[personal profile] niori_1709
It seems to me that towers are a big part of the tourism industry. I draw that conclusion because there are quite a few big cities in the world that boast one. Off the top of my head, I can think of Toronto's CN Tower and the Calgary Tower, and those are only in Canada. Given this trend, it's no surprise that Seoul, Korea's capital city, has a tower of its own. The name of said tower, simply enough, is N Seoul Tower. N Seoul Tower has been called one of the best towers in Asia, and after being there, I can understand why.

The tower itself is 236.7 m high, and it stands on top of Namsan Mountain, which is another 243 m. You can see N Seoul Tower from almost anywhere in Seoul, and it's a great addition to the wonderful skyline. The tower itself has an observatory that has a 360 degree panoramic view, and you can see all of Seoul from it. The view is spectacular and breath taking, and more than worth the trip up (especially for someone afraid of heights, like me). Even the bathroom has a floor to ceiling window to show off the view (though the stalls themselves are behind a solid wall). Being that high, looking over Seoul - I could see the Han River, Building 63...so many wonderful spots that I got to visit in my first year there-, was awesome. It was one of the best high views I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a few in my time.

The observation tower isn't the only amazing view that N Seoul Tower has to offer. In order to get up to the tower, you have to pass through another view. In fact, you have to go right through it. To get up to the tower, you need to take a glass walled gondola for a minute or so ride. I will admit that I couldn't look out the whole time, but raising higher and higher and then passing above the green trees that covered the mountain side, was the perfect was to being the N Seoul Tower experience.

When you reach the top, there's still a bit of a climb to get to the tower. There's stairs, but it's still a bit steep. Going up, you pass by a reminder that, no matter where you go, you're close to history in Seoul. Mt. Namsan is also a beacon hill site. On top of an old wall, there are five brick, tall and hollow cone shaped structures. Those structures are beacons that date back to medieval times. These beacons were lit to warn of raids or other disasters, so that word could be sent quickly to the rest of Korea. I'm sure you've seen it in the movies, so yes, this did happen in real life. Once one beacon was lit, the next set of beacons (miles and miles away) would see the fire and, in response, light their own, and so on and so fourth. In the age before instant communication, it was an effective way to get an emergency message out. It was also an interesting side note to my day at N Seoul Tower.

At the top, there us a huge plaza with many outlooks. There's a big open square, where the tower sometimes hosts events and celebrations (thought none while I was there, unfortunately). Besides the plaza, there is also what I'd describe as a huge deck nearly all the way around the base of the tower. On that deck, there's something very odd and a little bewildering to see. There is a fence all around the deck and shapes that look like weirdly shaped trees. That fence and those trees are covered in layer after layer in the strangest things ever- locks. They're old fashioned key locks, and at first I had no idea what was going on. I wandered around, head tilted to the side, trying to figure out what all those locks were about. It wasn't until I reached a cart selling locks that I found out what it was about: you buy a lock, write a wish on it and then lock it on one of the trees or the fence. Of course, after realizing that, I just had to buy a lock and make a wish of my own. You never know- maybe, if you buy a lock and make a wish of your own one day when you visit N Seoul Tower, you'll end up locking it close to mine. Just imagine- two St. Martins wishes, locked on a fence continents away.

The locks aren't the only place in N Seoul Tower where wishes are meant to be made. Up in the observation tower is the wishing pond. You get a coin, stand behind a line and try to toss the coin into the raised bowl in the middle of an artfully designed and illumined water feature. The best part? When you buy one of these coins, the money goes to support schools in China and South East Asia. So not only do you get to make a wish, but you get to help a good cause while doing it.

Right beside the wishing pond there is another fun, quirky part of N Seoul Tower. There's a mail box, where you can by a post card and get it mailed from the highest post office in Korea.
There is one final, random thing in the tower that needs to be talked about. That thing is both adorable and silly, and so very cute. That something in The Teddy Bear Museum. Yes, N Seoul Tower as a teddy bear museum, and I loved it a lot more than I expected to. I loved it not only as someone who adores stuffed animals, but as a former history major as well.

The Teddy Bear Museum tells the history of Seoul with, you guessed it, teddy bears. It's divided into two different halls, one that covers Seoul's past, and the other that covers its present. There are human sized teddy bears dressed up as important Korean figures, both ancient (Seong Seok-lin, who was one of the founding fathers of Seoul) and modern (two of K-Pop star Psy, one Gangnam Style version and one Gentleman version). There are Korean paintings recreated in 3D by using teddy bears. They're traditional scenes, of course, featuring dramatic Korean images, in frames, just like if they were the originals. They were certainly the most random part of The Teddy Bear Museum, but it was actually the most unique feature of all.

The biggest exhibits are the scenes from life in Korea, both modern and medieval. Teddy bears in traditional clothing show dioramas of the building of Gyeongbokgung Palace, memorial services at Jongmyo Shrine, a royal wedding and even a traditional open market place. There are then those that show how Seoul has changed, such as Geoncheong Palace being the first palace lit by electricity in 1887, the modernizing of the military by introducing firearms and the first tram that came to Seoul in 1899. Finally, there are scenes of modern Seoul. There are teddy bears shopping in Meongdong and Dongdaemun, teddy bears roaming the zoo in Seoul Grand Park, cultural demonstrations in Insadong, teddy bears strolling along Cheonggyecheon Stream, a demonstration at Seoul City Hall Plaza and a limo pulling up and surrounded by a protection detail at Cheongwdae, the presidential house.

The dioramas are functioning ones. They move, they light up and they make sounds. They're scenes, and the details incredible. They're so intricate, and it's amazing because they're quite small. It was cool, seeing these scenes of places where I've gotten to visit in person through my first year in Korea. I was surprised and delighted at how much I loved The Teddy Bear Museum.

There's one other thing I have to tell you about N Seoul Tower, and that's about when you should go see it. I've already told you about the amazing view during the day, but I also have to tell you about the amazing night view as well. The view from the plaza (I was out of the tower by that time) after the sun went down was spectacular. The sky stayed midnight blue for a long time before it finally went black, and the million different lights of Seoul twinkled and sparkled below us. From where I stood, I watched the sky go dark and the lights all pop on through Seoul, and it was beautiful. The view wasn't the only bright thing. Once the sun goes down, the tower lights up. At first, it's a show. The lights flash different colours, lighting up the length of the tower. Animation is projected onto the tower, such as cherry blossoms falling down it. Finally, after five or so minutes, the show stops and the tower is lit up in a solid blue lights, and stays that way until the tower closes at midnight.

If you're going to go to N Seoul Tower, then make sure you go later in the day. Go when you can experience both sides of N Seoul Tower, both the day and the night. Skipping one of them, not being able to see one of these beautiful scenes, would be a shame.



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