Sounds from Seoul

Summer Trip 2011 – Part 1

Asia was noisy and busy and amazing! Here are the sounds from the first part of our three-part journey this summer. Listening again to my collection of sound snapshots of the places has reminded me how even a short sound bite can put you spatially, geographically and sensationally right back to where you first heard it. We touched down first in Incheon International Airport -South Korea. We took the metro from the airport to the city.

View out of the train window on to wild terrain on the way into town

With the archaic landscape outside, the inside was a contrastingly ultra modern experience with air conditioned sped along with alternating western style trumpet fanfares and traditional music motifs as the doors opened. Voices announced directions in multiple languages while screens kept you amused – if at the time you weren’t taking advantage of the all-available Internet!

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View inside the train

In the city there are stark contrasts with old and new culture. Young people form all over Asian look to Seoul for their contemporary culture. These two BBoys (pictured) were telling me how the Koreans are leading the International field in dance where BBoying is concerned.

Above ground in the centre of the city at Gyeongbokgung Palace, is evidence of an older culture, and the traffic sound coexisted strangely with the conch shell bugles and shell rattles of the changing of the guard. (And my recorder battery ran out at this point!)

The changing of the guard at Gyeonbokgung Palace

Away from the centre however, the extraordinarily loud noise of the cicadas could be heard in the city streets.

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Seoul city streets

Here’s the street where we heard, the equivalent of the rag and bone man drive up and down in the rain in his battered truck calling on his mega phone for unwanted electrical goods.

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The presence of the rain (there was unusual city wide flooding as we visited Seoul), the heat and the solid rock of the mountains gave me a feeling for the ‘elemental substance’ of the place. At the Asian Art Museum, the beautifully restored house of a highly renowned teacher of the ideas of Confucius, we were shown and played the traditional instruments, gongs, cymbals and drums, that represented the elements: thunder, lightning, dancing, rain, sun and wind.

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The calm 'kitchen courtyard' of the Asian art Museum

At the other side of town by the port were the familiar thrills and spills of the fairground.

Fairground near the port

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Koreans felt to me to have toughness in their genes judging by their history, ability to survive, their fitness and their inventiveness. It’s a popular national pastime to walk in the National Parks, so we joined in, took the metro and explored the nearest of the parks, Bukhansan National Park, climbing 739 metres to a peak over looking the city.

At the top of the mountain with a couple of cool cats

On the way down, with light fading, we came across a temple built over a spring and heard as we descended the temple bell through the trees

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The Cheonchuksa Temple

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