Day 80. Seoul, South Korea Again

Seoul is the only place I visited twice on this trip.  That is fortunate because this time my  long time friend Carolina is visiting me.  I was able to spend more time with Yun-Jin too.  Carolina and I hung out with Yun-Jin, Yun-Min, her older sister, and Catherine, Yun-Min’s room mate.  The second experience was just as memorable as the first.  I am thankful to have a guides that know the language and show me around.  The generosity of strangers continue to amaze me on my journey.

Catherine, Yun-Jin, Carolina, and Yun- Min

We went to Incheon to visit Yun-Min and she took us out to eat at a seafood place. It was delicious.  Koreans know how to eat.  Carolina and I asked if this was a special occasion kind of meal.  They said no, this is how they normally eat.  I love that idea.  We went to the beach and looked for oysters.  We also grabbed coffee/ice cream.  Then they showed us the Incheon China Town.  Hearing a little bit of the history of Incheon and Seoul was sobering.  A divided nation that has indefinite time frame of when they will rejoin, if ever.

Fish Ice Cream. Don’t judge the taste by the wrapper.

The next day Carolina and I went to Hongdae and ate American breakfast.  That was what I wanted to eat.  I really enjoy a big breakfast.  There’s a satisfying feeling when I can eat eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and pancakes.  We went to Lotte world after that.  Lotte world is basically the Korean version of Disneyland. That was what Carolina wanted to do.  It was an interesting experience, they basically compacted an American sized theme park in a mall in the middle of a city.  We ended the night with eating Korean BBQ.

Korean BBQ with Caro

On the last day we went to eat sashimi at the Noryangjin Fish Market.  I would like to say it is a unique experience to eat fresh fish straight from the fish market.  There are many places in the world where this is possible I think.  But this is Seoul.  The experience was one of kind.  We ate an assortment of fish, shrimp and sea urchin(uni). Like most meals I’ve had in Seoul it was accompanied with Soju and beer.  We were stuffed from all that food and decided to walk it off.

Fresh Sashimi for lunch

Yun- Jin took us to her school,  Seoul National University. Carolina and I compared the feeling of being in an American College and Seoul National University.  We were seeing not as much school pride as US schools. You know ever third student you see walking by has a sweatshirt or shirt of their school name. I’m all for school pride but it gets over the top at some schools, i.e. Stanford, Cal.  She showed us her graduate office, where a couple of other master students were working on their thesis.

Yun-Min got us tickets to opening night at Jamyung-go, a Korean Opera.  I have never been to an opera before so it was a first for me.  There was an orchestra, set design and a full cast of costumes.  It played for only three nights. They had English subtitles for me on a screen above the stage.  Carolina speaks Korean say she probably followed along better than me. The story is about a magical drum that warns the city if invaders are approaching and the division of two kingdoms trying to reunite despite the opposition of inside forces.

Like most countries on my trip I say that I will return.  I really mean it for Korea.  I plan on learning Korean and planing my next trip back to Korea after my world tour.  It maybe because of the culture, a certain someone or that I didn’t train Jiu Jitsu there. Either way I had a memorable experience that I wish to have again in Korea. I recommend Korea to everyone.

The church group took a group picture with the leading lady. Jamyung-go
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Day 69. Seoul, South Korea Part I

I enjoy stories.  I believe every good story has a great beginning.  The origin of how Yun-Jin and I met has an interesting start.  We met in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.  The first time I met her was in an albergue in Pendueles, Spain. We had just finished dinner and the table started singing songs from the different countries they were from.  There was Germany, Colombia, Poland, and three old Spanish pilgrims recited a dirty song in Spanish.  Then when it was her turn, she beautiful sung a Korean song and won the prize of another carafe of vino tinto.  She, of course, shared the prize with rest of the table.

 

Yun-Jin and I in cool looking ponchos.

We ran into each other the next day on the Camino.  We walked together that day from Pendules to Po, I think.  It was a long day.  But it was full of adventure and learning from each others story and history.  There was scattered rain along the path.  At the end of the day we walked close to 8 hours.  An ice cream truck pulled up to the albergue and we bought ice cream. We enjoyed the fact that the day was finally over, while enjoying our ice cream.  I have heard shared adversity and overcoming it brings people together.  I think that its true because we both recall that day vividly.

 

We ran into each several times, obviously, because we were going to the same place.  I took different paths some days and walked at my own pace.  During the last part of Asturias and all the way to Santiago, we walked together with Thomas, from Germany.  It was mostly just of the three of us.  It was an interesting crew.  Rasmus, a pilgrim from Denmark, said we reminded him of the Harry Potter Crew.  I’ll take that reference.

 

A Korean picnic on top of a mountain.

Fast Forward to seven months later.  I’m on a Jiu Jitsu/ travel world tour.  I choose to stop in Seoul to visit Yun-Jin.  Food, hiking, and adventure were on the itinerary.  It was an amazing experience.  After getting over the initial language barrier and metro system I was able to really take it in the culture.  Especially when you have a guide. It was a busy week of activities and trying new food.

 

Some where in Yeoeuido-Dong.

 

We did many activities while I was there.  I have to summarize a lot of it. We walked around Myeoung-Dong and had ramen at a very old restaurant.  We hiked up a mountain to a Buddhist temple where they fed us lunch for free.  We took a bike ride to Yangsae-Myeon and stopped by a strawberry farm.  There was a night where we just ate chicken, drank beer, soju, and rice wine.  We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a really fancy theater.  Afterwards we ran into a music festival in Yeouido-Dong.  There were many food trucks and we sat by the river eating poutine and steak while drinking Mojitos. It was a great week. I’m very thankful I had a local guide to take me through the city.

The wall near Dongdaemon.

Currently I’m in Guam.  I will go back to Seoul for three days to finish my time in Asia.  I will reunite with Yun-Jin again and my long time friend Carolina. More to come.

How to get to Seoul:

Incheon International Airport (ICN) Bus 6002 can take you to Hapjeong station for $10,000 KRW.

A “Korean” picture for the memory.