**Disclaimer** I am in Seoul, South Korea. I am going to update with MY experiences and MY opinions on MY trip. I am in no way an expert on S. Korea or their culture so please take this as what it is: MY personal travel diary of what I experienced.
Hey dudes! I'm writing to you from the future! 14 hours ahead of the central time zone! The flight to Japan was LONG and mind-numbing (or leg-numbing to be more correct!) I did sleep about 6 hours on the plane, ate 3 meals, and watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Whip It, Where The Wild Things Are (actually I slept through most of that one), and Star Trek. Then I had a two hour layover in Tokyo, which was fine. I walked around the airport to get my blood moving again and saw many cute little Japanese things in the shops and got to use one of their crazy fancy toilets:
I was pretty confused about how to use it and hoped it didn't unexpectedly spray me with the bidet... I also like the music button - you push it and it makes loud music because you are a lady and a lady would never fart, so no one will hear if you do! Ha!
This is a far cry from the toilets I've seen so far in Seoul... most of the ladies bathrooms have squat toilets:
Ok, that is all the toilet related posts, I hope!
I landed in Seoul around 10:30pm on Saturday night. My friend Megan (who teaches English to 7-9th graders here) picked me up and we took an hour bus ride into the city. We stopped and had a beer by her house at one of the bars she frequents called "Led Zeppelin" where they have about a million old records and play old rock and roll. The owner was so excited to see us, and all the patrons were curious about my red hair and my nose ring (a girl in South Korea would never get a tattoo or facial piercing so I got a lot of looks for my nose ring all over the city. People look at me and pinch their nose and the older people, although they don't speak my language and I don't speak theirs, are not shy about letting me know they see it and disapprove. The younger people are just interested and fascinated by it. It's something I never really thought about before I got here!) We headed home and went to bed around 1am. Peace!
Sunday we got up around 11am and took a bus to the other side of town to get some lunch. Here is me eating my first piece of kimchi (the Korean's most famous food - a cabbage dish - made with garlic, salt, vinegar, chili peppers, and other spices, then left to ferment before being served. It is served as a side dish at every meal and when taking photos, Koreans say "kimchi" like we say "cheese")
It was delicious! Seriously, amazing! We walked around for a while, and got stopped a lot! Children like to talk to Americans to practice their English so they will come up and start asking questions. Their parents beam on so proudly as the children try to talk to us in the English they have learned in school. It's really cute! One girl interviewed us and took a picture with us for her homework assignment. Megan even gave her cell phone number to some girls who were looking to take private English lessons. We saw a palace and stopped to watch the changing of the guard (or something equivalent)
We paid 1,000 won (about $1US - which is easy to remember and figure out the conversion rates!) to go wander around the palace yards. The buildings are from the late 1300s, but some of them have been repainted and some have not.
These tombstone-looking markers signified different classes of people, so the rich people could get closer to the front and the very poor had to stay in the back. Interesting!
We then went to the seafood market to look (and smell!) all the weird fish, lobsters, crabs, sea cucumbers, scallops, rays, squid, and octopi... and a million other things from the ocean that I had never seen before!
We had dinner at a Korean barbeque. They put a grill on your table with an exhaust fan. You cook the meat yourself then cut it up using scissors. You put it in a piece of lettuce like a wrap and throw in garlic, onions, sauces, etc. Every meal here seems to come with about 14 plates of sides!
It was AWESOME! Again! So far the food here has been great and I'm going to try every piece of Kimchi I come across! We also drank a bottle of soju (you can see it on the left in the first picture) which is rice liquor that tastes like something in-between saki and vodka. It's traditional to drink it with BBQ and only costs 1,500 won ($1.50) There is a whole etiquette involved in drinking it and I'm glad it was just me and Megan since I do not know all the rules and customs!
Ok, well that was day one! I am going to go take a very strange shower and then head off to a huge market. Megan has to work today so I am going to take a bus then two subways (on my own - yipes!) to get there! I have a little notebook of notes for myself on how to get there and Megan's address written in Korean if I totally fail and have to take a cab back here! Plus I have a cheat sheet of a bunch of Korean words spelled phonetically so I can say Hello (AnYaSeO) and Thank You (ComSamNeeDa) and other little tidbits! Hope all is well in your part of the world! The boy has assured me a.) My house has not burned down yet and b.) he judges me for having such big closets. Bye kids!!!!!