Monday, October 21, 2013

Heart & Seoul

Angela and I recently spent six days in Seoul, South Korea and after those six days I hardly wanted to leave.  We were both absolutely in love with the city after being off the subway for only a few short minutes. I don't even know exactly what it was about Seoul that I loved so much. There was just a different energy, a different feeling to the city. It is a massive city, the twelfth biggest in the world at 10.44 million. Just for funzies I did a little math: Seoul itself is almost five times as large as the population of the entire state of Kansas.

The city was a blend of East meets West, but it was more than even that too. Everywhere you looked there were people from all parts of the world. We saw tourists from India, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Australia, Germany, Italy, Canada, China, Philippines, US and England. There were also expats and university students from all over the world. On every street you could find traditional Korean food but you could also find Mexican tacos, Belgian waffles, French pastries, Japanese noodles, Vietnamese pho along with of course American fast food.

We spent a lot of our time just wandering around the different neighborhoods, ducking into this shop or that art gallery. Stopping for coffee way too much and admiring all of the street art.

I've broken the trip down into a daily account.

Day 1

We left Taiwan and arrived in Seoul in the late afternoon. We took the subway to our hostel, checked in and then hopped back on the subway again to meet Angela's friend Sarah in the Gangnam neighborhood for dinner. We ate a delicious traditional meal of Korean BBQ with Sarah and her boyfriend. Then we wandered around Gangnam and took photo booth pictures. After saying goodbye to Sarah we got back on the subway and decided to explore this place called Art Street close to our hostel. The street was awesome and consisted of blocks and blocks of bars, restaurants, cheap shops and night clubs. We ended up having beers and people watching at a comic book bar. It was the perfect start to a great trip. 
We made it!

Korean BBQ

Psy was everywhere, advertising everything

Photo booth 

They have a beer named after me!

Street art

Comic book bar

People watching

Day 2

Before we left we decided that we had to make a trip to the DMZ while in Korea. We booked a tour through a Korean based company because you have to be on a guided tour to be let into the DMZ. We spent all day on the tour and got to visit the Korean War Museum, Iminjak (the closest you can be to North Korea without being in the DMZ) and the actual DMZ itself. It was a very interesting day. The DMZ was a bizarre place full of contradictions but I'm glad that I went and saw it because it was a once in a lifetime experience. The rest of the day we spent shopping and wandering around different neighborhoods. 
Korean War Museum in Seoul

Day 3

We spent the day sightseeing at the Gyeongbokgung Palace, watching a singing show, eating pho, walking around the river walk area, shopping, visiting a super old Catholic church, taking a gondola ride to North Seoul Tower and visiting a night market. 
Gyeongbokgung Palace


River walk area

North Seoul Tower

Love locks

Day 4

We visited a cultural village, N Seoul Tower again to see the love locks during the day, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, watched a parade of people with the coolest hats ever, ate Belgian waffles, visited Jongmyo Shrine, went to Olympic Park, ate Burger King, visited a night market and topped it all off with walking around in giant circles. Needless to say, it a was a busy day. 
Cultural Village

Love lock trees

Trying on a traditional Korean hanbok 

They had massive streamer things on their heads. They were awesome. 

Changgyeonggung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace

Half of lunch

Jongmyo Shrine

Olympic Park

Day 5

We spent the morning wandering around the university area near our hostel. Then we met up with Sarah and took our stuff to her apartment. She took us to her church for a potluck lunch. The food was amazing and the people were wonderful. Afterwards we walked around a arts and crafts street, had some coffee and then headed back to the university dinner for some more shopping, a trip to a cat cafe and a delicious dinner. 
Street Art

Day 6

We woke up bright and early to get on the subway and catch our 10:30 flight back to Taiwan. Seoul was done for now, but I will definitely be back in the future. 

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