Friday, October 12, 2018

So Seoul October 2018

Surprisingly there are direct flights from Vientiane to Seoul.  In fact there are three Korean airlines offering daily flights.  They do leave VTE at 10pm or close to midnight and arrive into Seoul between 5am and 7am [5 hours flying time] but that suited us to head up after work on Friday and be back early evening Tuesday.

In Vientiane we walked downtown for an early dinner, before using Loca, the local equivalent of Uber for the 1st time to get us out to the airport.  I managed to drop my APEC card somewhere before immigration, and only realised after I had been stamped out of the country.  But the officers let me wander back through the immigration hall and security screening where I found it lying in the middle of the walkway.  APEC card retrieved I went through screening and the guards smiled and waved me through to the waiting room.

At Incheon airport we picked up our wifi device, and checked our metro journey to the city.  Early morning on the train we had no problems getting a seat.  We checked into the hotel and proceeded to breakfast and then have a lie down for an hour or so.

“Refreshed” it was off into the lovely autumn temperatures of early 20s.

We wandered around Insadong, before spotting one of the recommended Manda dumpling chains.  We counted ourselves lucky to get a seat and by the time we left there was a line waiting for a place.  Dumplings and more dumplings, Buchon Handmade Dumplings were definitely handmade and definitely delicious.  So good we returned there for our final lunch.
Next door was the Ssamzigli Mall, an excellent collection of small boutique artisan shops.  At the top were some sculptures that delighted Andrew and a Poop cafe.  In Korea poop is considered lucky and this cafe has poop shaped cushions, cups of coffee in ceramic toilet cups and lots & lots of notes from previous customers written on poop shaped paper.  The coffee was suprisingly good.
Dinner was a Korean classic cuisine, Chicken and Beer.  Chimaek ("chi" for chicken and "maek" for maekju, Korean for beer) has become part of the food culture of the country – and for us it was an easy meal.  Andrew thought the bowls on each table for the discarded bones were a great idea, but this is unlikely to be implemented in our own daily lives.  

And I think they might have been a little distraught by both of us picking up our chicken pieces with our fingers, as well as with our forks and chopsticks.  We were the only people in the restaurant given a plastic glove to wear!  But we demolished a large plate of crispy tasty chicken.
Day 2 was much easier going after a good nights sleep.  We headed off to the very good National Museum of Korea. The top floor was very quiet we had it to ourselves. It was busier on the ground floor with children being given lessons about various subjects. A stunning place and recommended.  One of the fascinating exhibits was devoted to the Sinan Shipwreck of 1323, but only rediscovered in 1975 when local fishermen started catching pottery in their nets.  24,000 pieces of pottery, sandalwood, coins left China, probably destined for Japan, but ended up on the Korean sea-bed and later in the museum. 
 National museum
Andrew was particularly fascinated by the baby bath (bottom left of this picture) and the bell (right) which was made in 1010.
National museum2
Back into Itaewon, which has a strong foreigner history driven by the American Military base located there.  We walked alongside it on our way to a craft brewery for a beer and some Eggs Benedict for lunch.  After lunch we walked through the Namsan gardens and back to our hotel back in Insadong

After a rest on the bed we headed off to a traditional Korean BBQ.  The ladies looked after us turning our meat, telling us what to eat and being generally lovely. 

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