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Day Eight

The Homestay Korea director emailed me and said I could still do the Homestay, so I decided I wanted to. It was an option between a family with two young daughters or a single girl around our age. If I was alone I probably would have picked the family to experience more of the culture but I figured if I picked the girl we would be making friends and she could show us all the trendy places to go.

I went to the Homestay Korea office to pay alone and get the information. Michelle, Kevin, and the Canadians went to some of the castles we had missed being open the other day. I was a bit annoyed that we had new traveling companions since I hadn’t gotten to know them as well as the others.

After meeting up we went to the Aeon mall, the largest mall in Asia. I thought it was a good day overall. I went to a Casino and lost four bucks. I thought it was a good day overall, but apparently it wasn’t. Michelle and I had our first significant fight on the way home.

Day Nine

When we got back from being away from each other we were both extra nice and it relieved the tension. It was December 31st and after we checked into our new hostel I shut down. From being sick and it being so cold.

I decided not to go to Seoul Tower and out to the clubs that night. I did feel like crap and didn’t really regret it but if I wasn’t sick I wish I had gone.

The guy who ran the hostel (which was really only one room with 6 beds) never came back so I couldn’t ask for an extra key. Some nice girls from Taiwan let me borrow theirs after I promised I wouldn’t be out late. I just wanted a hot dinner after sleeping all day.

I went to a Chinese restaurant and got some sweet and sour pork that I couldn’t finish because it burned my lips red. Then I went to a teashop and drank a $4 cappuccino in a quiet café. The atmosphere was worth the extra dollar.

Happy New Year!
Happy New Decade!
Happy Year of the Tiger!

Resolution: Happiness.

Day Ten

We woke up on January 1st after very little sleep since the Taiwanese girls talked practically all night. I was relieved Michelle wasn’t mad that I skipped out on New Year’s Eve.

We met Kevin for coffee and checked out of the hostel at 11AM. Then we made our way to Hoegi to meet our host Seo Ga Ram (“Kara”). She seemed nice but was rather quiet and already had plans for the day, so we decided to invite her out the next day.

Michelle and I went to Dragon Hill for the afternoon in Yongsan. A “hip bath” (steam bath for your reproductive health), Japanese style onsen, and an hour long massage (in which little Korean women stood on our backs) was $90.

We came back to the homestay at 8 to watch “Coffee Prince”.

Day Eleven

First breakfast with Kara. She made rice with fried egg and some kind of red sauce. It was delicious. Her friend Rachel (for the Rachel actress from “Sherlock Holmes” and “The Time Traveler’s Wife”) came over too, and her bubbliness cleared the awkward feeling all of us had for not really knowing each other.

We all met up with Kevin and went shopping in Itaewon. There were a lot of booths and cheap tailors. Kevin left us after an expensive spaghetti lunch, so the girl’s went back to Kara’s house and had cocktails.

Michelle wasn’t feeling well so she stayed home while me, Rachel, and Kara did some kareoke.

Day Twelve

Kevin and Rachel met us at a traditional Korean village at 10 AM. We went sledding on a frozen pond there.

We took a break at a café and said goodbye to Kevin before heading back to Itaewon to go to a traditional tea shop. The tea there was amazing. Rachel ordered a plum tea for me which was so sweet that I bought a jar of it to divide between me and Mary. Rachel left to go with her boyfriend and Michelle went with me to go to Nongdaemun market.

I bought too much but it was best market we had been to. I even got the hang of haggling. I got a great deal on a duffel bag with an old fashioned map of the world on it because it reminded me of Dad.

Day Thirteen

We had spicy ramen for breakfast. Michelle and I went our separate ways. She was searching for the sets used in the Korean Drama “Boys Over Flowers” and I wanted to go back to Dragon Hill for another amazing bath. We decided to get together for dinner.

I went back to Dragon Hill and just paid the price of admission. It was snowing outside when I got there so I had an outdoor bath in the snow. It was amazing. There were two little girls making snowmen on the edges of their bath.

Both Michelle and I had trouble getting back on the subway because of some late trains but we met up with Kara at 7pm and had Korean BBQ. We drank a little too and had a plan to go to the museums together the next day.

Day Fourteen

We had dumplings and Korean pancakes for breakfast. Rode the bus and met Kara’s cute friend Eric at the Museum of Seoul. He was studying to be an architect in California but he came back to Korea for military service since every male South Korean citizen has to serve for two years.

He was really friendly. He went with us to another palace and Michelle and I convinced him to have lunch with us after Kara ditched to go with her boyfriend.

We had bibimbap and spicy stew and then joined Kara again for some karaoke. Me and Michelle did several killer duets and had pizza for dinner after everyone was separated.

Last Day

We were woken up with piano by Kara and I hurriedly packed my suitcase (it all fit, it’s a fucking miracle). Then we had some curry udon and made kimbap with Kara and Rachel. It’s a seaweed and rice wrap that looks like sushi but is “better” according to the locals. We took turns rolling it, and then Kara gave us extras for our lunch.

We left her apartment at 1:30PM and took a bus to the airport where we patiently awaited our flight.
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October 2011

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