Visiting Gwangju is one of those things that has been on my list ever since returning to Korea. It was the first place we lived overseas and was where I had my first introduction to all things Korean. I really wanted to see how things had changed since I was there three years ago.
The problem with going to Gwangju is that there is no train so the whole trip is a 3 and a half hour bus ride :S While the buses are comfortable and make the trip as nice as possible, it does eat into your weekend. We booked accommodation ages ago, chose a weekend with nothing on and just decided to suck it up and go. For some reason there wasn’t much in our price range left but I did manage to find a guesthouse in a great area that was really cheap. All was well until this week they sent me several emails saying that they had mislaid our booking and couldn’t take us, then that they could offer us bunk beds, and finally that everything was okay. I was pissed about this but the owner emailed me to say that the room would be free because we had been messed around so much. Seriously free accommodation! They told us an employee would be there to meet us around 3pm but when we turned up the place was empty. Like no-one was there. After ringing the owner and hearing his apologies, he told us the code and that we should just go in and make ourselves at home. So we did. In what was the weirdest overnight stay ever we went the stay never seeing anyone who worked there. Instead we just came and went as we pleased and left this morning without having to checkout. It was pretty cool but also really odd.
We were lucky enough to live across the road from a huge park in Gwangju so of course I had to go and walk around it. Being back in a city or country you have visited once before is always surreal. Your memories of it seem almost dreamlike and returning is like a reassurance that it was real and all that happened. I had so many different dinners, friends and weekends rushing through my head while we walked around the old neighborhood. Not much had changed, only every small local owned mart was now a 7/11 – boo!
After dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant, drinks downtown and a lot of walking I was shattered. Also a little disappointed to see that a few of the bars we always used to visit had closed down for whatever reason. I didn’t really see any new bars or clubs that had replaced them, a shame that these foreigner run places are gone now.
Today it was pouring with rain (of course) so my hopes of walking around and exploring more were pushed aside. Coming home seemed like a much better idea. While the weekend was short, it was really nice to see Gwangju and remember how much has changed since I was last year. I am so much more confident in myself and living in Korea now. I kept thinking about how three years ago we were afraid to do much in Korea like explore new places and try new restaurants – now it is all I am about. It made me feel proud of being such a grown up, and of course was my happiness for the day.
Now I need some yoga after all that sitting on the bus. Have a lovely Sunday 😀