Before I get going, I was just listening to Gwen’s experience of the DMZ and I have a tip: Do the USO trip to the DMZ, not another tourism site. It sounds like she really got to see a lot.
In a nutshell, this is the first few days of Gwen being here:
First few days:
Sunday, Gwen arrives and impresses me greatly with her apparent lack of fatigue. (Though as I found out, the journey did manage to tire her out a little bit…she slept even as I went down my loft stairs the next morning. That hasn’t happened since. Every morning after that she’s successfully woken up before me by at least 30 minutes to an hour).
She decides to share her cheese and knäckebröd with me, but can’t get in her suitcase. It’s one of those really nice ones with the internal lock. Apparently it had gotten scrambled in transit, and it was two trips to the supermarket to get things to cut and saw with as well as my person standing on top of the bag in order to break it open. Samsonite apparently does good work on their bags!
Tuesday was fun. We went to a Korean barbecue restaurant, which Gwen appeared to enjoy 🙂 Then we went to Noraebang with Caitlin and Jessa, which was fun-ness to the extreme. Diane came in a little later, but that was around when Gwen and I left.
Wednesday was Memorial Day here in South Korea. Everyone had the day off, so I figured we’d be safe crossing something off of Gwen’s list that was notin Seoul: Hwaseong Fortress. It was a very warm day for me, the office dweller. We went all along the wall, managing to accidentally go through the opposite side of where we meant to come in. It was soooo hot. We had not yet found the palace part of it, and I was dying inside. We passed this museum the first time, and I had said that we didn’t need to see it because it probably just had information about stuff we were looking for. Hahaha, the second time we passed it a little while later (and a little more lost) apparently I said “Look! A Museum!” and that was when Gwen knew I was saying I needed to sit down and eat something…and recover from the heat. Too funny. Ultimately we did find the palace, and got to dress up in some Korean traditional clothes (though this time it wasn’t free, unlike the Hanok Village. Fortunately the cost was low). After some difficulty in figuring out how to take a bus home (apparently they don’t sell return tickets back to Incheon very often during the day, beceause we had to take a semi-public bus home instead of the prepaid version that only stops at major bus terminals). Pooped and done for the day at this point, I was. I did see this Chinese-style restaurant I’d been to once before, and here Gwen tried Jajangmyeon, a Chinese-Korean dish invented right here in Incheon’s Chinatown!
Thursday was somewhat more low-key. Thanks to the help of my co-teacher (and the fact that I was ready to protest if Ii didn’t get the vacation days…seeing as during summer vacation I only have the possibility of 4 days off and we’re supposed to have 9) Having already been to Gyeongbokgung twice, I decided to let Gwen see that when she went and did her one of her big solo-in-Seoul days. We went to the Chang Deok Gung Palace, which is a good deal smaller than Gyeongbokgung. Apparently this one was built as the result of a murder. How typical of royalty. 😛 Then we traveled down to Coex Mall, which is this huge underground shopping mall. So big! We visited the Kimchi museum there, which was nice but extremely small given the HUGE emphasis that Koreans put on their beloved national food. After that I thought Gwen should get the experience of the Korean cinema, so we flipped a coin and saw Men in Black 3. It was actually funny!! I enjoyed it. The alternative was this Korean movie that looked funny but would not have had English subtitles to we would have only understood the slapstick parts.
Weekend adventures at Yeosu World Expo 2012
Friday we got up a little later than the other two mornings. We went to a place near me called Pancake Heaven which actually has a western style all day brunch dealio. It was delicious! My allergies had been killing me so we directed our path next to Gil hospital. After the requisite waiting and waiting and starting by Korean kids, I was admitted to see the doctor. He showed me via camera the inside of my nose, and I was able to see that I have a deviated septum on the left nostril….(no surprise I suppose). Koreans have quite the technology. He gave me medicine which has helped somewhat, but I’m about to return to taking the American nasal spray I bought. Let’s hope something works! I can’t even tell you how many times I have had to blow air through my Eustachian tube this week. After all that excitement we went and got cutesy pictures done in Korean photobooth. We mostly chilled until that evening, and that’s when we caught the Adventure Korea bus to Yeosu.
I was surprised to see three of my friends had signed up for the trip! We drove all through the night. When we arrived, I was just beginning to feel good and sleepy again before we had to do a short climb/hike up to see the sunrise. Instead, we were treated with a gradual lightening of the sky. It was still nice to see the Buddhist temple though.
Next we headed to the Yeosu World Expo 2012 (all caps ’cause it’s important). They had one hour earlier admission than usual which was cool. Our tour group had paid for two things to be reserved, so they picked the Aquarium (which worked on a reservation-basis only) and the Robotics Demonstration. The aquarium was just fair to be honest…the Busan Aquarium is better. The Robotics demonstration was actually really cool, but too short and there were too many people even in the tiny groups they allowed inside at a time. I was about to stand by a podium to watch one of the displays, and a late middle-aged couple sets their seats right in front of me. The woman looks back as if to call her friend up to her, and I made sure to stand firm. Some things I will never understand about Korea, such as older women having absolutely no care for whether or not they block you, elbow you, or run you over. The same can be said about korean delivery-people on motorbikes, so c’est la vie I guess. anyway.
Gwen and I managed to visit around 14 country’s pavilions(Peru, Thailand, Japan,China, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Argentina, USA, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) , which I considered to be a lot, though our friends had gone through them quickly and visited nearly all of them. (There were so many apparently, over 30!) The US pavilion was cool, but I would have liked it to be more interactive than it was. The Kazakhstan pavilion was pretty extensive, and they were really putting the pressure out for people to vote for them to host the 2017 World Expo. See you guys in Kazakhstan in 2017! It was a lot of fun, despite not having slept the night before. I would love to go to another world expo, though I’m not sure whether or not I would travel all the way around the world for one unless it was on bucket list of countries to visit before I die.
That evening, there was a Kpop concert. Gwen really wanted to say she’d had the experience, so she got her camera out and was ready while we waited. Over 30 minutes after it was supposed to start (with the beginning dance act and everything out of the way) the stars finally came out to sing, but Gwen and I barely stayed there through part of one song. It was too crowded and Ajummas and Ajoshis (middle aged men and women) were elbowing us and walking through us right and left. It was a headache, and we grabbed a quick fast food dinner. Afterward was this water and lights show near the stage. It was quite pretty, though there was a storyline that we didn’t follow at the time because it was all in Korean.
Sunday we all woke up from our first sleep since Thursday and took the bus to a hiking area of Jirisan. We set out on a trail and were given a little over an hour to hike as we pleased. Unfortunately, it was still very foggy and so views weren’t that good. But it was an invigorating walk and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.
This was a great trip! 🙂