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Seoul, South Korea

SOUTH KOREA | Wednesday, 22 May 2013 | Views [1277]

This was one of the most exciting legs of the trip to me. I got to spend time with one of my best friends, I didn't have to think much about what I wanted to do because Hannah would tell me, and I got free room and board! During this leg I was staying with one of my Hannah's (the one from Santa Cruz and London) and her sister Gabrielle in their small but homely apartment. It's nice to stay with someone you know, after travelling from hostel to hostel, for longer than 3 days!

 

My first full day in Korea was an experience. I woke up after a LONG sleep and for Korean Starbucks (it's the same thing, just with Korean writing and pronunciation). For lunch i had a traditional Korean dish of mixed rice that had lots of veggies and a cooked egg on it. There was a concert at her school that we wet to and I got to experience K-pop which is pop music in Korean and is all the rage here (think N*sync & Britney, but in Korean). For dinner we got street food and then just went to a few bars.

Friday was a very mixed day of traditional and new wave. In the morning Hannah and I went to Gyung Bok Gung Palace which was the former residence of the royal family before the Japanese destroyed it and built a office building; then the Koreans flattened the Japanese building when they got their country back and rebuilt the palace using pieces of other palaces (they're still not happy with the Japanese about that one). Later that night we decided to go clubbing Korean style, in Gangnam - literally. found out that Korea doesn't have a last call or closing time, so by the time we left the club, the sun was coming up. It was really weird, but a really fun night!

Since then, we have slowed the pace down a little. I've seen beautiful temples which were decorated for Buddha's birthday, museums dedicated solely to the Korean war, which I didn't know much about before, and climbed to Seoul tower which overlooks the entire city from the top of a hill. There aren't a lot of historical sites because either the Japanese or the North Koreans destroyed most of them during wars, but there is a lot of good food...

The food here has been amazing. Most of the traditional main Korean dishes are spicy, but it's a different type of spiciness than Mexican or Indian. They like to have meat in almost all of their dishes which i don't mind one bit, and they all seem to have a sweet tooth, which I don't mind either. They have amazing pastries that are made fresh every day and they really like putting ice cream on waffles! 

Korea is a very interesting place (I almost want to say hypocritical, but that isn't the most positive word) with strong ties to the US, especially in recent history. Their postcards all say 'Now & the Past in Harmony" but they are still mad at the Japanese for taking them over. They also have a US military base in downtown Seoul and I still got stared at as a white woman - you would think they would be used to white people in their country by now. they also have plastic surgery to look more western, but alienate anyone who isn't 100% Korean.

I have enjoyed visiting the country and may come back in the future, but I don't know how long i could live or stay here. I came because Hannah was here and I don't regret coming, I'm glad I could experience it and put the pin in my map, but I didn't click with Seoul the way I normally do with places.

 

It's on to Nepal next. I'm not sure how much internet I'm going to have there (especially in the Himalayas) but assume no news is good news.

Tags: food, gangnam, seoul, south korea

 

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