I've had the pleasure of traveling a lot this past year. I had the opportunity to complete one of my graduate courses abroad. So I ventured to South Korea to learn about Occupational Therapy internationally while experiencing a pretty awesome cultural immersion.
Outside of our academic work, we had the opportunity to travel around the Seoul area and try out so many delicious foods while making new friends.
I won't split up this post into a daily blog but here are some of the highlights broken down into 2 posts.
I must say, flying Asiana is great. The food is much more memorable and delicious. Here's a bibimbap and every side dish comes in a mini dish with a little dessert and metal utensils. We got slippers too!
Two things Korea is currently really into... chicken and cheese. Not necessarily together but definitely both. So many of the foods we ate were spicy and chicken related. But almost everything we ate had an "add cheese" option. It's supposedly very popular with the young adult population right now. There was cheese in ramen, katsu, even this fried rice! It was delicious though. It was chicken with rice cake and cabbage. Then with any leftovers, they add rice and cheese and stir fry it for you on the same pan.
Also, food is relatively cheap in Korea. Tip is already included so no need to tip ever!
I found these hearty and simple dishes to be my favorite. This is a classic soondubu or spicy tofu shop. This with rice and all those side dishes were only $5. Speaking of eating, people drink way less water here than the U.S. at restaurants. There are much less water fountains and water is infrequently served, if not served at all at most restaurants. They usually bring a pitcher but if you're sharing with a group, the water runs out so fast. I always felt dehydrated here! Maybe it's just me and my group but I definitely recommend bringing a water bottle and filling it up at home or as frequently as possible.
I found it super surprising how inflated cost of soju is in the U.S. compared to Korea. These flavored bottles of soju were ~$1. Crazy cheap!! And the flavors were pretty delicious if you like the fruity stuff!
These are all random photos of how cute Korea's food packaging is. They have so many characters. The Kakao Friends characters are so popular and I never knew how big it was in Korea until I saw so many products and even their own shop (will mention in blog part 2). The bakeries were also great and super affordable. Delicious breads all just sitting out in a non-protected space for you to pick up with tongs and buy... we did it pretty often!
Here's a breakfast adventure from Paris Baguette. I got a japceh croquette and my friend bought this hot americano in adorable packaging. It's so smart and cute to make the lid look like a chapeau! Oh and also, most people order their coffee cold in Korea. It's backwards from the U.S. Unless you want it iced, you can just say coffee or tea and expect a hot beverage to be passed to you. But based on my stay, you have to clearly state you want your drink hot. Otherwise, it will likely come out iced! People get coffee and drinks so many times throughout the day too. Almost after every meal, people would ask if we wanted anything to drink!
We definitely had our fair share of street markets and shopping. Korea has the cutest socks hands down. I was especially tempted by all of their Totoro and No Face themed socks. I got some for myself and my sister because they are only 1,000 won which is equivalent to $1 USD. It was also really interesting how fish markets just lay out all of their fish like that in the picture and you come in very close contact with them while walking the narrow street markets. I was afraid I would bump into one and fall into a barrel of fish. Luckily, that didn't happen.
You can't go to Korea and leave without eating Korean BBQ. This was one of the best bbq experiences I have ever had. The meat melted in your mouth. So good.
If you want a fun night life and shopping adventure, check out Myeongdong. They had so many shops and restaurants! There is a cute artbox and line shop you can take cute pictures in as well.
I can never remember the name of this palace for some reason. I had to look it up. It's GeongBokGung or GeongBok Palace! We didn't pay to go in but explore the bit that was free. A lot of people rent traditional hanbok to take pictures everywhere inside. I also heard the entrance fee ($3USD) is waived if you are in traditional clothes!
Nearby GeongBokgung on our way to Insadong, we found this temple. I couldn't find a name but it was SO lovely. The rainbow colors and fish... I took so many pictures. I just googled it and it look slike it was only decorated for a special event. It's called the Jogyesa Temple (조계사).
This is the Insasong area. There is a lot of food and shopping. This big shopping mall called 인사동쌈지길 Ssamziegil Mall was a handmade crafter's dream. So many booths and shops had that handmade/etsy vibe to them. It was fun to explore. There are some other fun things around that my friends and I didn't explore like that dynamic maze on the left.
That's the end of Part 1 of this South Korea adventure. Enjoy!