Korea Trip Report: Part Five, The Final Chapter.
On our final full day in Korea, we had three things on our agenda. Something called the Sheep Cafe, which was a coffee shop that had live sheep in it. Something called Times Square, which appeared to a shopping outlet of some sort. And the final item was a Korean BBQ joint for our eating pleasure.
Liz opted to stay home with the twins, so Rob, Jim and I headed out on the subway in search of great adventures.
Our first stop was to be the Sheep Cafe, but Jim couldn’t find it right off and we appeared to be closer to Times Square so we headed over there.
The reason Times Square as even on our agenda, was because when we first knew we were going to Korea, we googled “things to do in Korea” and this came up. Turns out it is just a really big shopping mall, and not a cheap one. So after stopping at a couple of shops, we told Jim that Times Square wasn’t what we thought it was going to be and maybe we needed to go elsewhere. We stopped at a coffee shop and regrouped.
It was decided that we should go off in search of another type of shopping. An outside market.
We never actually found that market, but we did eventually find the sheep cafe, which was very underwhelming. I was hoping that the sheep just wandered around while you drank your coffee and ate your scone, but that wasn’t the case. They were kept in a pen outside the actual cafe and they didn’t seem very excited to be there.
We never even set foot in the cafe.
So that just left a Korean BBQ place. Unfortunately, we discovered that those types of restaurants are only open for dinner hours, so it was a no go. We opted instead for a Bibimbap place that was located in a basement. Rob had already tried this on the plane and he was a fan, but this was my first go round. Since I didn’t like anything too spicy, I opted for the bean paste instead of the chili paste. What was failed to communicate, was the bean paste was fermented and so when I put a big heaping spoonful on my rice and veggies, it overpowered the whole dish. I wasn’t a fan. I kind of started feeling sick to my stomach after eating (I ate about half, I was starving and needed something!) and asked to sit in the place a little bit longer. Rob gave me a Tums and then we headed up to the street. Once I was out of the basement I started to feel better.
We walked around a bit more and then stopped for some Ice Cream at this little stand. It was called Honey Com and the ice cream was supposed to be made with honey rather than sugar. We got an Affogato, which is a scoop of ice cream covered with a shot of espresso and is pure heaven!
We finally headed back to the Subway and headed home. Once there, it was decided that Liz and I would leave the twins with the boys and take ourselves out for a nice dinner. Finally getting the Korean BBQ that we sought after all afternoon. There was some downtime of course, I went upstairs and read for a bit and then we ventured out.
Liz led us over to Itaewan and we walked for a little while before she recognized the restaurant that was literally a hole in the wall. Just a stairway, that we climbed and found a nice little eatery. We were led to a table and Liz ordered to the best of her recollection of what they usually get.
Everything was delicious and I tried things I wouldn’t normally try, even liking some of them! Imagine that!
On the way back to the apartment, we did a small amount of shopping and then stopped at Baskin Robbins for some ice cream. If you get the second to smallest cup size they let you have four different kinds of ice cream and then if you get it to go, they give you dry ice to put in the bag to keep it from melting! Ha! If I remember right, I got New York Cheesecake, Cotton Candy, Snacknado and Cookies and Cream. The boys were quite happy when I shared when we got home.
And that was how we ended out last full day in Korea. Eating ice cream and watching part of a movie before we headed up to bed to pack the best we could and go to sleep.
Friday morning we were up, showered, packed and out of the apartment by eleven. Before I left, I said my goodbyes to my nephews. I told Carson to be good for his mother and father and he laughed in my face. Seriously, I said it three times and each time he gleefully chortled at me. That kid is going to be trouble…
Our flight wasn’t until five thirty, but Jim had to do some work at one that afternoon and he wanted to make sure we were going to be on our way to the airport before he left. He took us on the subway to Seoul Station where we were able to not only check into our flight, get our boarding passes and check our luggage, but now, because we checked in at the subway station , we got bypass the regular security gate when we got to the airport. We were going to be able to use the line that all the flight staff and diplomats used! Pretty big bonus if you ask me!
Once our passes were obtained and we checked our bags, we walked around a bit upstairs and got some Dunkin.
Soon after, Jim bid us ado and we were on our own to take the train to the airport. Thankfully, it was painless and the seats were much more comfortable than the plane!
After about a half an hour we arrived at the Seoul Airport. Since our bags were checked and our passes already printed, we found a spot to drain the water/drinks we had packed in our carry ons before going through security.
We were way early but we didn’t have anything else to do, so we found our gate and headed through the special security that we were able to use for checking in at the Subway station. I had my doubts that it would work, but honestly…that was the quickest I had ever passed through a security gate EVER. A total of five minutes, from the time we entered to the time we passed through the detectors and passed immigration with our bags and passports. I wish all airports did this, because I am a FAN!
With not much else to do, we found our gate and planted ourselves in some seats. I headed off to find some food since I was starving at that point. We only had about 11,000 Won left on us which equals about 11 bucks American money so in an effort to be frugal I found a stand that had some stuff wrapped in fish cakes. I got a hot dog wrapped one for Rob and a rice roll wrapped one for me.
It didn’t satisfy us for long so I was able to stretch the money out a bit further by getting a hotdog type of bread (like hot dogs sliced up and baked in a bread) and a potato croquet at another eatery. That only left us with about a dollar fifty left, but it was fine at that point. I settled into my slippers and got comfy.
Finally, the plane started boarding. I will never understand why on a flight with assigned seating, people start lining up as soon as they announce boarding. Your seat isn’t going to change! Rob mentioned overhead bin space and I guess that is where we differ from the “normal” traveler. I see them in line for boarding with their “carry on” bags that should clearly be checked. They are far too big and I GET that you don’t want to have to wait at baggage claim, but damn man, TRY and follow the rules. Since our carry on bags always fit under the seats, we never have to worry about the overhead bins and therefore stay seated until the line is almost done and then get on the plane. It makes it feel like the plane takes off faster that way too. 🙂
On board I took a quick selfie of us and then it was off into the sky.
What was a 12 hour flight on the way to Korea, was a 10 hour flight on the way home. Something to do with the head winds and all that jazz, but I was just glad it was two hours less. Once again, I didn’t get a lick of sleep on the plane. In my youth I used to be able to sleep sitting up, but not so much now. I watched the end of Joy, which I wasn’t able to finish on the flight over. I also watched “Daddy’s Home” and “Spotlight” to keep me occupied. I really enjoyed Spotlight and I really enjoyed watching a shirtless Marky Mark in the other one. 😉 I also played a lot of solitaire and started a very interesting book that I hope to finish soon called “When I’m Gone”. Overall, it made the flight pass fairly quickly for a ten hour flight. The only downside other than having started my period the day before, was that I apparently was allergic to something on the plane. After about an half an hour in the air to the time we touched down, my nose started to be runny and stuffy at the same time. I had post nasal drip running down the back of my throat like crazy and I had to keep going to the lavatory to get tissues. It was VERY annoying, but once we landed and I was out of there it was fine.
Once we were safe on the ground in San Francisco, we collected our baggage, which took a while and then made our way out to the sidewalk to wait for the Airbus. Our bus was scheduled for 1:45. We were hoping to get the earlier bus that came at 12:30 if everything went smoothly but it was already 12:40 by the time we headed out to the curb. We settled in and got prepared to wait for an hour.
Like a vision of wonder, five minutes later the Airbus pulled up next to us. We quickly asked if we could take this bus instead of the later one we had reserved and he said no problem. So awesome! Now we would get into town in time to pick up our dogs that night instead of the next day.
We got cozy on the bus and were so happy to be on our way home.
Rob managed to get some sleep, while I put on my headphones and listened to some music to distract from the fact that the driver was risking our lives with his erratic driving ,but he did get us back into Marina at record time. My In Laws picked us up there right on time and drove us back to their house where I was never so happy to see my lovely Honda Fit sitting in their yard
So overall the trip was probably one of the funnest vacations I’ve had in a long time. Everything was new. Unlike Maine and Vegas which we have done so many times before, every day in Korea was a new adventure. I did several things in spite of my many fears that I am proud of, ranging from simply eating things I wouldn’t have normally to climbing down in that tunnel on the DMZ tour. And I’m glad for every single thing I did.
While it wouldn’t be at the top of my list of places to retire to, I could see myself living in Korea if it came down to it. The two things I will not miss however, is the lack of personal space in public places. Korean people will run you over if you let them. They aren’t particularly rude, they just appear to have the mindset that if they need to get to somewhere that you are, they can just bump you out of the way with no apology or even acknowledgment. They also don’t smile back at you. I’m a smiley person by nature. When I pass someone on the street I tend to smile and I find it disturbing when they don’t smile back. In Korea, they NEVER smile back. It took a lot of getting used to for me.
Having said that, I did really enjoy my vacation very much. My brother and sister in law were the best hosts. I know it can’t be easy letting two people into your household for two weeks, especially with two newborns that you are trying to get on a schedule, but they did so graciously and without complaint (to us anyway). And those babies. Oh my goodness!!! I love those two little squishy faces so very much. I miss them so much already it’s crazy. I can’t even fathom how different they are going to look when I see them next and that breaks my heart. But I am super grateful for the opportunity to get to meet them at all.
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