While in Korea, our days began to take on a certain rhythm. James and I shared a hotel room that contained a full size and a twin sized bed. I took the twin, which was closer to the open window. Several times a night, I would get up and go look out that window, looking at a city that was always awake to one degree or another. Traffic silence is rare but it made good white noise for sleeping.
Each morning, we would get up, dress, and head down for breakfast. Uncle provided the room and also provided coupons for breakfast every morning we are here. The breakfast buffet spread is amazing. In addition to the omelet station where a chef makes them individually and in a way I've never seen and probably can't describe, there are tables of cereal, fruit, tofu, fish, green beans, soup, french toast, rice with vegetables, ham and bacon, bread and french fries. Bacon is a premium food here. If it's up on the buffet, people swarm to scarf it up and the kitchen probably spends half its time making more! James and I usually eat a very large breakfast, which fuels us for much of the day. Lunch doesn't seem to happen much before 2-3 pm, and dinner is late, somewhere between 8 and 9. So we eat well in the morning because we know the day will be full of walking and stairs.
Afterwards, we go to the Caffe Bene, a coffee shop behind the hotel that offers free wi-fi so we can commune with our family and friends back home. After about an hour of that, Matt and Dawon show up and our daily adventure begins!
While there are a lot of cars whizzing around Seoul, the vast majority of the inhabitants here ride the subway, walk, or for trips outside of town to nearby villages, the bus. We took a bus from the airport, which isn't in Seoul, but rather in Incheon. We will take a bus back as well. But while in Seoul, it's the subway and/or your feet. You would not believe the subway. It's so clean. So quiet. Very little talking. The seats are fairly comfortable for sometimes-long rides. The transfers are easy. The only thing NOT easy about the subway is all the stairs. My legs have ached constantly since we arrived from going up and down the stairs. At the end of the day, when I have to climb the front stairs of the hotel, I have to keep myself from dropping down on all fours and crawling up them.
The subway's not the only place with stairs... Rarely is there a shop or restaurant that you don't have to climb two or three sets of stairs to get into. Even the grocery stores are three or four stories with narrow stairs to get from floor to floor! If I wasn't being fed seemingly at every turn, I probably could have lost 20 pounds this week just from walking and riding the subway!
Fed at every turn... not really. It's just that the three meals we do eat are so impressive and there's always a lot of it! And it takes a long time to eat them, using chopsticks as we do (which isn't terribly well and slows the meal down even more). Just when you think you are done, another bowl of something comes out. The food is delicious! I have avoided the octopus and squid, but everything else I've been offered, I've tried and it's yummy!
Then after a day of sightseeing and dinner, we head back to our hotel room and collapse. Well, I do. James went out a few times on his own to explore (being much more subway savvy than me, he knew he'd find his way back) while I put my feet up, drank a cup of tea and read or watched TV. Armed Forces Television has American shows - most of which I've never seen. I am now hooked on Dexter and some show about lying (another crime-type show) but I can't seem to remember the name of it. We've also enjoyed some of the talent shows and the Korean soap operas which need no translation... Soaps are pretty much the same everywhere. You don't need to understand the dialogue to know what's going on!
And that's pretty much our days here. It's a good pattern for visiting I think!