South Korea 2010 – Part 5

Have you ever experienced anxiety the day/night before leaving on a trip that you can’t sleep a wink and end up pulling an all-nighter?  This happened the day before we flew out, so what do we do? Hang out, drink some beer and cocktails, and stayed up all night (at least I did).  At this time, Mike, Chien, and I had just moved in together and it hadn’t even been a week at the new place so we still had a few things to unbox which kept us busy for the time.  While things were slowly winding down from the move, this trip amped things up again!

This was my first trip going international also the first trip I would be paying for by myself, so it was a good learning experience planning for it.  We flew out of Madison, WI and arrived at Incheon Int’l Airport in the evening before checking into our hotel for the weekend in Seoul.

Arrival

It was already getting dark by the time we had gotten down to the arrival area of the Incheon Int’l Airport where Brian, who was still dressed like he would be back here in the States, waves us over to greet us.  From the airport, we took a bus to our hotel for the weekend in Seoul.  After checking-in, unloading our luggage, and resting up for a bit, Brian took us out to go have a some drinks out at Hongdae.

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The bartender who was working that night attended college in the U.S. so she spoke English fluently. This bar also served “buckets”, these little buckets with a mixture of liquor and juice.

The night ended up a blur.  I believe we went to a few more bars and nightclubs that night before drunkingly walking home.  We have pictures from during that time of day…but they’re fairly blurry, just like how it was for our vision and memory.  See below for examples:

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The next day, we got our metro passes which you can use to pay for the taxis, buses, and subways!  I think nowadays, you can use it to pay for more things too.

 

Inbetween

We bounced back between Seoul and Dongducheon, where Brian lived, while we were in South Korea.  We did have plans to go to Busan but those plans were canceled.  While Brian worked at an after-school English school, we wandered around Dongducheon checking out the town or else stayed in and watched the Starcraft channel.  Yes, there was a channel in South Korea dedicated solely to Starcraft, at the time.  Now, it’s dedicated to video games, mostly eSports.  It was the only channel we could watch and really understand what was going on, on the screen.  When the weekend came around, we were off to Seoul again!  We stayed in Dongducheon during the weekdays and then the last weekend.  We stayed in Seoul the first weekend we arrived and then the second weekend.

Dongducheon

While in Dongducheon, we went to go climb a nearby mountain that had a Buddhist temple/monastery up on the side…

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We visited Brian’s mother’s friend who was one of the very few people in South Korea that were licensed to make family temples like the following…

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We also went to go visit the DMZ…

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We did quite a few things while we were in Dongducheon aside from the above.  There were times when we would go into work with Brian and meet his boss and all the different age kids that he taught.  Some of us even got the chance to help out and teach the kids a few English lessons also.  I think the kids were more intrigued about us as foreigners from the U.S. than we were of them, although we did question why everyone wears tight pants, especially the guys, when the weather was so hot and humid.  I’m glad we stayed in Dongducheon to get the local, non-touristy experience to balance out the more touristy experience in Seoul.  We did stick out like a sore thumb especially with the way we were dressed, which were usually short-sleeve t-shirts with shorts due to the weather.

While we were in Dongducheon, Brian’s mother also helped set us up with things to go do or see while Brian was at work to, so this one time we were sent off on this trip to a traditional village that was in southern Seoul.  Good thing the subway system in Seoul is phenomenal because we would have been lost on the way.  The traditional village was a good cultural learning experience.  Later on that day, Mike and Peter accidentally ended up on the set of a Korean drama that was filming at that time and were kicked off the set promptly.

Weekend comes around and we’re off to Seoul!

Seoul

We were constantly doing something in Seoul.  When we weren’t sleeping, we were wandering around doing stuff.  Here’s a list of things I remember that we did while in Seoul:

  • Party
  • Attended a Hangul class for those who wanted to learn or get better at Hangul, South Korean language.
  • Wandered around one of the largest shopping districts in Seoul called Myeongdong.
  • Visited one of the royal palaces.
  • Attended World Cup celebrations and watch the South Korean national team play along with thousands of fans.
  • Hung out at Cheonggyecheon, a long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul that is also a creek that runs through downtown to connect to the Han River.
  • Indulged on various foods all over Seoul.  Had some pretty good roast pork at a restaurant that’s famous for it in Seoul.  Chien and I didn’t know how to properly eat it so the waitress had to show us…

When night came around, we usually ended up hanging out at a bar with new people we ran into or else would go check out the nightclubs.  During the time we were in Seoul, we went to Hongdae, Itaewon, and even Gangnam for the bars and nightclubs!

Departure

The night before we were supposed to leave, we went out to one of the local 7/11s by Brian’s workplace to hangout in front of it.  We bought snacks, soju, and beer, and just hungout without a care in the world.  Beautiful night out too as it was nice and cool with clear skies.  We even ran into a couple of soldiers from the nearby U.S. base who drank and hung out with us too.  Then came the highlight of the night…an older Korean gentlemen decides to pull a chair up to where we were and started talking to us in Hangul.  The guy decides to talk to Chien and before we know it, things are getting heated.  A fight almost breaks out so we decide to call it a night and head home to sleep.

Hungover and tired, we left for the airport very early in the morning, but slept like a baby during the ride though. After 2 weeks of being in South Korea, we were starting to get homesick so we were glad to be back home in the States and back into our own beds.  The trip was fun, and getting to see another country and how the people of that country lived was a good, eye-opening experience.  Overall, it was a fun trip.

 

View the previous parts

South Korea 2010 – Part 4

South Korea 2010 – Part 3

South Korea 2010 – Part 2

South Korea 2010 – Part 1