Tag Archives: Seoul

Spring Break Plans

Everyone’s all a buzz at school about what they’re planning to do for spring break. It’s not for another three and a half weeks, but for the first time since the pandemic began, we can actually travel with little to no restrictions. It’s definitely cause to celebrate! We are allowed to leave the country, as long as we get the required PCR tests and re-entry permits, with no quarantine upon our return. Many teachers are going to Vietnam, Thailand, or Singapore. We are also now allowed to travel to the mainland (South Korea) for the whole week without a PCR test upon our return. During previous holidays, school has only allowed us to go for a few days without a PCR test (and I avoid those things like the plague…in Korea, they are incredibly painful!).

While I’d love to travel somewhere outside of Korea, preferably Thailand, I’m going to play it safe this holiday. I don’t want to risk testing positive on a PCR (I’ve had Covid and you can test positive for a while after) and/or not be able to get back into the country for some reason. I’m looking forward to traveling back home and to England this summer though!

I’m excited to spend half the week in Seoul and the rest of the time here in Jeju. I’ll fly up on Sunday and stay Sunday and Monday nights at the Grand InterContinental Parnas hotel in an area called COEX in the Gangnam district. It’s an area I visit often when I’m in Seoul, so I know how to get around easily. I’ll eat at some of my favorite restaurants, Paulie’s Pizza (it’s just like pizza back home!), Egg Slut (yes, the name is awful, but this breakfast chain from LA is delicious), and Cafe Mama’s (a Korean cafe with the yummiest ricotta salad). I’ll also partake in some shopping at the COEX mall, where I can find some of my favorite shops that we don’t have here, like H&M and ZARA. I’m also looking forward to going back to my favorite salon, Juno Hair, where they treat you like royalty.

I’ll then move to the Grand Hyatt Seoul hotel in Itaewon, a trendy neighborhood in Seoul, for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. A couple of my friends are also going to be there, so we’ll have lots of fun walking the artsy streets and alleyways, shopping in boutiques and art shops, and eating at new restaurants. I love Plant Cafe Seoul, which is a vegan restaurant tucked away in Itaewon. I’ll do my best to persuade them to go with me. There’s also The Original Pancake House, which is like stepping into an American breakfast diner. One of my favorite night spots is a tiny place called Apt (for apartment). It’s got a really chill vibe, with old school jazz music and velvet couches, and the cocktails are top quality. I haven’t drank any alcohol in a long time, so I’ll have to see if they’ll make me a mocktail. While I’m staying at the hotel, I’ll probably try to squeeze in a relaxing massage too.

For the latter part of the week, I’ll be back in Jeju, where the weather has just started to be perfect. I haven’t made any plans yet, but I’m thinking a staycation on the west side of the island, a place I haven’t explored much yet, is in order. Since it’s not a Korean holiday, things are cheap and can be booked at the last minute, so I’ll probably play it by ear.

Here are a few pictures of Seoul from previous trips. Let’s see what I get up to this time!

Year in Photos 2021

A tradition I start years ago on the SOL challenge was to reflect on the past year through photos (no captions, in chronological order). The idea came from Jeeyoung, a fellow slicer, and once I saw hers, I was hooked on the idea! You can have a look at the past years here- 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.

As an international school educator, I often travel to different countries several times a year, which is reflected in my Year in Photos. Due to the pandemic, 2021 will be my first year in photos with only two places represented- South Korea and United States. I was lucky to be able to get home for a few days this Christmas break, after a year and a half away from family. Despite not being able to travel as I normally do, I am blessed to live on a wonderful and safe island, Jeju-do, and have come away relatively unscathed from the pandemic. With that, here is my year in photos.

Year in Photos 2020

One of my annual traditions is reflecting on the past year through photos. Here are my past year in photos reflections- 20142015201620172018, and 2019. While I love telling stories through words, pictures are a great way to tell my story, too.

2020 was a year like no other, as we all know. While most of my previous year in photos include pictures from all the places I traveled that year, 2020 was the year of quarantine, therefore I have fewer places than usual represented in this year’s reflection. I started out the year in Texas, flying back to Jakarta via Dubai on January 2nd. I was able to travel to Borobudur and Lembang in Indonesia before we were quarantined on March 2nd. I went back to Texas in May, where I spent the summer, and then moved to Jeju, South Korea in July. After quarantining in Seoul, I spent the rest of 2020 in Jeju, apart from a couple of quick trips to Seoul. Here are the highlights of my 2020, in chronological order. Which ones are your favorite?

The Importance of Place Value- SOL

We had received a warning prior to coming to Seoul to avoid taxis whenever possible because they were really expensive. With that in mind, we’d resolved to getting around on foot or by bus or metro. After walking all day, we were tired and cold and just wanted to get back to our hotel. Once we finished dinner, we decided that just this once we’d take a cab. Linnea rode in the front so she could give directions, and I rode in back. We arrived at our destination in about ten minutes.

“How much is it?” I asked. No response. Linnea didn’t seem to hear me, so I craned my neck to look at the meter. I saw a 37, but couldn’t see the rest. Since most of what we’ve bought was in the thousands, I assumed it was 37,000 Won. Quickly converting the amount into USD, I realized that our ten minute cab ride had cost us about 34 dollars!
Handing Linnea 20,000 Won, my share of the fare, I said, “Wow, that was SO expensive! Way more than I had expected!”
“I know. The meter started really high.”
“How much was it when we got in?” I questioned.
“I’ll tell you later,” she replied, which I took as a cue to be quiet about it since she didn’t want to talk about it while we were in the cab. After exiting the taxi, I asked again about where the meter started. “It started at 2,400,” Linnea told me.
“How the heck did it reach 37,000?!?”
“Jennifer, it was 3,700. That’s a little expensive, but not that bad.” “Really? But I paid 20,000. Where’s the change?”
“Oh no, we only got a few coins back. I only paid 2,000. I’m sorry. I just assumed you’d given me 2,000. I didn’t check it; I just handed it over. I felt like he was rushing me to get out,” Linnea said with a sympathetic look.
“Of course he was rushing us out. He just got the biggest tip ever!” “The money here all looks the same. I’m sorry.”
“Its fine. It’s not your fault,” I grumble, “I should have been more careful. I couldn’t see the zeroes and just assumed it was thousands. Next time, we’re going to take our time and make sure we give the right amount.”

In the grand scheme of things, paying an extra 20 dollars isn’t that big of a deal, but at the time, it’s a real bummer! 

One More Week!- SOL

One week from today I’ll be boarding a plane bound for Seoul! Linner and I are heading to Seoul for Spring Break, and I couldn’t be more excited! She and I traveled to Malaysia last year on Spring Break, and she’s an awesome travel buddy and friend, so I’m looking forward to the fun and craziness that is bound to happen in Korea. The above photo was taken last Spring Break, and you can bet we’ll have lots more pictures from this trip. Here’s a list of things we are planning on doing:

*Touring Mt. Namsan
*Taking photos from the Seoul Tower
*Shopping and sightseeing on Insa-dong Street
*Taking a walking tour of lots of palaces…I love the architecture! *Visiting the National Museum of Korea and the National Museum of Contemporary Art
*Visiting Bugaksan Seonggwak-gil, a fortress with a great view of Seoul
*A Korean dance show
*Tasting some Korean street food, namely Hotteok
*Shopping…I want to bring back a little piece of Korean art *Nightlife! 🙂
*Visiting the 38th Parallel
*Eating at Outback Steakhouse…I am craving a Bloomin’ Onion! And yes, I do realize that this is pretty lame to travel to Korea to eat at an American chain restaurant, but since I’m living in Shanghai where I don’t have Outback, it’s allowed.

Any other suggestions for sites/must-do’s in Seoul are very welcome! 

Special Visits in Seoul- SOL

Each time I visit a new country, I’m excited to explore my new surroundings and go on various adventures, but usually I venture out alone or with my travel companion. It’s rare to visit a new place and see some familiar faces. Last week, when I vacationed in Seoul for Spring Break, I was fortunate enough to meet up with some very special people. Two of my former students, who I taught last year at RBIS in Shanghai, recently moved back to South Korea. They heard that I would be coming to Seoul, and emailed me right away with an invitation to see them while I was in town. The second special visit was someone I’d only met online, through the SOLSC this past month. Jee Young wrote a list slice with her bucket list of things she’d like to do before she leaves Korea, and I commented that I would be visiting Seoul soon. Through a series of comments and emails, we were able to connect and eventually meet in real life!

On Wednesday, I met up with Jong Hun and Ji-Won, my students, along with Jong Hun’s brother and mom. They were so excited to be skipping school to hang out with their old teacher! After taking the hour-long bus ride out to their hometown, they took us to a Korean Folk Village, which reminded me of Mount Vernon, only the Korean version. The village was full of old Korean homes and farms, complete with traditional Korean games and performances. I had a blast learning about such a unique culture! My favorite part was the dance/percussion performance. We stopped off at a Korean restaurant for Bi Bim Bop before heading off to Everland, a local amusement park. Everland reminded me of Six Flags Astroworld, an amusement park I used to go to as a young girl.

On Thursday, Jee Young invited us to go see The Hunger Games with her and a group of her friends. I couldn’t have been more excited! For one, I was able to meet Jee Young, and for two, I was able to see the movie on the big screen! I’m a HUGE Hunger Games fan, and since I live in China where we only get about 10 foreign films a year, I was disappointed that I would have to watch it on DVD at my house for the first time. A movie like that deserves to be seen on the big

screen! I absolutely loved the movie, and I can’t wait for the next one! I really enjoyed meeting Jee Young and her friends; they were all so welcoming and kind.

On Friday, our last full day in Seoul, Jee Young showed us around the Myeong Dong area, a winding maze of shopping and street food. If I lived in Seoul, I would develop a serious shopping addiction! As we walked from store to store, I was amazed by the variety of options available; a girl could really get used to this! Jee Young introduced us to Hotteok, a pancake filled with brown sugar and cinnamon (I think), and it was really good. After our shopping adventures, she took us to the elevator that would take us to the Seoul Tower, where we would later experience phenomenal views of the city at night.

Thanks Jee Young for your hospitality and generosity! If you’re ever in Shanghai, I’ll show you around! 🙂