First you pack – then you go! South Korea here we come!

Why does travel always start with frantic packing? Is this just me? Somehow, no matter how long ahead I plan – it seems that I’m tossing things in and out of my tiny carry-on suitcase as the taxi is pulling up to the door.

And another puzzle – why are the flights so long. Ok – I totally realize that it’s distance related – but 17 hours of travel. Is it really necessary? Oh – to beam me up Scotty.

But I got packed and noticed that my entire luggage is smaller than the carry-on’s of some of the other passengers. Did I forget something – of course – but that’s always the challenge. I don’t want to carry much – I have to lift it – so leaving something important at home is just expected.

And what do 2 little old ladies pack for 5 weeks in South Korea? Not much. 1 pair of pants packed, 1 pair of pants on, 3 tops packed, 1 top on, my favorite jean jacket with the big pockets, my rain jacket, PJ’s, slippers, a few pieces of underwear, my favorite warm jacket/sweater, 1 long-sleeved shirt in case it’s cold, and most importantly – books. I have an ipad – which really should be enough – but I love holding a book – so I grabbed 5 novels intending to donate them to strangers as Jill and I finish them.

And we’re off.

Flight from YUL to Detroit was uneventful. Hey – they gave us pretzels. That was nice. Then we hung around Detroit till the flight for Seoul was announced. Nice airport by the way – in case you plan trips by the quality of the airport. The Delta/Korean Air flight to Seoul was packed. Absolutely full. So much for thinking that the news would discourage visitors.

We had taken a window and an aisle, hoping that the middle would stay empty. No such luck. Our middle was a Colonel from the US Army – stationed in South Korea. Kinda reassuring actualy. He’s been here for 3 years – says it’s the safest place he’s ever been stationed. He and his wife and 2 kids are thinking of moving to South Korea when he finishes up in a year.

For meals they offer a Western and a Korean option (I take the Korean choice – it was yummy) – and we settle down for the long haul across half the US and all the Pacific Ocean. I can’t sleep – so I watch movies – Les Miserables, Coraline, Hyde Park on the Hudson, Parental guidance, Aribtrage. It was fun. My favorite – probably Les Miserables. Hard to admit – Parental guidance, while embarrassing predictable did make me cry. No one wants to be the “other” grand-parents. Coraline would give me nightmares if I was a kid, Aribitage was a waste of celluloid (but probably shot in digital – so no film was sacrificed).

We arrive in Seoul with no problems – and relying on the kindness of strangers, make our way to our adorable hostel – the Namu. It’s really an apartment that has been renovated into 4 bedrooms of various sizes – our ‘deluxe’ twin which has 3 beds, a 6 bed dorm with their own bathroom, and 2 other rooms – both with a double bed and a bunk bed. The main area has a nice comfy sofa, a lovely porch (Jill is sitting and reading as I type), a kitchen, a smallish dining table and 2 computers for everyone to use. Not a lot – but perfect for us. They even have free use of a washing machine.

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The location is the best part – on a quiet street right off a major ‘dining’ street packed with inexpensive restaurants of all types. There are at least 6 Korean BBQ places, a sushi place, and several coffee shops. We opt for a traditional Korean Restaurant – that means you sit on the floor – and get a bowl of Noodle and dried Shrimp soup to share. The soup was just $12 – and it was enough to feed at least 3 people – we left a lot. Food notes: We ordered mild – and trust me – that was spicy enough for me. And we didn’t care for the dried shrimp. Both Jill and I carefully picked out all the dried shrimp – so much for the protein part of the meal. And as you can tell – we sat on the floor – and needed help getting up!

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Back to the Namu – and to bed. One note before I go – beds in Korea are hard. Really hard. No – I mean like board hard. Beyond firm. But we are so exhausted we figure it doesn’t matter.

Good night Moon, Good night everyone!

The soup lady and the Intrepid traveler – signing off.

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