Seoul, South Korea
June 23, 2015
On our final leg of the trip we arranged for a long layover in what would be our final country, South Korea. We took off from Hong Kong and landed bright and early the next morning in Seoul, eager to explore our final city, before finally heading home to Seattle.
Obtaining our visas on arrival, we put our carry-on backpacks in the airport’s bag storage. With the sunrise we boarded the metro rail for downtown Seoul. The city is very large, and the airport is actually quite some distance away, built on an island. The area has a well planned out public transportation system, making getting around quite easy.
Our first order of business on our single busy day in Seoul, after coffee of course, was to tour the Changdeokgung Palace. The palace is a large sprawling complex of walled off courtyards and a maze of corridors and traditionally built and well maintained buildings and gardens blending into the landscape. All is well preserved and easy to get lost in.
After admiring the palace grounds at our leisure, we walked to the nearby Insa-dong neighborhood for some Korean Barbecue at a restaurant called Cha Iyagi. We are both fans of Korean BBQ at home, as there are plenty of good restaurants around Seattle, but we could not pass up the opportunity to try it in Korea. For those who don’t know what Korean BBQ is, it is typically an assortment of well marinated raw meats, typically beef, which you can cook yourself over a charcoal or gas grill, usually built right into the table. It is also generally served with an assortment of fermented vegetables called kimchi. If you have never tried it, we both highly recommend it. The bulgogi is the best!
After lunch we toured a dried fish market, a long street lined with odorous stalls selling nothing but dried fish and seaweed. If you’re not a fan of the smell, we don’t recommend it. Next we toured a local food and farmers market, before heading downtown.
We did not have much more time to spend in the city, as we needed to soon head for the airport, but we toured City Hall. The new building offered some good views over the rest of the city, stretching out in every direction as far as you can see.
Despite our zombie-like state in Seoul due to lack of sleep on the overnight flight, we enjoyed having the ability to explore a new city and country during our layover. From City Hall we hopped back on the subway for the ride back to the airport. After 15 months abroad, and 25 countries visited, we boarded our final 10 hour flight to Seattle!