Seoul, South Korea
So I flew out of Bagan and arrived in Yangon for my late night flight to Seoul. I was exhausted so instead of spending the day wandering markets, I elected to get some sleep.
Around six, my driver and Jennifer (my original guide in Yangon) arrived and picked me up for the drive to the airport. We took a detour and walked the night market for about an hour and had a delicious dinner of from the street stalls (lots of shrimp, crab, veggies and bugs … I said no to the bugs).
My flight to Seoul was a bit rough because it was 5 hours in a chair overnight so by the time I arrived in Seoul I just wanted to clean up and get a little sleep before taking in some of the sights. Uh think again. The Marriott where I was staying could not have been more rude and unwelcoming. I finally got them to let me shower and clean up in the spa.
Once cleaned up, I left my luggage with the bellman and decided to visit the sites I had chosen: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Samcheongdong/Bukchon Hanock Village and Insadon.
I arrived in time for the English speaking tour of the palace and thoroughly enjoyed the visit and walk in the brisk air.
Next up was the Samcheongdon area where there are old Korean homes. However, a protest got in my way … literally. Everywhere I turned, I ran into lines of police. Apparently the Korean people were taking to the street again to demand the resignation of the President (some kind of corruption scandal), and the police were planning for a million people to march. Unfortunately, the Korean homes were near the While Palace (the home of the President) so I ended up bobbing and weaving around police lines and getting lost. Eventually a nice tourist guide (they are all over the place and hired by the government to help tourists) showed me the way up the hill to the homes.
Once I climbed the hill, I wandered up and down the alleys past these really interesting and old homes.
By now I was rather hungry so I headed towards the Insadon, which is the home of the Korean art market and a myriad of restaurants, stalls and street food. Once there, I immediately stopped at the first Korean pancake stand, bought and order and devoured them. Uh, yep. Was a little hungry.
I wandered into a few shops and …. score found a Christmas ornament. With my little prize safely inside a bag, I wandered a few more streets, grabbed some more street food and then decided I had had enough.
By now, the streets were filled with protesters and it was making it impossible to walk around. And as if this was not enough, there was not a cab to be had. So … I walked the two plus miles back to my hotel in my exhausted state leaving the chanting, air horns and speakers behind me.
Once checked into my hotel, I showered (again), and flipped on the TV. The demonstrations were massive. So instead of going on my food tour that I had planned for the night, I simply stayed in the hotel, went to the bar upstairs and had a fabulous serving of Korean barbequed chicken. And with that, I went to bed.
When I woke up the next morning, it was close to the end of breakfast. In fact, they were pulling the serving dishes away from me as I was trying to put food on my plate. At this point, I was really not digging the hotel.
Checkout was at noon and I did not have to be to the airport until 4 so I wandered the streets around my hotel and came to the conclusion that Seoul is one big shopping mall. Every block contained some form of shopping center or walk up mall. Not a fan of this city. My only regret is that I didn’t get up early, find a driver and have him or her take me to the DMZ.
Anyway, it was too late for that now. I went back to the hotel, had them order me a cab and with that I headed to the airport. My trip had come to an end, and I was entirely happy to leave Seoul.