When people come to Korea, there's a 75% chance that Seoul will be the first place they visit (and yes, I completely made that statistic up).  I'm sure you don't need me to explain the reason this may (or may not) be the case, since Seoul is the Capital of South Korea.  When I first arrived in SoKo, I flew into Incheon Airport, which is located to the west of Seoul.  In short, though I was IN Seoul, I saw nothing other than the view granted me from my bus seat window.  My point is, I wanted to visit Seoul.

So, I along with the rest of the Yecheon Brat Pack, found ourselves nestled in between dozens of mothers and fathers, who were either passed out with exhaustion from all the Chuseok preparations (or in the father's case, from drinking and partying with his friends the night before), or were trying not to throw their super psyched children and sugared up children out the bus windows.  It made for an amusing 3 1/2 hours!!! 

By the time we arrived in Seoul it was nearing 9.  There we met up with our respective friends, mine being Do Kyun Lee.  Do is someone that was introduced to me by a friend from Herron School of Art and Design.  Do spent the last 8 years studying art and teaching in the US and recently came back to SoKo.  So, Do and his friend Yeong Il (In English that translates to 0 1, which means this guy's name is one of the awesomest names I've heard of... all you puter freaks will get it).  We all went off to a local restaurant and had some yummy foods.  Afterwards, we tracked down a hooka bar, so Jordan and Nina and Jonah could get the shishi fix on (reminder... shishi is NOT a controlled substance, for those not in the know).  At that point it was getting late, so we walked a few blocks to the local Jjimjilbang and bid farewell to our friends. 

As you know, I'm a fan of jjimjilbangs... but I am NOT a fan of this jjimjilbang, nor am I fond of the one in Yeongju (where I take Korean lessons).  Yeongju just happens to be filled with a bunch of ajummas (older women) and halmeonis (grandmas), so my body art is not really appreciated there.  But... in Itaewon, Seoul... the jjimjilbang is just plain dirty (at least the sauna part is).  It's like something from the set of a bad (or good, depending on your personal preference) B movie, set in the 70's.  Think Caligula.  But without the togas, hot chicks, and... well, just about everything except the massive phalli with hot water cascading from them into soaking pools and naked women LOL.  Maybe it's a bad example, but it seems somehow apropriate.  Anyway, Nine and I made it in and out of the sauna in record time and headed down to the communal sleeping area, where we met up with the rest of our crew and crashed for the night. 

The next morning we met back up with Do and headed to Insadong, which is where Gyeongbokgung Palace is.

Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395, which is at the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty and served as the main palace for over 500 years.  It has been demolished twice over the course of its existence, both times by the Japanese.  Once in 1592 and again in 1912.  What we saw is it's recreation which is ongoing and has been since 1990.

After touring the Palace grounds, we walked around Insadong.  This borough of Seoul is kind of like SoHo used to be, with artists and quaint shops... there's at least 1 coffee shop on every block, which is beyond my comprehension.  The streets are filled with tourists, Waygooks, and locals and some food stands (which had gained a reputation for their fares) had a line of eager foodies over two blocks long stretching out into the road.  We stopped at a local tea house, where I enjoyed my honey ginger tea, then grabbed some grub and finally made our way back to the bus station, where we said farewell to our friends and Seoul. 

The next morning I woke up early to meet Jonah, so we could buy a motorcycle together.  This was fun!  I learned how to get motorcycle insurance in Korea, register a vehicle, pay taxes, etc etc etc.  And now we have bike!  So, Jonah doesn't really ride, which means I am teaching him on the bike.  The plan is that after he gets to a point where he and I both feel confident in his skills, he will buy my 50% out and have a bike of his own.  The bike itself is a 250cc Hyosung sport bike (perfect for a beginner and city driving).  So, that afternoon I met Jonah and Nina down by the river where he received his first riding lesson.  He did awesome!!!!  The kid's a natural and will be putting around town like a pro in no time.  Sadly, though... the bike is out of commission (since that day), because the rectifier is bad, which prevents the battery from staying charged.  How hard is it to find a Korean part in Korea, you may ask?  Apparently, a bit of a b%$#.  Anyway, here's hoping we can get it quickly and put Jonah back in the saddle.

That's that, folks!  Chuseok story-telling has officially ended. 

I hope you are enjoying the blog and pictures and please, feel free to drop me a line at avalarkin@yahoo.com or post a comment on the blog. 

Until next time...


(extra pictures)