Seoul adventures, part 1 🇰🇷
Our first stop for our honeymoon was Seoul, in South Korea. I actually liked it more than I thought I would. Although I don’t feel totally wowed by the city, I find it to be so interesting. One of my favourite things about Seoul is the cafe culture (of which I am obsessed in general, not just in Seoul), and the fact that you can walk down an alleyway and it can be so lively and buzzing, even into the late hours.
Day one: Myeongdong, bibimbap, Itaewon, and meeting Tara
On our first day we were pretty hungry after having landed early in the morning. Although we had our standard plane food on both flights (from Sydney to Haneda, Tokyo, and from there to Incheon Airport in Seoul), we were hungry and searched for some bibimbap after having a nap.
I found a blog post that broke down the best bibimbap in South Korea. One was named Mokmyeoksanbang and looked really promising. We headed there, but after a hefty uphill walk we realised that it was a Michelin Star restaurant thus it was extremely popular, and we were not prepared to wait an hour for bibimbap… not when we were already famished. 😆
We ended up going to a restaurant called Gogung, in the area known as Myeongdong. Here is where we learned that Apple and Google maps were difficult to use in South Korea! Neither of us can read Korean and it took us a bit of time to get used to the street names and towns.
Afterwards we explored Myeongdong. Myeongdong is a popular area for Korean skincare stores, as well as jewellery and fashion boutiques. There are a couple of food stalls as well. Popular skincare brands had multiple stores in the area – Etude House, Tonymoly, Nature Republic and Innisfree were in abundance.
Later that evening after yet another nap (ha), we met up with Tara, a blogger friend I have known since around 2009-2010. It was so great to finally meet and to have her show us around Itaewon, the town she knows best. We had kombucha (Tara’s shout! 😊), something which I have had little of but certainly enjoyed that night. We weren’t quite hungry yet so kombucha seemed like a great idea. Nick and I had the rose flavoured one which I thought was delicious. Tara went for the spiced cider. I have no doubt it tasted great too but I just love rose flavoured things!
For dinner we ate at Noxa Oriental. Tara suggested the tom yum soup so I had that with noodles. Yum! Nick went through a wonderfully spicy rice dish that fused Korean and Thai cuisines. He did well – I had a taste and it was pretty intense! 🌶
Day two: Noryangjin fish market, Gangnam (style), Korean BBQ & soju, and karaoke in Hongdae
We went to the Noryangjin fish market after a very much needed sleep-in. It was practically lunchtime by the time we got there. Again we struggled with the language although we were aware that you could eat somewhere in the fish markets. After we walked around looking at all the seafood we tried to go eat at a restaurant but the lady kindly told us we had to purchase some seafood then they would cook it. Although some vendors were encouraging us to purchase, we didn’t particularly feel like crustaceans (crab, lobster) and wanted fish, and some fish looked extremely large for a meal.
We spotted a man cutting sashimi and he seemed approachable and could speak a bit of English. With his help we selected a flounder to be steamed. Although he simply beat our flounder to knock it out, before handing it to a lady who worked for a restaurant, I found it difficult to watch other vendors actually spearing the fish. I dare say it is probably a little easier to witness compared to watching cows or chickens be prepared for food.
The lady took the fish in a bag to a restaurant, and we said we would like the fish steamed. It took about twenty minutes or so, but the dish was worth the wait! It had a lot of garlic and soy sauce, with bits of cabbage and carrot for taste. Eating fish with the bones in can be a bit of a challenge but we managed to eat the whole thing and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Tara had mentioned that Gangnam (popuparised by Psy and his hit song Gangnam style of course) would be a bit pricey but we paid the town a visit.
We didn’t do much there except people-watch and spend an hour walking through the underground subway mall. The mall was very much like something we had experienced before: market-style shops selling roughly the same thing. Similar to Mangga Dua in Indonesia, Paddys Markets in Sydney, or even Myeongdong that we had visited the day before, it was full of womens/girls clothes and jewellery stores that sold the same brands and same styles of products. Still a good way to entertain ourselves for a bit.
After that we hit the college town of Hongdae which was absolutely buzzing for a Sunday night. By our standards this was impressive, though we’re sure it’s the norm in Seoul. College students were enjoying their weekend with the shops, karaoke, food and even some groups dancing with a loudspeaker or singing. It seemed like entertainment for the public, but they also looked like they were minding their own business and having fun.
We took the opportunity to have Korean barbecue. It was very enjoyable and we tried several different kinds of beef. (Side note – not really a PSA but I reintroduced meat back into my diet around July 2017.) We paired that with soju and I went to town on the kimchi and pickles. Nick isn’t a fan of those, unfortunately. 😆
We booked a karaoke room for an hour and sang some pop music. Thank goodness we managed to navigate the console and sing some English songs because I don’t think us singing Korean would have been very successful. There were maracas and tambourines and even a microphone on a rotatable stand. We could toggle the funky lights in the room as well to suit the mood. Nick and I scored about 97/100 on What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction. 😂 We also did pretty well on Viva la Vida by Coldplay (mostly Nick’s work though) and Hello by Adele. It was a good way to end the night.
Look out for a second post recapping our Seoul adventures, soon!