Sunday, September 12, 2010

First impressions of South Korea

We landed in South Korea a good 25+ hours after leaving good ol' Liverpool city. Our flight here was awesome, I love long haul flights, movie madness and being fed every few hours, good times! On board our flight from Dubai to Seoul we realised all the Asian passengers were eating some red pastey type stuff with every meal. We were rather curious as to what it was but were not offered any so left well alone, wise old us.

Following arrival at Incheon airport, I realised I probably should have looked at the Korean language book in my hand luggage a little more- but it seemed so difficult. However, we made it to our hostel easily enough, a sweaty sleepy mess.

For the 7 days that followed we tried to travel about Seoul and become accustomed to the local culture and more importantly the etiquette of this Confucian country. I'm writing this 7 months on so I may be brief.

Our stay in Seoul was spent exploring the palaces:

Temple Guards- They do a show everyday, unless the weathers too cold.
Snowy palace in Seoul

Trying Korean foods that made us doubt our desires for such things, pork cutlet in what tasted like chocolate and strange fish water soup :S we then resorted to such things as a konglish breakfast and pizza from 'pizza school' not bad although the cheese was slightly debatable.

Whilst in Seoul we also visited 'Lotte World' an indoor and outdoor theme park, owned by Lotte. Lotte is huge in Korea and owns a variety of business from upmarket malls including supermarket, designer cosmetics and designer clothing ranges, as well as fast food joint Lotteria.

The theme park was great although it was baltic and got very busy later in the day as it was a national holiday. There was even shows from some of the characters famous in korea.

Lotte Theme Park
We also went on the highly advertised trip to the DMZ. The trip includes a bus ride to the border between North and South Korea, stop off at Korean war museum, some time at an observatory point of North Korea and a tour through the biggest tunnel built by North Korea to invade the South:

This is the wall that South Korean families post messages and letters for relatives missing in North Korea.

Two S.Korean soldiers at the train station built in hope that one day North and South will be one again.

Whilst in Seoul we also had our first experience of Hanbok -Korean traditional dress. This type of dress is no longer very common in Korea however traditional Koreans may still wear Hanbok for formal occasions or celebrations such as weddings:

Hanbok- Korean traditional dress.

We also encountered our first taste of Korean spirit 'Soju'.  Soju tastes like a very weak vodka, it is usually drank neat and results in the worst hangover imaginable the next day- think nail through the head pain. Soju also usually leads to Norebang- karaoke room. These are very popular in Korea following all nights out. However, they are much less embarrassing than actual karaoke, your in a room with only friends and rather drunk-its all for the giggles. 

Our first Norebang experience

Well our time in Seoul came to an end and we packed up nervous to begin our training with EPIK.

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