Some of you may remember our excursion with Ethan and Sandra ( also with Josh and Stephanie!) in September over Chuseok. We had such a great time we knew we wanted to meet again soon to hang out. Unfortunately the only time available was Mid-November-when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begins.
Sadly Derik wasn’t able to make the four hour trip up to Seoul with me. He has been kept extremely busy with his job, and between his weekend job (working with another construction company), evaluations, lesson plans, and honest-to-goodness rest after 14 hour days, he just wasn’t able to make it work. We all missed him, and are excited to hang out next month on our Christmas vacation to Vietnam.
I left early Sat. morning (last week) for Seoul, honestly hoping I hopped on the right bus…and being a little disoriented due to the lack of a certain traveling partner…I seemed to forget how to read Korean. Luckily it seemed as if there was only one bus leaving at 9:30 for Seoul, and I only got yelled at by the bus driver because I didn’t put my seat belt on immediately as I sat down (yikes, that’s never happened before).
The ride was pretty seamless, however it did take an extra hour due to traffic. Once I arrived in Nambu I was greeted by the two smiling faces of my friends. After getting checked into our motel we headed out to do a bit of shopping in Myongdong. The streets weren’t as crazy as they usually are…but still busy enough for someone who first visits there to understand how crazy it can be! We went to the ‘ever popular’ H&M, and I had success (believe it or not) finding jeans!
After our shopping excursion we headed over to Itaewon to eat dinner. Itaewon is known for it’s amazing ‘foreign’ food..they have everything: first-class breakfast restaurants, Turkish kabobs, Brazilian buffet, a restaurant as similar to Chipotle as you’re gonna get this far east, and a stuffed burger restaurant. We opted for the Mexican, it’s a little hard to come by in Korea. I am thankfully blessed with one about a 15 minute drive from my house, but Ethan and Sandra have no such luck! The burrito paired with a margarita was the perfect evening dinner.
With our bellies full we hopped back on the metro (subway) and headed over to Cheonggyecheon Stream where the Seoul Lantern Festival was being held. True to any festival in Korea, the place was swarming with people. We hopped in the massive line and slowly began inching toward the pretty lights. The lantern festival is the closest thing to a good old Christmas neighborhood light show back home as I’m going to get, so I rather enjoyed it!
The next day we went back to Itaewon for a delicious breakfast and spent the rest of the day exploring the city. We of course had to visit Insadong…known for it’s traditional stores…a good place for foreigners to find things to bring back home. It’s also very artsy, and has plenty of ceramic, jewelry, and painting stores/galleries.
All in all, it was another fantastic trip. I will never forget going to Costco and Ethan and Sandra buying seven pumpkin pies (for their students) and a huge jar of pickles, and I buying this crazy big tub of christmas ornaments. We had to walk with these ‘prized’ items everywhere for the remaining part of the day…on the metro, in Myeongdong, and then back to the bus terminal. :) What a sight that must have been.