Published: December 2nd 2007July 17th 2007
I'm dedicating this entry to Dennis because he deserves at the least that much. I didn't know Dennis that well before we had plans to go to Korea. He was always at the same parties as I was and we had mutual friends. We knew each other because we went to the same school. We hadn't talked much but I had always wanted to because I thought he was really cool and he had an awesome motorcycle.
When he found out from Bekah that we were going to Korea, Dennis immediately became a most kind and helpful friend, even buying us dinner as he helped us find and book our hostels and our flight and ferry tickets.
Our flight to Seoul took one hour and we were in a different country entirely. Austin, a really cute boy with a hilarious personality, found us and took us to Dennis's car. We rode in Dennis's car to downtown Seoul, while Austin pointed out many of Seoul's 17 bridges along the Han River. We dropped everything off at our hostel, then we met Lucy and Matthew, and Dennis took us to the traditional street to meet his english teacher. The traditional street in Seoul
is very beautiful. It is cobble-stoned and sells every sort of traditional Korean craft and food. All signs are required by the government to be in Korean.
We met Dennis's teacher and she eager to express her english manners and share with us traditional Korean culture. She found a tea shop and shared the varieties of tea and their benefits. I ordered the "Omijia cha"~Korean for "Five tastes" tea, because she said it was good for women and beauty. I figured it was the best choice. The tea was delicious, nothing like tea I had had because it was so rich and flavorful. I hope it improved my looks somewhat.
After we split from Dennis's english teacher, we discovered all the lights and action of downtown. We hopped around on the street piano keys, and then stopped to eat at a restaurant covered in fire and we ate fire chicken!
When dark came, we hopped in a couple of cars and Lucy, Dennis, Austin, and Matthew took us to the top of the Seoul tower! We rode a ski-lift to the top where we met a romantic setting filled with young couples....an impressive date. ~Next to downtown, we walked along
the Cheongyecheon stream. Austin taught us some Korean "ICe CrEam TwO ge Chun-um!" (Just say it really fast) and he explained that the stream used to be a huge market, until the mayor decided to clear the area and build the stream for beautification. We agreed it was a very beautiful stream, but a lot of people lost their jobs...
The next day was a lot of rain, so Lucy and Matthew took us to the other downtown part of Seoul. (Seoul has two downtowns.) We laughed in the back while Matthew drove like crazy to find a McDonald's. We went to a huge mall with a huge theater. Bekah and I saw Harry Potter movie while Casey, Matthew and Lucy saw "The Transformers" (and then we bought the last book at a large bookstore the day it hit the shelves.hahaha) We did a lot in Seoul: so here is a wrap-up: the Changyeonggung Palace (which was really close to our hostel), we went to the museum, took the bus to the Women's college where, of course, was the best shopping area in the city, and countless places for meals; including Dennis's aunt's restaurant. Our tabs were taken several
times by Dennis and his friends. I don't know what we did to be treated so special, but all we can say is that we appreciate it 10,000 times, we love all of them, they have become great friends to us, and we can't wait until they come to Missouri and we can treat them to a Cardinal's baseball game. Road trip!!!
They saw us off at the bus station and we took it to Daegu. Dennis arranged for Jack to pick us up. Jack's mom got a cab too to follow us around with our bags because they wouldn't fit in her slick BMW. We looked around for a hotel, which isn't easy in Daegu because not a lot of tourists stop there. We walked in several, "accidentally" kicking around or stepping on the picture flyers of the naked women greeting us on the stairways, and walked out because they wouldn't give us the price of having the room to sleep in for the price of the room to not sleep in. What's with that? So Jack's mom bought us a room at the Shang-ri-la and we slept luxuriously on traditional mats. It was one of many of
the nicest things she did for us. As they showed us around Daegu, Jack's mom kept offering to buy Bekah and I purses, and offering us to eat every hour. She was adorably sweet.
After a short-stay in Daegu, we headed to Busan. There, Dennis arranged for Helen to meet us. Helen showed us what everyone comes to Busan for: the wide beach. By night, we finished the tour with a view of the Busan bridge: what Helen says that no one can say they've been to Busan until they've seen the bridge. And she is right. See the bridge at night. You just have to. And that was Korea.
What can I say other than we have a lot of great friends to thank for showing us the beauty and excitement of their country. They have a right to be proud of it.
There are more photos below