We’re back! What a trip! And we’re eager to tell you all about our experience touring the lively country of Korea!
First off, Lanai’s Travel Club is such a fun and unique group to be part of because it turns traveling into a social event, which is rare when it comes to globetrotting. It’s common for travelers to become weary during their explorations because being in a foreign place where no one speaks your language is oftentimes exhausting. With this travel group though, part of the fun is getting to be social and making new friends. Also experiencing a new country with other like-minded individuals. Those fun Korean BBQ dinners just wouldn’t have been the same if it weren’t for each member of the club!
But now about our trip… Wouldn’t you know, us Hawaii locals saw the first snow of the season in Korea. And you know what that means. Freezing temperatures. But the chill in the air didn’t slow us down! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the colder weather because it was such a change up from Hawaii’s warm climate. Even though we braved 32-degree weather, it didn’t stop the fun and everyone still had a blast. The fall and winter colors made everything seem even more vibrant. Leaves of every color were on display, and Korea seemed to embrace us with all its glory.
Bustling with locals and tourists, we stayed in the prime shopping district of Myeongdong. Literally translating to ‘bright town’, this lively place is brimming with street after street of authentic Korean shopping. And we sure took advantage of this! The ladies in the group were pleased to find everything from high-end designer stores to lower end souvenir shops and everything in between. But the shopping wasn’t just for the women. Men were able to purchase fine suits for great prices too, and tailoring was free!
Something we learned during our trip to Korea was how important skin products are to the locals. And believe it or not, the new skin care craze is all about snails. Apparently, the trail of slime that snails leave behind is great for your skin because it tightens and moisturizes it, giving a more youthful appearance. From hand creams to face masks, snails are the new secret ingredient for skin products, and the locals (and Lanai’s Travel Club) went crazy over it!
We also pampered ourselves with massages and spa days, because in Korea, it is so cheap! You can get a one-hour, full body massage for only $28! And the best part about the massage parlors is they’re open till 4am! Since the shopping district stays open late (till about 2-4am on week days and Saturdays, and midnight on Sundays) you can have a complete day enjoying the town, then have dinner, then wind down with a foot massage right before bed. It was such a cool cultural thing, and it seems everyone partakes in it. Our hotel offered some of the best spa parlors and massages around, for a great price too.
Our hotel in Myeongdong was really nice and very comfortable. From our windows we could see the cable car of Seoul, traveling up to the mountains. On one of our days in Seoul, we hopped on this cable car and rode it to the top, then walked back down for exercise. The views along the way were incredible!
The food in Korea was terrific. Genuine Korean BBQ’s are some of the best flavors in the world, and we made sure to get our fill of this. One delicacy that was new to us was the unique version of an ice cream cone. J-shaped, these cereal-like cones were like cornucopias of ice cream, and were almost 2 feet long! We also enjoyed some authentic rice wine, and had some incredibly fresh fish at the Noryangjin Fish Market.
This market was crazy! So many people, so much fish! But the coolest part about this energetic place is you could pick out your meal- whether it be fish, lobster, octopus or something else- purchase it for cheap, and then have it cooked up for lunch on the second floor! The chefs upstairs knew exactly how to prepare your fish, and had recommendations for flavors that you couldn’t have even imagined yourself. This was truly an experience.
A couple other memorable things were all the Hello Kitty stores (SO popular in Korea), the Changdeokgung Palace and the glasses shops. Yep, glasses. You could have a new (and better prescription) for your eyes from a doctor, new frames and new lenses all in a matter of 30 minutes. And each pair is made to order! Did we mention how inexpensive they were too! You could make out with everything for $50 or so, it was such a steal compared to American shops.
Aside from the shopping, there were tons of coffee shops to hang out at as well as sports bars. And since Korea has a female president now, the streets have really been cleaned up. No ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ to be found here anymore!
Everyone had a fantastic time exploring this exciting country. There was so much to see and do here, and our guide was well informed to show us around the highlights. Lanai’s Travel Club has done it again!