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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

The Secret with Uma, Bee and Art (Day 261)

What is the secret with Uma, Bee and Art today? Read and find out!

Back 40 days ago we visited the beautiful Changdeokgung Palace. UNESCO describes it as “an exceptional example of Far Eastern palace architecture and design, blending harmoniously with the surrounding landscape”. We didn’t get to see its Secret Garden, so today we put that to rights.

Our journey was quite different to last time, just a 15- minute walk from our Apartment rather than a long bus ride over the river and through the city. We arrived in plenty of time for our 2:30pm tour and chatted with a young lady, Bee, from Plymouth. I was amazed to find out that she was only 18. She’d been travelling through Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Japan and now here in Korea. We chatted away as if we’d known one another for ages and joined the group for the tour.

I must admit that I really didn’t take much in that the tour guide was saying. It was scorching hot, and the group was large. We saw a beautiful square pond full of lotus plants with a round small island in the middle. The tour guide shared that this represented our planet in the Universe.

The tour was mostly taking us to see various buildings in the Secret Garden, not what we had envisaged. We thought we would be strolling around gardens appreciating the trees and flowers. We stopped to look at a painted pagoda with two dragons in the centre ceiling. On the side was calligraphy which said: “All the streams in the world reflect the shiny moon and there is only one moon in the sky.” The moon represented the king and this was his way to tell the officials that he had absolute authority.

As we were walking around, we chatted with another young lady, Uma from California. She is a Data Analyst in the Pharmaceutical Industry and here visiting her cousin. It turns out that her parents come from just outside Chennai. After the tour, the four of us decided to go to the Modern Art Museum.

We first popped into an exhibition called “The Seed of New Society” based on the power of Hydrogen. The exhibition took us on a journey, in a dark area with many led light bulbs representing the stars where Hydrogen comes from. As we looked over the balcony, a large white round platform had droplets of water journeying into the centre, each representing a new seed of hydrogen. We entered this area, there were quite a few mosquitos enjoying the water and probably us as well!

Next through a walkway with bubbles of shiny metal giving off some great reflections. I was chatting with Bee about travel and Tim was having a big debate with our guide about hydrogen fuel cells for cars are so much more expensive than using electric for cars due to the extra logistical costs.

We all ventured into the sauna outside and walked down to another exhibition with two large rooms. The first had a big black dome with a cut out for a tv screen showing a video of an eye. The next room had 12 long screens in a circle, Every now and again each screen showed a short video of a key person who changed history in the 20th century: Mother Teresa, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Picasso, Martin Luther King, Lenin, Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Hirohito, Chairman Mao, Douglas Macarthur, Che Guevara. Who would you include here? We definitely would have included Gandhi, Einstein and Tim Berners-Lee (but he is still alive whereas the others have all died – we’re not sure of the criteria).

Another short Art exhibition visit, none there, just a few interesting works of art, pigeons on a platform, a bed and some lanterns. We all had a good laugh when Uma couldn’t open the door to get out and we thought we were stuck there. Eventually, we got out and found the Modern Art Museum. By this time, Uma wanted to move onto the Folk Museum so we said a fond farewell to her and the three of us entered the Museum. We wandered around to an exhibition by Yun Hyong-keun. Born in 1923, he suffered harrowing times in his early life, imprisoned three times and faced a near-death situation. He finally committed to making art aged 45. His own distinctive art he calls “Gate of Heaven and Earth” with blue representing heaven and umber representing earth. His works weren’t our taste, but we did consider what they portrayed to us. Bee was much better at this than us, part of what she did for her A-level Art. Good learning.

A few more exhibitions from Photographers, including combining two negatives together, shadows of the photographer in the photos, and sufferings of people during the conflicts in Israel.

We realised that none of us had eaten since breakfast, so time to find a café. Over bowls of tempura, spicy rice cakes and fish sticks we chatted away so easily. Bee showed us photos of her parents, both artists, her Mum paints with watercolour and has a very kind face and her Dad is a musician, enjoying wearing bright and quite flamboyant clothes. Bee really is a delight and so easy to chat with. Age was irrelevant. It was great to hear of her adventures and to share some of ours. Such an enjoyable time together, the highlight of the day. Onto another place for Bingsu and then we walked her home to her Hanok Hostel and had a nice constitutional walk back to our pad.

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