January delivered a blast of cold weather that I was not fully dressed for. The ongoing snow made for a stunning visit to the Bamboo Gardens outside of Damyang. The flakes fell gently devouring other sounds in the forest. The resulting contrast of the vibrant greens of the bamboo against the carpet of show was striking.
To avoid the chill, I continued my quest for superlatives (preferably of the indoor variety) and visited the Lotte World Tower – the tallest building in South Korea and the 5th tallest building in the world. The building, while exceptionally tall as also exceptionally closed – it would not open to the pubic for a few more months. The adjacent shopping mall was nice, though. I braved the weather later and visited the Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palaces, two of the “Five Grand Palaces” in Seoul (also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, naturally). Due to the surprising number of people in traditional dress, I assumed I was visiting on some holiday. What I later heard was that dressing this way would provide free admission to the palace grounds. Take that with a grain of salt since I have not been able to confirm that with certainty.
The Suzhou, China area was definitely a bit warmer – and decked out for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations.