Cheesy balls or Pure Romance Atop the Highest Point in Seoul (N Seoul Tower)

16 Feb

Seoul N Tower

As the title suggests, I have a contradictory reaction to all things cheesy. Part of me thinks it’s insincere rubbish that curdles my stomach, yet a smaller part of me thinks, much to the annoyance of the other part, “but maybe it would be nice?” It’s cruel how your mind can do that. These two contrasting opinions come at logger head’s all the time; when it comes to picking films, music, what I want for Christmas… It’s a pain being a walking contradiction. It stops me from being decisive. Maybe it’s because my parents are polar opposites. Yeah, blame the parents when your in self-doubt. Ahhh…Thank god it’s not my fault! I can barely get through a sentence without contradicting myself by the end of it. Even the word ‘love’ is so allusive and Disney-like that I question what it really means. I use the word in sincerity to my boyfriend, but I also use it about Topshop Sale’s and Wendsleydale cheese. All three of which, I’m big fans of. That’s harsh, my boyfriend is of course my world, so why then does that sound so cliché as though I don’t mean it? Maybe because it’s been spoken in so many Jennifer Anniston, Reese Withaspoon-type-films that it’s lost all meaning? Possibly.

Valentine’s day is the perfect time for these two contradictions to battle it out. We were lucky enough to have a three day weekend due to Lunar New Year the weekend before Saint Valentines, so we decided to do something romantic then, rather than the specified day. In retrospect, thank goodness, because as it turned out we ended up spending Valentines in our tiny flat with a plumber unblocking our toilet. Imagine that noise, smell, and company over champagne and oysters! of course, I could get into the whole debate about whether or not Valentines is just a marketing ploy but let’s keep on track here.

So we booked a Hotel in advance, and since we had £16 ($25) worth of Agoda points, we decided to get the deluxe room with the jacuzzi bath. Oh yes, the big spenders are in town this Lunar New Year. It wasn’t strictly Valentines day but if it was, what is the cheesiest things we could do in Seoul to test these two contradictory opinions to and see which comes out on top? Well, there’s a wealth of options. (Especially, baring in mind, Korea loves couples. The shops make a killing on double deals with ‘couple clothing’ right down to ‘couple underwear’ and ‘couple rings’ all through the year. They even offer set menus for couples, couple tickets and couple set snacks at the cinema with a a large coke and popcorn to share.) In the end we decided to do the omega of cheesy things to do in Seoul by visiting N Seoul Tower. N Seoul Tower is situated on Namsan mountain.  This, so-called mountain, is 243 metres tall and the tower on top of it is 237.7 metres tall so the idea is, especially at night time, you get a romantic view of all the shimmering city lights of the city.

It’s not so cheesy that only couples do it as they are other groups but what makes it really lovey-dovey are the love locks. Adorned from metal fences forming a balcony around Seoul tower are bright gaudy padlocks with notes of love, forever cementing a couples love, or so it’s believed by the more sentimental hearted. Many were notes are attached with Korean, or other languages I can’t read, but I imagine they say something along the lines of “you are my everything”, “you mean the world to me”, “I can’t live without you” with maybe the odd K-pop boy band lyric thrown in for extra effect, and stomach curdling clichéd soppy, sickeningly, cheesy, rubbish, “but maybe it would be nice?” questions the evil little angel, (?), on my shoulder once again.

It’s rarely going to be the man who implements romance in the relationship, no matter how many times we watch ‘The Notebook’, read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or any recent films with the gorgeous Channing Tatum in. When it really comes down to it, at least I find, it’s the woman in the relationship who encourages romance because it tends to be the female who really cares about it. Men, generally speaking, are practical minded species. Maybe I’m slightly low on oestrogen levels or something then, because when I looked at the tacky padlocks costing 11,000 won, and back at the railing covered with every inch of them I just thought ‘bleeaurgh’. That was literally the sound I made in my head. Not so much a sound of hurling vomit, just nothing, just ‘meh‘ if you like. It lacked all spontaneousness and is anything but unique since the place was cluttered with the stuff. Bits of tat, like permanent locked down litter. Not only are there padlocks but people had attached key rings and phone cases too. It looked worse than the bottom of my handbag after a few months daily use, a hodgepodge of sweet wrappers, orange peel, broken pen lids, eye liner, and potato crisp crumbs galore.

I can honestly say that ‘meh’ never springs to mind when I think about my boyfriend, I don’t really feel like I need to put on a railing, tattoo on my wrist or write all over my Facebook wall how I feel about him. That’s not to say, that people who do do that, shouldn’t. Who am I tell you how to live your life? It just not me and I don’t think it’s particularly him either. We’re both fairly pragmatic kind of people. I feel confident about our relationship. But it makes me question whether I’m devoid of  romance. Does it mean my heart is made of stone?  We did intend to do the typical thing and attach a padlock along with the thousand others but it just seemed a bit daft.

In the end, we didn’t exchange cards or presents for Valentine’s, we don’t have couple rings and the idea of couple clothing recalls memories of an old, seriously uncool religious couple, who used to come to my Primary School wearing matching yellow anoraks that looked like they were wearing oversized  illuminous nappy bags. They came into school boring the students to death with stories about the bible. Sorry, to any Christians who might be reading this, but I’m blaming the story-tellers not the stories, or maybe I should say holy scripture?  (See! I’m a walking hypocrisy of opinions and not just in regards to Valentine’s day!) Instead, we enjoyed a lovely couple of days sightseeing all around Seoul and had a lovely weekend.

Anyway, as for some sort of point to all these ramblings, I will say that N Seoul Tower should be seen, by couples, groups of friends or by solo travellers because it is rather pretty up there. It can make you feel a little humble when you see how far the lights stretch out across the sky and how many people they are out there. As for the love-locks, (if I can hold it together just long enough not to hurl or shy away from some sincere emotion), they go to show that there are a lot of people who feel like they are in love. I think most of us can agree that’s a nice feeling. I hope you all had a lovely Valentines day, whether it was spent with your partner, spouse, friends or family, or even on your own, lusting after Channing Tatum or Ryan Gosling.


IMG_0519 IMG_0530 IMG_0524 IMG_0542 IMG_0543 Love heart sculpture

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4 Responses to “Cheesy balls or Pure Romance Atop the Highest Point in Seoul (N Seoul Tower)”

  1. melvisx February 17, 2013 at 6:36 am #

    Pesky love locks; not a bad idea or sentiment by themselves, but can definitely be overused. Saw ’em all over Plaza Mayor in Madrid.

    • Tamsyn February 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      I didn’t realise how many other major landmarks have adopted this love lock culture, if you can call it that? Recently, since talking about it, I’ve heard it’s begun in London and someone told me there is something similar near or near the Eiffel Tower in Paris also. I wonder how it starts and catches on? Do you think it starts with one hopeless romantic or is it a ploy by some tourism innovators to add another spectacle hence more tourists, couples and gift shop love lock purchases?

      • melvisx February 19, 2013 at 1:41 am #

        I think things like this start with regular people with a unique idea, then it spreads slowly until an entrepreneurial souvenir vendor sees them and transforms a sweet sentiment into a cancer. Is that too harsh? 🙂

      • Tamsyn February 22, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

        I hope that IS how it started. For those individuals it must have been very romantic but for everyone there after it kind of lacks creativity. I think spontaneous gestures of love are the most sincere.

        Haha, nah! I suspect the trend continuing has something to do with travelling couples being able to tick something off too so they can tell people they’ve DONE it.

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