On Thursday night, we returned from an epic jaunt across a few oceans (I’m being deliberately vague on that one because my geography ain’t so great. But oceans were definitely involved). If you’ve noticed a bit of a lull round these parts, you’d be correct in assuming that I had a few other things on the go, plus my time management could use some upgrading. What I’m trying to say is, we just got back from an epic trip to Korea & L.A., with a little stop-off in Yosemite, and it was freakin’ incredible.
If you’re wondering how this started, let me take you back a little to two months ago. We’d just arrived home from Europe, and again I was having a bit of a travel comedown (this seems to be my MO these days). Gav had spoken repeatedly about potentially going to LA to visit our friends for his 30th, and the closer it got to October 25th, the most plausible this crazy idea seemed.
And so, the zenith was reached when Gav booked us Korean Air tickets — via Seoul, of course — and it was locked and loaded. Now all we had to do was pack and work ourselves up into a giddy state of overexcitement (although that may have just been me).
As these things tend to do, it seemed to take forever… and then all of a sudden, the day had crept up and it was time to go. We boarded an 11:15pm flight with my bae Siggy, who transferred at Incheon airport, while we departed and had a glorious 5 days in Korea’s capital (and my spiritual home). I must say, flying Korean Air was a glorious reminder of how comfortable this airline is, and renewed my commitment to always flying with the nicest airline possible — life goals right there.
As Gav had been working supa hard up until the day we left, it was only right that he came down with a cold right as we landed in Seoul. Them’s the breaks, ey?! I do find that the moment we relax and go on holiday, our bodies seem to know what’s up, and consequently combust on us. The good thing was that we hadn’t really planned anything for that whole time — we just had Seoul at our feet.
We had booked an awesome Airbnb in Sinsa, which was literally a 4-minute walk from Garosu-gil, my favourite street in all of Korea. I’ve written about this before — in fact, it was one of my first stops when I landed in Korea. Known as the “Paris of Seoul”, Garosu-gil is a playground for Seoul’s rich, trendy, and fabulous. So obviously I would want in on this!
I actually used to travel about 40 minutes by train — with Gav, of course — just to go to brunch at my favourite cafe, The Flying Pan White. But sadly this time, when we were hankering for brunch, we realised it was no more. It was gone! In its place was a Vietnamese restaurant, which still had a line out the door, as FPW used to have… but I was just not into that.
Instead, we rounded the corner and found an incredible, authentic and very Korean restaurant — where we had the spiciest soups I think were ever created. It was one of those small, wooden legit places that didn’t look too fancy, but got the job done in an epic way.
One of days I met up with my bae Sue, and in lieu of FPW, we went to a cute little cafe called Acacia. There, we had a Western-style breakfast, two Americanos, and a whole lot of chattin’. Another few evenings, Gav and I dined at the killer galbi place right next door to our Airbnb. Heaven!
We also spent an afternoon in Guri, where both Gav and I used to teach. I always get a bit nostalgic coming back there, as we had some amazing times and it was kind of a second adolescence for our teaching crew. But I couldn’t miss it, and so we mosied on down to meet Sue for saengseong-gui (grilled fish). She took us to a locals-only place, and omg… it was insanely delicious. There’s just something about Korean food which can’t be rivalled with any other cuisine — it’s unbeatable.
After our relaxing, enjoyable days in Seoul — with a stop in Guri, of course — we jetted off once more to LA, to visit our friends Lewis & Jenny. I hadn’t been to LA since 1996, so this trip was a good 20 years coming (lol). I wasn’t really sure what to expect, and the main goal of the trip was simply to hang out with our friends, rather than to see any sights of LA — so this made it very easy to enjoy.
The day we landed, our friends met us at LAX with a donut-fonted sign, which particularly tickled my fancy. On the drive back to their place, I was pleasantly surprised with the sunny weather, endless palm trees, and wide open roads. Living in KL, personal space is always at a premium — so seeing roads the width of a skyscraper pleased me greatly.
The whole time we were in LA, we got to chill out to the max, and of course we ate incredibly well. Lewis & Jenny (who will henceforth be referred to as L&J) showed us some awesome hipster places, mixed with institutions like Brent’s Deli, where the best Pastrami sandwich is served, along with some killer french toast:
It took Gav and I quite a while to get over jetlag, during which time we kept sneaking off for “naps” at 3pm… which inevitably turned into full-fledged 8-hour sleeps and scrapped any dinner plans we’d made. But as the French say, c’est la vie! L&J were very accommodating and only poked minor fun at us, and we had a great time visiting late-night taco trucks instead.
As for the rest… you’ll just have to wait until part 2 to find out what happens! Rest assured that hilarity ensued (as did some epic mountain views).