Justin and I had the pleasure of going Korea to visit my Sister, Heather, and her two boys, Quade and Zane, in the March of 2014. We used the excuse of her moving back and Quade’s high school graduation to get back over there. The goal was to also get my Mom and Jack to Korea. It took some careful planning and the ‘luck’ of delayed flights to get us all on the same plane from San Fransisco to Seoul. We stayed in a wonderful Airbnb in the heart of Sunae-Dong, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-d0. Dinner for the 1st night was, of course, fried chicken.
Day 2: Seohyeon / Gangnam
Heather had some errands in Seohyeon so of course we had to tag along. After lunch, the family broke off to take care of pre-graduation tasks and Justin and I hopped a subway to Gangnam. The mission for Gangnam: Visit the Samsung D’light store and purchase a 360 Camera. Mission accomplished and at a bargain price (compared to the US listed price). Overall, we gained over 5 hours of 360 video and we can’t wait to share the highlights with you! The family found us in Gangnam for a dinner of what? Pizza!
Day 3: Quade’s Graduation, Korea International School, Seongnam-si
We enjoyed every moment of sitting in the hot sun to watch Quade, now a young man, graduate from high school. So proud of all of his accomplishments and we were honored to be able to share that moment with him. Dinner, Korean BBQ in Sunae.
Day 4: Insa-Dong / Tapgol Park / Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
Justin and I went to Insadong during our last trip and it was definitely a place that we wanted to get back to. The streets are lined with street food and shops, which we knew mom would love. Most of all, we wanted to have noodles and makkoli (rice wine). We also wanted to get back to the Jogyesa Buddhist Temple. The feeling of calm is overwhelming, especially with the prayers/songs coming from the temple and the prayer lanterns remaining from Buddha’s birthday celebration. A lovely Korean woman gave me a handmade lotus flower with the kind words ‘Go Home, Be Well’.
Day 5: AKA = A thorough exploration of Seoul’s mass transit systems. Dongdaemun / Jongno / Namdaemun shopping / Itaewon shopping & Dinner
In Dongdaemun, we came out of the subway and explored the outside of the newly build Design Plaza. We then wandered to the Heunginjimun or the East Gate. This is one of the 8 gates in Seoul which was part of the Fortress Wall. We then strolled down the streets of the textiles district to have lunch at an open-air food market. Hopped onto a subway to Namdaemun for lots of shopping, then more transit to Itaewon for shopping and Korean-Mexican food at Vatos Urban Tacos. The margaritas made accommodating for mom’s bum knee worth it (We didn’t know that it would be so tricky navigating the subways to find escelators or elevators or finding short walks from bus stations to our desired destinations).
Day 6: Namhansanseong / Our last night in Korea
Mom decided that her knee needed a break and the parents decided to stay close to the Airbnb. Justin and I decided to use this chance to get out of the city, sort of, and visit the mountain fortress city of Namhansanseong. The fortress was build in the 17th century as an emergency capital and was built around a town which sits 480meters above sea level. On a clear day, you could see into Seoul perfectly. However, we didn’t go there on a clear day. Justin and I had a lovely spicy chicken stew for lunch and made our journey back to Heather’s Dong for another round of Korean BBQ.
Mom and Jack stayed another week in Korea exploring and Heather and the boys flew back to the US shortly after, for good this time. It was hard leaving Korea knowing that we may not ever make it back in this lifetime. However, Justin and I had our next adventure awaiting us in Thailand.