Oh my goodness, where were we?
Last you heard we were still in full winter mode dutifully running out of the way of galloping horses. A few things have changed since then – for starters, the snow is gone! The snow is gone! And I shall say it again – the snow is gone (because it melted and went away and then had the audacity to come back while we were out of town but now it’s gone again!).
Yes, it seems that spring is in the process of making its way to UB and it is much needed. The “no winter parka” weather also coincided with the kids’ spring break and my birthday so we headed to Korea ’cause you know, it’s one of the few countries that is relatively easy to reach from here.
And by “relatively easy,” this is what travel from UB to Seoul can look like: getting picked up at 7:45am, 2 hours before your flight to head to the airport. Once there you navigate the smallest space possible as Chinggis Khan airport is undergoing major renovations for this year’s ASEM conference that is happening in UB this summer; then you check in and pray you’re not delayed or re-routed because the sky suddenly turned white and there have been whispers in the news about another snowstorm and we all know that the airport will shut down in no time due to inclement weather. You’re also the sole adult traveling with the kids and you don’t speak Mongolian as John has to be in Taiwan for work and the plan is to meet at the Seoul airport assuming both flights arrive more or less as planned (your fingers are firmly crossed).
You set up camp and listen carefully to any announcements about the flight (there aren’t any, whew), you board while the plane gets de-iced (of course, it’s Mongolia) and then fly a little over 3 hours kindly declining to eat the meal as its smell still haunts you when you deplane.
You arrive in Seoul and its crazy big airport and find your way to the train to take you to the terminal while holding onto two kids and their rolling carry-ons that they just cannot hold any longer because they are so heavy, Mom …. anyways, you manage to convince them to carry their own luggage while encouraging their traveling independence (you’re old enough!) as you bite your tongue while holding their hands firmly so you don’t loose them in a sea of rushed travelers who seem more eager than you to get where they need to go and will have no mercy pushing their way through or shoving your kids aside (welcome to Asia).
You find immigration and oh my goodness, you are so not alone. No. You wait almost an hour standing in line behind what seem like at least 3 other full flights of non-Koreans who also want to see what this place is all about. You bribe your kids with lollipops and think of silly games to play as you stand in line – after almost an hour since you starting this getting in line business, you might become a little irritated and may have looked around pleadingly for some assistance. Your prayers are heard and a Korean airport official comes over and takes you to the front of the line; just you and your kids. No one else. You briefly panic until you realise it’s the right line the gentleman is leading you to and you’re supposed to be here and are not getting pulled aside because you *possibly* rolled your eyes one too many times while whispering a few words about the airport’s inefficiency under your breath. Whew. You enter Korea, find your suitcase, and your husband who fortunately made his flight despite a moment of panic when he arrived at the gate in Taiwan a few minutes after his flight was supposed to leave (thank goodness for a delay).
You find a taxi and are immediately confronted with a major language barrier. After 2o minutes of trying to communicate of where we want to go, you get everyone out of the taxi and unload your bags searching for another driver with whom you can communicate. You fortunately find this person and then make your way to the hotel. Since the airport is about an hour’s drive away from the city, you have ample time to catch your breath. You then check into your hotel, unpack briefly and head out to explore. By then it’s way past 4pm and everyone (fine, perhaps it was mostly me) is incredibly hungry and ready to eat NOW.
And then your vacation can officially start: Seoul searching for the perfect Korean foods. And, oh, were they were delish!!!
First up, Korean barbecue with meat that melted in your mouth just like butter. The kids were enthralled with the cooking at the table part.
After stocking up on meat, we tackled fish next. Many restaurants display tanks of fish and seafood and the kids couldn’t stop talking about wanting to pick out their next meal…. so they did. I’ll be honest, we didn’t quite know what was going to happen with the fish we picked or what else we’d be served but we were certainly not disappointed …. see this spread?
And then after we devoured the fish and asked for the bill, we realised there was a surprise next course – a spicy fish soup/stew, yummy!
For dinner, more seafood was on the menu – Luca demanded to enjoy some squid while in Korea so of course we had to oblige – yes, this is the kid who will not touch yogurt or fruit but will devour any type of seafood and a plate full of broccoli in no time.
And it wouldn’t have been a trip to Seoul without indulging the kids for a day at Lotteworld, a Korean amusement park where we spent pretty much an entire day until we could not walk one step further.
Before heading home, we did some shopping and spent a great afternoon catching up with friends posted to Seoul. So, not a bad quick little trip to do some “Seoul searching” – even if it takes pretty much all day to get there!