I try to embark on an international trip at least once every year. My destination is usually Taiwan since my parents reside there; however, I was fortunate enough to go to Seoul, Korea since my resourceful parents found a sick tour package.
Plane ticket from Taipei + 3 hotel nights + all meals = $500 for Taiwanese passport holders ($600 for US passport holders). Not only was our hotel decent, but our meals were tasty and always complimented with fresh kimchi. The agency we used was Lion Travel and they were not only organized, but also our guides were informative and days were eventfully planned.
Our first day, we woke up at 6:30 for a quick breakfast and boarded the tour bus for a two hour drive to the first stop: Petite France. As a result of highly popular Korean dramas, this stop was focused on top dramas that were filmed here/Kpop stars that were here. I don’t keep up with Korean dramas so from my perspective, this place was just a random cute European fake town. It had overpriced “French” cafes and antique shops. I was mildly entertained with all the little houses, but after about 40 minutes, I was ready to move on to our next stop.
After a one hour drive and 10 min ferry ride, we reached our second stop: Nami Island. Despite this being another famous place for where a Kdrama was filmed, the island’s beauty and miscellaneous activities contributed to a delightful experience. Nami’s sky-reaching trees, wild ostrich park, disturbingly creative sculptures, and serene parks were a few of the highlights. A two hour drive later, we arrived at our third stop: Lotte World Adventure. When I found out we were wasting three hours at this amusement park, I was quite immensely disappointed. An amusement park is at the bottom of my list of to-dos in Seoul. I mean, we’re in SEOUL! In spite of this, my family and I sucked it up and enjoyed Lotte World as if we were all children again. And we walked out of that world a little younger. Last stop was Namsan Park, where the Love Lock Bridge and Seoul Tower were at. This was my favorite stop of the day because we not only had a picturesque view of Seoul, but also were surrounded by remnants of hopeful love. Our second day began with Kimchi school! I am a kimchi lover so this was the highlight of my trip. (Did you know there are 200+ types of kimchi? I want to try them all.) The class was very brief and I wish the teacher talked slower since my elementary-level mandarin had a hard time keeping up. In the end, we packaged our handmade kimchi to be sent to the orphanage/nursing home next door (brilliant idea) and were rewarded with a kimchi tasting. We tried four different types of kimchi (with complimentary kimchi pancake). I think I ate half the plate. After class, we headed downstairs for a photo shoot. The pictures below presents the future royal Korean Mar family (excl the brother and sister-in-law). The downside to traveling with a tour group is there are always portions of the trip that are dedicated to selling tourists unnecessary things. In this case, we were led to a ginseng and special berry shop which sold pricey products that can “magically heal” any possible ailment you can think of. Yeah, pass.
Our last event was a comedy kung fu show, called Jump, and it was unexpectedly one of the funniest shows I’ve ever watched. The best part is that anyone can watch and understand the show since it is presented with hilarious sound effects/body expressions rather than a language. This is a must see! The food! It’s times like these when I wish I had an extra stomach. Every meal had a different type of kimchi. My conclusion is when there’s kimchi, it’s always a good meal. Upholding our reputation as big eaters, we were always the only family who finished every meal with an empty plate. What can I say? Stay hungry, my friends. Lion Travel did an excellent job with the tour (and I still can’t believe the ridiculously low price). However, I hope to return to Korea without a tour group and explore other areas in Seoul and other provinces, like Jeju Island.
Other than further strengthening the wanderlust in me, this trip also strengthened my appreciation for family.