I had some trouble with my computer, so, I couldn’t blog for a while. I had a lot of plans but now I have to postpone it for a bit because of unexpected events currently happening in my life. Today, I will share a simple post about my shoppings in South Korea and when I have more time I will elaborate more on the items I have bought and of course the many shopping areas. However, I went shopping all around Seoul. It’s a shopping mecca! I went shopping in Hongdae, Edae, Myeondong, Garosugil and Jonggak underground. Underground shopping is amazing, you can find anything but for a cheaper price! I have bought several fashion items that are currently trending when it comes to Korean fashion, several skincare products and miscellaneous items. I regret not buying more skincare products but thankfully Korean cosmetics are easily accessible online. I made several photos of my daily shoppings in my apartment.
As one of the last posted about my trip to South Korea, I thought it would be fun to make a master post (compilation) post of all the foods I ate in Seoul. Looking back I wish I tried out more authentic Korean cuisine. Because of the person that went along, I couldn’t eat most of the food I initially wanted to try. But, I still ate a lot of delicious food.
Korean café food
To start the day I would eat at a café. There are plenty to choose from, they even have Western brands like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. Most of the menus have English written under each food item, making it easier to order. There was only one instance where everything was only written in Korean. The price range may vary, depending which café you’ll visit. The foods they sell at Korean cafés are bread types, sweet desserts or even a combination of both. There’s often a great variety of drinks to choose from. Next time, I think I’ll be sticking to warm meals throughout the day. The problem is that Korean desserts and even the bread are way too sweet for my liking. I’m not really a fan of sugary food but it didn’t hurt stepping out of my comfort zone.
Chiabatta bread stuffed with mushroom & cranberry tea
Sweet corn bun, mini salad sandwiches & Chai tea latte
Waffles with syrup, whipped cream & jelly
Hello Kitty waffle covered in chocolate sauce, with ice cream, fruit and whipped cream.
Waffle with frozen yogurt and berries
Korean Honey Bread Brick Toast, with whipped cream, peanut butter and bananas, is a well-known Korean dessert. I didn’t have a chance try it because I’ḿ allergic to some of the containing ingredients.
Ichigo Daifuku 大福餅 (strawberry rice cake) originates from Japan and I was a bit surprised to see that they also eat this in Korea. I had this dessert many times before. It contains mochi (rice cake), anko (sweet red bean paste) and one strawberry. This was good but I had better before. The mochi was a little bit too hard and the anko a bit too sweet. But overall, it was still delicious.
Injeolmi Toast is another well-known Korean dessert. It’s quite similar to the honey toast but much smaller in size. It’s a very sweet and sugary white grilled sandwich filled with a soft chewy rice cake, sprinkled with soybean powder, honey and almonds.
Line Cafe Brown & Friends Macarons are sweet treats you can buy at the Line Friends Café in Garuso-gil, Gangnam. You can buy them in a pack or single. They’re chocolate, lemon, vanilla flavoured and come in the shapes of the three Line Friends Brown, Cony and Sally.
If you want to buy snacks in Korea, you don’t have to look far. At every corner, you can find a convenience store. These stores are filled with all kind of necessities from day to day life but you can mostly find drinks and food items, cold and warm. Most of the shopkeepers don’t understand English, so, if you want to ask something it can be difficult. The prices are relatively cheap.
Korean rice ball (onigiri) filled with meat
Convenience store ready to eat Tteokbokki
Bubble Tree soft icecream
Korean convenience store soft chocolate icecream
Samanco Bungeoppang icecream, I have been seeing this icecream on a few sites, so, I had to try it. It’s a waffle in a shape of a fish, filled with regular vanilla icecream and sweet red bean paste.
Binggrea banana, melon & strawberry flavoured milk are also very famous throughout Korea. These are just flavoured milk, nothing less and nothing more. Strawberry is my favourite out of the three.
Korean Street Food
What’s really cool about Seoul is that you don’t really have to go to a restaurant for a satisfying meal. When it’s heading towards supper time, street food vendors emerge from wherever they came from. You have a lot of variety to choose from. You have different meats on a stick, chicken in cups, waffles covered in whipped cream, cups of fruit, vegetables and fresh healthy beverages. The prices are cheap and even some of the vendor owners can speak English very well. I really wanted to try out more street food but unfortunately, I didn’t really have the chance. Hopefully, I can come again to Seoul and try out more food.
Korean Sausage on a stick. These are pork sausages, they remind me of mini hotdogs. Some sausages are stuffed with rice cake inside them. Very spicy and delicious.
Tteokbokki is made out of soft rice cakes, fish cakes and gochujang (a fermeneted Korean condiment). This is a very popular and affordable snack throughout Korea. It has a very savory and spicy taste to it. You have different versions of this dish, such as curry, cheese and chicken Tteobokki.
Cup chicken also known as Korean popcorn chicken. I couldn’t get my bloody camera to focus on the chicken. But it’s just chicken in a cup with spicy sauce over it.
Dakkochi chicken skewers
Authentic Korean restaurant dishes
Ordering food in a Korean restaurant is not that difficult. Like cafés, most restaurants have menus in English and pictures. You can also examine the signs in front of the food places. Mostly if there’s English written on a restaurant sign, it’s a safe place for non-Korean speakers. Although, this isn’t always the case. I walked into a place where I have been turned down but no hard feelings. These are obstacles you have to face when you’re in a foreign country. Prices may very. Smaller hidden restaurants are a tad cheaper but overall the prices are fairly affordable.
Korean fried chicken is my kind of chicken. There have all kind of different flavors and ways to prepare it. You have plenty to choose from. I even saw fried chicken with whipped cream! I took a more simple approach and ordered the natural crispy with onions and garlic. I also ordered spicy fried chicken with potatoes (양념치킨). It was so so good! When I stayed in Seoul I ate about five times Korean fried chicken because it was just too delicious.
Bibimbap is another famous Korean dish. You have many variations but here’s the vegetarian option. It’s basically served with a bowl of warm rice, meat, vegetables, egg and Gochujang. You only have to mix those ingredients together and your dish is ready to eat.
All you can eat Korean BBQ Gogigui. You can eat relatively cheap in Hongdae and there are a lot of restaurants/cafés to choose from. Thinking about all the Bulgogi, Galbi and Samgyeopsal make me drool. What I love about Korean culinary are the many side dishes that goes along with the food (banchan). The Korean side dishes that are served the most are kimchi, guk, gochujang and jjiggae. There’s also a Korean way to eat grilled meat. Korean BBQ always comes with sangchu. You’re meant to wrap the grilled meat like a decorative present. The savory juicy taste of the Galbi goes well with the green leaves.
Korean BBQ Gogigui. This is different from the all you can eat places, where you have a set price and can eat as much as you can. At the regular Gogigui place, you have to pay for each separate serving. So you can choose pork, beef and chicken. The side dishes are included in the price.
Korean Take Out
If you don’t like eating out every day, then take-out is an option to be used. Almost every eating place in Korea has an option to order food and take it home. After a long day of sightseeing, this is really perfect.
I noticed that all American-like food are more expensive compared to Korean food. “Korean” pizza was no exception and relatively expensive compared to all the other food that I ate. If I remember correctly I ordered a bulgogi pizza, with cheese, green and red peppers. The pizza was of course very delicious. Korean pizza is very different compared to the regular pizza I’m used to. With flavors like caramel, whipped cream and chocolate, can you blame me?
A village covered entirely in art is a sight out of a dream. Ihwa Mural Village was my favourite place to visit in Seoul. It was truly remarkable to be surrounded by so much creativity. The local Art Committee carried out this art project to improve the environment of the village. Which in my opinion was a success! Everyone is welcome to visit the village and enjoy the beautiful murals, artwork and sculptures. It was really fun capturing and viewing the several murals. At everyone corner there was something new and interesting to look at. I really enjoyed my stay.
After visiting the beautiful Changdeokgung Palace, I visited the historical Bukchon Hanok Village which is nearby. Bukchon village consist of traditional houses, called Hanok. You can explore the village with a guided tour but I decided to explore the village on my own. There’s such an overflowing serenity through the village, it felt for a moment I was really in the Joseon time period. Time stood still. It really kept me wondering how people lived their daily lives back in those days. I’ve got the impression that they must have lived very humble lives back then. It warms my heart and I’m glad I got to see it with my own eyes. As of today, most of these buildings operate as tea houses, guesthouses and cultural centers. Walking through the village is an unique experience I will never forget.
When I finished exploring the stunning village, I went to relax at a restaurant. I ordered Bibimbap, a famous Korean dish. You have many variations but I went for the vegetarian option. It’s basically served with a bowl of warm rice, vegetables, egg and Gochujang. You only have to mix those ingredients together and your dish is ready to eat.
Changdeokgung Palace is my favourite palace I visited in South Korea. Although it looks similar to other palaces, it has a beautiful palace garden. You can enter the palace grounds without a tour guide and wander aimlessly around. The palace grounds consist of a public area and a royal family residence building which is the most reserved of the other five royal buildings. The grounds are massive and there’s much to see.
Huwon garden can only be entered with a guide. It’s known as a resting place for the king and royal family members. The garden is provided with lots of pavillions, greens and has even a tree that’s over 300 years old. Although, you have to stick mostly with the group it’s still a wonderful place to visit.
If you’re in Seoul, it’s impossible to escape N Seoul Tower. Almost everywhere you can spot the tower. But, if you want to enjoy a beautiful view of Seoul city it’s a must to visit the 236.7 meter high tower. N Seoul tower is located on top of Namsan mountain (243 meter). I visited Namsan park and intended to take the cable car from there. But while searching I ended up walking the whole 243 meter high mountain instead. What the hell am I!? I was crazy tired, I can tell you that. Thankfully, I was greeted by a splendid view at the top of the mountain.
I reached the tower in time. The sun was already setting, so I had a beautiful sunset covering Seoul with a radiant orange yellow blanket and when night was falling, a beautiful illuminated cityscape. The admission fee was ₩10,000, which in my opinion is reasonable, especially compared to other cities. On the way back I pretended to be a normal person and took the cable car. If I remember correctly the admission fee was about ₩6,000 (one-way). All around a very splendid day.
After days that consisted of shopping and sightseeing, I decided to take it easy and spend a day relaxing at Han river. A lot of people come her to enjoy the beautiful park. I saw many people jogging, cycling, fishing or just taking a relaxing walk. Some passerby caught my eye because their faces were covered with masks and sunglasses. The person I was with told me that some Korean celebrities/Kpop idols visit this area. They’re covered up to protect their privacy. I’m not sure if that’s true. I rather think that they’re just protecting their faces from the bright sunlight.
I brought a few snacks, so I could have a little picknick along the coastline. I just had a with meat filling inside, some crisps and Binggrae flavored strawberry milk. I actually drunk a lot of those flavored milk drinks.
I wish I could have beautiful relaxing moments like this every day.
Although I already did a lot of walking in South Korea, I really wanted to hike through the mountains. In my country I don’t have mountains or hills. So, I wanted to take this opportunity. I decided to take it easy and decided to hike at mountain Achasan, which is suppose to be a 30-40 minute easy breezy walk. But…ok…first, I got lost. I couldn’t find the damn mountain and walked aimlessly throughout the city. Secondly, when I thought I actually “found” the mountain…it wasn’t that fucking easy as they promised. The tour map promised an easy hike with lots of stairs but instead I was walking on slippery rocks and landed in the “jungle”. I wouldn’t be surprised if an actual beer would pop out and attack us! Later I discovered that I actually took a very difficult route on mountain Yongmansan which eventually connects with mountain Achasan. When I arrived at the top I saw another path with lots of stairs and it became clear that was the “easy Achasan route”.
Although I was dying and trying my best not to fall. It was all worth it in the end. At the top, you have this really beautiful view overlooking Seoul city and Hangang river. The photos don’t do it justice. It’s so much more stunning in real life.
Oh yeah…after succeeding in not falling, on my way down…reaching the ground, I fell out of nowhere.
When I went home I ordered pizza at the Korean Pizza Hut and chocolate oreo boba tea. Very deserving for our hard hiking accomplishment. If I remember correctly I ordered a bulgogi pizza, with cheese, green and red peppers. The pizza was of course was very delicious, I could eat the whole thing just by myself.
Jongmyo Shrine was the only shrine I visited in South Korea. I had a hard time remembering it and had to look it up. It slowly came back to me when I recalled seeing the racoon dog scavenging around the shrine grounds. One of the few instances I saw wildlife in Seoul. Although the shrine was impressive, it still felt a bit underwhelming compared to the other attractions I have seen. To be honest, I regretted skipping Jogyesa temple for this. It still haunts me that I didn’t went to see the pretty colorful lanterns at the temple.
Anyway, Jongmyo shrine was a place of worships for the kings throughout the Joseon Dynasty. Here is where they performed the oldest ceremony and still reenact it to this day. Our tour guide also told us not to walk on the stone footpath. It consists of three separate pavements and the middle one is only meant for the king. If you would disrespect this, the king would come and haunt you. So, she made us jump over it! Haha!
After the tour I went and explore the city for a bit.
Visiting the beautiful palaces in Seoul was one of my highest priorities of my trip. One of the first palaces on my list was Gyeongbokgung Palace Also known as the North Palace. The premises were once destroyed during the Japanese Invasion. Thankfully, they were later restored and made it possible for us to admire it today. Although, restorations are still ongoing, there are still a lot of beautiful things to see. You have Gwanghwamun Gate, which greets you and welcomes you inside the palace. Geunjeongjeon, which is the Imperial Throne Hall where the king was greeted by ambassadors. Gyeonghoeru, which is a pavilion surround by water like an island. And, Hyangwonjeong pond which is truly one of my favourite. A pavilion which is also surrounded by water but connected to the ground by this picturesque bridge. It made me feel like I was in a fairytale.
What I really love about the Korean palaces is that they are really colorful. This traditional decorative coloring art is called Dancheong (단청) and has various symbolic meanings. The function is not only decorative but also had the purpose to protect the buildings surface against hot and cold temperatures and to make the material less noticeable.
After visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace I traveled to Cheonggyecheon stream which is nearby. This creek is about 8,4km long and eventually connects to Han river. In 2005 it has been restored and transformed into a lovely and calm stream. I had a nice leisurely stroll following the stream. Afterwards, I rested and relaxed for a bit while putting our feet in the water. A quiet moment amidst the buzzing city life.