Hello family and friends!
It feels like it was so long ago that I was on a plane ride to be a part of Ashley’s adventure on the other side of the world, and what an adventure it was! It is always exciting and challenging travelling to a place so different from what you are used to but Seoul wasn’t as different as I had imagined it to be. In a lot of ways it is very much like Toronto in that there are different districts and neighbourhoods to explore, restaurants and bars galore and lots of tourist sites (albeit a lot more of those things that were a lot more interesting than in Toronto). In the couple of weeks that my mom and I were in Seoul we were able to see and do so much thanks to Ashley’s careful planning and research, it would be nearly impossible for me to go through it all.
The part I enjoyed the most about this trip though was getting some insight into the everyday happenings of life in Seoul. Ashley Teacher was of great assistance in this aspect as were the long subway rides where you can comfortably people watch from a seat if you were fast enough to get one. For example when handing money back and forth in a shop, it is polite to hand it to each other using two hands or if handing it in one hand, to touch your forearm with the empty hand. It is such a small act that you may not even notice it unless it was brought to your attention and it made me think about the subtle body language I use back home to interact with others. Some more specific travel memories include dressing in hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and strolling from one palace (Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeokgung Palace) to the next before heading back in time to the streets of Bukchon Hanok Village (a traditional village in Seoul).
It was interesting to see school groups, couples of all ages and teenagers longboarding at Gwanghwamun Square all decked out in their hanbok attire. It was a fun way to interact with the culture, the sites and the people around us. It was the same day in Gwanghwamun Square that we happened upon a cultural festival (the Seoul Arirang Festival). The first booth we visited we chose Korean proverbs (from a heavy book of hundreds to choose from) that were written in beautiful Korean characters on delicate rice paper. “Be mindful of even small trivial things” seemed to fit my feelings about this amazing trip.
This also wouldn’t be a good blog post if I didn’t give a shout out to the amazing food we had including: BBQ, tteokbokki, bulgogi, gyeran-bbang, kimbap (both cylindrical and triangular) and bimbimbap to name a few. Thanks also to Ashley’s friends who included us in their Canadian Thanksgiving dinner which made us feel right at home. Here’s to more global adventures!