Sunday, 4 October 2009

First Trip to Seoul – Saturday


Today, I was so excited and delightfully antsy (more so than usual). Why? Corey and Illana were coming to Seoul! We would party it up like born-again teenagers in the Korean city that never sleeps.

Ken and I decided to wisely kill some time before they were to arrive, so we came upon the Gyeongbokgung Palace (the largest palace in Seoul) in Ken’s Lonely Planet’s Guide to Seoul. As we were walking towards the palace (only minutes away), we could see many families enjoying the beautiful bright day that was given to us. There were many fathers trying to tire out their children by letting them run free, and all over the place, on the luscious, carpety grass field in front of City Hall.

Once near the grand, gated palace, I saw an old ajumma with some large light brown lollipops next to her (I know…brown?…but I couldn’t resist…it was candy). I walked up to her tiny little stool on the ground and what did I see? She was pouring a sugar-baking soda concoction that my mother used to make for me in Canada! She even had stars etched into them! (When my mother was young, she used to buy these sugar candies at school, and students could get a 2nd one if they could eat the candy without breaking the etched shape…that’s probably where I got my sweet tooth). I bought one to mail back to my mom, put it in my bag, and it broke into a million pieces. However, the star was left intact! I guess I could’ve sent it to my mother, but seconds later, the star was already in my mouth. Oh well.

We toured Gyeongbokgung Palace for a few hours, and headed back to City Hall to meet Corey and Illana (yay!). While we snacked on some Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, the Colonel’s chicken) on the emerald grassy blanket in front of City Hall, and I couldn’t help but notice a father, pulling down his tiny daughter’s pants for everyone to see, lifting her up off the ground by her arms, and letting her pee on the grass – the grass that Ken, I, and lots of others, were comfortably laying upon. I continued to eat and enjoy my chicken wrap.


Ring. Ring. It was Corey and Illana. They were in Seoul! We met them right away and decided upon Lotte World (an indoor theme park and skating rink) as our first adventure. Ken and Corey gracefully skated in their flashy (and stylish, might I add) hot pink gloves, and Ilana and I kept it cool in our sky blue ones. I was confidently recovering my younger years of CanSkate, dodging the some of the skaters who were wobbling like jello around me. I felt like a champion afterwards because I hadn’t fallen once the entire evening. Ken, of course, was gliding past me, Corey, and Illana with his years and years of experience.

After we could no longer bear the lack of feeling in our feet, we called it quits and left to feed our bellies (dinner). However, before that, the Lotte World Shooting Range (yes, a shooting range with real guns at a children’s indoor theme park) couldn’t help but present itself as eye-candy to both Ken and Corey (men, eh?).


Back at City Hall, all four of us hungry travelers zombishly walked around with our grumbling tummies. Where would we eat? Would we dare challenge our stomachs to the various delicacies that were calling out to us from the Namdaemun Market? We dared.

At the Namdaemun Market, we began our meal with starters of soju and fruit sticks. After beer and almost an uncountable number of soju shots, we challenged ourselves to what was next on our menu – chicken hearts. Of course, we hadn’t known what they were when we first bought them, but Ken saw the ventricles and atria, right before we were to take our first bites. Luckily, the soju shots we took, one after another, helped to ease our minds (at least my neurotic mind). With an additional purchase of fruit sticks (the ripest and richest emerald honey dew and golden pineapple that I’d ever tasted), the soju went down like water in our gullets. That’s when we decided to eat Sticky.

Sticky (R.I.P) was the octopus that we had seen hours earlier, but were too afraid to try. Now, however, his suctionny tentacles twisted and turned, luring us in with their mesmerizing movements. The stand owner saw our drunken interest in his prize piece of meat, and he quickly took Sticky, washed him with a cup of (dirty) water, tore off Sticky’s head with his hand, and brutally chopped him up with his silver executioner’s blade. Thank-goodness for the tasteful red sauce in which we could dip Sticky. It really helped with the slimy texture and Sticky’s tentacles that were holding on to our tongues and teeth. I would do it again in an instant:). The thunder, lightning and heavy rain made for a solemn atmosphere as we mourned Sticky’s untimely death, and patted our stomachs with satisfaction.

The next couple of hours were a blur. Soju death really does exist, and Corey, Illana, Ken and I remembered different parts of the night. What we got from piecing it together was an image of Ilana and I, asleep on a tarp at the end of the Namdaemun Market, Ken, across the street, happily asleep on some cold, wet steps, and finally, Corey, who was running around the major streets (still not sober), looking for our hidden hotel in the blackness of the night. We woke up the next morning, confused, with massive headaches, and nauseous (probably from the chicken hearts…and sticky…oh yes, and the soju). We had to look at photos and videos to find out what childish and outrageous things we did the previous night.

- Jess

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a pretty fun-filled day! I'm glad that you could meet up with friends and share the experience of exploring the city together.