The tourists

Well the month that passed was really a great, fun-filled, action packed one (all between school… of course).

The chuseok holiday kindly awarded me the opportunity of being a tourist rather then ARC holder in Korea, which was great because I saw Korea ad its people through a somewhat different set of eyes. As you might already know (from reading my previous post), my mother was visiting from SA. She arrived on 26 September after a looooonnnggg and tiring flight. The night she arrived saw the start of all things wonderful. We managed to visit most (if not all) of the major tourist sites in Korea and I’m talking from Seoul N tower all the way to the Noryangjin Fish Market. Each obviously had its own memorable moments which will last beyond a lifetime.

The Friday night of the chuseok holiday started our shopping extravaganza (addiction). We kicked butt at the Paju Premium Outlets and afterwards got our hands on the most DELICIOUS handmade burgers Korea has to offer (in my opinion). We dined at a cute little place called Burger Hunter Plus.. .And luckily for us the kind and friendly front desk guy spoke a little English. We finally headed back to Geumchon to lay down our tired heads in preparation for the following days activities.

When I first arrived to Korea there were many places in and around Seoul that I was fortunate enough to explore. One of the places which left a lasting impression on me had to be Insadong. Hence, first on our agenda was a trip to this impressive, beautiful and unique street which is filled with so much vibrancy. We walked the street, shopped, ate and experienced all that we could… After day-tripping we headed on out to take a quiet stroll around when we found ourselves in Gwanghwamun Square… AWESOME sums it up best… as the experiences there could only be lived.

Next we hit up The Korean Folk Village… Yupp all the way in Yongin… boy oh boy was this a trip or what… An average travel time of about 7 hours to get there and then back home (as we braved the chuseok traffic craziness) DRAINED us… but this did not get us down… It was totally worth the experience. To see Korea from where it started to the technologically savvy hub it is today was truly the greatest site for me. The village was packed with locals dressed in the traditional Hanbok and babies dressed their cute little dresses and hairpieces… it was quite the sight to see. We headed back home starved as there wasn’t much Hindu friendly food to be found at the village… Mr Pizza gladly welcomed us though… we topped up our tanks and headed towards the subway.

Monday saw us head into Seoul to visit COEX Mall. And thanks to the holidays we got to watch a traditional Korean performance about the Korean Thanksgiving Holiday… and managed to squeeze in a little shopping too. The aquarium was overcrowded… but a change of scenery at restaurant Pho Mein, provided a rest stop on our days touring. We then headed to Seven Luck Casino…So different from gambling back in SA…Anyway we managed to lose ourselves some KRW… not too much though, we did not plan on breaking our bank balances. We ended of the day with our first tasting of Baskin Robins 33… which I fear has now turned into an addiction. 😀

The following day we ventured into Itaewon, had ourselves a quick bite to eat and hit the streets. There’s so much to see and do there, but one thing we could leave without doing was have ourselves some cocktails… which we did and man were they yummy and packed with a load alcohol.We traveled back to Geumchon for some kimbap, soju and good times with friends of mine who I met here in Korea.

Next on the to do list was to visit Seoul N Tower. We ‘subwayed’ and cable-car’d ourselves there late noon… There were several traditional performances and a flash-mob of teddy bears dancing to Gangnam Style… Yes, that’s right folks… teddy’s “Gangnam-ing”. Following those antics, we headed into the Observatory just before sunset… what a beautiful sight to see. Seoul really looked its best from way up high. Yet another moment the camera could not capture. ***Still Breathless***… We departed from the tower and headed in the direction of Myeongdong… somehow we ended up at Shinsegae Department Store (to do more shopping) and then back to Myeongdong to look around for a bit.

The next day we hit down the Noryangjin fish market and gee wizz did it hit us back. Okay it was a little smelly, but that comes with the situation right. Anyway all in all it was a great site. I probably saw crabs the size of fully grown husky’s and prawns the size of anacondas! It was a site I tell you. We got ourselves a good deal on some seafood (along with great service) and we headed back to Geumchon… cooler bag in hand… hoping we got all that fish back home safely. That night mom got to try the awesome Dduk Galbi that Geumchon has to offer. Along with the over consumption of more soju… I would say the day ended on a “high”!

A few days later we headed onto the Han River Cruise just before the Seoul fireworks festival. A beautiful site that pictures or videos could never capture It was experience that had to be lived. We were engulfed with the color that filled the nights sky. Soon after we were crushed by all the people trying to see the same thing we were. Koreans at that moment were not the most awesome people i thought they were. Never the less the experience was one we will remember for a lifetime. Next year however look forward to watching the you tube videos and skipping the crowds.

In the days that followed we visited Gyeongbokgung palace, experienced the closing ceremony of the Hi! Seoul Festival and munched at the best salad bar on this planet Maru Shabu!

Other sites we got to see was the Gwangjang Market (where everything looks the same). Mom also found the gem of Indian cuisine in Korea Saffron Resturant, a must for anyone who is missing that home-styled taste of food that they can only get in their mom’s kitchen.

October 24th we trekked to Everland. Korea’s very own version of Disneyland (apparently). It definitely did not disappoint I loved every site around me. I loved it even more when mom and I were getting out guts smushed around on the “Lets twist” attraction. Our trip to Everland was like the highlight of it all for me. So much so that I plan of getting myself annual membership and living there every weekend! (How I wish).

During moms last week here, we managed to get as close to South Africa again as we possibly could. We headed out to Braai Republic with the most awesome co-teacher (my co-teacher) anyone could ask for. We knocked back a few (too many) tequila’s… had ourselves some awesome food (even a poitjie) and to end it all off… sampling the BEST milk tart the world has to offer. Even better then I’ve tasted back home (Durban).

So the final weekend dawned on us and I planned on going all out for this one. It was the last weekend my mom would ever see Korea in her life again (she doesn’t plan on visiting or holidaying here again).

So what better way to be splashy and pretend to be a millionaire ( I lie I wasn’t pretending, I really felt like one ha ha ha) then to head to Gangnam, get pampered the entire day at a luxurious day spa, afterwards feeling so relaxed that we couldn’t return to Geumchon, so we had to check-in at an amazing hotel after… 9pm without any luggage…. and starving for some ” Gangnam Style” galbi.

We painted the town red enjoyed all the soju we could (again) and headed out. Soon followed a Nanta show, a flower festival extravaganza and some de-stressing shopping at Coex Mall. Man did we lived the life that weekend. And even though the result of it all may have been a broken bank balance… it was all TOTALLY worth it.

The End

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