appliance brand gave us a warm reception and the display of the company’s past, present and future left us in awe of the pace of its development. We also visited the National Archives of Korea which emphasized on the importance of preservation of archives, followed by a Gala dinner with traditional Korean food and performances. The energy with which the artistes performed made us gasp.

Korea is one place where you would realize, you cannot survive with English alone,for there were very few who could speak English. It was indeed fun to walk through different lanes in the evenings, having no idea where the path is taking you to, eating at restaurants which never had English menus and communicating with people who never understood a thing you were trying to say!. You would be greeted by ‘Anyonghaseyo’ (Welcome/hello) everywhere you go and these still echoes in my ears. It was remarkable that Korea was both green and technology rich at the same time!

So, next time, if you want to go to a place that is different, eco friendly and has people with a real good heart, head straight here. The experience is truly one of a kind. It’s the best country I’d visited and am sure that you’ll feel the pretty same too. Korea is just not mere Samsung, LG or Hyundai but further, a country with rich heritage, good hospitality, warm people and modern technology





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