Hi everyone! This is Andi, one of the four girls living in Incheon J.
For this past week, my high school (Munil Girls School) had midterm exams so Emma and I didn’t have to attend school on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Because of this, we spent all of Tuesday going on cultural excursions. We went to the Bukchon Hanok Village, Changdeuk Palace, and Insadong.
The hanok village is exactly what it sounds like: a community of traditional Korean houses that used to be inhabited by the upper class and to this day are still inhabited by people. Although we had a map, we felt like we were walking through a maze. We’d decide on which alley to take based on how many tourists were coming to or from that pathway. Some of the hanoks are renovated into restaurants, art gallerys, shops, or cultural workshop facilities (like for making hanboks, Korean knot art, and hanji paper).
At Changdeukgung we marveled some more at Korean traditional architecture. There, we also went on an English tour of the Secret Garden—which our hilariously sassy tourguide made very clear to us that there is no secret to the garden and that we shouldn’t ask her about the name if we want to continue the tour. The garden was used as a resting place for the royalty, a serene setting for creating poetry, and a venue for banquets.
After walking up and down hills for 5 or so hours, Emma and I happily rewound ourselves over coffee at Starbucks in Insadong. Then we had dosirak for dinner at this adorable restaurant where customers leave notes and hang them anywhere inside. Unfortunately we were too sore to thoroughly explore Insadong.
On Thursday we went on a school field trip to the Demilitarized Military Zone. Since midterms were over and there was no after school studying, everyone was very excited. We went to the 3rd war tunnel, Dora Observatory (where you could see North Korean land), and the Dorasan train station (which was built in hopes of one day transporting people to North Korea and China). The entrance—and exit—of the tunnel was extremely steep and long. Some of the students didn’t go all the way to the end because they felt too tired, yet there were many elderly Korean people completing this strenuous walk. At the end was a small, open window to the other side of the wall: North Korea! There are currently four known war tunnels made by North Korea; and it is believed that there are at least twenty more of them that have yet to be discovered.
On Saturday I went with my school classmate Hyunah to Hongdae. There we went to the Trick Eye Museum and walked around. At night Ellen and I had dinner at this Korean BBQ place, where we realized that it was a bad idea to go by ourselves when we burned our meat. The waiters there ended up cooking our kalbi for us…it was super embarrassing, but they were very nice about it. Before we left, they asked to take pictures with us!