Early Sunday morning we dragged ourselves out of bed and met Ian and Casey at the train station to catch a 7AM train to Seoul for the day.
We had a few plans in mind but knowing that we don't always know how to get from point A to point B I knew we could just be flying by the seat of our pants all day. If there is one thing I've learned being in Korea is flexibility, and to a degree I've never known before. So we hopped on the train while it was still dark and made our way to Cheongyangni Station in Seoul. This caused some serious confusion the first time we went not understanding that C-Station was IN Seoul. We thought we were going to another city near Seoul.
We arrived about 8:30ish and headed down to the subway to get Ian, Casey, and I (as I had forgotten mine at home) T-Money cards. These allow you to get on and off the subway, taxis, and buses easily and you can even purchase things at many convenience stores as well. It's quite the handy little card to carry. It cost 3,000W to activate then you charge it with however much you wish. In Jan. we charged our cards with 10,000W and Ben was able to use it for 3 days and then again today with more to spare. It saves money in the long haul and the convenience of it is great.
With T-Money cards in hand we hoped a line and attempted to head for the Korean War Memorial and Museum.
Korean War Monument
In the distance from the KWM is N-Tower atop Mt. Namsan. Next trip, we didn't make it this time.
Another shot of N-Tower
Peace Tower Clock
The inscription on a separate clock just across the path:
The Clock of Hope for Peaceful Unification
Someday when unification is realized, this clock will be put on the clock tower, and will indicate the time of unification.
A few of the large decorative swords we saw in the displays.
No words needed, I heart Starbucks! (wherever I am)
One of my favorite parts of the day by far! mmmm...a grand vanilla latte in a nice big mug with a warm iced cinnamon roll = heaven!!!
A few shots of our wander through Namdemun Market aka cheap souvenir central. Its packed with people selling any and everything. Also a great place and known for pick-pocketing glad it didn't happen to any of us.
A few cheap things I picked up: 2 pair of nice wooden chop sticks, 2 decorative Soju cups just thought they were so cute but they definitely won't be used for Soju bleh!, and a Korean flag you just gotta get one from everywhere you go.
We were in downtown Seoul headed to Lotte Dept. Store so Ben could get a few Krispy Kreme donuts and we heard some pomp and circumstance going on at the temple so Casey and I ditched the boys and ran across the street to capture what we found out was the changing of the guard ceremony. So glad we got to see this!
Elaborately painted drums and dress.
We were determined to capture what was left of the ceremony so we walked right up front and got some good shots.
Another hilight of the day, we ate at an Irish Pub with great food and beer.
Ben thoroughly enjoyed his fish and chips and Coke.
Sadly my food was extremely disappointing. Not sure how you mess up shepard's pie but they did, somehow got Koreanized and they killed it with Mozzarella cheese on top, although cheese is a treasure here it just didn't suit the dish and there is no need for over kill. And there was not a veggie to be found in the dish, oh well at least the beer was great!
Our last stop of the day was a hurried trip to Costco! We were rushing to catch our 8pm train home thankfully a cab driver knew where to go as we walked a ways and realized we had headed the wrong way. I was delighted to find corn tortilla chips, salsa, and honey-wheat pretzels. Ben even found a gray "hole-y blanket" if you know Ben this is a can't live without and he was desperate to find one here. He claims it helps him sleep better because the holes give him ventilation yet maintain some warmth.
WHEW! We made our train home... allow me to explain. After a quick run around Costco we had probably no more then 10 minutes to catch a cab and get to the train station which we knew was close, so it shouldn't have been a problem. But of course it was. Our cabby first pretended to not understand us, we said keecha (train) and we showed him our tickets and then apparently he finally got it. However, he must have not liked 4 hurried Americans as passengers because he took the longest round about route to the train station and when we hoped out of the cab Ian look at his watch and yelled, "We have one minute to make this train!!!" We all took off running up a massive amount of stairs and arms full of Costco stuff.
I was in front, then Ben, Casey, and Ian. We absolutely booked like crazy through the people to the other side of the train station down another massive flight of stairs and to the train where we hopped on just in the nick of time. I'm sure many people were wondering what was going on with us running like our pants where on fire but we were determined to make this train.
I can't even tell you how much adrenaline was pumping through my veins. I remember turning around and not seeing Ian or Casey and thinking they weren't going to make it and then when I made it to the train I turned around and there they were! WHEW! What a relief. I honestly don't know how we made it but we did and thats all that mattered.
As I was the first person on the train I pulled out our tickets and looked for our seats. I headed into car #2 and realized our seats had been taken which didn't bother me a bit because the car was packed out. So we turned around and headed back to car #1 where there was hardly anyone and planted ourselves after a long but fun day.
The ticket guy came by and asked us for our tickets, as we were not sitting in our seats and we probably looked suspicious. I search in my coat pocket and pulled them out only to look at them and realize I only had our Jecheon-Seoul ticket not the return ones. I realized when we had walked out of the train station I had accidentally deposited our return tickets in the bin. Panic struck me again when I realized I'd have to explain this to someone who only spoke Korean. He told me to write it down and I did as simply as I could. He finally understood and wrote a few things on our tickets and walked on. WHEW! another bullet dodged!
Relaxing and catching our breath after a couple of close calls with the 8pm train home to Jecheon.
Korail, the train of choice when exploring Korea!
Until next time...