Our host, Attila, left us the door code to his place in Seoul (because Korea is so over keys) and allowed us the run of the place for our last few days in the country. We did a lot of eating, an equitable amount of drinking, and a little sightseeing, although we were kind of going through the motions by the end. Korea is definitely one of our favorite countries we’ve visited ever; the food is out of this world, the prices are totally reasonable for a developed country, and the scenery is spectacular. We wish we had more time to spend there, but Korea was the second to last stop before our triumphant return to the US and even though there was so much more to see, we became single-minded about family, friends, and waffle-cut fries.
We hit all the prescribed sights on the tourist list: the charming Insadong antique district, the hectic Namdaemun Market, the flashy Myeongdong shopping district, and one of the five palaces that still survive in the middle of downtown Seoul. We felt like we could only take on one palace after all the temples and historic villages we’d seen in the past 14 months, so we opted to visit Changdeokgung, which is attached to Biwon, a ‘secret garden’ for royal use only. We joined the obligatory English language tour and found ourselves trailing along the back of the group and making faces at each other at each stop. We had officially had enough of it all. We just wanted to go home. This is no knock on the garden or the city or tour groups or anything- we were just ready to go.
It was so nice to return to Attila’s apartment at the end of the day in Seoul, knowing that we would not be sleeping in a hotel room again for a long, long time. Our next stop would be Tokyo, where we’d stay with my brother, then on to the States, where we already had a roster of friends and family lined up to take us in. Just the other day, back home in California, a good friend of mine introduced me to the K-Pop craze that is sweeping the nation: PSY’s Gangnam Style, which immortalizes the Gangnam district in Seoul where we stayed with Attila. So it all comes full circle.