My original plan was to spend two nights in Seoul and depart on the speed train and stay at The Lotte Hotel Busan for two days, however, the loss of a day at LGA (an Air Canada direct flight from Toronto) due “weather” and travel fatigue ruined my itinerary. The trip to Busan would be a turn around. Jinny Rio and Kyonghe-Kim the Representatives from the Hotel Lotte Seoul came to my rescue; I was able to stay two days more at the hotel. Com sa ka me da (phonetic for thank you in Korean) to these friendly, gracious, life-saving, hotel agents.
During the ensuing days I learned that many of the social customs, beliefs, and traditions can be traced back to the last dynasty of Korea to the Joseon period (1392 to around 1900), founded by Yi Songge, also known as King Yi Tae-jo. Neo-Confucianism, as the Joseon philosophy is known, is a series of ethical concepts by which the society attained harmony. Compassion, fairness and moral character to do good is a way of life for the South Koreans. I witnessed this everywhere I went.
All images ©Denise Mattia
The food was exceptional. I sought out busy restaurants (my sign the food was good) and was delighted with the ingredients and the service. I ate typical Korean spicy and BBQ food (it’s all really cheap and delicious) attended Jasmine’s Gangnam Secrets (a tour organized by Joe McPherson), and found restaurants in that lively district. I took the subways and busses everywhere on a prepaid card and fell in love with Seoul and its gentle people.
Information helpers were stationed in subways and streets to aid tourists, a nun went out of her way to escort me to the right subway station, people waiting for busses suggested the right way to go. Everyone was courteous and seemed to actually care about each other as well as tourists. Although I couldn’t understand Korean, I loved the signs. They were colorful and brightened the city.
My nine-day stay also included staying at the Holiday Inn Eulijiro, an express hotel, a Pullman Ocelas facial at the Hotel Grand Ambassador Seoul, two luxurious days at the Hotel Aloft Meongdong Seoul (a Starwood Preferred Guest, a Marriott select brand), and two very comfortable days at the Novotel Ambassador Gangnam in Seoul’s business district. I was welcomed and greeted warmly in all the hotels and in no time they became home. Only the shopping disappointed. Instead of finding wonderful bargains, all the fashions in outlets and department stores were extraordinarily expensive!