December 2009


That last Thursday I had to check out of the co-op – I had grandiose plans about making my way to Tokyo for a few days before my flight back to the States on Saturday, but that quickly fell by the wayside. Mainly, it was way too expensive, and I was exhausted, both mentally and physically.

So I checked myself into one of the fanciest hotels in Seoul, in one of the fanciest neighborhoods – the Imperial Palace Hotel in the neighborhood of Gangnam. This hotel was no joke.

The Imperial Palace Hotel at night.

The toilet alone (I just realized how much I’ve talked about toilets, but really, they were totally different than anything I’ve experienced before!) was worth it – it was heated, had about 20 different controls, AND had an automatic lid that opened and closed on command. I did NOT take a picture of it. 😉 I promptly passed out for the entire rest of the day, in my luxurious king-sized bed.

Friday was my last full day in Korea, and I did a little test for myself, successfully taking a taxi to and from the Coex Mall, where I did my last-minute souvenir shopping, and generally tried to soak in as much of the Seoul atmosphere as possible.

I treated myself to breakfast at one of the many coffee shops at the Coex Mall. I felt very worldly, sipping my coffee and reading my (English) newspaper.

After I got back to the hotel, I putzed around a bit, flirted with the idea of taking another nap, and found myself down in the lobby area where they also had a coffee/lounge place.

Yummy little pastry that cost me 15 buckaroos…

I spent the afternoon and night with my old Korean tutor Hyejin (love that girl, she is so awesome and rad.) We walked around Myeongdung, ate ice cream, did some shopping, then went to a restaurant in the neighborhood where we sat and ate, and consumed a reasonable amount of soju…

Some stew, I forget the name of it, but it had yummy beef in it and noodles, and was, of course, delicious.

We said our goodbyes at the subway station, and promised each other that we’d keep in touch, and that I’d come back and visit as soon as I could. (which, because I loved it so much, can’t come soon enough, really.)

Oppa picked me up on Saturday afternoon at the hotel, for my evening flight back to California (he accidentally hit the “HELP!” button in the bathroom, so when the front desk called the room asking if everything was okay, I had to lie and say I had accidentally hit the button, sorry my bad.  But who does that?!)

In general, I was trying not to get too emotional, but I was truly sad to leave. The whole car ride there, I found myself staring out the window, and trying to hold back the tears (behind my very large sunglasses so Oppa wouldn’t call me a baby.)

The outside of the 63 Building – the picture doesn’t really do it justice, since the exterior up close is bright gold.

I love this picture, which I took on the way to the airport…it kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Goodbye Mother Land!

I left on Saturday at 5:50 pm, and arrived back in California on Saturday at 12 noon. It felt odd GAINING time back, but I was pretty exhausted after the long flight , so I couldn’t really enjoy the “extra” time that I was given. It felt weird eating American food, and using a fork – I wanted to eat Korean food, and use chopsticks! I also attempted to stay awake until nighttime, to get back myself on California time, but I passed out on the sofa around 6 or so…

And now I’m back, dreaming of Korea, and hoping to go back soon….Stay tuned!