Well, once again I managed to put off writing on my blog for a few weeks. Whoops. Paige finally sent me the pictures from our time in Korea though, so hooray! I’m going to write two posts on Korea…possibly three. Otherwise they’ll just be absurdly long. Without further ado, here is my first week in Korea!
So, after spending a rather uneventful 5 days in Fukuoka (got to know the French cleaning staff there; other travelers like me, working instead of paying for room and board….and that was about it xp), I got to the airport in Fukuoka (running late) and managed to cause every problem I possibly could on my way to the plane. Got in the wrong line for check-in (cause I’m smart like that) and wasted about 20 minutes there, then got to the correct check-in desk but they were horrified that I didn’t have my e-ticket printed (apparently that’s important) so they had to do it for me, rearranged my bags at the desk because I thought I had to do one bag checked but I didn’t, so I wasted a good 10 minutes debating with the check-in lady whether I had one carry-on bag or two because she didn’t think that I intended to check either of them (they zip together, so it was all needless drama), then I forgot to empty my pockets at the security checkpoint so they had to pat me down (I also forgot that I had fluids in my bag since I had intended to check it, which they had to fully search and confiscate the items)…by the time I made it to the gate it was the last call for boarding, so apparently I just do not airport well. It was an improvement over my flight out of Denver though because when I made a mistake there (first time by myself traveling nerves I guess) I literally broke down into tears because they had to take and fully search my bag because I didn’t know the rules. This time I was a dumbass, but a very calm and dignified dumbass.
Me being a moron aside, I managed to arrive in Seoul a few hours later where I had to wait a few hours in the airport for Paige to arrive. She actually arrived an hour early (when was the last time you heard of a plane being early? I mean, for real?) and we had a sort of reunion before heading out to take a subway to our hostel…and summarily getting locked behind the ticket gate because we can’t subway either (we finally just bought T-money cards which are (mostly) idiot-proof, but I still managed to lock myself behind another gate the next day, so who’s to say?).
The hostel we stayed at was an adorable little hostel near Hongdae (the subway stop was actually Hapjeong though) called The Lazy Fox Hostel (with adorable foxes painted on pretty much every available surface; you can’t go wrong, really). We were staying in the basement in a 6 bed female dorm room (the window in our room was above my head and it was at ground-level outside). You’d think it would have been cold since it was March, but no. Our room was well insulated and had a heated floor, so it was actually stiflingly hot and dry for the first few days. It was only like 25 degrees outside, but we left the window open at night because we were dying.
Our first night, we didn’t really want to eat out, but we were starving, so we found this dumpling fast food place just down the street…let’s just say (conservatively) that we went there often…the dumplings were A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Although, that night we got some of the spicy ones (no) and I thought I was tough to spicy things (just so much no), so I ate one in one bite (nooooo) and after realizing I was not going to enjoy them, I figured I’d just eat the other two in quick succession so that at least they’d be gone (WHY?!?)…yeah….I couldn’t speak for like half an hour because I’m pretty sure they burned my throat and tongue away completely and brought the smoldering ashes with them into my stomach. When Korea says spicy…just don’t. If you care for yourself at all, just don’t. Even things that aren’t supposed to be spicy are spicy there (and that’s okay), but if it’s labelled “spicy”….no.
Anyway, so, our first full day in Seoul, we decided to head out to this cultural park and museum area…but as soon as we got there, we were immediately distracted and left. xD We saw a brochure talking about hiking and walking trails in Seoul and saw that there was a walking trail along Seoul’s old city wall just to the north of us. Obviously, we immediately headed there and forgot about the museum we came to see (also the “park” was very boring, as you can see in my picture above…it’s just weird buildings).
But, no sooner had we started walking north to find the wall, we got side-tracked when we saw a shoe market. Literally. Just shoes. I’m not a huge fan of shoe shopping, but the insanity of a dark market, blocks long, just for shoes was fascinating.
Like seriously, it just went on like this for at least 3 blocks. Also, the shoes were only like 10,000 won, which is like 8 bucks. O.o
By the time we came out of this winding market, we had no idea where we were. We both thought we knew which way we were going (didn’t) and debated about it for a while (meanwhile meeting an awesome old man who shook our hands and said “Hilary Clinton, best!” xD), then just struck out in a random direction…until we saw a river walk and HAD to go walk along it, wherever it was going. It was beautiful.
There were rocks to cross the river and these two very nice older men offered to take pictures for us. They didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Korean (beyond “hello” and “thank you”, but with gestures and smiles, it all seemed to work out.
Paige and I apparently have a hidden talent: to end up exactly where we began without having a clue how we did it (it happened no less than 3 times during this trip while we were together xD). So we ended up back near the entrance to the shoe market (we found a map that told us so), so we headed north to our original destination of the old Seoul wall (and the nearby tower).
After taking this picture to impress all of you with my amazing selfie skills (with no experience and a heavy camera that always equals awkward times for everyone, yay; 5 takes…just sayin’. We need like a friend who’s a vampire so they can take pictures for us, but doesn’t need to be in them because they won’t show up anyway), we finally started the walk up along the old wall. It was really cool and you can touch it and climb on it and everything; the trail went right along it.
At the end of the trail, we came to a summit overlooking the city. It was a lovely day out (you may have seen my amaaaazing pictures already on my home page here and on facebook xp).
After we’d had our fill of the view and taking pictures, we started to head back, but I decided impromptu that we should just snake down through the residential area (which bordered the trail to the summit) instead of taking the trail back down. Paige was skeptical, but followed me. I had no idea there was anything there.
We didn’t take any good pictures of it unfortunately, but just past what you see in this picture, there was an art walk that wound down and around through the steep residential area back to the major roads. Beautiful art graffiti-ed the walls all along this road: flowers, people, swirling colors, nature…it was awesome (honestly, that’s probably why we forgot to photograph it xD).
Once back on the main road, we took the subway back to Hapjeong, intending to crash for the night, but we met a girl in the common room of our hostel who was going for food, so we of course went with. xp
So we had bibimbap, which is basically just veggies (sometimes with a little meat) and a ton of rice thrown into a bowl which you then get to add spicy red pepper paste to to your liking and stir, then eat with either chopsticks or a giant spoon (you quickly learn to be very careful of anything RED in this country…). And of course there was kimchi. Because Korea. It was great.
Aaaaaand then Paige and I both got a nasty cough and Paige was super nauseous for a couple of days so we stayed in and played Stardew Valley (basically Harvest Moon, but for the PC) for a couple of days while living off of amazing baked goods from a local bakery, takeout dumplings, and ice cream (hey, I’m an adult, so I get to decide what that means).
Next post I’ll try to cover more days, but this day was so full of stuff. And it’s getting pretty long, so I guess I’ll just space it out a little. More to come (hopefully) soon. Take care, guys! ❤