Jul 13, 2011

Adventures in Hanguk

(Wrote this all up last night, but it took to long to load pictures and everything, so it's a day behind.. I'm too lazy to go through and change all the wording though)

Three days was definitely too short!  Korea was an awesomely wonderful place to visit and i'm just sad i couldn't stay longer (and with more money to spend!)  Despite not knowing anything but "hello" and "thank you" in Korean, i actually had no problem getting around at all.  In fact, all of the people i ended up talking to somehow knew English, lucky me!  I guess all that last-minute studying wasn't really needed after all..  Although, after only 2 days i can read about 80% of the Korean characters (i surprised my friend yesterday by pointing at a sign and asking, "Does that say 'massage'?  And does that one say 'chicken'?"  They were written in Korean (마사지 [masaji] and 치킨 [chikin]) but the pronunciation is the same-ish as in English)!  A lot easier than learning to read Japanese for sure.  I have toyed with the idea of starting to study Korean for a while, and i do think i'll continue to learn it little by little.

But anyway, my trip was nothing but awesome (up until the airport coming back, more on that later though).  
Arrived at the airport Monday afternoon and was welcomed by a big dance performance on the stage on the first floor of the airport, so i stuck around to watch it before catching my bus to the guesthouse.  Got there, checked in and dropped off my backpack before heading out to take a little walk around the neighborhood.  Got some microwave food from Seven-Eleven before going back to chill at the guesthouse and try to get ahold of my friend.
Made plans to meet up around 9pm, when we went to Myeong-dong, a big shopping district with lots to see!  We walked the streets, stopping to look at some of the more interesting vendors along the way.  Friend was thirsty so we decided to stop at the huge 4-story Dunkin Donuts for a little break!  I got some Munchkins and she got some peach tea and we shared.  Then we went to take some purikura (those "print club" photo booth machines), walked around some more, then headed home before it got too late.

 Bustling nightlife in Myeong-dong

 4-story Dunks!

 Enjoying our Munchkins and tea~

Slept in yesterday, got up and got showered before going to the convenience store for some late lunch food (spicy ramen.. tried to find some non-spicy buuuuut, it's Korea haha).  Made plans to meet up with another friend that evening.  Figured out what lines i had to take on the subway and everything (the subway in Korea is super cheap!  Especially compared to Japan), got my fare-card, and was on my merry way.  When i reached my stop and tried to get out through the turnstyles, for some reason the machine wasn't reading my card and it wouldn't let me out!  Of course i could've just hopped over, but with me being a whitey and having a lot of attention drawn to me as it was, i didn't really feel comfortable doing that.  I wandered around for about 15 minutes, wondering what to do, thinking i was going to be stuck down there because there weren't any station staff around to ask for help.  Finally i got up the nerve to try to talk to some nice looking lady about to go through.  I didn't say anything, just flagged her over and showed her what happened when i tried to beep my way through.  Then she came out with awesome English, "Oh.. it must be an error.. Just sneak through!"  Haha, well if it was that easy..!  So she let me slip out behind her.  I thanked her and we went our separate ways.
Met my friend at our agreed-upon exit, and he took me to Insa-dong, which i guess is the more "traditional" area of Seoul.  We wandered the streets first looking for a good bibimbap restaurant.  The bibimbap we got at the restaurant was different than what i'm used to, but still very good!  Lots of green veggies, and of course a bunch of side dishes as is custom at Korean restaurants.  

Enjoying our bibimbap!  (And don't you just wanna pinch them cheeks??)  xD

After that we walked around and looked in a few of the shops along the way, selling lots of Korean-y goods.  Then, even though i had stuffed myself full at the restaurant, i got hungry again from walking!  I had spotted a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and was extremely excited about that, since there aren't any in Seattle- a shame really.. they're much better than Starbuck's (sorry Seattle, i still love you!) especially for a non coffee drinker like me.  So we went to take a short rest there, i got a delicious pomegranate-blueberry tea latte and some blueberry yogurt cheesecake.  After that we walked down to this really neat little stream/river and walked the length of it up to where it started, and there was a really awesome waterfall lit up by blue lights.  Saw a couple other landmarks before he accompanied me back to my station.  We decided to stop by this Japanese-style izakaya for drinks (and munchies, since i was hungry again!) before he walked me back to the guesthouse. 

Little shopping area in Insa-dong

 Starbucks in Insa-dong!  Every other Starbucks has the normal English sign, except for this one


Inside the super-fancy Coffee Bean

A really cool little gallery under a bridge along the little river we walked along

 One part of the river all lit up

 The waterfall at the start of the river

 Cool sculpture, and his silhouette in front

 Some cool structure.. i don't remember its significance, sorry!

 Rainy street in Mapo-gu, near the guesthouse.  I love the colorful lights reflecting in the street.

I'll post about my last day later.. this is already a pretty long post, and the next one will be a lot of me complaining about the airport.  But i made it through immigration and everything eventually, obviously, so i can stay here for another 3 months at least while i wait for my work visa, then i don't have to worry about leaving for at least another year.  :D

Goodnight all~

3 comments:

Gina said...

I totally agree, everyone we saw spoke amazing English too.

It's such a modern and beautiful country. And they have a whole lot of American good food places to eat at too. Plus the local food is yummy too. Did you bring back any kimchi? : ) We brought back some that was marked okay to bring back.

You learn languages so quick. that is one thing I envy about you.

-phx- said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-phx- said...

No, didn't bring back any kimchi (actually, to tell the truth i don't really like kimchi all that much!) But i was talking to one of my students about going to Korea, and she told me that one time she went to Korea just to buy kimchi! Haha, i couldn't believe it!

Thanks, but i wouldn't say i learn languages that quick! I could read it, but i still couldn't speak or understand anything! Korean pronunciation is too hard for me too..

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