Sorry it's taken me so long get in touch - I was having a few problems with the blog site!
So, this adventure started in the same way most trips do for me…rushing to finish packing, trying to remember everything and attempting to pack everything I'll need for several years of traveling whilst still staying under my weight limit! HA!
After a few tears shed saying goodbye to my parents at Heathrow I managed to sleep through most of the very turbulent 10 hour flight to South Korea, only waking up for meals and to watch the odd bit of TV (and watch as one very flustered air hostess completely stacked it down the middle of the aisle - shouldn't laugh, but….well, it was really funny - mind you, most things are funny when you've been trapped in a flying tin can for 7 hours or so!!).
After finally making it through customs and passport control I bought my 10,000won ticket for the Airport Limousine (which is more like a glorified school bus) and headed out in an attempt to find the correct stop (not as easy as it sounds!)
Alighting at the correct stop (Chungjeongno Stn) I followed the directions to my first hostel - talk about an up-hill climb (especially with my bags in tow!) I've seen smaller mountains than that! - the thought of facing that climb for a second time that day on top of a mild case of jet lag meant that I headed off to bed rather than out to find food!
Having gone to bed so early the night before, I woke up at around 6am (why I couldn't tap into this kind of body clock when I really needed to get up at 6am is beyond me!). Unable to get back to sleep, I decided to go for a wander round the local area (not wanting to stray too far before I had the chance to get a map!)
Seoul is a very strange city! During what became a walk round the block you'd pass big, modern, spangly sky scrapers next to small shanty towns and people selling anything and everything at pavement stalls as they kept warm next to an open fire of wooden slats in the middle of the pavement! (health and safety? BAH!).
The next stop on my schedule was the Myogaksa Temple.
My first hurdle in getting there was finding the correct metro line entrance at Seoul Station (which is busier than Bank Station in rush hour!). The second hurdle was buying a ticket. After managing to locate the ticket machines behind a mass of people, it took me a moment to realise that this rabble of people was the queue. So, after much shuffling (not to mention a little pushing and shoving) I made it to the front of the 'queue'. Thankfully the first thing I saw when I got to the machine was a big button that said 'English'! So without much trouble at all, I got my ticket and headed down to the platform.
After a short journey I reached Dongmyo Station and headed to the temple where I would be spending the next 2 days.
After a small hiccup at the temple and the program almost being cancelled, 4 of us signed in and were given our uniforms (which were a trendy shade of bright orange!!) for the weekend and were shown to our rest room.
The temple stay was good (if a little odd) and involved a lot of bowing and chanting, tonnes of meditation, some more bowing, a fair amount of bell ringing and a heck load of tea!! Not to mention the getting up stoooopidly early for the pre dawn ceremony (I'm talking 4.30am!!)
The rest of my time in Seoul was spent looking round the Gyeongbokgung Palace (which makes Buckingham Palace look like a studio apartment!!), Deoksugung Palace (not quite as grand, but just as interesting) and trying to find some veggie food! There were tonnes of places selling noodles etc, but all of them had meat of some description in (beef/chicken/prawn/jack russell…you get the idea!).
I finally made it out of Korea (after a few hiccups at the check-in desk - it took them about 45 minutes to find my name on their system…it might have something to do with the fact that they were spelling it wrong!!)
Anyway, due to the rather lengthy check-in, I was running late and my flight was already boarding…..so with only 10 minutes before departure, they fast tracked me through security and passport control and accompanied me right to the door of the plane! (probably to make sure that I left the country!)
and so, on to Sydney........