I didn’t realize I had so many pictures of Korea, so I’ll be breaking my trip up into parts to make it easier to post. Therefore, we’ll start with the first two or so days of our trip:
Our flight to Korea wasn’t until the afternoon on Saturday, but we had to catch a bus to Narita airport, and a later bus would not have given us much time at the airport if any problems arose. So we took the 9am bus to Narita, and got there with time to spare to eat, exchange money, and look around at the shops. The bus and plane ride were uneventful, but I will say that Asia-based airlines are definitely the best. American ones complain and complain, cut food and snacks and charge for baggage, and yet the Asian airlines still have all those services including GOOD food and still seem to do just fine. They own the American ones times a million, which is why I wont pay for any other American airline other than Southwest from now on. Not worth it at all.
Rant aside, the flight was fine, and even though Kenji and I had booked the flight at different times, we were able to ask for our seats to be moved next to each other, which was really nice.
When we arrived in Korea, we went through customs, picked up our baggage, and then headed for our first stay of the trip, homestay at the edge of Seoul. I had arranged homestay just for fun, and it turned out to be a good thing since most of the hotels we wanted (and could afford) were booked one of the two nights we stayed at homestay. The lady who offered her home to us had a 6 year old son and a husband who was at the time in Tokyo! We had just missed each other, but we were able to talk with him over the phone. It also worked out, because though her English wasn’t great, she spoke perfect Japanese, so we were able to communicate just fine! However, I was a bit glad when we finally moved to our hotel, since it had a lot of amenities and was closer to the action so to speak!
Getting to our homestay was a long bus-ride into Seoul then another subway ride, so we arrived pretty late and pretty tired. We had a small dinner courtesy of our host, then crashed early in order to get up for the next day.
Waiting in anticipation for the bus!
Exchanging our money at the airport got us a giant stack of bills to pretend we were rich with. Basically (ignoring current exchange rates), 1 dollar = 100 yen = 1000 won. It took awhile to get used to all the zeros!
Day two saw us waking up for breakfast at a decent hour, then taking the subway into Seoul to visit a few places. I was grumpy from being hungry, and Kenji was grumpy from being tired, so it didn’t start out well, but we got over it enough to enjoy the day.
We started with getting off the subway and heading to Tapgul Park, which houses a nice pagoda and some examples of Korean architecture. We took a million pictures there, then tried to head toward the palaces to see a few of those. After getting magnificently lost (Korean maps are confusing!), we finally stumbled onto a nice stream that was recently renovated. It runs through Seoul and was turned into a nice place for a walk. We reoriented ourselves, then made it to the first palace just in time for the English tour.
Neither Kenji or I are one for tours. We both prefer to explore on our own, but this particular palace would only allow tours, so we didn’t have much of a choice. And it was a very nice palace, but a LONG tour as well. I was starving by the end of it and very ready to eat.
Once we got out of the tour, we met up with a friend of Kenji’s family, a woman who his father used to teach, and he had visited in Korea once before. We expected it to be just her and her two young girls, so were really surprised when a family with four kids showed up! Her husband had died previously, and her new fiancee had two kids of his own. We piled into two cars and drove to an awesome noodle/dumpling house where I had too much food and still wasn’t able to eat half of it! The kids slowly got used to us, and were decent in English, so we were able to talk a bit! After that, they took us to a cafe with a great view of Seoul for some awesome (and expensive!) tea. I fell in love with the green tea cups, and then it was off to Seoul tower for sunset and some night pictures.
After the tower we went to dinner, where they literally slide a new table onto yours to hold all the food. You’ll see in the video what I mean! From there, it was time to go home, and we went back to our homestay for another early night.
Our first view of the streets of Seoul in daylight
So that was it for the first two days. Next few coming soon!