If I consider the Seoul trip in isolation, it probably wasn’t that great. We didn’t actually see much, and the weather was crazy hot. It was 36 degrees with humidity through the roof.
But, thinking about it in light of the fact that I’d already spent an amazing week in Seoul with Pete, it was a really nice trip. One of the highlights for me is that I got to spend some quality time with my two Korean buddies. Don’t get me wrong, I love my group and all, but they’re all rather….strongly opinionated characters. So when they all said they had other plans for the day, I was quite happy.
We were dropped off at Gyeongbokgung Palace where we took a group photo. From there, we had free time until 9pm. The others all went their separate ways, and Hansol, Seongeun and I joined up with a few other groups to wander.
JP went off to shop, meet friends and get a haircut, Martin is a lawyer so he wanted to see the Supreme Court (turns out it was shut – but it was about an hour round trip to get there and find that out) and Candace was meeting an old friend.
Moving around Seoul on a hot day, with about 15 people is not ideal, so after we had lunch together, my buddies and I decided to split up from the others in Insadong. A few other girls joined us, and Hansol was able to find my favourite tea shop / tea museum in Insadong, tucked away in a hidden alley. We ordered the same things that Pete and I had last time – a green tea bingsu, a black tea bingsu and a plate of black sesame rice cakes. The interior of the shop was cool, quiet and classy. Exactly what we needed after the hectic morning.
My buddies and I then split away from the other girls, and browsed Insadong. Before we were finished, Martin showed up with a friend and we continued to browse around together in the shopping district.
In the evening, Hansol found an awesome little craft beer bar where we settled in to have some beer (some of the choices were: mango, grapefruit and peach. Peach was soooo good!) and chips, and were joined by JP and his Korean friend who used to live in Perth.
That evening we hopped back on our buses and headed to our accommodation (don’t let the pics fool you – there was no TVs in the dorms). We were told that the doors get locked at 12pm, and anyone arriving after would miss out on the following day’s DMZ activity. Of course people still got all dressed up and went out – but I just went to the local convenience store, bought alcohol and snacks and settled into the communal area. Within about 10 mins, people started to join and it turned into a massive slumber party (with ghost stories and knocking on doors that freaked everyone out – I felt like I was 15 years old again).
On Sunday, we went to the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea (DMZ), a train station that was set up to facilitate some trade between the two countries, and we also walked down into one of the 4 tunnels they’ve found from North Korea to South Korea – it’s believed these tunnels were dug to set off some explosions near Seoul.
In the evening, we were meant to go to a folk village I think, but it got washed out so we went back to Gwangju (4 hours by bus) and my group ate near the dorms and chilled.