We Felt Safe In A Country That’s Only An Hour Away From Danger
We heard the rumors…
...be ready to party.
...the food is really good.
...the people are awesome.
...the city is vibrant.
We are happy to report.
THAT THEY ARE ALL TRUE!
If you read our blog about Vietnam (here), and I’m sure you have ;), you would know that we sacrificed a couple days in Seoul, South Korea in order to make a detour to Danang and Hoi An. While those cities were beautiful and amazing in their own way, Seoul totally blew us away and we kind of regretted not having more time in this amazing place.
There is never enough time.
We only had 2 nights to explore Seoul but it was the last 2 nights of our 3 weeks in Asia and we didn’t leave a moment to waste. After a dizzying and nerve-wracking taxi ride to our hotel, we finally were able to drop our bags and hit the town. Immediately we were engulfed in the narrow, brightly lit streets and the vibe was palpable. I think we walked about 2 blocks before we both looked at each in awe…
“Shit! We should have totally planned more time here!!!”
No regrets. We made the decision to cut this portion of the trip shorter so we’re gonna have to burn the candle at both ends. I think we successfully accomplished that in two days.
Our first day was spent exploring the neighborhood of Myeongdong. This area, where our hotel was located, was loaded with shopping, street food, and tons of cosmetic stores. Did we mention the South Koreans love their cosmetic products? Well, now you know. Cyd purchased about 500 face masks, no lie.
Around lunch time we started grazing for a restaurant and maybe crush a couple beers. I briefly mentioned to Cyd that rumor has it the South Koreans love to party and can be seen drinking at all time of day. Right on cue, a handful of businessmen stumble out of an inconspicuous restaurant. Laughing, screaming, and drunkenly struggling to light their cigarettes.
We had no choice but to stare.
I know it was rude but we were just a little envious and possibly craving a couple beers. Did I say envious, I might have meant jealous.
Welp, let’s get into the Seoul lifestyle. We hit a restaurant and after getting help ordering some Korean BBQ from a neighbor and quickly ordered beers and the infamous soju. Ooooh yes….soju!
The fuel that keeps Seoul burning. A distilled rice liquor that’s cheaper than a bottle of water.
You heard that right!
This stuff can taste a little like vodka if it’s not infused with a fruit, but it contains less alcohol. Get a beer and soju and just sit back and soak in the restaurant/bar culture. After crushing a bottle and a couple beers we began to notice that everywhere we went, there was someone drinking soju. Random businessman on the street corner, college kids at a bbq joint, or old men sitting in a park, they all had soju.
The vibe in Seoul was infectious. So much so, that we missed our only scheduled event the following morning because we got too hammed. We were booked on a trip to the DMZ, or demilitarized zone, which is the buffer zone between South Korea and North Korea. Given our current political climate, I was psyched to visit the DMZ and actually be able to step foot in North Korea. I had been talking about the DMZ during our whole trip and kept mentioning how we needed to book our tour.
And what do you think actually happened...?
Soju got the best of us.
We were supposed to leave on a half-day tour at 7 am but that was pretty tough when we didn’t get back to our hotel room until 4:30 am. Yes, I was a little pissed but we couldn’t pass up drinking soju in a public park all night with a local Korean, a teacher from France, and a Mormon from California. Needless to say, things got weird.
Regardless of us missing the DMZ tour, our story is just one of many you hear when you talk to someone that’s visited this awesome city. Food, culture, and most importantly, fun. South Koreans know how to have fun at all times of the day. It’s crazy standing in the bustling and energetic city of Seoul knowing that only an hour drive away you could be standing at the border of North Korea.
While in Seoul it’s easy to forget that the secluded country and all the humanitarian atrocities are being committed just a short distance away. Less than an hour away are people stuck in a world that’s polar opposite to the one we were experiencing in Seoul and that’s sad.
And like most of our destinations, many people were asking, “aren’t you worried about getting bombed by North Korea while you are there?” To put it bluntly, f$@k them. If we let the news and rumors of war interrupt our plans then we would have never traveled to many of the countries we were lucky enough to see. That’s exactly the mindset that would prevent us from seeing the world and getting caught in the trap of living scared. Of course, we’re not stupid. We would not travel to an area with an active war going on but there wasn’t, and until there is (we hope not), you should make Seoul a destination to visit in the near future.
On our flight home, we couldn’t stop talking about coming back next summer. We need to spend more time in this beautiful country and we hope to do it soon.
Oh, if you were wondering about our night drinking soju with some locals and a Mormon from California, look out for the next blog.
Want to get a taste of Seoul?
You know who to call!