**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.
On Tuesday I was on my own again! I am officially a pro at the buses and subways! I headed down to Bukchon to see the Changdeokgung Palace. It is one of the biggest old palaces and is in a neighborhood where the traditional Korean houses, or Hanoks, have been preserved. I got to the palace around noon and saw that the next English speaking tour was at 1:30pm, so I headed up the hill to see the Hanoks. I wandered around up there taking pictures. Wander, wander.
I realized it was already 1:15 and the tour was starting soon so I started wandering my way down. Suddenly I was lost! I started walking in the direction I thought was going back toward the palace but soon realized I was over by the Blue House, which is where the president lives! There were a ton of soldiers and policemen guarding the grounds. I knew I was going to miss the 1:30 tour at the palace so I figured I may as well take my time walking around by the Blue House. One of the guards helped me get headed back in the right direction to the Palace and I made it back in time for the only other English tour, which was at 3:30. The Changdeokgung Palace is huge and only 30% of the original grounds are still in existance. The tour was really interesting and the only bad thing was that the Forbidden Garden hasn't started to bloom yet. It was still neat!
The tour was an hour and a half long, so it was 5pm by the time it was done and I got back to Megan's after three subways and a bus around 6pm. I was starving after my long day so we headed off to get some Shabu-shabu (which is technically Japanese but is still very popular here). Yet again, cooking food on the table! Yay! They brought out some broth and a bunch of vegetables, mushrooms, and paper thin slices of beef. You cook all the vegetables and mushrooms in the broth (and cut them up with scissors - they don't use many knives here, everything is cut with scissors!) When the soup is ready, you throw in a few slices of beef. The beef cooks in only a few seconds because it is so thin. Then you pull it out with your chopsticks and dip it in peanut, lemon, or chili sauce. It is delicious!
The broth absorbs the flavor of the beef and so you eat the soup too. When you are all done with the vegetables and beef, a woman brings out noodles and puts them in what's left of the broth. Then you eat it in a very dainty, lady-like manner:
Then we walked around the city for a little bit.
We bought some strawberries for breakfast and headed back to Megan's apartment. We also finished off a half bottle of soju because I am starting to like it!
Plus, I figured it would help me sleep (I am sleeping on a mat on the floor, which is traditional in Korea anyway, although most people sleep in Western style beds now. It's nice because in Korea, all the heat comes through the floor, so at least it is nice and warm down there!)
Today it is raining, so I will be doing some stuff indoors. I'm going to the war museum and perhaps also the Andy Warhol exhibit. It is already 9am, so I must go take another strange shower!