Because of our flight delay, our time in Seoul was really short. Less than a day and a half. So instead of of doing anything interesting or cultural, I did what I do best — ate food and went shopping.
Our hotel was in Myeongdong, one of the major shopping districts of Seoul. Very convenient!
These were the main things I learned about Seoul:
- The food is delicious.
- Everything is a lot cheaper than I thought it would be.
- Japanese is more useful than English.
- K-pop is EVERYWHERE.
Watching Korean MTV while I get dressed. ALL K-POP, ALL THE TIME!
Breakfast! I had no idea what this was called at the time, but apparently it’s gyeranppang, or egg bread. It’s basically an egg baked inside a pancake. Sort of a Korean street food version of the McGriddle. EXTREMELY tasty on a cold day, and only 1000 won ($0.88 CAD)!
It was then time for makeup shopping. BUY ALL THE KOREAN MAKEUP!
I don’t really know why they use dudes to sell makeup. But I love Missha BB cream!
You can see Etude House, Holika Holika, The Face Shop, and Tony Moly in this photo. All Korean makeup brands I like! I bought a million cute lip balms and even more Asian sheet masks. I’m obsessed with Asian sheet masks. Even though I haven’t yet run out of the millions I bought in Beijing, I couldn’t resist because they’re so cheap.
K-pop socks! I bought Kara socks.
I also bought $5 cute earmuffs.
Completely random lunch choice.
NO IDEA what we ate (it had a picture menu). It was some kind of spicy rice dish that they cook for you at your table. The best part was the crispy bits of rice.
I don’t even really like pastries and cakes and stuff that much, but something about being in Asia made me want to eat them. Probably because they were everywhere. Asia likes desserts. I was powerless to resist a cinnamon bun.
Namdaemun Market, home of incredibly cheap clothing.
Fish cake hot dogs — see later in this entry for more!
I did not go to this stamp museum, but I like their signs.
Korean vending machines: not nearly as awesome as Japanese ones. But the drinks are cheaper. 700 won = $0.62 CAD.
Looks like Vitamin Water but is actually body wash.
I bought this SUPER ADORABLE hoodie at Namdaemun Market. It didn’t really fit in my carry-on, I can’t wear it in real life, but I couldn’t resist anyway. It has ears! Namdaemun Market is the kind of place where you should haggle, but I didn’t — it was only $20000 won ($17 CAD) so I didn’t care.
Korean cosmetics stores give out a ton of free samples when you buy stuff. This is a day’s worth of samples.
Here’s those fish cake hot dogs I mentioned.
A hot dog on a stick, wrapped in fried fish cake.
Myeongdong at night.
Mike took this photo while I was makeup shopping.
Another Myeongdong shot.
Mike picked this restaurant because he’d read it was good, and it turned out to be the same one that Eat Your Kimchi talks about in their Myeongdong entry. They have the WORLD’S MOST GARLICKY KIMCHI, so you are preemptively given a mint when you sit down. As a related aside, I love restaurants where you pay when you arrive. This is the norm in Tokyo too. I guess they work better in countries that don’t have tipping, but still. It’s nice to be able to just get up and LEAVE when your meal is over.
Delicious kalguksu, a kind of Korean noodle soup. This was one of the cases where knowing Japanese was more useful than English. We knew that we wanted to eat kalguksu, but the English menu just listed things in generic terms like “noodle soup” and not the Korean name of the dish. But in Japanese, the Korean names were spelled out phonetically so we could actually tell which “noodle soup” was kalguksu.
I regret not buying more K-pop socks.
Bbopki, a street food candy. You’re supposed to try to eat it without breaking the shape in the centre, but it’s hard to do! (I failed.) It tastes pretty much exactly like a Crunchie bar without the chocolate.
I went to McDonalds just to look at the menu — I wanted to know if they really had a “Bulgogi Burger.” Another case of Japanese being useful: the menu outside was ONLY in Korean and Japanese. And once again, the words were spelled out phonetically. (Yes, there was a Bulgogi Burger.)
And that’s pretty much it for Seoul! We had trip to the DMZ booked, but missed it because of the delay. But now I have a reason to go back! And when I go back, I definitely will not go in the winter. It was COLD — the temperatures hovered just below zero, which is about the same temperature it is here in Toronto. It’s not that bad (I am from Winnipeg, after all) unless you want to spend the entire day outside walking around. It’s a good thing Korean food is nice and spicy.