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Seoul Trip Report

After 2 very quick days in Bangkok we flew to Seoul for 2 days of shopping. We have been several times before, so we have seen most of the major tourist sights. You can get a KAL bus right outside of the arrival area that takes you to several of the hotels for $13. They have a booth inside the terminal where you can buy the ticket. I believe the Grand Hyatt bus is at bay 4A. I used the ATM machines in the airport to get local currency and found it very convenient. I didn’t have such good luck with the ATM’s on Jeju Island. I think they don’t have international banking machines which makes a difference. It was hit and miss what machines would take my BofA card which was very frustrating. Even some of the hotel ATM’s didn’t accept my card.

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt and were very disappointed. It is located on the top of a hill, quite a distance from anything you want to see and very isolating. The beds were really hard, the room needed to be refurbished, and the bathroom was so small, if you had the door open while on the toilet, you would bang your toes (no exaggeration!). It was just not up to the Grand Hyatt experience I had in Hong Kong with the comfy Temperpedic beds and gorgeous large marble bathroom. They said they were in the process of refurbishing them, but they should let all guests stay in the remodeled section so they won’t complain about their hotel, and reduce the room price when they know they are not up to the Grand Hyatt standard. The breakfast buffet was overpriced at $24 (plus about $10 in taxes and service charge which brought it up to $35 per person), and was just ok. We had dinner at the restaurant that evening and it was packed. It seemed like a lot of locals go for the hotels buffet dinner. It did look good with fresh abundant seafood, barons of beef and ham, and a lot of Korean specialties. I wasn’t that hungry so I decided to order off the menu and got the bimimbap and thought it was really good.

The hotel has a shuttle on the half hour that takes you to the shopping areas of Itaewon and Myeong-dong which is convenient. I have been to Seoul several times and really had a great time shopping. I was really disappointed this trip not to find the great assortment of children’s clothing I had found before (Limited, Gap etc.), and the quality has really gone downhill in the fabrics. I always found great handbags and they were scarce and quite expensive - $150 for a Jimmy Choo knock-off, and $170 for Chanel. The quality was not as good as it used to be either. I found the celadon to be quite expensive and could buy the pieces in the States for the same price and not have to carry it home.

The Myeong-dong area I felt was really for young adults and on the weekends I am sure it’s the place to be and be seen. It was great people watching, but after a little while I found it a little overwhelming and noisy. I guess I must be getting old!

I still do enjoy the Insa-dong area. It has good quality Korean arts and crafts as well as antique stores, art galleries, and wonderful traditional tea houses. I bought celadon, hand painted scrolls (for $25 a piece), handmade paper, some antiques, and other little souvenirs. I ordered a wonderful orange citron tea at a nice tea house. It is like a bittersweet marmalade you mix with hot water and is delicious and had a great time watching everyone strolling by.

Those 2 weeks flew by (1 week in Thailand and 4 days on Jeju Island), and before I knew it, I was back on the plane heading for home, but had some wonderful memories and great photos to remind me of our trip.

Now I am dreaming about Morocco and the beautiful colorful tiles and fabulous architecture!

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