For our last blog about South Korea I want to write about a variety of places and stores.
First is where we spent our last morning since our flight was not until 6pm meaning we did not need to get on the hour plus long train ride to the airport until around 2:30pm from Seoul station. Therefor we went over to the Gangnam neighborhood, which is the most influential areas in all of Seoul. If the name Gangnam sounds familiar it is because you have heard the Korean Pop (K-Pop) artist Psy’s 2012 mega hit Gangnam Style. There is even a statue that was fun to visit. As for this neighborhood, 50 years ago it was just rice paddies and very rural. Well that has now changed and it is the most expensive real estate in South Korea. In fact, the Korean government paid the US military 45 million dollars to move their base from there so they could have the land to develop.
Another cool spot is the Rainbow Bridge, which we visited on our last night. There are water jets and color lights that shoot streams of colored water into the river from the bridge. At night it is really impressive and locals flock to the park along the southern shore to hang out. There are also some floating islands that I admit sound way cooler than they really are. Essentially they are three giant floating docks with restaurants and entertainment on them.
Next to Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine (both World Heritage Sites that I wrote about earlier) you will find Gyeongbokgung Palace (why a king needs two palaces within a mile of each other is beyond me). This palace is beautiful as you would expect and we enjoyed checking it out, but it not as historical and has been rebuilt after being destroyed by the Japanese during the occupation between 1910-45. With all that said the throne room is a must see building if you are nearby.
Now for a couple funny stories. As you know if you have read past posts, we went to South Korea because my college room-mate is stationed at an Air Force base south of Seoul. He submitted paperwork a month ahead of time so Lily and I could get a pass to enter the base without having an escort. Well given the efficiency of governments in general the pass was not issues until our very last night on the base. The rest of the time they had to come to the gate to sign us in. Perfect timing. Haha.
My last story is about the food we found in Korea. Our friends got a basket of Korean snack food that was fun to try out, but our favorite meals there were ramen noodles (Japanese in origin and not the crap we ate in college) and Korean BBQ. The Korean BBQ is AWESOME!!!! When you go you get raw meat (beef or pork) and cook it yourself in a BBQ grill built into the table. While you are doing that they bring out sides upon sides. My favorite side is a red sauce you coat the cooked meat in and this amazing salad. The funny thing is the first time we had Korean BBQ we were in a very local joint by ourselves. One of the sides we got was lettuce without a dressing on it. I was perplexed why given the amazing salad in the other bowl, but we ate it anyways. The next time we had Korean BBQ was with my friends and they explained you put the cooked meat into the lettuce, add the red sauce, and top it with bits from some of the other sides. It was then that it dawned on us……they did not give us two salads, but a salad and lettuce to make wraps. HAHA!!!!