This week’s Travel Tuesday has a theme, and because I’m usually miles behind the curve and find out about the theme on the actual day of posting (oops), I am excited to be able to write to a prompt this week!
The theme is #travelfails, and whilst I could write about the scammers who tied some string around our wrists and then demanded payment for them outside the Sacré-Cœur in Paris or the time I’m pretty sure we paid a bribe instead of a fine on the Budapest metro, I thought I’d prefer to write about something that doesn’t bring me actual rage when I think about it. Also, both those things happened with my husband and I’d like him to actually want to go on holiday with me again at some point!
So instead I thought I’d write about something a little more lighthearted.
Maybe the time we went to Korea with no coats and it was -8°C?
So, here’s why. We’d just spent 2 weeks in Australia over Christmas, where it was over 30°C every day. On the way back, we’d got a mandatory stopover in Seoul courtesy of our flights with Asiana. Due to alignment of flight times, we had about 12 hours in the city, during which the airline was obliged to provide us with food and accommodation. Pretty neat, so we thought, and looked forward to our 12 hours in Seoul. We knew it would be winter there, of course, being back in the Northern Hemisphere and all. But we had bags full of Christmas presents on the way out, and decided that bringing a coat for just one day’s use would be foolish.
We reminded ourselves of that as we piled on all the layers we could fit into our carry-ons, and bravely marched out of the front door of the hotel. Along with my jeans I was wearing two tops, three jumpers, a pair of gloves and a scarf. S was wearing a novelty Christmas jumper. The hotel staff eyed us with amusement as we strode confidently out from the heated lobby and into the instantly biting cold. We looked at each other, smiled bravely, and said “it’s not too bad, is it?!” before heading straight for the nearest shop.
Given we were staying in the Myeongdong district, the shops were plentiful. They were just a few steps from our hotel, so we gladly trotted inside the welcoming shopfront we saw.
All my favourite skincare brands were represented, and I made a beeline for my favourites. The sales assistants were oh so friendly (so friendly!) but all totally bemused at my lack of coat. They just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t wearing one, and kept asking me questions about it, and shaking their heads in astonishment.
Of course, my Korean wasn’t up to explaining the whole coat/baggage situation. So I just played up the eccentric Brit thing and got on with the serious business of shopping.
Outside, we noticed that (of course) all the people were properly dressed for the cold.
And that even though it was 9pm, the place was still bustling and the market was doing a roaring trade. Notice, once again, all the people wearing sensible coats, ear muffs, and hats.
The trees were lit beautifully with fairy lights – perhaps leftover Christmas decorations, perhaps they’re just this festive all year around. It certainly gave a carnival atmosphere to the street, and brightened up the dark evening.
The cold reduced us to gibbering wrecks in just a few short minutes so we plunged regularly into brightly lit shops. We got plenty of strange looks, I have to say, but we were as excited as schoolchildren and jumped and shivered our way onwards regardless.
I found myself some utterly cute beauty products to take home with me, and S was having a great time trying to capture the scenes with his camera. Although his fingers weren’t working too well by this point. Pretty much all these photos are his, so I hereby give him credit and due praise. They’re good, hey?
All too soon we had had enough. Even the shops couldn’t warm us up, and I was beginning to suspect I was growing icicles from my nose – although I couldn’t be sure, having lost sensation there some time previously.
So back we went to our hotel. We were both really disappointed – the streets had been so colourful, so brightly lit, and so utterly intriguing. Everyone had been so friendly, and there was such a lot going on to see and do. Despite being frozen to the bone, we’d both thoroughly enjoyed our short time in the city and were desperate to see more. I think, in total, we managed a grand total of less than an hour out of the hotel. Pathetic!
However, at the risk of hypothermia, it just wasn’t going to happen. Plus, we had an airport transfer bus arriving first thing in the morning for another 12-hour flight (and we all know how much fun those are) so wanted to get in some decent sleep. Thus ended our tantalising glimpse into Seoul and our deep regret for not having found the room to pack a coat.
Once again thank you to S for the photos, and for shivering through the streets of Seoul with me. As travel fails go, we’ve had worse, but this is a good excuse to share some nice pictures, don’t you think!?
Have you ever been to Seoul? Have you ever travelled somewhere with completely the wrong wardrobe for the occasion?!