Monthly Archives: April 2023
Land of morning calm…
Ahhhh it’s a cloudy, windy day in Guam, and I am loving some quiet coffee time. I’ve been on the go. Late March I flew home to meet my adorable granddaughter Isla, and to play with my rambunctious grandson Torin (oh how I love our time together), then I came home for a busy week of work, and then I was off to Korea for a week to watch student journalists in action (they never cease to amaze me).
Aren’t they just the cutest little monsters! I loved time with my own monsters too, but I’ll share more when I visit this summer.
Work has brought me to South Korea three times this year, and it’s about time I dedicated a post to it. I’ve been four times — once as a bona fide tourist and the other three as a work tourist — and I can only write about the areas surrounding Seoul.
It cracks me up that the country is called the land of morning calm because Seoul is anything but … the hustle and bustle and wtf of the big city and its nearby neighborhoods has its own vibe and quirk, none of it would be included in a how-to manual of calm the eff down. It does have its beauty. One of these days I need to include a day trip to the countryside of South Korea, so that I could experience more of its mountains and, possibly, clean air.
I love Seoul; I have a great time and see something new every time I go, but I could not live there. That air quality is something else. On two of my trips the air quality index was above 300, which was not pleasant. It made me dizzy and I had a metallic taste in my mouth; the air has a sepia filter. It’s such a shame because Seoul and its surrounding areas have so much to offer.
First off there’s the idiosyncrasy that is Korea’s flavor of Asia. LOL OMG there are so many Only in Seoul moments — and the love of K-pop and weird cartoons is real! Most of my fun pictures include friends I haven’t asked if I could show off, so the pics below don’t show the fun we had visiting a Selfie studio, the touristy but funny Nanta show, or the weird space lift off to the top of Seoul tower. And then there’s the shopping! So much shopping — ladies, you just can’t leave without a stack of facial masks and a purse.
There’s also the food — oh my tastebuds the food! I’m lucky that Guam has so many Korean tourists and expats, which means we have lots of Korean food on island. I love me some Seoul food! Korean BBQ is always a fun experience, and the fried chicken is top notch, but please do try the stuff you can’t pronounce. Its winters are cold, so there are a lot of yummy, comforting soups and stews. lol and if it’s red it’s spicy. It’s all good because a big, cold bottle of Cass or some shots of soju will take care of the sting.
My last night on my most recent trip was spent with friends in an Air B and B in the Yongson area, which is close to where I was for work. We most definitely were the only Americans in a very Korean part of the city, and I loved every minute of it. At first glance our apartment was, um, not up to my I-can-now-afford-luxury standards, but it was clean and in the heart of local. It was tiny — with a bathroom you could pee, shower and do the laundry all at once, and a one-burner stove, but it had access (through a maze of treacherous stairs) to an amazing view. The people we met on the street were curious (because three loud blondes isn’t their norm) but all friendly and welcoming. I don’t know how pedestrians and cars survive the area because there is a lot going on in very narrow spaces.
For the most part it’s an easy city to navigate IF you bought a local SIM card and have the Korean navigation app (I didn’t use it since I just followed my friends) and google translate at the ready. The train system is great. Most cab drivers do not speak English, so you definitely want to have your addresses in Korean, but communicating with body language, broken words and your phone is always part of the fun of exploring a world so different from your own.
Kamsahamnida (you have to sing song it) Korea for always showing me a good time. I don’t know when my next work trip is, but I’ll be sure to leave lots of room in my suitcase and add a few extra days to experience the morning calm part of your world.