|Injeongjeon Area of Changdeokgung Palace|
Seoul is awesome. It reminds me a lot like Los Angeles, only better (mind you, I’m still only seeing it from a tourist’s perspective). I have not had a bad meal since we got to Seoul. In fact, we’ve taken to walking into random restaurants and have yet to be let down. Even the street food is amazing.
One of my favorite parts of London is The Underground. Athens had a decent subway. Seoul’s subway is fantastic. It’s clean, quiet, and goes everywhere. We purchased T-Cards, which allow us to load the card to use as transportation passes on subways, buses, and some taxis. We can also reload the cards and use them in some stores (like a credit card). Very convenient.
The morning began with an incredible breakfast: hae jang guk (picture here). It was the perfect combination of hot (temp), savory, and spicy. So good on cold mornings like today. We then ventured off to Changdeokgung Palace, which was one of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen.
From the palace we headed towards Reuben’s hotel to meet him, stopping for lunch along the way. I love walking through cities and have no idea why I don’t do it more while home. It’s something I have to change. According to my fitbit, the whole day totaled over 20,000 steps.
We met Reuben, Johnny (one of our translators from the Games), and Johnny’s friend Julie at the Hilton. We then made our way to the top of Namsan Mountain, to Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower). If you ever want to get a bird’s eye view of Seoul, and see how expansive the city really is, this is the place to go.
From Namsan Mountain, we made our way to Insadong for tea while we waited to meet up with Chris and Mountain (another one of our translators, and yes, that’s his name). Once the group was together, the details get a little “blurry”. We feasted on Korean BBQ, consuming more pork belly, soju, and beer than we care to admit/remember. It was an extremely fun evening, and a great way to say thank you, and goodbye, to our three Korean friends. Chris, Johnny and Mountain really helped get us through the Games. It’s hard to describe all that they did for us but, we truly appreciate them as friends.
So, here’s the “deep thought” of the day: It hit me while in the observatory deck of Seoul Tower. And it caught me off guard. While staring out at the 360 view of Seoul, I realized that my birth parents are potentially somewhere in this city. My mind wandered in a hundred different directions from there. I began looking at the different neighborhoods, wondering which one I would have grown up in. I wondered which neighborhood the police station, where I was found, was in.
I even began wondering if I had unknowingly passed my birth parents, or any relatives, on the street during all of our wandering around. It’s a very strange thing to look at every ajumma and wonder, “could that be my mother?”
And since then, though not always at the forefront of my mind, I am imagining what my life here in Korea would have been if I had never been adopted and brought to California. This is the rabbit hole that I did not want to go down. At least, not during this trip.
This just tells me that I do have to come back to Korea; I need to explore more on my own time.