On Wednesday, I ventured out to Namsam Tower (and I didn’t get any decent pictures of the tower, but it looks like this).
Namsam Tower (AKA North Seoul Tower) is the highest point in Seoul, and it’s like a needle sticking straight up out of the top of a hill near Myeong Dong (a shopping/tourism district in the city). Rachel and I actually approached the tower on my second day in Seoul, but I was wearing inappropriate shoes for hiking, and I was jetlagged, and we were distracted by myriad coffee shops (first. world. problems.), and so we didn’t make it to the top. Nonetheless, I hate to leave a hill unconquered, and so I came back while Rachel was at work.
There are three ways to get to the base of North Seoul Tower: you can take a gondola for $7, you can hike on a windy road for 90 minutes, or you can climb stairs for 30 minutes. I opted for the stairs.
About 15 minutes into this stair-trekking adventure, I was seriously questioning my decision. I am not a very coordinated stair-trekker, and these steps were uneven and slanted. I feel twice, and started wondering at what point in your life “fall” becomes a 4-letter word (like, kids fall all the time, but when someone’s of a certain age they “have a fall” and that maybe means you should head on up to their hospital room and visit them). I was very grateful that these stairs, unlike the ones in Haneul Park, were unmarked.
The summit was beautiful, and huge–the tower was obviously the main attraction, but there were lookout points for seeing various parts of the city, a misting fountain (patronized almost exclusively by children), cultural demonstrations, and (predictably) a souvenir shop.
The best part of the summit though, was this art installation. Look:
The locks are supposed to represent the shared commitment of 2 people to a relationship. I resisted the urge to call them “locks of love”, but did hear several people refer to them as “love locks”, which does sound better. There were 6 of the trees pictured above, but there was also an entire lookout point with fences covered in locks (which is SO MUCH LOVE). This one melted my heart:
And I didn’t even realize until after I took the picture, but someone up here (besides me) loves Texas, or someone in it.
In addition to the love locks, this lookout point featured “heart chairs” that are supposed facilitate romance between you and a potential partner. It’s like love potion #9–but in seat form.
There was a sign suggesting that if you’re shy, you should try to get your crush to sit with you on one of these benches… I think as a more subtle approach, you could just bean them over the head with a bag of heart-shaped bricks.