I’ve lived now in Utah for most of my life longer than I have in the bustling city of Manila, Philippines, so seeing all the high-rises in Korea is taking me some getting used to all over again.
My husband, Drew, our three kids and I have been traveling for nearly 24 hours–a short flight to Seattle, a three-hour layover, and then a 10-hour flight to Seoul Incheon Airport in the northwest part of the country.
We’ll be in Korea for a couple of weeks and plan to especially hit places where Drew and our son Wesley served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with a few other landmarks.
Tonight, it feels good to finally get in someplace cozy and recover from jetlag. The climate here is a lot like Utah spring, temperature in the 70s and there is a bit of a stiff breeze. It’s definitely light jacket weather.
We are in an Airbnb first-floor apartment in a high-rise in Jeongju, Wesley’s last area on his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Signs here are either neon colorful or cute illustration / animation.
We have one room with a bed and another with two beds (perfect for our family of five), an efficient little kitchen, bathroom, a patio with a washing machine and place to hang clothes, and instructions for us to take our shoes off once we are inside. We already observe this custom in our house back home, so it’s easy peasy for our group.
From the airport, we took a comfortable two and a half hour bus ride to Jeongju. I stayed awake for a little bit, watching the passing scenery of a sea port, hills, and then high-rises that could be the setting for a post-apocalyptic movie.
It is wonderful to travel around with our son Wesley, who, having returned from his mission in July 2018, speaks Korean fluently. He flagged down a cab for us whose driver was willing to take five passengers instead of the usual four maximum. He’s helped Drew find us lodging in the areas we will be visiting. Drew still remembers customs from 30 years ago but is a little rusty with Korean language and travel though I am sure much will return to him while here.
Tonight, we walked to a nearby mom and pop store and bought some eggs, ham, rolls, soup, curry packet (almost got the hot, but I talked the boys down to medium) and rice (ten bucks for a little bag) for our Sunday meals tomorrow. Drew commented he was glad that little stores that were common during his time here are still popular.
Local shopkeepers are friendly enough, but I’m shy to say more than just my rudimentary phrases of “how are you?” and “thank you.” It’s hard to hear conversation going but not be able to participate even in a minimal way. But it’s cool to hear Wesley rattle off in fluent Korean.
In the outside store bin, we saw some Korean melons and Drew got super excited. They are one of his favorite things from his own church mission in Korea 30 years ago. He calls them cham-wa. Conversion rate is 1,000 Korean won to 84 US cents. The melons cost US $7.30.