My last day in Seoul was also the last day of the 2018 Winter Olympics that were taking place in Pyeongchang about 300km away.
Time for a road trip!
Even before I arrived in Seoul, my plan was always to travel to Pyeongchang and spend the day immersed in the Olympic vibe.
When I arrived here a couple of days ago, I was thrilled to find out the girl working at the hostel was organizing a trip out to Pyeongchang for today as that was my plan all along anyway.
Yay! Group road trip!
When I went down to the common room this morning I was expecting to see a group of maybe half a dozen people.
There were only 2 others.
And the girl organizing it all texted them to let them know she was sick as wasn’t gonna make it.
Okay then, just me and 2 other people…
And of course they were two German girls as what would be an adventure without two German girls in the mix, right?
Since our planner wasn’t coming, we kinda had to figure out how to get out to Pyeongchang on the fly.
There was a train or a bus option.
Sadly, the high speed train that takes only an hour to get out there has been sold out for awhile and the normal train takes a whopping 6 hours to get out there.
Looks like it’s the bus for us.
A 3 hour bus ride.
Oh well, at least we were on the road fairly early so we’d arrive around noon.
Our little troupe headed out the door at 8:30 and an hour later we were on a bus to Pyeongchang.
Olympics here we come!!!
As we looked out the windows and saw the ground turn from green to white, we knew we were getting close.
It’s crazy, but I was actually giddy about arriving.
I couldn’t wait to walk in the Plaza and take in the atmosphere.
Oh, and I was definately buying souvenirs!
And food! Oh my God, Olympic food!!!
Yup, I was excited!
We arrived in Pyeongchang just after noon and my excitement gradually notched down a level as we found out the Olympic Plaza was closed today because of the closing ceremonies.
Here I thought being here on the last day there would be a special electricity in the air and instead it ended up being the exact opposite.
No plaza. No souvenirs. No great Olympic food.
In fact, it just turned out to be us walking around a little town for a couple of hours.
There weren’t even alot of people here as the closing ceremonies weren’t happening until later so people would only be arriving later on in the afternoon.
As for souvenir shopping, I envisioned store after store selling merchandise adorned with those beautiful Olympic rings.
Instead I found one tiny store and it had a line out the door.
When I say tiny, I mean tiny, like it was maybe 50 square feet.
They could only allow 10 people in the store at a time as that was all that could fit so hence the line out the door.
Anyway, I stood in said line for 20 minutes and when I finally got in I noticed that 90% of the souvenirs were just generic Korean souvenirs you could find anywhere.
There were only a few Olympic themed souvenirs and I did end up picking up one which I don’t even think is an official souvenir as there was no logo on it.
Oh well, whatever, I got an Olympic souvenir and there’s a crazy story behind it.
Who would have thought it would be hard to get Olympic souvenirs?
In the city hosting the games?
Chalk this up to another misadventure that makes for a great story down the road…
Traveling, especially backpacking, would be pretty boring without these misadventures along the way.
Anyway, with souvenir in hand and a nice Korean lunch in my belly, I was on my way back to the bus station.
The girls and I had parted ways earlier as they had to get back to meet up with friends and at that time I hadn’t yet found that oh so marvelous souvenir shop.
At 4pm I was on my way out of Pyeongchang with my Olympic dreams not quite shattered but perhaps a bit dashed.
Kinda like when Canada lost to Germany in men’s hockey…
What? Too soon?
Anyway, got back into Seoul a few hours later and was back at the hostel by 8pm.
It was going to be an early night for me as I have a lovely 9am flight tomorrow morning to Hong Kong which means I gotta be up at the ungodly hour of 4:30am.
Oh, and I picked up a nice little cold along the way probably courtesy of that guy sitting beside me in my DMZ tour yesterday coughing up a storm.
So, I had some beef noodle soup, took some Halls and downed some cough syrup and headed to bed around 10:00.
So, while I didn’t exactly catch Olympic fever today, at least I caught a cold so that’s something, right?
Off to Hong Kong…