Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last Day in Korea

Today was the last full day of our Asian Adventure and we spent the day in Seoul.  Throughout the morning, we went for a couple of walks around the neighbourhood in Seongnam where Jonathan and HJ live.  We thought it would be a good idea to take pictures of some of the things that we did & saw repeatedly.

This is the building where Jonathan & HJ live.  It's in the Haeundae Apartments complex which is comprised of many building that look the same on the outside.  While we were initially worried about how to find the correct building when we were coming and going, our well trodden paths brought us to and from the correct place each time and it really was a non-issue...

This waterway runs through the Haeundae Aparments development and we were quite impressed with the many green spaces that have been preserved (created, actually) that give a sense of calmness and serenity even in the middle of a bustling city.

One of the unique aspects of this neighbourhood is the market that's set up in the middle of a parking lot within the complex.  Interesting little fish market that appears and disappears in no time at all!  And I say little as it's nothing like the Jagalchi Fish Market that we saw in Pusan last weekend...

This was the scene that played out every day for us.  Walking from Jonathan and HJ's building over to the main corner where we'd stock up on candy, refill our bus/subway cards and catch said modes of transportation. The only thing that changed were the outfits, my gals weren't always sporting such stunning primary colours ;-)

This was the inside of a little shop that the girls discovered and it quickly became one of their favourites.  Candy galore.  We were initially attracted to this store because of the much needed 'cold treats' that filled their coolers, but their candy selection won the girl's hearts!

Even more important than the little candy store was this location of the GS25 chain of convenience stores.  GS25 stores could be found everywhere and we visited many in our travels, mainly to buy huge jugs of water to refill our water bottles and stay hydrated in the intense heat and humidity.  But this was also the GS25 location where we would reload funds onto our transit cards.  And we might have picked up a couple of cold treats here as well ;-)

This was the main bus stop we used and it was located just around the corner from the GS25.  At this bus stop, we could catch a number of buses that would take us right down to the heart of downtown Seoul.  Our favourite was the 9401 as it was a more luxurious bus and blew even colder cold air than the other buses we could take to get into Seoul.  If traffic was good, we could get from this stop in Seongnam to downtown Seoul in about 45 minutes.

We caught the number 3 bus many, many times just around the corner from the main bus stop.  This local bus would whisk us a couple kilometers up the road to AK Plaza, where we could hop on the subway at Seohyeon Station.  From here, the world was our oyster - we could get anywhere in Seoul from the network of subway routes that span the city proper and all of the outlying cities like Seongnam.

These cicadas have left a deep impression on us (for better or for worse).  Their incredibly loud buzzing noise would wake us in the middle of the night and then their incessant whirring noise would fill the skies throughout the morning.  However, we were able to turn this negative into a positive by buying a cheap net and bug box so that we could go cicada hunting a few times.  Rachel and Abby are both accomplished cicada hunters now (although I'm pretty sure that I still hold the record...) and they just might miss this pastime!

Another thing the girls really liked about the area where Jonathan and HJ live are all of the many parks.  Not only do they have play structures, but many of them also have exercise equipment that Rachel and Abby would take advantage of any chance they got...

This path served as a great place to catch cicadas, walk down to the water, play badminton or even just wander around.  It runs right behind their apartment and was another lush green space that helped us feel at home.  Reminiscent of the elm canopies over our River Heights neighbourhood in Winnipeg...

Tomorrow morning will be our last few hours in Seoul.  After we pack, we'll be hopping on a bus to the airport to start the long journey home.  A lengthy flight will spit us out in Vancouver where we'll have a six hour layover to decompress and re-acclimatize to the Canadian culture (can that be done sitting in an airport departure lounge?).  The second leg of our journey will see us landing safely in Winnipeg a mere three hours after leaving Seoul once the time change has been factored into the equation.  Mind-boggling.

All in all, this has been a fantastic adventure and we're so glad that we committed to making this trip a reality for our family.  Thanks again to HJ and Jonathan for putting us up (and putting up with us) and for planning such great side trips to add to our Asian experience.  And thanks to you, the many people who were following along on this journey with us through this blog and on our Instagram feeds.

Truly an experience that all of us will remember forever.

Andy, Jennifer, Rachel & Abby


  1. Thanks McKiel family for sharing your vacay! Being a shopaholic myself, I'd love to see some photos of your favorite souvenirs. It seems to me the girls did a great job bartering for their momentos.

    1. Great idea, Tara! We'll get the girls to write the next post with a few of their favourite things!