“Korea is like China, but different.” ~~Xuxu
Yesterday, after dropping off our visa applications, we ate lunch in the hotel and then headed out to Gyeongbokgung Palace. It was beautiful and amazingly similar to the Forbidden City in China.
But first, lets discuss lunch! Da’s company has put us up in a fancy shmancy hotel. One that we would NEVER have chosen for ourselves. We are in two rooms (something else we rarely do on our own) and each room is costing them around $400/night. We considered asking for different accommodations, but we remembered how difficult it was just to get accommodation, so we bit our tongues and moved on. (Let’s just say that the travel department isn’t the easiest way to schedule flights, arrange hotels, etc.) After dropping off our visa applications at the Mongolian Consulate, we decided that it would be quickest if we at lunch at the hotel. Our hotel is not situated in a location where there are lots of inexpensive places to eat. It is up on a hill, surrounded by Embassies and government offices. It was about a quarter after 11 and we decided to order food rather than wait for the buffet to open (noon). While we were eating, the buffet was set up and we were AMAZED at the amount and type of food being offered!
note: We did not eat the buffet for lunch. We ordered a selection of Korean and Japanese dishes.
Below you’ll see the sea bass, lamb and an entire leg of pork. There was also a selection of beef from Australia.
I don’t know exactly what these are, but they looked pretty amazing! Right after this area was an area where the chefs were preparing loads of sushi!
This is the sight that amazed me the most! These HUGE containers were filled with the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen, king crab and scallops! As we ate we watched these be refilled several times! This selection alone was worth the price of the buffet!
This is the dessert selection. Again, I don’t recognize most of it. The tins on the top left are full of the most amazing ice creams. Even though we didn’t purchase the buffet, my kids (as usual) charmed the socks off of our servers and were treated with HUGE bowls of ice cream and a bowl full of “jellies” when we finished our lunch.
Xuxu is laughing because we were just delivered a huge assortment of desserts.
Mouse enjoyed the Japanese Curried Chicken!
After lunch we took two taxis and headed to Gyeongbokgung Palace. We heard music as we were buying tickets and arrived just in time to witness the end of the changing of the guards.
We did not have time to take the tour, so we just walked around, took photos and plan on learning more about the Palace and the history of Korea when we are settled in UB.
The old and the new:
Below is a Ginko Biloba tree. They were everywhere around the Palace and apparently the nuts are cooked into a congee.
We found these zodiac statues near the Folk Museum of Korea. Inside the museum we were amazed to find movable type and printed books as old as 1234 A.D. Learn more here.
These buildings are just outside the palace. I love the architecture in Asia!
As we came around the side/front of the Palace on the outside walls we found that they were changing the guards again.
This dragon made me think of Sat. morning cartoons. ;o)
Observations about Korea:
- Driving. We expected the driving to be a lot like China. It is and it isn’t. Taxi drivers are agressive and argue just like they do in China, they also drive over the speed limit. Unlike China, they pretty much stay in their lane, they stop at stop lights and the have GPS! We laugh and laugh at the GPS that announces LOUDLY that they are speeding! It is ignored! Taxi’s here also have seat belts! AMAZING!
- Crossing the street. We are dumbfounded that people here actually cross the street at the cross walks. They even WAIT for the little green walking guy! Ha ha! If you’ve been to China, you’ll know why I’m laughing! Cars and busses in Korea stop at the lights and people actually trust that they will!
- Boyfriends. They still carry their girlfriend’s purse! Same.
- I’ve decided that Consulates are the same world wide. Small, cramped and smelly. The only difference here was that we must have had the only “hard working” consulate employee on the planet. This guy was cruisin’!
- We do not get stared at here like we have in other places. We have only had one question about the kids being “ours.” I wonder if it is because of the military presence here.
- We haven’t found as many English speakers as we find in China. Our taxi driver yesterday was the first and he was a reader! He discussed many topics with us. I love readers!
We are off to breakfast now and then we are catching the Seoul City Bus Tour. It looks to be the best way for us to see the city with our limited schedule! We head out to UB in the morning! I’m excited to see my new home!