Tuesday, November 25, 2014

SARAH GOES TO SOUTH KOREA: 2014 LANTERN FESTIVAL

Saturday morning arrived and we got ready for the trip into Seoul for the weekend. We walked from the base to the nearest train station and headed out on a one hour 45 minute train ride into Seoul. It wasn't that bad of a ride. Jeff was able to get us Internet on our phones so we looked at funny pictures and videos. I looked out the windows and people watched. It was just amazing. South Koreans are on their phones ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Like take the one person you know who is constantly on their phone and multiply that by three and that's how much the average South Korean appeared to be on their phone. Even the kids were on phones. They would rarely interact with each other. South Koreans are also very put together. They take their image very seriously. You never saw anyone in sweats or sweatshirts. The girls were usually dressed in skinnies or dresses with tights and they all had super cute coats. Most of the time they were on the train, the girls were reapplying makeup or painting their fingernails (I saw that a couple of times). Guys are also very well put together. We made it to Seoul around 2:00 p.m. and walked to our hotel at Yongsan. We stayed at a really nice military hotel there that's very close to everything. We were early to check in so Jeff and I grabbed a bite to eat at a Mexican restaurant in the lower level of the hotel. We found that ironic.
Once we'd checked in, we got ready to head downtown for the 2014 Lantern Festival.
 
Waiting for the train.
 
Dragon Hill Lodge
Mexican food in South Korea!
Cake pop while waiting to check in and walking around our hotel grounds.
Waiting for Jeff to get ready.
 
We set off from our hotel and walked by the Korean War Memorial on our way to the train station.
We hopped on a quick five minute train ride into downtown Seoul and immediately were overwhelmed with the volume of people. I can't even begin to describe how many people there were. It was a bit suffocating. South Koreans don't have personal space issues like Americans do, so they are right up on your back or at your side all of the time. In a scenario where there are going to be lots of people (like we were in) you will more than likely be touched all of the time. They would bump into my back or step on the backs of my feet. If they don't think you're going fast enough they will just elbow or shove their way in front of you and continue doing that through the line. It's just a cultural thing, but I really had to bite my tongue a few times and take some deep breaths. We hopped into the longest line I'd ever seen to get into the Lantern Festival and found ourselves in a line that was six people wide and moved the entire hour we were in line. We seriously didn't stop moving up through the line that's how many people there were and that's how long the line was. I was impressed at how quickly they got people through though. And then we were sent down into a boardwalk area where there was a large stream with walkways on either sides and the lantern creations-which were amazing- were set up in the middle of the water. So people could walk down the boardwalk on either side and see the beautiful lanterns and the lights. Another thing I noticed is that people rarely stopped to enjoy the sights. They would speed walk and take pictures at the same time. It was almost like a race to see who could get through there the quickest and with the most pictures. Jeff and I got shoved a couple of times because we would be stopped to look at a particular lantern and someone didn't like that we'd stopped.
One monument from the Korean War Memorial with Seoul Tower in the background. This is similar to the Space Needle in Seattle.
They had pretty little accents like this everywhere. This just so happened to be outside of the police station.
Jeff quote: So many selfies in just one picture. 
Downtown Seoul. Waiting in line. Look at all the heads at the bottom. This tree/tower was cool. No matter what angle you looked at it, you could see the markings from the South Korean flag in the middle. Kind of an optical illusion.

Proof that we were there.
So gorgeous. 
The dragon blew smoke out of his mouth. 
Those sails went up and down. 
It really was just phenomenal. Just gorgeous.
I will never forget that night.
More from our night in Seoul tomorrow.

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