So if you know me you know I love Kpop, Korean beauty and just general Korean culture so Korea was my most anticipated part of the trip. If you missed my last post about Japan click here.
Upon landing in Incheon we found our way to the train to the centre of Seoul and were sat next to the 2 most annoying Canadians on the planet, I wanted to put my head through the window so that was the best welcome ever.
Our hotel was in Jongno-gu so it was really straightforward to get to off the metro, thankfully. The hotel itself was super nice and we couldn’t believe the price we got it for, considering it had a Jacuzzi in the room and a computer.
First on the to do list was heading to Myeongdong and seeing how many Kbeauty shops there really was. And I was not prepared. I did not expect to see the same shops 5 times on one street each. And every single company had a buy one get one free deal going on for face masks and various other things. Overwhelmed is an understatement to say the least. Some guy who worked at Etude House even stuck out his hand so Joanne could test out lipstick on him instead of herself, which was wild.
For dinner we had some famous Korean fried chicken. We had wanted to get Korean Barbecue but nowhere we could see had chicken and neither of us are fans of pork and beef, so I was sad about that.
Waking up on our second day Joanne had a migraine so I went out to explore on my own as I didn’t want to waste any time and I knew Joanne wouldn’t want me to just hang around. I first headed to Jongmyo which was the shrine of all the royalty. As it was Korean Memorial Day the place was pretty quiet and definitely had a bit of a weird air to it.
I then headed to the Bukcheon Hanok Village which is probably the most photographed place in Seoul besides the Palaces. I got a little bit lost as I was in the right area but wasn’t sure where to find the parts I’d always seen pictures of but then I found a tourist info place and was able to find my way. But first I was hungry so I went and grabbed some Bibimbop (that’s bibimbap with no meat). It was so good, I just love bibimbap so having actual Korean Bibimbap was 10/10 and the shop I got it in was really cute.
The actual Village was so busy with young Korean kids dressed up in Hanboks taking photos as if they were residents of the village. And the hanboks were super cute, some were just standard ones and some were embroidered so nicely. But aside from that the village was really cool, it was so interesting to see how houses used to be and I couldn’t imagine how expensive rent would be for the houses. I went for some patbingsu at a sweet cafe in the village and it was bigger than my head so I couldn’t finish it but it was so good.
Next I went to the The National Folk Museum which was quite a sweet open air museum with some reconstructed buildings to show what village life used to be like. Then I went to the Gyeongbokgung Palace which was the main Palace of Joseon (Korea before it became North and South). It has been burnt down a few times so isn’t the original buildings all the way through but there is constant work to restore it to the way it once was. If you ever go to Seoul you should make this your number 1 priority because its so serene and unbelievable that it’s in the middle of Seoul because you can’t hear any noise.
Joanne woke up and felt a lot better so joined me at the Palace. After quickly showing her some of the things she missed we headed to the COEX which is this insanely huge mall in Gangnam. My main reason for going here was because it has SMTown@COEXartium and I desperately wanted to go there to see what SNSD merch I could find. I spent way too much money and never took a picture of it and it’s currently still in the mail to me (which is kind of terrifying). I then went into a book shop which sold CDs as well so bought more there. The other awesome thing about COEX is that it has a library in the middle of it.
The next day it was pissing down so I had to google some things to do on rainy days in Seoul. Off we toddled to the National Palace Museum which was actually really interesting because I never really learnt much about Korean history. One thing that stood out to me that Korea were quite eager to embrace Western cultures which a lot of East Asian countries were against.
We left the museum earlier than we expected so we walked to Myeongdong as we wanted to go to a Cat Cafe but we knew places didn’t open very early there. It was a longer walk than we thought and we got very wet, but got to see some cute policemen with golf umbrellas. Of course the cafe didn’t open for another hour anyway so we wandered about a little more, found another place to buy some CDs. Nature Republic had this amazing deal: buy one set of 56 face masks and get another set of 56 free so of course we went halfers and bought them.
The cat cafe was the sweetest place ever, it was pretty cheap compared to the ones we have in the UK as well, considering it was 9000 won for entrance and a drink. We met a group of people from Liverpool whilst we were there who started talking about going to a dog cafe which we were kind of interested in too but we wanted to do something else first so we didn’t keep awkwardly bumping into the same people.
I’d read about this place called Common Ground which was a shopping centre made out of shipping containers. However information on where it was was scarce so we got a little lost on the way due to orientation confusion. It was pretty cool to navigate through and it was all indie shops, sadly there wasn’t really anything for either of us to buy though as it was all Asian sizes and even the large wouldn’t fit my thigh.
Eventually we headed to the dog cafe. They had the dogs split up into small dogs and big dogs but thankfully we could move between the rooms to our heart’s content. And you can bet I gave my love to all the dogs. There was 3 corgis! The cutest miniature poodle ever immediately jumped in my lap as well. The staff just let the dogs do what they wanted which was a bit weird to see when the dog’s started getting a bit aggro but I know how that’s better for the dogs themselves.
We flew to Jeju Island the next day and Gimpo Domestic airport was an experience I can tell you, every single flight was running late and every single person was running late. I hate being less than 2 hours early for my flight so I was feeling a bit stressed out by everyone.
Jeju was not what I expected, I think we were staying on the wrong side of the island as I thought it would all be golden beaches. But as we were only staying for a night we couldn’t stay too far from the airport. The Guest House we stayed at was nice and homey and was easy to get to once we got off the horrendous bus journey. Honestly, you should take a bus in Jeju, I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared for my life.
The one night we were there we walked a lot, first we tried to find a beach, which we couldn’t. Then we tried to find an ATM that would accept my card, which we couldn’t. And then we tried to find the place called Noodle Street, and we did.
So since we couldn’t find a beach that night the next day we endeavoured to get to one. Which Joanne managed to find a way to using her inherited navigation genes. Another horrendous bus journey and we found a beach and sat there for 2 hours. Somehow there was free wifi there too so I spent the majority of my time there watching the live results of the UK General Election.
I think I will need to go back to Jeju and see the south side of the island and explore the Sex Museum.