So last time I updated I was settling in Andong, right? I think so. If not…well I am settled in Andong right now. For those of you who have no idea where that is I will provide a map and possibly show you where it is in relation to two of the major cities in South Korea.
Seoul is upper left and Busan (Pusan) is lower right. Andong is in the middle =D
I have officially been here for one month as of September 18, almost 10 days ago. WOW!!! I have already had so many different foods, met so many people, and trekked across so much land since then. I probably know a few more key words and phrases so I feel like I’ve adapted pretty well here.
There are a few things I need to update you on!! MY TRAVELS! I will break it down by location :D
Seoul is the capital of South Korea. HUGE city. HUUUUUUUUUGE city. Thank God I made a friend, Min, during orientation and she was able to meet me at the subway station. The problem is that I’ve never in my life ridden a subway and I had taken a bus to get there. Picture this, will you? A nervous blonde with a phone attached to her ear speaking in broken English wandering the streets. Picture that everyone and their mother has black hair and brown eyes….does said blonde stick out? YES! Does it make matters worse that this is the weekend before a very important holiday so everyone is rushing rushing rushing and getting irritated at the wandering foreigner? Yes! Did said blonde care? NO! Tee hee.
So I did find the subway station only because I have this strange sense of direction here in Korea. I haven’t gotten lost yet and I hope to keep my record clean! Now all I had to do was find my friend. Again, everyone has black hair and all are around the same height. I also hadn’t seen my friend in two weeks and since then have met a lot of people. SO now I start to worry if I’ll even recognize her! Thankfully I rarely forget a face and she’s so pretty that she’d stick out anywhere. We meet and then the next worry comes along…do I hug her? Koreans aren’t much for PDA….for the most part. I mean there are exceptions to the rule that I haven’t quite figured out but probably will one day. So I am walking towards her and right before I extend a hand in some formal greeting that would feel totally ridiculous I instead open my arms wide and wrap her in a good ol’ American hug. :D She loved it! YAY!!
We then met up with some other friends, Cheol and Sean, at a café where we all put our heads together to form a plan of action. I had gotten to Seoul with no idea what I wanted to see. Apparently this is a problem? So after much debate (not really) we decided to go and see a palace. One of the largest palaces in Korea since for past 600 or 700 years it was the ruling city of the kingdom. I commented on the fact that my country hasn’t even been a country for that long and they all laughed over it.
What can I say about the Palace? It was beautiful. In the throne room there is a beautiful painting on the ceiling with dragons and other swirling objects. Over the throne itself there is a sun and a moon and the colors architecture was delightfully Korean with some Chinese influence (as I was told). So as we are all staring at this beautiful room I turned to Min and asked, “Have you seen the movie Kung fu Panda?” She nods and looks a little confused. I then point to the ceiling and no joke, it’s straight from the movie. Or, I should say, the movie took the design and used it for their film. Min started laughing so loud she had walk away and of course explain to the others what I had said. Word got around and soon everyone was saying “Kung fu Panda” and pointing at the ceiling. Yeeaaaaaaah.
Then we went to the Korean Folk Museum but it was closing in 20 minutes so Cheol and I ran through it. We had dinner, food is a favorite Korean past time, and moved on to their next favorite past time: Drinking. This is where we got the fun idea to stay up all night until our buses left in the morning, at 9am. GREAT. Had a wonderful wonderful time but I think I’ll keep those details to myself ;)
I’ve had the past week off from classes due to the Korean Holiday Chuseok. It’s like our American Thanksgiving! Because it was on a Wednesday this year I had Tuesday through Friday off last week. Sounds great, right? Going to get a lot done during that week, right? NO! Why? Because I’m poor, that’s why! But not anymore so don’t worry. I stayed close to home since I spent most of my money going to Seoul the weekend before.
Busan is a coastal city, one that I had already visited with my school for a Picnic. IT is about three hours away on the bus but four hours away via train. My friend Jasmine wanted to get out of Andong so she spotted me the cash to purchase a ticket so I could go with her. It is a beautiful city and we walked most of it (at least it felt like it). We went to an underground shopping center in search for shoes. We were girls on a mission since apparently 250 is the largest size Korea has. My friend is a 280. Good news though, I found out I’m a 250 so I can get shoes in Andong! WOOT. Ahem, anyways…so we were on a mission to find shoes. We went EVERYWHERE. There is this huge department store that has all these foreign name brands from London, Greece, Germany, etc. But with it being name brands everything was so expensive. GAP was expensive. GAP!! Horrible. Simply horrible. SO I did not get a lot of shopping done. I did, however, get some socks and perfume so now I smell pretty and have cute feet! YAY!