Published: May 10th 2012April 29th 2012
We were greeted in Seoul by a plethora of English signs and western amenities. There were 7-11’s and Dunkin’ Donuts everywhere! It’s hard to believe it’s only a 50 minute flight from Dalian!
Incheon airport is the best airport in the world. Literally. Furthermore, the transportation system in Korea is phenomenal – so efficient, organized and vast. Getting to our hostel (Phil House) was easy.
On our first day in Seoul we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace in the middle of the city. Upon exiting the metro station we were offered a free English speaking tour guide. Its a great deal for both the tourists and the guide. We had no idea where anything was or what it was and she, Helen (14 years old), wanted to practice her English. Gyeongbokgung translates into ‘Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven’. It was built 600 years ago but was burnt down by the Japanese in the 1500s and wasn’t rebuilt until 1895 and then was destroyed yet again and is now just being fully restored again. The palace grounds are beautiful and I definitely recommend a guide as I would have had no idea what buildings were what, etc.
We then went over to the Bukchon Hanok Village. Korean traditional houses are known as ‘Hanok’ and the buildings patterned walls and tiled roofs are beautiful to look at! We finished the evening off by wandering the streets of Insadong and eating from almost all of the street vendors.
On our second full day in Seoul we decided to head to Bukhansan National Park. The best part about this National Park: you can get there by metro! Hiking in Korea will blow your mind. As were were heading towards the park tons of people were getting on the metro decked out in full hiking gear including what looked like Mt. Everest trekking boots, 2 walking sticks, carabineers, gore tex jackets, etc. At first we were laughing about it but then when we started the hike there were literally thousands of people dressed like this! We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. Were we wearing the right gear?
Things got worse upon entering the park. The park ranger questioned my footwear and asked me where my trekking boots were. I simply replied ‘in my backpack’. Our hike took us
up to Jaunbong peak which was amazing! To get to the very top we had to use ropes and ladders. The view from the top is 360 degrees and a bit heart stopping. The hike itself was about 10km and a lot harder than I expected. I still think all the gear was not necessary though...
There are more photos below