Staying flexible regarding my sister’s Korean travel experience

So we wended up shuffling things around a lot more than we had planned. Monday morning we really did walk around my university and the neighboring one. We then stopped for some “Korean pancakes” (pajun) near Hoegi subway station.

It was pretty hot so we went back to my apartment, showered, rested, etc. Then we went to Sinsa which is basically a shopping street. We ate there. Dinner was at a franchise place called Buon Jook / Buon bibimbap. Some places have only the jook (porridge) or the bibimbap (rice mixed with veggies) but this one had both so there were some good choices for everyone. And since it was after 8:00 and the 10 Corso Como department store next on our list cloese at 8:00 we then headed back.

Tuesday we headed to Changdukgung or Changduk Palace for the 11:30 AM “secret garden” tour. It was OK, but basically just a shaded 1 hour walk through some green. There were a few buildings you saw on the way but nothing really special. After that, you can see the main buildings on your own like the King’s office and stuff. That is probably enough unless the flowers are blooming or the leaves are changing color – then the secret garden tour would be worth it.

It was then a short walk to insadong where we ate lunch at Samchon, a restaurant that serves a nice Korean-monk inspired lunch for 22,000 KRW – just under $20. We saw some interesting shops and things in Insadong, and got some potbingsu (shaved ice, ice cream, red bean, etc.). It’s a very popular dessert snack with Koreans but I don’t appreciate it much. Why dilute your ice cream with actual ice?

Back to the apartment for a bit of a rest and then out to dinner at Hongdae. We’re friendly with the owner of Yeti which serves some good Indian food and then we went out drinking Korean style (Makkoli, dongdongju, and beer – no soju). I invited a few Koreans out to make it more authentic.

Today my sister and her husband did a DMZ tour but they say it was pretty rushed / crappy which is too bad because when i did it 4 or 5 years ago it was very interesting. I hope to have a full review on the DMZ tour later after I debrief them. My wife is guessing that because of the tension between the two Koreas these days things have been cut short. My sister heard that maybe there were some North Korean tourists around somewhere and the two groups weren’t supposed to get too close. I’ll investigate…

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  1. Julie says:

    There were a lot of North Korean tourists! We didn’t tell you that we saw them? There was a tour group on the steps of their building at least the size of ours – we have picutres. I’m assuming that’s why we were not allowed into the buildings that straddle the 38th parallel and were only allowed to stand outside for 3 minutes, look straight ahead, and take pictures without making any big arm gestures that could be construed as a wave or something more sinister. Then we got to look at the same spot from inside for another minute, then back onto the bus. They stopped the bus a few times for about 10 seconds when we were allowed to stand up and take pictures out the window (and over the heads of the others on the tour). This was all preceded by a brief slideshow during which our tour guide and the Japanese tour guide spoke at the same time so you couldn’t really understand anything they were saying.

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