Hot, Humid, Sunny, 80-90F
No visa needed
Currency: South Korean Won
After Sydney I took a flight to Seoul. Fourteen hours later I went through Manila, Philippines and finally made it to Seoul, South Korea AND got to my hotel. People are very nice when you look confused and just say, “English?”
I have always wanted to visit South Korea since it is half of me. My nationality is half Korean and half German. My Great-Grandfather was from N. Korea and escaped before the boarders were closed due to the Korean War. He immigrated to Honolulu, HI, where he was in an arranged marriage to my Great-Grandmother (S. Korean). Here is a picture of them with my Grandmother as a baby.
Ok back to the trip: I purchased a CITYPASS card for the metro system and found it very easy to get around. Everything was spoken and written in both Korean and English. I would suggest doing a screenshot of where you want to go written in Korean to make it easier to ask someone directions. I was able to connect to the wifi around the city in order to Google directions as well. Almost everything I did costs an entry fee, but wasn’t too expensive.
My first day I went to the Bongeunsa Temple. There was a monk singing and another playing a large drum while people prayed. It was free to walk around.
Namdaemun Market was huge. Make sure you go hungry and try some of the street vendors foods. Here you will find some good souvenirs and haggle prices.
The Seoul Tower was a long uphill walk, but worth the view. At the top there are thousands of locks people have left with their loves written on the locks. Food is also served at the tower too.
Cafe Bora is a very small shop that serves everything purple. All the ice creams are made out of purple sweet potatoes. I found out about this place from the Insider Food page on Facebook. It is tucked down a small alley.
Gyeongbokgung palace, Heungnyemun Gate, Jagyeonjeon Chamber
I made a reservation with the hotel I was staying at to go to the DMZ. It was pretty strict with where you could take pictures so most of these memories will just be in my head. It was a great experience and filled with so much history. I was able to get a picture of North Korea from the DMZ line. One other thing I found interesting is that all the men born in South Korea must serve the military for 2 years between the ages of 18-30. Women are allowed to volunteer to serve, but they must pass a psychological exam first (bc apparently you would be crazy to want to join the military). North Korea both men and women have to serve for 10 years.
Demilitarized zone (DMZ), 3rd Tunnel dug by the North Koreans to invade the South. Pictures weren’t allowed in the actual tunnel, but we got to walk it to the 1st barrier, North Korea past the DMZ
The DMZ was an area created by the UN after the war. After the war and the North and South split and created their boarders, the UN decided there should be a common area where both sides could meet at a seize fire. Both sides are prohibited from carrying weapons in this zone. This area is occupied by both the North and South and the Swiss and Americans are mediators when one side doesn’t like something the other side is doing.
After my return from the DMZ I went to the Korean War Museum. It was quiet as people showed respect for those who had fallen during the war. Outside the museum there were tanks and other large military vehicles that you could climb on.
My favorite foods that I ate were Korean BBQ and for dessert, Bingsoo. Bingsoo was big enough for two people, but that didn’t stop me from devouring it. It’s basically flavored shaved ice with a thick sauce and a scoop of ice cream. So so good.
Here are a few pictures that made me laugh. There are a lot of people who wear things/sell things that have English writing, but it doesn’t always translate correctly.