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Day One:Seoul

SOUTH KOREA | Friday, 21 May 2010 | Views [616]

I woke up at 9am and hit up a family mart for a T Money Card which is a card you can charge up to take the subway.  I tossed 20,000krw on it and when I left on Sunday I still had 10,000 left!  It was so cheap and the subways are really nice and clean and spacious.  They were also very easy to navigate and like 75% of the maps were in English, thank god!  I took the subway to the Gyeongbokgung Palace.  There I waited in a very long line in the sun to get a ticket to get it which only cost me 3,000krw.  T

The palace complex was beautiful and massive. I took my time wondering around getting lost and found again for about 3 hours.  Then I went into the National Korean Folk Art Museum and took in some culture.  There was an older gentleman who spent many years in London and so he knew English very well and was happy to use with me and so he accompanied me for half of the museum giving me a guided tour in English!  I learned a lot about why things are the way they are here.

Then I made my way to Insadong via foot.  I shopped around until I met up with Terrence and Megan, a couple who is from WNY area.  They were so helpful in telling me all about different areas in Seoul.  We made our way through Insadong to the chicken on a stick man… and I’ll tell you.  This guy was not messing around. I had the best chicken of my life from this guy, thanks Megan, for introducing me to heaven on a stick! 

Then we grabbed the subway to Meyongdong which reminded me of NYC’s Upper East Side.  Shopping, shopping, and shopping.  Anything cool and fashionable could be found here.  We stood in line to get into H&M.  They make you form a line so only a certain amount of people can be in the store at a time because otherwise it would be so jammed up you wouldn’t be able to maneuver though the store. I had my backpack on which made it real hard to shop and I wasn’t in the mood for so much mosh pitting so I got on out of Myeongdong with a promise to myself that I would come back another time.

I headed back to Insadong for the Lantern Lighting festival at Jogyesa temple.  It was so cool to be in this mass of people chanting.  For about an hour and a half it was just thousands of people chanting to Buddha, I guess birthday wishes.  You could walk through the main temple which holds three ginormous (gigantic+enormous, for those of you who aren’t familiar with my lingo) Buddha statues.  Then they lit the lamps.  There were thousands of lamps in every color.  It was amazing the way they lit up the face of the people and the night sky. 

I met up with Jeff and Katie from New Zealand who happened to see on Facebook that I was in Seoul and called me to meet up!  It was a wonderful treat! And then, by coincidence we ran into Lizzie and her friend Austin.  So the groups of us were starving and decided to do dinner in Itaewon. 

Itaewon is the foreigner village of Seoul.  People from all over the world live there and visit there.  There were more foreigners than Koreans in Itaewon. We wondered around, being pulled in different directions by different ethnic foods.  French, Mexican, Thai, American….. we chose Indian.  It was a treat and some of the best Indian I have had. Then we met Lizzie’s cousin Michael who is a professor at Sky University in Seoul.  We went for margaritas and were surrounded by people who spoke English!  It was a very "pub"-ish atmosphere and the place was called Gecko’s. We rocked out of there with a new friend dragging us to two other bars.  At the last bar, the atmosphere was real cool. Dark, kind of seductive but we made some friends with a drunken group of Australian dudes and met the cofounder of Facebook.  It was a pretty good night.  Got back to my guest house safely even though a little late, 3:30 am,  and slept like a baby. 

 

Tags: seoul, south korea

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