Friday, January 23, 2009

Our Seoul, Korea Trip

Sorry for the delay, but things have been a bit busy this week since Kev and I returned to Okinawa, so it's taken me longer than I expected to get our photos from our 10 day Korea trip onto ye olde blog.

Korea was so much fun. We knew from having a 8 hour layover in Seoul last year, that it was going to be cold, but I think COLD was really an understatement. It was FREEZING. I don't think the weather ever got above 32 degrees the whole time we were in Korea.

Anyway, enough whining, let's get to it....Kevin and I had booked this trip on our own. After visiting the various tour/travel agencies on island as well as on the bases, we figured it would be best for us to create our own trip. The U.S. dollar is very strong against the Korean won right now, so instead of staying at budget hotels, we decided to put up the cash and stay in 5 star hotels.

We flew to Incheon airport in Seoul from Naha on Asiana airlines. The total flight was about 2 and half hours. Upon arriving in Seoul, we took an airport shuttle bus into the city where our hotel was located. Our first hotel was the Sofitel, located in the Myeong Dong district of the city. We decided to stay in this area of Seoul because we wanted to be within walking or subway riding distance to some of the more popular tourist sites. Thankfully, our hotel was just a 5 minute walk to a subway stop. **As a sidenote, I should add that after the ski resort, we spent one last night in Seoul. We stayed in the Gangnam district at the Ritz Carlton (I think I prefer the Gangnam district more as there were more restaurants and shops there.)**

Here's a photo of a billboard we found in the subway. Western fast food chains in Asia including McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King usually customize their menu to meet local tastes. How would you like to try a Honey Potato Burger? Sounds appetizing, no?

On our first full day, we decided to visit one of the many palaces in Seoul, the Gyeonbok Palace (also known as the Gyeongbokgung Palace). This palace was originally built in 1394 by King Taejo. Unfortunately part of the palace was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Thankfully, it was restored during the reign of Daewon-gun in 1867 and still stands today for tourists to see. The palace also has two museums on site.

We felt real sorry for the guards they had dressed in Joseon era costumes. This is one job I don't think I'd want. Standing outside in the COLD!?!?! No, thanks.

The palace is quite cool, it's amazing to see the Korean architecture.

We also went to a traditional Korean village where several houses were built from the Joseon era. Looking at the houses, you can sort of imagine what life must have been like for the people living in that time period. Koreans have a underfloor heating system called "ondol" which uses direct heat from a fire to the underside of a masonry floor. Of course, during this time, the only way to heat the floors was to keep a fire burning outside of the house. So one had to run outside and stoke the fire to keep the floors (which were made from stone) heated. The exhaust from the fire is vented to the outside.

These clay pots below are used by Koreans for kimchee and soybean paste. Usually the kimchee and soybean paste is placed into the pots and then buried in the ground to ferment.

Kevin and I had a funny encounter while we were in the Korean village. We were approached by a small crowd of Korean elementary students who wanted to use their English with us. There's nothing like having 10 to 15 Korean kids yelling "Hello!" They were so fascinated by us "fair skin" people, they asked to have a photograph taken with us. Perhaps because we live in Okinawa (where there is a large foreign population) we haven't had this sort of thing happen to us. However, I certainly didn't expect to stick out as much as we did in Korea!

Well, I'll post some more photos from the rest of our trip soon! That's about all I can handle for tonight.




Megan said...

Re standing out in Korea. Same thing happened to us at the Korean village when we visited in 90/91. It was very odd given all the military presence in Korea that we're of such interest there.

Erin said...

Hi! I’m the Community Manager of We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about Korea, and we think that yours is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from blogs like yours (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at
Thanks! :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails