While I was in Seoul, I met so many amazing people and I had such a great time. But now that I’m home I can’t help but feel a little sad. I enjoyed my time so much and was so excited and busy and happy, the time just flew by. It felt so fleeting. And I wish I had taken more pictures. I guess I feel sad because I miss it, and because I now feel so sure that I want to move there and work there. I have to. And I’m working hard towards that. So this post is more going to be an opportunity to show you some of my favourite pictures from my trip, and what they are of and why I love them so much. Just warning you, its gonna get cheesy….
These first two images are both from my first night in Seoul. Basically as soon as I had changed and washed up a bit, we went straight to have Fried Chicken and beer (치맥) and then as the night continued more beers and soju (소맥). These two images are included because it was my first night, and I was therefore really excited. But also because it was this evening that I met up with so many of the friends that I met up with throughout my 11 days. I had been a little nervous about meeting up with them all, as we all came from different places and I was a little worried they might be awkward… or weird… and it turned out that they were but in a way that matched with my own awkward and weird. So we got along right away.
These six images are all from different days, but they are all images that remind me of the phenomenal generosity and thoughtfulness of the people I met for the first time. Whether it was through planning activities for me to do with them, hosting me and feeding me delicious food, or simply making me laugh with them like we had been friends for years rather than hours, I was so privileged to be treated so kindly. If any of you guys are reading, I miss you tonnes and I can’t wait to see you soon. 이따가 봐요. 제가 한잔 사는 겁니다~
These pictures show part of some of my favourite examples of traditional Korean architecture (한옥). These buildings use specific colours or Dancheong (단청) to indicate significance. There are five basic colors that are used, and signify the five elements; blue (the east, the dragon, spring and the element of wood), red (the south, birds, summer, and fire), white (the west, tiger, fall, and gold), black (the north, hyeonmu – an imaginary animal that is part turtle and part snake – winter, and water) and yellow (the center, the periods between seasons, and Earth). Dancheong not only had a decorative function but also a protective one, preserving a building’s wood from rotting due to wind, rain and vermin. The vibrant colours were also believed to protect a building from evil spirits and emphasize the authority of its resident. As soon as I saw these painstakingly beautiful eaves and pillars, I was captivated by the detail, the symbolism and the bright contrast to some of the more conservative and monochrome styles of other buildings. It was beautiful. And once it was pointed out to me once, I saw elements of it everywhere.
These shots show one of the last big group gatherings that us big bunch of foreigners had before all disappearing. Our first full gathering was actually filmed and you can watch us celebrating here. (wassup #DongDongSquad) My first trip to Korea was basically made possible because this crazy bunch of people from all over all wanted to meet up and have fun together in Seoul. So that’s what we did. Also, an especially big thank you to Sohyun Moon who put up with us all, was a kind and patient host and was the reason for us all to gather. 수현아, 다음에 우리가 만날 때, 나는 저녁을 살것이다~ 알겠어? I hope that this gathering becomes an annual event.
This is a shot of the street my Hotel was on in Sinchon, and I love it because I took it on the first Sunday I was there, I was on my way to church (before I got horrendously lost) and it was raining. The street was so quiet and the sound of the rain on the pavement, and the leaves was so soothing. I felt so comfortable and at ease in a city, country and continent I had never been in before. It was one of the first times on the trip where I thought to myself “yeah, I’m going to really like living here.”
This is my friend Christina. I hadn’t seen Christina since our leavers day at sixth form, which was 6 years ago (oh lawdy I’m old) and we re-united on my last visit. When we met up went to the cutest little dessert cafe in Itaewon, although it did take us a while to find it and once we did find it we couldn’t figure out how to open the door. But once we sat down, and had a general catch up, I was delighted to discover that she was GETTING MARRIED! I was obviously super excited, and just to add to the excitement so invited me to her wedding and introduced me to her charming fiancee. I’m so excited to go to their wedding, if a little nervous as I will be the only foreigner and non-Korean speaker, and it’ll be my first Korean wedding so I will be sure to tell you all about what to do at a Korean wedding and how I will prepare. But anyways, congratulations Christina, 수윤 언니와 정남 오빠 축하해요! 이따가 봐요~~
These photos are from my quick visit to Kanghwa-do which is an island, just of the Korean peninsula, about an hour and a half drive from Seoul. I was taken to Kanghwa by the curate of the church I attended in Seoul, as she was born and raised on the island, and she gave me a tour of some of the many interesting historical sites in Kanghwa. I hope to go again, as I only saw a little bit. But what I did see was beautiful, and so interesting. I have included these photos because it was one of the moments on my visit where I was hugely motivated to learn more Korean in order to communicate better with those I met (강 목사님 죄송합니다. 나는 한국어를 배우기 위해 열심히 일할 것이다~) but I also appreciated how patient and generous people were despite the barriers in communication. For example, the flower in the photo below was actually an edible herb, grown on Kanghwa-do and was unique to the island and the season. A festival was being hosted and the stewards gave me and Reverend Kang some to sample for free. This was just after some kind ajumma had given us some free tteok as we walked past. There was never any push for a sale, or a catch involved, I think I must just have looked curious and they wanted to be nice. And it was. My time on Kanghwa-do was definitely a happy one.
I hope you enjoyed looking at my pictures, you will probably see some more later on in the month, but these were just some of my favourites.
What did you think? Please leave a comment below. 맛있게 드셨어요? 아래에 의견을 남겨 주세요.
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @ConnieunKiga