It’s been about a week since I got back from South Korea with Shane, and I still can’t even believe I was there! It was such a great experience, and one that I don’t take for granted, as I know it’s not a country most people will get to see in their lifetime. But I highly recommend going if you get the chance, because there is an untouched beauty there that is really worth seeing. Plus, there’s a ton of history, great food and things to do. I experienced so much in just a week, so most of this post will be pictures, as it’s the only way I was able to capture what it was really like there.
We bounced around different areas of Seoul and South Korea seeing old friends and experiencing as much of the culture as we could. It was interesting to me how different the neighborhoods were throughout Seoul. Despite not being able to say more than “hello” and “thank you”, people were very nice to this clueless white girl. I had multiple old Korean ladies tell me I was pretty, and one even help me fix my hair that was falling out of my bun! But I was able to practice reading the Korean Shane taught me by reading every sign possible, often getting weird stares from people wondering why I’m reading the cell phone advertisement on the subway. We had a couple of rainy days, but overall it was sunny and 60’s, which was pleasant for walking around the city.
One of my favorite parts of the trip though was seeing my man back in his element. Shane lived in South Korea for 5 years, and I was finally able to see why this country is so special to him. I enjoyed hearing him speak the language and have conversations with various people, and was thankful he was there to translate for me and get me around. We also found a few awesome holes-in-the-wall that I likely wouldn’t have ventured into without him there. I had my own personal tour guide, which is a rare privilege. I could tell he missed it a lot, and I was happy to be able to experience a trip back to relive his past with him.
Walking around Myeongdong on our first day
We visited Bongeunsa Buddhist temple in Gangnam. There were colored lanterns at a few of the temples we visited to honor Buddha’s upcoming birthday.
Bukchon was the highlight of the trip for me. It was such a cool little town with shops, restaurants, history and amazing views.
We visited the cutest tea house with a beautiful garden for a traditional Korean tea service. I had a delicious lotus flower tea and Shane had an ice flowers tea, all while noshing on some small rice and sesame treats.
After tea we had a wonderful meal of spicy octopus over rice with sprouts and sesame leaves (mine), pork bulgogi wrapped in lettuce and sesame leaves (Shane’s) and accompaniments of pickled quail eggs and mushrooms, dried anchovies, noodles, cabbage and seaweed soup, kimchi and brown rice tea.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was absolutely beautiful. The backdrop of an old historic palace against the city skyline was really cool to see. We also got to see some beautiful cherry blossom trees in bloom. The detail that was put into these palaces is quite remarkable.
Of course we had to hit up a noraebang (karaoke) with some friends!
We strolled around Namsangol Hanok Village, where we could see a bit of the history of Seoul. Old buildings gave way to a beautiful park with cherry blossoms, streams and gardens. We even got to see the location of the 1,000 year time capsule!
We saw some interesting hotels as we walked around Haeundae…
On one of the rainy days we visited Beomeosa Temple in Busan, and we both agreed the rain added a serenity and calmness to the already peaceful temple. It’s an active temple, so people were in several of the meditation houses, praying and meditating. We saw plenty more colored lanterns for Buddha’s birthday and some beautiful architecture. We came across one area with stacked stones and trinkets left as gifts. So we stacked some stones of our own, and then sat quietly for a bit to take in the beauty of this place.
Our last night in Korea ended with a walk along the Cheonggyecheon stream in the middle of Seoul, all lit up in pretty colors at night.
As sad as we were to leave, we had the good fortune of flying over Alaska on the way home and seeing some truly breathtaking snow-capped mountains.
Seeing South Korea was something I never dreamed I’d ever do, but I’m so glad I got the chance to visit a country so unlike America. It’s really eye-opening to learn about another culture by being immersed in it, and I think many of us can learn a lot from getting out into the world and seeing new places. There’s beauty all over the world, so go see it before you can’t!