It’s been so long since I’ve taken a flight for more than 5 hours. I wasn’t sure what to expect knowing that I would be in the air for over twelve hours since I know for a fact that I have trouble falling asleep on planes. I took my trusty backpack with me as my carry-on (to avoid having to wait forever at the baggage carousels) and prayed for the best!
Somehow over the years I’ve managed to avoid airplane food. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that my flight had two courtesy meals due to the length. This was my first: an appetizing platter of beef stew with green peas and carrots. I was told that the in-flight bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish where you mix a large owl of rice with vegetables, was being served as a vegetarian option, so I opted for something with meat. I found out a few minutes later that the bibimbap was not vegetarian and actually had meat. Oh well! I figured I’d get it on my next flight!
One not-so-great perk about traveling in a large group is the unpredictable flight itineraries for tighter budgets. Almost every person arrived on a separate flight which meant playing the waiting game at the airport in almost every country we visited. Fast forward to almost 20 hours later and we arrived at our hostel for the night. I’m not going to lie. We were all pretty pooped at this point and wanted nothing more than to grab a bite and plan for the next morning.
We found a great mom & pop restaurant around the corner and decided to sit down for dinner. It was pretty obvious to the owners right away that we had no idea how to order. Our one friends who was semi-fluent in Korean ended up at another restaurant so we were left to fend for our own English-speaking selves! We agreed on a large plate of bulgogi (marinated beef) and vegetables, and a sizzling hot plate of pork belly. It was SO GOOD!
With our full bellies, we headed home to plan the sight-seeing for the next couple of days. One of our stops was the Gyeongbok Palace, aka the Palace of Shining Happiness.
Although traveling in a large group can be tricky, there are perks: group discounts!! We saved quite a bit on admissions during this trip and the Gyeongbok Palace was one of them.
The palace guards were dressed traditionally and marched on the hour, every hour. The palace itself covered a large amount of area and took almost a full day to explore. It was really hard to take in all the amazing hand-painted work that went into each and every building.
*special thanks to my friend for letting me borrow a couple of his photos for this post!0