I had a leisurely trip to the airport for my flight out of Japan and made it to Seoul really not knowing what to expect! I was immediately pleasantly surprised with how amazingly helpful everyone was and definitely made friends with the subway ticket attendant who spoke no English but chuckled his way through explaining to me in full Korean how to get to my hostel! I finally arrived at the awesome Kimchee Sinchon Guesthouse (see here) and was upgraded to a 4 bed empty room so essentially a massive private one! Once I had done the ever familiar unpack – repack I grabbed a final tribute to Japan in a gyudon meal in a cafe near by and pottered around my local area in Seoul’s young and studenty neighbourhood Hongdae. When I made it back to the hostel I was invited to join a group for some Korean BBQ – obviously I agreed and we headed to this local spot to grill this amazing pork at or tables. It was served with super soft tofu, radish and sesame dressed salad and of course accompanied by soju which is I guess Korea’s answer to sake! From there we hit the bars of Hongdae and partied the night away at these ridiculously busy clubs before street side pizza with fellow revellers and then bed!
My room was still empty bar me when I woke which was so lovely – a huge private room feels like such a luxury! I spent the morning at the Gyeongbokgung palace complex which was gorgeous and absolutely massive filled with lakes and weeping cherry blossoms and impressively decorated buildings. As with Japan there were a lot of tourists in traditional dress taking selfies which made for an interesting contrast with the city views and ancient buildings and their traditional clothes paired with converse and iPhones. I eventually stumbled my way to a place for food after meeting an adorable Korean businessman who directed me to his favourite part of town for food. I tried my very first proper bibimbap which is rice served sizzling in an iron bowl topped with veggies and a fried egg and it was so so good paired with a dish of about 5 different types of fresh and spicy kimchee. The staff were adorable here too – I feel like I’m falling in love with the people more than anywhere else I have been so far. From there I strolled into Bukchon Hanok Village which is an area where the old style Korean homes have been preserved and converted into workshop spaces, galleries, craft stores and vintage shops – obviously I loved it! I found a rooftop cafe with a great city view and my day was complete already even at 3pm! From there I grabbed the metro and a short cable car to visit Seoul Tower for even better view of this wonderful city. As the sun set I strolled back into the city via a little street market to a Korean burrito fusion place where I tried this succulent pork and kimchee feast with a local craft beer fitting with Seouls ridiculously hipster personality! When I got back to my hostel I was presented with a glass of milky rice wine which began a mad second night out bar hopping first with the group from my hostel but eventually with this amazing group of American and Irish TEFL teachers who showed me their favourite spots for true Seoul nightlife!
I definitely needed a lie in and eventually woke to such a gorgeously sunny day to explore the Saturday markets in my local neighbourhood. Seoul just seems to be filled with young creative people with all of these awesome little businesses, bars, cafes and art spaces and I really think I could live here! I grabbed a sun soaked seat with perfect people watching potential and feasted on kimchee and Korean pork quesadillas and fresh guacamole! From there I spent the day wandering the busy streets and eventually found my way to the super moving War and Women’s Human Rights Museum. There I was presented with an audio guide that took me through the space revealing the horrifying stories of women trafficked into comfort stations to face abuse by Japanese soldiers during conflict. I was moved to tears by their stories and the powerful exhibitions demonstrating this continual practice across the globe even today. From there I found a park nearby to sit and contemplate until the sun started to set across the city. I took a train into the centre to one of Seouls many food markets which was amazingly buzzing and filled with tiny benches where I took a seat and asked for a little selection of whatever the stall lady recommended! I was soon presented with a steaming plate of Korean black pudding, pork intestine and chicken feet with a little cup of fish soup and of course a side of kimchee! As black pudding goes this was soft and delish, the intestines were a bit gamey but the chicken feet aside from the surprising soft texture were actually so so delish – full of spice and flavour! From there I worked off my dinner with a stroll down this gorgeous stream running through the city highway to the design plaza which is an amazing piece of architecture and is home in the day to museums and galleries and at night to a buzzing street food truck market where I pottered around until I figured I would come home to blog and sleep!
(Photos; Seoul’s Village streets, Inestines…, delish burrito, Market stall, Hongdae, Tower, Tower view, tower Kew with classic love locks, street art)