Finishing packing was very daunting as the suitcases were emptied and rearranged an additional two or three times. In the end I was able to cram my life into two fifty pound suitcases, a carry on bag, a backpack, and a small purse. All of it was heavy as hell.
My mom dropped me off at the airport and it was a brief goodbye as the line for the security check was extremely long and slow moving. I slept for a bit on my first flight and met up with my fellow Epik teachers J and S at San Francisco. It was pretty cool as we recognized each other almost instantly and we were able to all sit together on the plane to Seoul. The plane ride was long as usual but we met up with two other Epikers at the airport. I checked my luggage at the airport for five days for 90,000 won which wasn’t bad. It was awesome not lugging the extra bags around with me.
The five of us took a taxi from the airport to the guesthouse in Dongdaemoon (동대문). Check in was on the fifth floor and our room was on the third floor. Unfortunately, there is no elevator in this hostel so my legs have been getting a lot of exercise. After dropping our stuff off we decided to head out with the others who have arrived and went to Itaewon (이태원). We went to a sports bar which and had drinks for awhile. I grabbed street food with some of the girls as we had not had dinner yet. It was delicious. The area is known for having a lot of expats. I got home with a small group around 3:30am after we tried getting a taxi for 45 minutes in the cold. I was so grateful to climb into a warm bed.
On Tuesday, we went to find breakfast in the area around the hostel but not much was open so we found a shop that served soup and ramyun. We explored the area after and ate hide ok (호떡) for a snack. Its a fried pastry like thing with sugar and nuts inside. Later in the day we went to Insadong(인사동) the traditional Korean market area in Seoul. No one really bought souvenirs but we did buy face stuff and B.B. cream. After a nap, a large group. Of us went to dinner across the street for Korean BBQ. We all headed together as a group to Hongdae(홍대) an are near Hongik university which is known for clubs, a younger crowd and indie music scene. We took five taxi cabs over and I was in charge of one of them since I know how to speak a little Korean. We had to stop and ask directions, and one girl practiced asking while I listened.
The first thing we did was to get cocktails in a bag and drink it on the street. Drinking on the street is legal in Korea. We then went to a club promoter who offered free drinks for everyone but the group was split up inside the crowded space so we all didn’t get that free drink. The bartenders blew whistles to the music and danced at the same time. So sometimes the drinks were a bit slow coming out. Our next stop was a place called Suzie q’s and it is a chill bar with a DJ that plays records the whole night. He had an extensive collection and a lot of oldies were played that we all sung along too. Deciding to switch to a faster pace scene we headed over to gogo’s which played a mix of hip hop and pop. The bucket drinks were great and everyone had a good time. We left the club at 5:45am and grabbed a burrito from a street cart. We were able to take the subway back when it opened at 6am(it closes at midnight).
I didn’t sleep well but I decided to head out with a group to chunggyechun (청계천) it’s a man made river in Seoul and it was nice to stroll through it. We ended up near gwanghwamoon (광화문) and went to kyobo books to show the extensive book selection. We did get a bit separated as I wanted a coffee and a few others wanted a cigarette so to avoid stares of the girls smoking in the street we went off. It was nice to sit and relax we later had BBQ again in Insadong and then made our way back to the hostel. I was in bed by 9:30 pm…felt like an old lady . A large group went out again and were out until early morning so I’m glad I decided to stay in.