On this day: First day in Seoul, South Korea

See more from my On This Day series here, where I celebrate travel memories on their trip anniversaries.

On November 5, 2018, I was spending my first day in Seoul, South Korea.

Boy, was 2018 a great year for travel. Less than two weeks after our return from Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, we headed out on our first trip in East Asia to explore a bit of South Korea and Japan.

We landed in Seoul in the evening and settled into our accommodation in Bukchon Hanok Village, where we would stay for the remainder of our time in the country.

The next morning, jet lag woke us up at the early hour of 4 am and we decided to start our day. Our first stop was a walk to the closest 7-Eleven, as we had learned from many travel vloggers and bloggers that the Asian franchises carried much nicer selections of snacks than what we were used to in North America.

After returning to our hanok for a proper homemade breakfast of dakjuk (Korean chicken and rice porridge) prepared by our host Mi Kyung, we headed back out again. Our next destination was the neighbourhood of Insadong, an area that became the centre of Seoul’s artistic life and cafe culture following the end of the Korean War. We passed by several galleries, admired some outdoor installations, and then had our lunch break of mandu dumplings followed by tea at Dawon Traditional Tea Garden.

In the afternoon, we took a quick walk by Jongmyo Royal Shrine, opting to just wander around outside. A short distance away was Gwangjang Market, which beckoned us with fresh and delicious local delicacies like bindae-tteok (mung bean pancake).

At this point, our jet lag was quickly catching up to us, so we hopped on the train and went back to our hanok for a rest. Unwittingly, we laid down to close our eyes for just a minute, but woke up nearly five hours later in the dark and completely disoriented. We decided that we really had to make an effort to push through the jet lag, so got up to go outside again and jolt ourselves awake.

We took another ride on the train, taking us downtown toward Myeongdong. We had landed in Seoul in time to attend the Cheonggyecheon Lantern Festival, an event that is held during the first two weeks of November every year. Hundreds of lanterns were on display along the river, celebrating the festivalโ€™s 10th anniversary.

When our eyes couldnโ€™t stay open any longer, we called it a night. But before we returned home to bed, I had to pick up one last snack from 7-Eleven – a giant meat stick and Crunky bar to end the day. ๐Ÿ˜‹

Stay tuned for more recaps of this trip, coming up throughout the week.