Thursday, 16 January 2014

My Dad's Visit to Korea

This past weekend my dad caught a flight from Bangkok (where he regularly spends his holidays) to visit Angela and me here in Seoul. It was a weekend of firsts: his first time in Korea, our first time seeing each other in almost 15 months, and his first time meeting Angela. For such a short visit we actually crammed a lot of activities in, including city sightseeing, several Korean dishes, and lots of alcohol.

I was so happy to have Dad come and visit me after spending so long not seeing any friends or family from back home. Here are some photos we took over the weekend:

We picked Dad up from the airport on Friday night after we finished work, and took him all the way back to our area in Gangnam. We immediately hit the bars, and he and I had our first drinks together for well over a year.
The next day we took the metro to the area around City Hall and Jongno. We took a brief walk down the Cheonggyecheon, a 5-mile long stream that runs through the north of the city.
Though this winter hasn't been as harsh as last year's, this was a pretty cold weekend, and parts of the stream were frozen.
There were even some frozen tree lanterns.
After that, we made our way through Gwanghwamun Plaza toward Gyeongbokgung Palace.

The three of us, before the gigantic throne room.
This pavilion was one of mine and Angela's favourite spots in the palace grounds when we visited last April. Now the lake surrounding it was frozen over, which gave it an ethereal, dreamlike quality.
At the ancient banquet hall.
After leaving the palace we headed to nearby Insadong, where Dad had his first Korean meal: barbecue galbi! During his visit, we also showed him jjimdak (delicious chicken, potato and vegetable stew), yang-galbi-sal (lamb skewers) and of course, lots of famous sides such as kimchi, mandu (dumplings) and makgeolli.
Street performers on Insadong. It was around here that we took Dad to a Korean teahouse.
Later that evening, we went to a few bars in Itaewon for some beers and cocktails.

Getting drunker as the night wore on.
The next morning, we headed for Noryangjin Fish Market.
Among the market's many offerings: giant, dissected octopuses.
Then we headed to Myeongdong and took a cable car up to N Seoul Tower .
Admiring the 360 degree views over the sprawling city.
Sampling souvenirs at the gift shop.
We had coffees and bubble teas while we waited for the sun to set so we could see the cityscape at night.
View from the cable car as we descended back down into the neon-lit streets.
At Myeongdong we went to see Nanta Cookin'. Angela and I had already seen this wonderful show last year, but were more than happy to see it again. It's a really fun performance that combines on-stage cooking with percussion, music, dance, singing, magic, kung fu and comedy.
No photos were allowed during the performance, but this ad gives a good taste of what was on offer.
Later that evening, we went back to the beer bar in our neighbourhood, and Dad got to meet most of my co-workers. On Monday, Angela and I had to go to work, and in the evening we were all three of us so exhausted by the sightseeing and the high alcohol intake that we did nothing but relax at home. On Tuesday morning, I took my dad to the station on my way to work, and set him the right direction toward the airport.

All in all, a very successful weekend, and I'm missing my father already. We've made plans to meet up again while Angela and I are travelling later in the year. We're thinking maybe July, by which point we'll be somewhere around Malaysia or Indonesia. Wherever we meet, I'm looking forward to it already.


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