I stayed at three different guesthouses in Seoul (including Doo Guesthouse), but I spent most of my nights at My Home, which offers (tiny, windowless, and tiny) single rooms, plus unlimited free cooked rice and kimchi, for only 15,000 won (about 15 USD) per night. It is not near any of the major tourist spots, but it is near Sadang station, and thus well-connected to Seoul’s subway network.
The nearest vegetarian restaurant to My Home is Thiendang, a Vietnamese-Vegan restaurant which is co-owned by a Korean women and a Vietnamese woman who has lived in South Korea for fifteen years. Everyone I met who works at the restaurant is a very nice person, and the food is delicious. It was a good place to eat my last meal in South Korea.
When I was in Hong Kong, I shared a bunk bed with a South Korean who was at that time a student at a university in Shanghai. We went to Macau together, and conversed with each other in both English and Mandarin. I told her I was planning to travel in South Korea, and she said she would be in Seoul at the time I was going to visit South Korea.
I admit, I contacted her by email much later than I should have. I gave her my South Korean cellphone number. The very last night I stayed in Seoul, I got a phone call from her. I told her I was flying out the next day.
“You’re serious?” she asked.
It just turns out that I was leaving on a Thursday, and Thursday was the only day of the week she was available. We arranged to eat lunch at Thiendang so after the meal I could quickly return to the guesthouse, pick up my luggage and check out, and take a train to the airport.
Of course, I selfishly crammed as much sightseeing into my last morning as possible, running to Seodaemun Prison Hall, Inwangsan, and Bukaksan, and thus was very, very late to the restaurant. She was a very good sport, and said she didn’t mind waiting for me.
I was really moved that she put the effort to see me again all of those months after we met in Hong Kong. She talked to me about what was going on in her life.
She offered to help me take my luggage from the guesthouse, but I explained that the guesthouse was near Sadang station, not Namseong station, and she said that Sadang was not as convenient for her. I felt she had done more than enough by waiting so long after our pre-arranged time.
Fortunately, even with all of the delay, we were able to enjoy an hour of eating a very late lunch, and I still had plenty of time to reach Gimpo Airport.
Most international flights to/from “Seoul” are actually flights to/from Incheon International Airport, which is in Incheon, not Seoul. Gimpo Airport actually is (barely) within Seoul city limits. Gimpo Aiport is to Incheon Airport what Haneda Aiport is to Narita Airport (Tokyo) or Songshan Airport is to Taoyuan Airport (Taipei).
This was fortunate for me, because Gimpo Airport is much closer to pretty much anywhere in Seoul than Incheon Airport, and that gave me a lot more flexibility that day. If my flight was from Incheon and not Gimpo, I would not have dared fit in so much activity before my departure.
I even managed to arrive at Gimpo Airport with lots of time to spare. Gimpo Airport, unsurprisingly, is attached to a shopping mall, which has a bookstore, where I spent my last won on manhwa (Korean comic books) to bring home as a souvenir. After all, manhwa is part of what made me so interested in South Korea in the first place.
The time came, and I boarded the airplane which carried me out of South Korea.
I will post a series of reflections on my travel in South Korea, and on writing this blog, and then this blog will be complete.