I feel like we’re finally starting to settle into long-term travel mode, not loading up too much on our plate each day. But instead sort of playing it by ear and taking the days as they come. The way we traveled almost 40 years ago. We may pick out one or two main things and fill in the rest as we go. Eating is a challenge so we try to include it in the day’s plan, sometimes we do better than other times. Trip Advisor and Yelp help. Unfortunately Google Maps is handicapped in Korea so we can’t rely on that as much as we had in Japan and Taiwan (paper map time). On a related note, we’re finding travel in Korea more challenging in general than either Japan or Taiwan. Korean website English can be confusing and the info hard to understand. That’s okay, the metro and our feet get us where we need to go (though sometimes with a few wrong turns first).
We’re a bit nervous about our upcoming ferry ride from Donghae to Vladivostok, specifically getting to Donghae from Seoul. We found conflicting info on the web so we took a pre-emptive trip to the Seoul Express Bus Terminal to figure it out and get an idea of how long it’ll take us on Sunday morning when we actually have to leave with our luggage. The agent at the station didn’t speak much English but we picked up two tickets for the 8:00 am bus on Sunday and scoped out the morning food scene – Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, coffee shops. Shouldn’t be a problem. We’re looking at 30-40 minutes to get there so we’ll have to plan accordingly, probably leaving the apartment around 6:30 or so.
Next we headed over to Gyeongbokgung Imperial Palace for the changing of the guard ceremony. We had conflicting info about the time so we made sure to catch the one time that seemed to be consistent 13:00. We watched that ceremony however the more extensive one is at 14:00 so we decided to stick around. Good call since the 14:00 ceremony is really cool. I think we’ve been to 4 or 5 other guard changings and this one is by far the coolest, with ornate silk red and blue traditional uniforms, drums (including the big one), horns, guys barking orders, flags a-flying, and running commentary in English. Definitely worth hanging around for. The palace grounds are also interesting to just wander around especially since about half the visitors are wearing traditional Hanbok clothing. Fun time.
It was then around 2:30 and we were pretty hungry but restaurants in the area were closing so we headed back to our place for a lunch of the instant noodles and chips that our airbnb hosts had brought us. Not bad but a prime example of not planning for lunch ahead of time. One redeeming note was that we had picked up two bottles of soju at the Lotte Mart so we tried those with our lunch. The first one was grape which wasn’t bad. We actually quite liked it with our ramen (which we discovered later was one of the recommended pairings, hmmm). The second was citrus, not as good.
That evening we walked across the Seoullo walkway to the Myeungdong market, another of the highly recommended night markets. We ended up eating an egg bun, tornado potato, grilled pork belly and scallion on a stick, fried dumplings, and a 32 cm soft serve ice cream cone. It was all good street food definitely worth seeking out but we’re getting close to enough of it. The markets themselves are fun because they’re loud, lively, and still novel. We strolled back across Seoullo soaking in the pleasant evening and lights.