Posted by: CatherineD | September 30, 2009

Seoul 2009 – Day 2

It’s Thursday morning at 3:55 a.m. I’ll try to knock out the rest of my journaling now, since I don’t know when I will be able to post again.

On Day 2 (Tuesday in Seoul), we got up around 6 a.m., fully rested and ready for our big day. The beds are like boards (we have a room with twin beds), but they are amazingly comfortable.

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We had breakfast at the hotel, which was a very nice buffet with a variety of Korean, Japanese and Western style foods. My plate consisted mostly of Korean with a side of tater tots (Brian, always the comedian with his Napoleon Dynamite quotes – “Get your OWN tots!”).

After breakfast, it was time for the 15-minute urban hike to Eastern to meet Daniel for the first time. You can read about our first meeting in this post.

When we walked out of Eastern’s office, we were both grinning from ear to ear and Brian gave me a high-five (one of many on this trip)! THAT was our son!

Eastern Social Welfare Society

Eastern Social Welfare Society

We had the rest of the day to explore. We decided to try out the subway system and make our way to Namdaemun Market, the second largest shopping district in the country. If this was the second largest, I’d be afraid to see the first.

The market was made up of blocks and blocks of narrow streets and alleyways, jam packed with people, street vendors and shops. As packed as it was, there was still the occasional car or motorcycle that drove through, honking and somehow managing to part the sea of bodies. There were times when we were so deep into the chaos that we had no idea where we were or which direction we were facing, and the crowds and vendors went on and on as far as the eye could see in every direction. At every crossroads, one of us would say to the other, laughing, “Which way should we go now?” We would just randomly head off in a direction, and hope that we could eventually find our way home.

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Rice crispie treats?

Hey, are those rice crispie treats?

We shopped and shopped, looking at everything from traditional Korean foods to clothes, toys, dishes, towels – everything imaginable. For those of you that know me, can you believe that I didn’t buy anything? We did spend a lot of time in a huge store filled with children’s clothes. We found some really cute jeans that we wanted to buy for Daniel, but they all looked too narrow for our big boy. It was fun looking at all the cute little things.

Partway into our shopping, we were ready for lunch. Brian was feeling brave and wanted to sample some of the mysterious street fare, and I wanted no part of it (which was weird – usually I’m the more adventurous eater). All I could think of was that I would eat something bad and be sick for the rest of our trip. No thank you. We made our way out of the maze and found a Starbucks, where we enjoyed the air-conditioning and a couple sandwiches. Did I mention how HUMID it has been? The highs are in the 70s, but with the high humidity and sun beating down on us, it has been a lot warmer than we expected.

After lunch Brian wanted some kind of fried “dough dipped in brown sugar (his words exactly),” so we went back into the market and walked around until we found a woman making some fried donut things coated with sugar. He bought three, since the woman gave him such a smokin’ deal! (he wants to make it known that he only ate two of them – they weren’t that good – but I suppose good enough to eat two!)

We walked back to the subway station and got on the train back to our neighborhood – Hongik University. The subways and subway stations were very clean, easy to use and for the most part, orderly (unless it was rush hour, which we would discover on Day 3).

Back in the Hongik University area, we did more shopping and found a little wine bar/cafe where we sat on the front porch with a glass of cabernet and a plate of cheese, people-watching. The café was owned by a half Korean, half British man with a great beatnik vibe.

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Everyone on this trip has been soooo nice and helpful. In one little knick knack shop, a woman pointed at my half-empty bottle of water and offered to refill it for me – how nice is that? In a camera shop, while B was looking for a 300 mm lens for his Nikon, I sat down on a stool to rest. One of the guys came out with two glasses of orange juice to drink while we waited.

People are so encouraging when we try to use our two words – hello (ahn-yong haseyo) and thank you (kam-sam-ni-da). Their faces light up with a surprised smile and they sometimes say something that sounds like a little “Yaaay, good for you,” which makes us feel like – “cool, they can understand me!”

I just have to say that we LOVE this city. Throughout this process, I would read about the adventures of my blog friends who had been to Seoul, and the common sentiments were that they loved Seoul, loved Korea and it would always be a very special place for them.  I used to think, “That’s so sweet. They love the birth country of their child,” and I honestly wondered if they loved it just because it was where their child was from. Here I am, in Korea, and I totally get it now. This is an amazing place with amazing, beautiful people, and Brian and I are already looking forward to our next trip as a family.

B's monocle is actually a potato string that was wrapped around a piece of shrimp.

B's monocle is actually a potato string that was wrapped around a piece of shrimp.

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LOVE this city!

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Responses

  1. Yay! I’m so glad you get it! I can see why you might have thought that’s what people meant about “loving” Seoul and Korea but it really is such a wonderful city! And now you know for real. Glad you are having a great time. Do you get to see Daniel again before you pick him up to go home?

  2. Your posts are making me want to go to Seoul, and my child will be in Addis Ababa! 🙂 Sounds like a great city.

    • Kelly – Seoul is definitely a cool place, and I highly recommend a visit. However, I CANNOT WAIT to read about your adventures in Addis Ababa!

  3. have a safe trip back home, catherine!!

  4. I have a perma grin on for you two also!!
    Those sugar coated fried dough things sound like hantoks which are AMAZING! My fav street food from Seoul.
    Can’t wait for the next update!

  5. It’s sounds like you are having a wonderful time!

  6. I agree… until you are there, it’s hard to understand why it’s so wonderful. And yes, we’re all a little emotional when we are there… but if circumstances ever allow for a move or an extended stay there… I would go without hesitation. I’m loving following YOUR journey through Seoul though!

  7. Oh. I love this update. Thanks for this neat view of Seoul and your experience.

    And, I’ve got to meet this Brian of yours. He’s cracking me up!

  8. I’m so glad you’re finding what we’ve all found so lovable about Seoul. Adam and I are still (seriously) planning when/how we can stay there for an extended period (read: months or years!). We adored it.
    And I have to say that you’re missing out – the street food was some of the yummiest stuff we’ve EVER had. Stomach troubles be damned!
    Tell Brian I love the monacle.

  9. Yes, you are now in on our club of “Seoul lovers.” By that I mean those of us who LOVE Seoul…not that we are all lovers. Ha-ha!

    I also was worried we were going to get lost in that huge market. We paid no attention to what “gate” we entered … and frankly I’m amazed we found our way back to the subway. I was also always amazed we didn’t get hit by all the random scooters & motorcycles buzzing through the markets and on all sidewalks too.

    We bought a shirt for Baby D in that children’s clothing store you mentioned. So much of the clothing in there was sooooo cute and crammed into those tiny booths. The shirt we bought fits D right now…and probably not for long. There was a cute hat I wanted to buy, but DH didn’t think D would wear it. Just the other day DH said, “I wish we’d bought that hat you wanted to get.” It matches on DH wears…how cute would that have been? Oh well, we’ll find another one here.

    Glad you are having fun!!


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