South Korea – Part 2

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you’ve had a good week!  The Hoch and I are still in Bangkok and man it is hot here!  This will definitely take some time for us to adjust to.  Yesterday we walked around in a constant state of sweatiness and everyone else doesn’t even seem bothered by it!  What is their secret!?!

Anyways, since my South Korea – Part 1 post covered a lot, I am going to try and keep Part 2 short and sweet and let the photos do most of the talking.  Besides the small road trip we took with Hoch’s family, the rest of our time was spent in Seoul, which is pretty massive.  Unlike NYC, which is an island and can really only expand upward, Seoul is this huge sprawl of a city with so many different neighborhoods.  To be honest, if it weren’t for Hoch’s family, we would not have stayed here as long as we did, but it was nice to stay in one spot for a little bit.  Now that we are in southeast Asia, we will not have that luxury for a while.

Here are a few additional photos from our time in Seoul:

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Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)
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Gyeongbokgung Palace
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Gyeongbokgung Palace
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Chamweh (참외)- Korean melon like fruit
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Random Barley Field in the middle of Seoul

We stayed in Seoul long enough to celebrate Hoch’s birthday and one of Hoch’s great friends from NYC, Mike, was able to come out and join us for a bit.  We ate way too much food, drank way too much beer and soju, walked a lot, went site seeing, went to a Korean ㅠbathhouse (more on this later), and even went out to Karaoke one night.  Thanks for coming out to see us Mike!

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Seoul Subway System Map

Public transportation, bus and subway, were both very good in Seoul.  But since everything is so spread out, it always took us about an hour to get anywhere.

Cool time lapse video that Mike took:

Here are some photos from when Mike was with us (I stole some photos from his album as well!):

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Noodles (칼국수) and Dumplings Soup (만두국) – Photo Credit Mike Pimentel
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Shopping Area in Insa-dong – Photo Credit Mike Pimentel
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Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁)- Photo Credit Mike Pimentel
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Changdeokgung Palace – Photo Credit Mike Pimentel
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Changdeokgung Palace
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Changdeokgung Palace
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Homemade Korean Style Dinner by Mrs. Hoch
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Massive Lunch – Photo Credit Mike Pimentel
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Karaoke Night – It was a lot of fun even though it was just the 3 of us
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Drinking Food – Mussels and Sea Snails
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Drinking Food – Silkworm (it has a kick! per most Korean food)
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I need one of these all the time
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Rice cake stew (떡복이)

Before I go, I have to tell you about my Korean bathhouse experience.  I do not have pictures from this experience and you will understand why in a minute.  You may squirm or laugh, but I have to share this experience as it is a pretty big culture shock.  The Korean spa (jjimjilbang – 찜질방) is a large, segregated bathhouse that is a must when in South Korea.  I will start by saying, Hoch’s uncle owns the particular spa that we went to and his aunt is a manager there, so they gave us the VIP treatment.

We get to the spa around 10am.  His aunt asks us how long we need to shower.  I am like I only need like 10 min and then they decide we will meet in the common area at 11:45am.  I am thinking is it really going to take that long?  We say our goodbyes and Hoch’s aunt leads me through the women’s locker room, shower, and shows me how to get to the common area.  She tells me to undress and to go to the shower area when ready.  Hoch had warned me so I was not completely in the dark, but once you get into the segregated areas, expect to see several naked people.  There were women blow drying their hair naked, putting on makeup naked, just walking around everywhere naked.  And for the most part the majority of women I see are older women.

So I undress in the comfort of my locker alley.  I am standing there naked, am taking a deep breathe and preparing myself to walk out into the main area and all of the sudden here comes Hoch’s aunt.  I’m like great, now she’s seen me naked.  She’s like come on Kimberly, walks me to the showers and talks to one of the women in the massage area.  She tells me to shower, get in the common hot tub, wait for my number to be called, then I will shower again when finished (all in broken English).  Then she goes on her way.  So I look around and just copy what everyone else is doing.  There are stand up showers, sit down showers, and several large bath tubs the size of small swimming pools that are all different temperatures.  I shower at one of the stand up showers closest to the door and then get in one of the tubs closest to the massage station.  I hang out for a while waiting for my number to be called.  The massage area has wall partitions, but is not completely closed off so I can somewhat see and hear what I am in store for.  Finally the lady calls me in.

There are 3 stations and all 3 women are wearing mesh see through underwear.  The lady has me lay face up on a waterproof massage table.  She puts on those scrub glove things and the Korean body scrub begins.  She.Scrubs.Everything.  She has me turning all which way and pretty much removed a layer of my skin.  Not to give you a visual, but the amount of dead skin cells that came off of me was insane.  She would throw warm water on me to wash them away as she was scrubbing.  When she finally thought she scrubbed enough, she gave me a wash down and told me to go rinse off.  I thought I was finished, but then she calls me back in.  This time she starts massaging, poking and prodding my face.  She puts on a cucumber face mask and then a see through mesh face mask thing and then moves onto massaging my body.  She then dowses me with baby oil and starts massaging and smacking my entire body (there were a couple of a** smacks which almost made me laugh out loud).  And just to remind you, there is no modest towel covering your privates, everything is out on display.  I thought I was going to slip right off the table due to all the oil as she had me flip over and around several times.  Finally she washes and rinses my hair and tells me I can go rinse off now.  By the time I was finished, it was 11:30am, just in time to go meet with the guys.

So there you have it.  My first Korean spa experience.  They say most Koreans go once a week to get the Korean scrub.  I would do it again, but I am glad I was solo.  It may have been more awkward to go with a friend or family member.  Though maybe not?  What would you prefer?

Anyways after the shower, I met up with Hoch and Mike in the common area and we just relaxed, checked out some of the saunas, and returned to the showers to get ready for a late lunch with his family.

Mike took this video of me and him goofing off in the spa gym:

For more photos of our time in South Korea, check out this link:

South Korea Album

We have Hoch’s family to thank for this leg of the trip.  His parents paid for several meals and lodging on our road trip with them.  His mom cooked us lunch and dinner several times.  His aunt and uncle hooked it up at at the spa and lunch after.  His other uncle treated us to a couple of meals at both his restaurant and out on the town.  His other aunt also treated us to a large meal at her restaurant.  And his cousin let us stay at his apartment since he and his family were in Shanghai.  To say they hooked it up is an understatement and we owe them all big time!  Khamsahamnida (thank you in Korean)!!

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Have a good weekend!

Kimberly

Hoch’s Thoughts:

-Much appreciation goes to Kimberly for dealing with my sometimes crazy family (but whose isn’t) during my long-overdue visit to motherland. She is a true champ. Let’s just say not many would be willing to get butt naked in front of strangers after my detailed and graphic warnings of things to come.

-Seoul, and South Korea in general, is ever-changing and whole neighborhoods are unrecognizable every time I visit every 1.5 to 2 years. I may sound like an old-timer but it makes me sad that it has lost much of its charm that I remember as a pre-teen while at the same time amazed by the adaptability and resilience of Koreans despite tough economic climate.

-Koreans eat big, drink big and (generally) stay skinny. I suspect traditionally, much of it had to do with the food they eat; I did read about and notice first-hand that obesity rate is on the climb with inclusion of western diet, especially for younger generations.

-Thanks for visiting Mike! Just so y’all know, he works for Delta and flies for free on standby; we didn’t know he was going to come for sure until the day before. He’s crazy. I also have to mention that every one of my family members as well as several strangers commented to me how handsome he is. His looks are international, it’s official.

4 thoughts on “South Korea – Part 2

  1. Thanks Hoch and Kimberly for letting me tag along! I had a blast and even though it was a short trip, I was able to experience a lot of new and delicious things (especially jwipo). Also thanks to Hoch’s family for hosting and spending time with us. Stay cool in Thailand and keep the posts coming!

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