This was an exciting weekend for my friends and I! Here in South Korea, there are no major holidays during the spring semester. Back in the United States, we would have Spring Break, Good Friday, and other holidays in between. In Korea, there are only two holidays throughout the semester which are Children’s Day, and Memorial Day. We had finally arrived on a three day weekend, something I have been looking forward since I arrived. I did not plan on traveling outside of Seoul since I figured it would be busy, and I asked some of my friends on where they were going this weekend. Some of them went Taiwan, Singapore, China, Japan, Thailand, Busan, Jeju Island, and more. They wanted to take advantage of this weekend, and I wish I could have gone with them. The only problem is that I have class on Friday’s and they do not.
I took the time to ask some other friends on what to do, and they had already planned something! Saturday morning we arrived at Gyeongbokgung Palace. A placed I had already visited, but what made this trip an experience is that we dressed in traditional clothing (Hanbok). We figured it was about time to step out of our comfort zones a little. I loved the clothing and everything about it! It was a warm day, but the clothing had this cooling effect which made it great. On top of that, they mentioned if we wear the Hanbok then we do not have to pay the admission to enter the Palace. I wish they had a system like that back where I live, it would be great. The place we went to rent the Habok only charged us five dollars more than the fee to enter the Palace, but within the Palace are other entrances that had fees. We figured it was a better investment in the long run. As we walk to the Palace, many people were stopping and staring at us, but we did not care one bit. We walked confidently, and people stopped to take pictures of us from a distance. There were a few brave ones that wanted to take a picture up close with them. We walked as much as we can, admiring the view, and the people dressed up in traditional clothing. Later that night, we attended a lantern festival in celebration for Buddha’s Birthday. It was a day to remember, we laughed and had so much food as well. I need to watch what I eat, because it feels like I am going to gain some weight.
As for my Sunday, we traveled to Yeoju to explore more of the country side of Seoul. This was more of a spontaneous trip since we were unsure about what we could do there. Once we arrived, we looked at the map and saw that Yeoju had museums and other historical places as well. Seeing that we do not have cellular service, we mostly depend on wifi. You can image what happened, we got lost for a few hours wandering around the town looking for signs of a museum or anything to help. The picture we took of the map was a little off in directions, we just could not tell where we were. Time was not on our side, because we also needed to make sure we would get on the last train back to Seoul. We went a random direction and thankfully by chance, we made it to the river which was on the map! Somehow we arrived to a park, made our way to the top and took a snack break! We rested for an hour, and admired the view of the mountains and the river. It feels great to escape the huge city of Seoul. From a distance, there were camp sites all around the river. Once we had rested, I asked my friends if we could just relax along the river as the sunsets.
While we had originally planned to do a lot in Yeoju, but sometimes things do not go as planned. Regardless I loved the the scenery and just the atmosphere that the city had to offer. That is one of the places that I will revisit later on throughout the semester. Once we were made it home we felt tired and exhausted. It did not look like we will make it home! We decided to go to a Jimjilbang. Here in Korea there are many Jimjilbang, and this is basically a place where you can shower and go to the spa. There is only one catch, everyone is “free” if you know what I mean. At first I refused to go at all because I just was not ready for that. I figured that this was a cultural difference since people in western cultures think that this is strange and that they would never do this. Where as in here, people normally go and do not find it strange at all. So I decided I might as well do this even if it is only once. As friends we gave a look at one another to always make eye to eye contact. At first the experience was actually great, there were many hot tubs, and an herbal hot tub which just helped us relax our muscles from the walking we did today. Once we finished resting, we headed to the common area to just sit down and watch a K-drama, as well as enjoy some ice cream. We stayed overnight and just enjoyed our time there. This was a traditional weekend, and I am not afraid of going to a Jimjilbang again! Stay tuned for more adventures to come here in Korea!