South Korea: Hongdae (Hongik University)

Travelling throughout Seoul is pretty easy. You have three transportation options, by bus, subway or taxi. I mostly travelled by subway. I also recommend getting the T-money card. T-money is a transportation card you can use for any public transportation and taxi fares. This card makes travelling through Seoul so much easier and it also offers travel discounts. You can recharge the card at a T-money vendor or recharging devices inside the subway stations. You can purchase the T-money card at most convenience stores.

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Hongdae (Hongik University) is one of the most vibrant regions in Seoul. If you love shopping, urban lifestyle, art, indie music, street performances and a bright nightlife, then this is really the place to be. Hongdae is also known for its variety when it comes to shopping. Reasonable priced street fashion shops, to higher end boutiques and unique accessories. The prices may vary from store to store. Don’t be surprised. A lot of shops have the same item in stock but often with a different pricing. So, it’s better to explore to find the best deal. Also there are plenty of restaurants and cafés. I suggest checking out the newly openend Hello Kitty café.

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In the main shopping district I came across a lot of familiar shops. I visited the LINE STORE and ARTBOX. These stores mostly sell stationary, home supplies and miscellaneous items. They really had a lot of cute products, which made it hard for me to choose. Looking back, I’m kind of dumbfounded why I didn’t buy more supplies. I guess, I will never know. Also there are some cosmetics stores, like Etude House, Watsons and The Faceshop. But I highly suggest to shop for makeup and skincare in Myeongdong. I will elaborate why in another blogpost.

There is a bakery called Chocolat Yum. They sell the most adorable bake goods I have ever laid my eyes upon. The store’s interior design is very beautiful and feels so comforting. I wanted to buy everything in the store. I planned to come back another day because I was already carrying a lot of bags and was afraid that the pastries would break. But in the end I never got the chance to revisit. It still haunts me in my sleep!

After a while of exploring we came across a street full of cute boutiques. I never saw so many cute clothes at once in my life. The prices are bit higher in comparison but the quality of the fabric is much better. The STYLENANDA flagship store is also located in this area.

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When night time was upon us and it was close to dinner time, we decided to go for 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. I mostly just add garlic and spices and wrap it together and just cram it into my mouth. Yeah, I’m not really ladylike while I’m eating. But I just really love Korean BBQ after a nice long day of shopping. It was a successful day. A day I will always keenly remember.

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South Korea: First night, First day – Yongsan (Sookmyung Women’s University)

It’s already 2016. It’s kind of fascinating yet terrifying how time flies by. Last year a lot of great things have happened. Good and bad. But either way, I have gained a lot of new experiences. One of those experiences was travelling. When the year 2015 was almost nearing its end, I went on a trip to the Republic of South Korea. To be honest, I didn’t know much about the country. An acquaintance already visited South Korea once. The person suggested that I would love the country as well and that I really should visit someday. And so I did. I’m truly excited to blog about my travel adventure. I will first make mini posts with all the sightseeings, shopping and food. Later on, I will make a master-post with travel advice, tips, experiences and necessities. I have a bad long-term memory but hopefully I can recall a lot of things while looking at the photos.

I still remember the anxiety I felt when boarding the plane for a 13-hour long flight. With all the plane crashes happening I couldn’t help thinking that this may be my last flight. Yes, I’m always dramatic and I always over-analyse things. But this was my very first time travelling on my own. Thankfully, the flight went smoothly and I didn’t run into much trouble. I landed safely at Incheon Airport. I remember vividly the excitment I felt when walking through the airport. I even took a brief moment to look at the scenery. The fact that I was in a country I never visited and far away from home was indeed a new adventure. The airport is relatively large and very clean. Passing time here wouldn’t be a problem. There are lots of shops, lounges and eateries.

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I took the train from Incheon Airport Railroad to Seoul Station. The price per ticket is about 8,000 won and the ride takes approximately about 40 minutes. It’s kind of puzzling at first to find ones way and it’s best to just ask personnel for help. Most airport staff can speak English. Also signs are written in latin alphabet and they announce stations in English as well. I will elaborate more about the Korean transportation in my master-post.

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When we arrived at Seoul Station we took a taxi to our accommodation which is located near Sookmyung Women’s University in Yongsan-gu. I was told that it’s better to make an agreement in advanced about the taxi-fare. Also you have to pay attention which taxi you take! Some are more expensive than others.

I did forget to take photos of the accommodation. But it was very comfortable and it had all the basic necessities. There was even a television, fridge, stove and a washing machine. In Korea they mostly use digital door locks. You only have to press the code and it plays a tune when the door is opened/locked. It’s truly innovative!

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The location of our accommodation was ideal. There were lots of shops, supermarkets, cafés and restaurants. The subway station was also located nearby. The streets were filled with stylish college students. I kept forgetting to take photos of the city. So, you have to take my word for it.

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I decided to try out one of the dessert café in the neighbourhood. Most cafés or restaurants have menus in English but unfortunately this one didn’t. Thankfully, there was this lovely employee who could speak English very well and she helped us with ordering. I ordered Ichigo Daifuku, Injeolmi Toast, and a matcha green tea boba drink.

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_DSC0683 Ichigo Daifuku大福餅
This dessert is called Ichigo Daifuku. It originates from Japan and it’s mostly served with tea. It’s made out of mochi (rice cake), filled with anko (red bean paste) and a strawberry. Mochi is quite chewy so make sure you always have a drink with it. The savoury sweet red bean paste goes awfully well with the strawberry.

Honeybread Injeolmi Toast (Rice Cake Toast)인절미토스트
I don’t really know how to describe this dessert. Just picture a toast drenched in lots and lots of honey. Well, maybe not that extreme. It’s a very sweet and sugary white grilled sandwich filled with a soft chewy rice cake, sprinkled with soybean powder, honey and almond seeds. Yeah, I’m really not the best when it comes to describing food. But it’s just so sweet and yet so evil. Combined with the Daifuku…I was afraid my teeth would fall out.

As you can see…my diet wasn’t really the healthiest in Korea.