It is impossible for me to adequately sum up my trip to Seoul when I have so many emotions crowding my heart. Let’s just say I did not want to leave. Perhaps that in and of itself, sums it up.
My time in Seoul provided so many amazing memories starting with my taxi ride from Incheon through the narrow streets of Insadong searching for my hotel all the way to the hunt for a lost umbrella! I think I climbed a thousand or more stairs navigating the Seoul Metro and dodged rain drops while sightseeing. The highlight of my trip, however, was the night spent outside the West Gate of the Defense Media Agency, waiting for Rain, and the following morning when I saw him walk through that gate. In the days that led up to that moment and the days that followed, one thing was for sure, it was that event that set the tone for my entire visit and put me in the company of some amazingly beautiful people.
I learned indeed there was a Gangnam-style while walking the streets of Gangnam-du. And that style shares its frenetic pace, visual splendor and overall bling factor with New York City.
I discovered that South Koreans love…no, more like worship the coffee bean!!! In addition to the many Starbucks that line the streets of the various areas throughout Seoul, you could find a myriad of other shops from Angels In Us to Caffe Bene to Tom N Toms or the Twosome Place – it is no doubt that Seoul is an admirable coffee rival to Seattle!
I learned that the long history the US shares with South Korea is prevalent in the continued presence of US citizens living and working in Seoul or serving in the US military and stationed in Seoul. I did have the opportunity to walk the grounds of the Korean War National Museum. It was nicely situated directly across the street from DEMA. So being there put one in close proximity to Rain, well prior to July 10th, anyway!! The various statues on the grounds of the museum were awe-inspiring and simply amazing. I completely forgot to share these photos in a post because I actually was there the day before Sgt. Rain’s discharge. And the plan for that day changed from…let’s just check out the West Gate area to okay, we’re digging, in, camping out, and staying until the next morning! So I guess you can say I had other things on my mind!!
But these are worth sharing and if you visit Seoul, the museum worth checking out.
I found that it is not rude to push and shove your way in and out of a metro train, especially during rush hour and that it is every man, woman and child for themselves when it comes to grabbing a seat. I saw grown men push their way past ahjummas three times their age to grab a seat. And, it was all good. It was a pure pleasure to ride the Seoul Metro. Cool, high-tech, and clean…there is no better way to navigate Seoul, in my opinion.
I learned that language is no barrier and a smile goes a long way. I had a few taxi drivers howling with laughter when I was attempting to give them directions carefully copied and pasted to my iPhone in Korean and would invariably start out with a ‘jamkkanmanyo’ before going any further with my destination request!! Sometimes command of just one word in your vocabulary can be a life-saver!!
I surmised that there are simply never enough souvenirs with Rain’s likeness on them!! And that a second (empty) suitcase is probably a good idea to enter the country with!
Mostly, I discovered that Seoul was the perfect place to meet some extraordinary new friends. I never anticipated to connect with so many. In a way, I seem to have found a community of sorts. A community bursting and overflowing with fangirl vivacity! I have Rain to thank, completely. It was fantastic and wonderful and wild! I mean, who would have thought that spending an evening using Google Translate to communicate would yield perhaps some of the best moments of my entire visit?
Yes, Seoul had a charm all unto itself as a city, but it was the people I met along the way who will forever leave a lasting impression on me and connect me forever with my time spent there. Beautiful friends from the Philippines and Japan, Odette, Josie, Mikako and Mitch….
My K-pop compadres from Spain, Myriam and Marisol….
The ever-smiling and delightful Sevgi from Turkey (she’s sandwiched in the middle between Odette and I)….
My Seoul-sisters, Terry and Se Na! So much fun in Gangnam that night with these two!! Our mobile phones did most of the work but I credit Rain with his amazing unifying super powers for allowing us to communicate so easily. When the common denominator is Rain, there are no language barriers…just sayin’!!♥
As I reluctantly let go of Korean Standard Time and settle back into my daily routine here in the US, I look back at my time in Seoul with such love and fondness for a city and its people. I cannot wait to go back. I only scratched the surface of Seoul’s fabulousness – I think the city (and South Korea, itself) has a lot more to show me. So, I am definitely gearing up for Seoul – The Sequel!!♥