Days 3 and 4 I engaged intensely in what I was sent for to Seoul - discussing about development cooperation, inclusiveness, synergies with the private, humanitarian and climate sectors... Pretty intense, very interesting, and terribly necessary and useful discussions. Me, having so little experience in the matter - at least when compared to other participants that have been dealing with this their entire lives - felt both intimidated and exhilarated. So right before it all began I had a walk at that park by my hotel (the Culture Art Park) so get some fresh air, see the red leaves again, and just have a few moments to myself. The weather had become rather rainy, as you can tell from the wet ground.
But no matter the overcast skies, the city and the forest nearby still looked amazing from the terrace next to the conference rooms:
As a reward for those two days of hard work, a small group of us went to a barbecue place with one of our Korean hosts. It had been so long since I had had bulgogi! And, for the first time ever, I saw sesame leaves as wrapping besides lettuce! I have to say, for me, wrapping my bulgogi and kimchi in sesame leaves made it intensely more delicious. Isn't it great when you discover some variation to something you thought you knew?
The night was cold. And rainy. And everybody but a colleague from the conference just wanted to go back to the hotel after dinner. Me, I was sitting on the fence, especially since the address of the nightclub my colleague wanted to go to seemed rather incomprehensible to taxi drivers. In the end, though, I did want to go out, the club seemed to be somewhere in the area (Gangnam), and this colleague sure knew how to insist! So, off we went to find MASS.
When we got to this underground (literally) club, it wasn't really busy. But the music was extraordinarily good! I mean, real good clubbing music! So I figured we could at least dance a bit and have a few drinks!
But as the night went on, more and more people kept arriving! This was a Tuesday night, ok? And at some point the club was as busy as any respectable nightclub on its best Saturday night! Well, a very fancy club, that is, full of good-looking, hip, young people. It was funny to see guys applying make-up in the washroom, too! This is one culture that really worships looks!
At some point, some locals befriended us - I suspect they were more interested in my blond, bubbly, flirty colleague. And later, they got us VIP bracelets and into the VIP! Not much different from the rest of the club, except for the candelabra, bottles of vodka and champagne (Moët Chandon, if you must know) everywhere, and food. Wow!
There was absolutely no sign of the party winding down any time soon. My colleague decided to leave (well, it was 4am, or something like that). I decided to stay longer, but I couldn't keep up with our local "friends" and I left, I guess around 5. Or 6? Who knows?
By the way, my whole plan was precisely that: staying up all night so I would sleep during my flight back home. And guess where this club was? Next to that Gangnam food street I had had breakfast at a couple of days earlier! There weren't that many places open at the time, but I managed to find one where I had a bowl of bibimbap, and then a second one where I tried a sort of Korean blood sausage (sundae). I was ready to try everything and anything, remember? Now, there are no pics of the bibimbap or the sundae because my phone's battery died, so all I have is the pic of the street.
Finally, I decided to walk back to the hotel. I had eaten too much. And I was afraid to take a taxi, get to the hotel, fall asleep, and miss my flight. So I walked, under the light rain. Without my phone to show me the way. And with a wet, crumpled, torn and worn map. And I made it! And I changed clothes, and decided I had to have one last meal on that street!
I was aiming for something warm and hearty, noodle-like. What I got was even more rain, getting really wet, and realizing most places were still closed - it was too early! So I had to make do with just a coffee and a piece of cake at White Chocolate (that café from my previous post). Not quite what I was expecting. But I had to eat, and I had a bus to catch to the airport.
At least, on my wet way back to the hotel, when passing the Citizens' Forest park, I saw a crane! Nice last view of the city, eh?
I had one last quick walk around the park, checked out, and proceeded to have a hellish ride to the airport - traffic was terrible, and I guess my body was really resenting the lack of sleep, the Korean sausage, and all that alcohol. It was really one tough ride. Thankfully, once outside the vehicle and at the airport, I started feeling better. But I was so ready to not have any more animal products anymore! LOL
As a farewell to Seoul, it just so happened that at the airport there was some cultural event, with a procession, a concert... pretty neat! That's one way to make your stay at the airport more pleasant, right?
That was one amazing trip to Seoul. Work-wise. Food-wise. Experience-wise. Really really really cool. Like I said last year, I've gotta bring the habibi one day!
BUT that was not the end of the trip! I still had an 11 hour layover in San Francisco!