I am on my way to cross two countries off my bucket list! These countries have been on my bucket list for forever! I have wanted to go to South Korea since I was 15, so that was 6 years ago. That was when I was into K-Pop, and before it blew up internationally. But it's still been on my list, albeit getting lower as time goes on, because I no longer obsess about it. But I'm still glad to get the opportunity to visit such a beautiful country.
So I know I wrote a lot, but I also vlogged every day, so if you don't want to read it, and just watch the highlight reel, just play the videos! They are all under 5 minutes :)
August 1st/2nd 2016
Our flight was at 2.45pm, so in the morning my mum, my sister, and I were just running around, packing last minute things like laptops.
At 11.30, my dad drove us to the airport. Yes, I know that's a bit of a rush, but my dad is a super great driver so, we got there perfect!
After printing the tickets, we got through TSA with no problems, and then waiting for the plane for about 40 minutes.
We went on Asiana Airlines and it was decent. The seats were plenty comfortable and we had plenty of space. Their entertainment was also decent, definitely not super duper up to date. The food was also decent. Service wise... there was a flight attendant whose English wasn't super good that definitely needed brushing up on. There was also a flight attendant that seemed to get annoyed easy when you asked a lot of questions, which I did not appreciate. Overall though, it was a pleasant experience.
When we arrived at Incheon Airport, it was relatively smooth. We had to wait another couple of hours for another family to arrive so we had some food at the airport and it was totally awesome (in my opinion at least).
The hotel we were staying at was the Stellar Marina Hotel. Okay, not that I'm complaining or anything but... I sort of am. First off, their rooms are kind of cramped, which, I know S. Korea doesn't have a lot of space, and I love NYC, so to me it's not a big deal. But you've been warned, S. Korea doesn't do complementary bath products, aside from one bar soap. That freaked out my family because we were so used to it. I couldn't believe that they didn't offer any of that! And I was even more surprised because I did some research before I arrived, and there was no blog or website that talked about this problem. So maybe it's just for certain hotels. But still. Also, their bathroom is architected in a terrible way where there is no water drain within the shower, nor is there a ledge to catch the water. So the water just comes out of the bathroom and goes all over the small bathroom floor. So much other problems as well...I'm not so sure I would recommend this hotel, but the view they have is great!
Anyway, that night we basically crashed. My family didn't sleep well, but they had slept on the plane for half the ride (11 and a half hours) so they were not as tired as I was (I slept an hour). It was a good sleep.
August 3rd 2016
This day was extremely packed.
We first went to Im Jin Gak, which is where the divide line between North and South America is. There was also a lot of historic meaning in the area, like a bridge that was once connected to both countries that is now broken, etc.
Following that, we went to a seaweed museum where we made our own kimbap (I LOVE KIMBAP!) and tried one some hanboks. Which I am so in love with but sucks that I cannot wear it anywhere :(
After, we went to have lunch. We had hot pot. I found it odd that even though it was crazy humid, Koreans still love having hot foods. And their restaurants isn't even nicely air conditioned either! You would be eating hot food in hot sticky weather, and taking small gulps of cold water. It's definitely a weird combo, and something to keep in mind if you visit!
Following that, we went to check out the royal quarters. We went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was a very historical building, with very colorful architecture. It was extremely beautiful and it made me happy to see all the places in those historical dramas in person :) (Or at least the inspiration for the set props!)
Then we went to check out the olden style houses which was very beautiful, but also kind of boring and extremely anti-climatic.
After, we went to watch a Korean show, Cooking Nanta, and it was AMAZING! I cannot even explain it so if you ever get the chance to come to S. Korea, or happen to be in the area when they are touring, I definitely recommend going to catch it! It's worth whatever the price is. You will laugh so much that your cheeks will get numb.
After that, we went to grab dinner and... I don't remember what we ate. It was kind of like beef stew but cooked while we ate. Don't remember the name! >_<
It had been a long day, and we didn't get back to the hotel until 9pm. Which is like early in the morning back in Seattle. So...we totally crashed.
August 4th 2016
On this day, we went to only a few places, but we spent a lot of time on the road. We went up to the northern most part of S. Korea which is where their 2nd tallest mountain range is.
We then went to Naminara Republic Island which was absolutely beautiful. There were also a lot of people. It's most famous for the scene in the Korean Drama, Winter Sonata. But I think it's only relevant in winter, when there is snow on the ground :P It was a humid time when we went, so we didn't really get a chance to explore the island as much as I wanted to. It was so humid that after standing outside for 3 minutes, I would have swear rolling down into my eyes. It was bad.
Thank goodness though, we went to have lunch after. And you guessed it, it was a hot meal. But it was an amazing meal!
Then we went to the Xue Yue Mountain. It's a beautiful mountain range and was worth the trip. We went to see the largest amitabha in Asia (I think it's only largest for the particular material they used to build it though. Of which I don't remember the name of the material...)
Finally, we went to experience the South Korean Sauna/Aqua Pool... it was definitely a worthwhile experience, but I've never seen so many naked women! I wish I had their confidence but wow....
But in general, the water was soft, and very hot. It was definitely a relaxing experience (except for the lack of changing rooms and naked body parts hanging out everywhere...)
Even though we didn't do much today, it was still tiring because of how hot it was. Still, it was a good day!
August 5th 2016
Today we went to go check out the Korean Folk Village and it's where all the historical dramas would filk or copy in their set. It was a tad anti climatic because we didn't really get a lot of chance to explore the entire village. We only got about an hour and only saw the highlights. Plus, it was also extremely hot and humid, so that meant we were more interested in getting out of the sun and out of the heat.
But it was definitely worth taking a look at, especially since the village is within the city of Seoul, the new and the old existing in harmony and peace.
Next, we went to have lunch and had the famous bimbimbap... LOVE BIMBIMBAP!
After lunch we went to Hwaseong Fortress... got to be the least favourite part of the entire trip because all you're looking at is the wall that's built around the a goong, which we didn't even get to see.. the Great Wall of China was better. It's like a smaller scale of it.
And then we went to the Trick Eye Museum. It was a super cool museum where you could take pictures with things and some of it would look 3D even though it's 2D. Their exist is also a room with a lot of mirrors which is confusing but extremely amusing! And then there was the Ice Museum which was smaller, but also super fun and interesting. They had an ice slide! Which I was too cold to go on but it looked like a lot of fun :)
And then we went to Hongdae. It was a really crowded and busy street but I met SHINee!
....Nah, I wish I met SHINee :P I just saw their entire group picture on a store front and took a picture with them :) I knew I wouldn't be lucky enough to see them haha
And then, we had ginseng chicken which was decent... definitely not my cup of tea :/
August 6th 2016
We went to a cosmetics store (they call it cosmetics but it was mostly skincare) and I bought a good amount of products that I am excited to use, especially once I get back to the USA!
Next we went to a Government Ginseng store which, for me, was basically useless. But there was a lot of interesting information for sure.
After that we had lunch, and then we headed to Myeongdong. It is even more impressive than Hongdae but as soon as I heard from my tour guide that a lot of the stores were targeted towards international tourists, I knew that prices might be high in places. So I was careful, but I still got a decent amount of things.
Korea is a beautiful country, with an impressive yet sad history. I absolutely loved my time there and was very thankful to be able to afford seeing the beauty of such an amazing Asian country. I thought I would be crossing Seoul, KR off my bucket list, but in reality, I just ended up rewriting it on there, not with "longer stay" in brackets.
I highly recommend anyone who is interested to check it out. It was definitely worth the price tag. You don't need a visa for American passports!
P.S. If you want all my vlogs as a playlist, it's here.