Foundation Day on Friday 11th Feb' gave us another Japanese long weekend
and a perfect excuse to go travelling. This combined with time off due
to good behaviour (weekend English Camps) got us 5 days off. David,
Mackie and I (Kim, David was too lazy to do a write up) decided on
Seoul. Mackie and I had been to Korea for Christmas but not made it to
Seoul which we felt the need to rectify. David just felt the need to
leave the country.
Wednesday 9th Feb'
The flights were all booked up, something to do with a big religious
group, so we jumped on the boat. The weather was less than conspicuous,
they had actually threatened to cancel the ferry. I got the worst of it
and found that grapefruit and chocolate make a decent combination! The
other two managed to sleep through the rocky ride.
We arrived in
early afternoon, with time to kill until we took the
overnight up to Seoul we dropped our bags off and headed for a late
lunch. Korean food was a
delightful change after the rather bland
Japanese cuisine we've somewhat got used to. We then headed for the
International Market, with a quick stop to get Mackie a
It's surprising how enthralling jars of pickles
and peanut M&M's become after time away from home! For tea we abandoned
the home cuisine and went for Mexican which is nigh on impossible to
find in Saga. Happily full and with a few new CD's we headed back to the
bus station to find that the overnight to Seoul had been cancelled due
to bad weather. Whoops!
We checked into a
(hourly rates available!) and were treated
to excellent sound effects!!
Thursday 10th Feb'
We must have been really tired because we didn't stir until 1pm. We
hurriedly organised ourselves and hopped on the bus to Seoul. The six
hour trip cost only $26, and this was on the luxury bus!! Arrived in
only to realise that we didn't know where anything was, so we
decided to take a trip to around the middle of the Subway route and find
accommodation there. For once David made a good decision! After a few
problems about sharing a room with members of both sexes we found a nice
little traditional hotel for only $10 a night. Heated floors are
amazing. Teatime, Mack' and I had had grilled pork wrapped in lettuce
leaves last time we were in Korea and were determined to find them
again. With little effort we stumbled upon a busy little restaurant
which supplied us with mok sal sam kyub sal. You grill the marinated
pork in front of you then you take a lettuce leaf in your hand, put the
pork on, some chilli sauce and spicy spring onions (sorry can't remember
the American), roll and eat.
To work off the dinner we took a stroll around the local area which at
10/11pm was still surprisingly lively. We purchased a lot of ice cream
and retired to
where we proceeded to chat until a ridiculous time.
Friday 10th Feb'
Despite the late/early hour at which we got to sleep we managed to get
out of bed at a reasonable hour. There was a huge walled park just
across the road from our hotel which we decided would be our first port
of call. Thus turned out to be Chongmyo, the royal ancestral shrine of
the choson dynasty (1393-1910). The
of these peaceful
royal grounds and bustling downtown Seoul was quite eerie. You could
forget where you were until you looked at the skyline, with the towering
skyscrapers but all you could hear was birdsong!
By 2pm Mackie was thoroughly bored and looking for some retail therapy
so we headed out of the park only to be confronted by a
quite sure what it was all about but we saw quite a few and
tonnes of policemen
in the little time we had in the Korean capital. For lunch we
indulged in Pizza Hut, someone still needs to explain that one to me, I
avoid it at home! Then we headed for the arty area, Insadong, where
there are a plethora of craft shops enough to tire even the most ardent
shopper. We all bought a fair bit our main purchases being a scrolled
wall hanging each. David opted for a black and white mountain scene,
Mackie some birds and cherry blossom and I got an orchid. These were
only $30 compared to $120 plus in Japan, Korea was so cheap and
apparently that is nothing compared to Thailand and Vietnam.
Previous Jet visitors had recommended a visit to Sanchon, a vegetarian
restaurant run by a monk, which offers a performance of traditional
dance and music every evening. Inspite of the strange
conversations at the neighbouring table and the generally unidentifiable
food I think
we all had a great time.
Saturday 11th Feb'
Getting out of bed this morning was a struggle after David and I had
stayed awake chatting until the sun came up and we realised we really
ought to try and get some sleep!! First stop was Insadong again to pick
up the tea set I had ummed and aahed about the day before. In the Korean
Times the night before David had seen an ad for a Middle Eastern/Indian
restaurant and had his heart set on that so we headed for Itaewon,
renowned shopping district for foreigners. Much to David's
disappointment the Taj Mahal was solely Indian, it was still really good
though. We then hit Itaewon for some hard core shopping which was never
realised. Itaewon was my idea of hell on earth, crammed with army
personnel, Koreans who had undergone a personality change due to the
foreigners and tacky merchandise along with over priced sports goods. It
really couldn't have been much worse, thankfully the others agreed and
we made a sharp exit. In Itaewon's defence it is meant to be the best
place to party in South Korea. From here we just wandered through the
which is downtown Seoul finally ending up via a Clinique store at
a Haagen Daas bar which has to be the opposite of Itaewon for me,
comforted by mango and raspberry sorbet we decided to take in a movie
(film!). Going to the cinema in Japan costs $18, in Korea it's $5 or $6,
it felt criminal not to go. The girls pulled together and despite
David's objections we got to watch
The Beach, mistake. If you are
intrigued by the film don't bother, read the book instead it's far
better. Anna and the King is a far better film on Thailand. We then hit
TGI Fridays where we had the hugest servings I have ever seen in my
life. My salad was big enough to feed a family of four!
Time up already! Back on the overnight bus this time the return leg to
Sunday 12th Feb'
Sleep deprived we arrived in Pusan just before 7am. In order to refresh
ourselves we decided on a trip to the
spa. In Japan these places are
very relaxed and comforting, in Korea however on a Sunday morning it was
a place for all the locals to gather and be very vocal about the
neighbourhood gossip. Clean but not necessarily de-stressed we dropped
our bags off and headed back to the International Market where we bought
M&M's in bulk and gifts for our schools.
So soon, the time had come again to get back on the ferry which was
thankfully a little kinder to my stomach this time.
David and I were both quite sick after this trip and ended up having
another week off work. You have been warned, don't travel with him he's
dangerous for your health!
All the photos!