Cruising to Seoul, South Korea

China, now South Korea. How did we get to these compelling destinations? By cruise ship. It’s an interesting topic. So many people I speak with say they would never NEVER go on a cruise. I was one who said precisely that a few years back. And, here I am, three cruises later, wondering exactly what was my real objection. Travelers can be rude off cruise ships and can eat too much on land. We can all be wasteful to extreme, wherever we set down our feet at the moment. I must have been afraid that somehow the cruising stereotypes would pull at me and make me a different person. It hasn’t happened. When Stanley and Marsha cruise, it’s to get us where we want to go at a good price with a reasonable degree of convenience.

Seoul Springtime Blossoms
Seoul Springtime Blossoms

But Seoul, you may say, is not convenient to a cruise ship along the coastline. And so, we landed at Incheon, Korea, which isn’t Seoul and wasn’t on Stanley’s list of places to see. Our usual habit when arriving anywhere is to walk. In Incheon’s case, though, if we had started walking off the ship, we would have reached only – maybe – the far side of the ship terminal by the time we needed to turn back. Instead, we did the unusual thing of booking the cruise tour. An eight-hour day took us into Seoul to see what we could see, and back to the ship in time for the majestic departure from port, lights coming on inland as we sailed out to open water.

For the tour, though, mostly I remember running to keep up with the guide, and hearing some parts of her long lament against Korean women’s treatment. She had a very interesting story to tell, and told it well, as long as we ignored the sights around us and focused on what she had to say. We went to the cultural history museum, where our guide began by drawing our attention to her big feet. “You will never get married because of your big feet,” she heard her mother say repeatedly as she grew up. We walked rapidly by the traditional Korean home, laid out room-by-room. “I spent $2,000 American to find a husband, but it didn’t work,” she said, racing by the kimchee demonstration. Half the group was drawn to the kimchee, being hungry and tired. But Stanley and I ran alongside our guide, knowing that our chances of getting back to the ship on time lay with the guide and not the kimchee. Our group of 40 was now down to 20, but on ran the guide. How the lost half of the group found us is a mystery, since the guide never once counted heads nor raised one of those ever-present tour flags. Her big feet kept pounding the sidewalk all day, except for a tasty half-hour in a Korean barbecue restaurant.

IMG_1057We were finally given 30 free minutes in an outdoor downtown shopping area. The bus paused by an intersection of sidewalks, and the guide pointed to a mass of people, disorganized, heading all directions at once, bounding around the stalls that were being set-up on the sidewalks. “The bus will meet you here. I will leave without you if you are late. Don’t go into the alleys. You will get lost,” said the guide before she ran off. The forty of us carefully got off the bus, took pictures of the location on the street for guidance, looked at the time, and headed off into the intersection of walking shoulders. Stanley and I took off immediately into the alleyways, which were, of course, the best part of Seoul.

Stanley bartered all the coins he needed for his collection. I spent the bit of leftover money on a tiny purse I will probably never use. We listened to the late afternoon life, witnessed the crowds and the companionship, noticed that everyone but us bought ice cream from street vendors, got back to the bus on time, and slept all the way back to the ship. We were tired from all that big-footed running.

Looking back on Seoul
Looking back on Seoul




15 thoughts on “Cruising to Seoul, South Korea

  1. But you got your walking (running) experience on this tour, right? And in the process saw life as it is in Seoul. As much as you could on a cruise stop. I haven’t been on a cruise for so long (about 10 years), maybe it’s time soon…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tiny – You can’t beat cruising for getting you to many different places in comfort. And you are right, on that particular day, we got our exercise out of the way! With so many cruises leaving from your area, it’d be as easy as choosing a place to go!


    1. Alison – It’s not the most in-depth visit to a new place. And relying on a slightly angry tour guide for information can be hilarious (as this was) but can never replace getting lost in another culture, as you two do. All-in-all, I think we’re nearly done with cruising. It was always more about ‘Stanley’s list’, and how much he could cross off in one itinerary. Now, we can settle down and take some time to enjoy. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I’m glad that destination is crossed off the list. I prefer a more leisurely visit to a new and completely foreign place. But at least you got a good tale out of it and a glimpse of life in Seoul.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I guess photos weren’t a priority? 🙂 🙂 As usual, your descriptions made me smile. I do know what a sad thing it is to be born a big-footed Korean or Japanese lady, for that matter 🙂
    Cruising fills me with dread but oh, the places I could see! (just about 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I say big-footed women everywhere unite! I am one, and I can’t imagine my big-footed sisters of the world as being anything but wonderful – especially when it comes to getting places fast.
      Re: cruises – they have gotten me to many lovely places to walk. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So, now officially, you are a Seoul sister. (Sorry, could not resist.) I’ve always been a big fan of the funk.

    Sounds like you’re cruising along nicely, what with the cruising and all. Are you cruising home or taking a plane?

    We leave Denmark on Monday and I am both happy and sad about heading back home. The trip’s been a blast but I’m ready for some down time. A frosty drink on the deck with a good book…I am so all over that. *grin*

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re talking about our FRONT deck. Our new and very private back deck on the back of the bungalow, off the living room, is done. Except for one railing. Which Bill says he’ll get to one of these days…hmm.

        Looks like you’re still traveling and enjoying. When do you get back home?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe I should try that. We’re enjoying, hope you are, too. And I haven’t forgotten…it’s “in progress” as I write this. *grin*

        Liked by 1 person

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