Seoul Weekend Recap 0303/042012
On Saturday morning Gerald and I woke up, caked out bags and caught a bus from Gwangju to Seoul around 9:30AM. After about 3.5 hours on the bus, which is really comfy (the seats are like lazy boys and we slept a lot), we arrived at Gangnam Station in Seoul.
We met Gerald’s friend Kwon and his Wuba and we headed towards a Japanese Restaurant that Kwon had read great review about. The reviews were right because the food was incredible. I don’t know what I ate because I don’t understand a lick of Japanese and we just ate what the waitress and Kwon recommended - but it was a bowl of rice with fried pork cutlet smothered in an egg that was still sizzling when it came out. It’s probably the best thing I have eaten since coming to Korea (sorry 삼곱살). We chatted with Kwon and Wuba and had a really nice time eating together. Afterwards, while walking the streets of Gangnam, I spotted a few girls eating red balls on sticks and I inquired with Kown about them because I decided I need to have them in my mouth. Kwon said that they are a candied fruit and usually only women are seen eating them, but before I knew he it stopped at a street food vendor and told us to ‘pick your stick’ - he had bought all of us a stick of the candied strawberry treat! It was so yummy!
I love Korean Street Food. It’s a awesome part of Korean culture. I love meeting the smiling ajummas and adjosshis, tasting the subtle differences between bungeoppang (붕어빵) recipes, and the fact that everything is really cheap (around $1)! So far, I haven’t had the guts to try to silk worm larvae or the octopus tentacles. Maybe someday… maybe.
Kwon taught Gerald and I a few naughty words in Korean - words which we thought sounded totally adorable. Gerald thought the word for lady-bits sounded like something he would name a cute little dog, and I have to agree. I think we embarrassed Kwon by giggling and repeating the words too loudly on the very crowded street. Sorry, Kwon (but it still sounds adorable).
Before we knew it, it was time to head to Olympic Park Stadium for the primary reason behind our visit to Seoul, Big Bang’s 2012 Big Show!!! I have written my fan account in a separate post so those who want to avoid my fangirling don’t have to read it here. If you want to read my fan account of Big Show, here it is: Big Bang 2012 Big Show fan account: Everything is Fantastic Baby and Nothing Hurts. Needless to say, Big Show was incredible and it has been on my mind a lot since. I have really been enjoying Big Bang’s return - they’re back with smiles on their faces and VIPs support behind them. They had a rough year and have worked through a lot of rough times so seeing them healthy and happy has been really rewarding. I picked a really exciting time to come to Korea as a VIP.
After the show, Gerald and I went to Hongdae to meet up with Jieun and we went straight to a cafe because I had screamed so much at Big Show that I was having an obnoxious coughing fit. I bought two teas for myself while we talked with Jieun. I owe Gerald a lot for introducing my to many of his Korean friends. I’d like to avoid the whole ‘foreigner bubble’ thing while here in Korea and having Korean friends makes me feel more comfortable. Everyone I have met, Korean or from other foreign lands, have truly interesting, fun, gracious and kind.
I was pretty tired from the physical and emotional experience at Big Show so Jieun helped Gerald and I find a place to stay for the night. Gerald and I were fine with grabbing a Love Motel (ubiquitous in Korea for sexy times), but the taxi driver dropped us off in Sinchon directly in front of a hotel called Hotel Echae. At first I thought it was a love motel because it had the same colorful, flashing lights that many love motels feature but when we walked inside our room it was really modern, white, and luxurious. Korea hotels really go the extra mile for comfort.
We split 80,000W ($80 or $40/each) for a standard room - and once inside we discovered that we had two computers, a giant wall mounted TV, a bathtub (!!!) complete with all the toiletries you need, and coffee/drinks/snacks. We slept in a glorious, large bed with the most snuggly white comforter ever. Seriously, when I get paid I am buying myself a comforter like that one. Gerald and I definitely want to stay at Hotel Echae again. Apparently it has three locations in Seoul. If you ever see it and need a place to stay, I recommend it.
Gerald went off with Jieun to catch up and have a drink, while I stayed at the hotel, took a bath, and surfed the internet on the room’s free computers.
The next day, Gerald and I slept in because we couldn’t fall asleep for a long time due to the previous night’s excitement. We awoke and departed in search of Hongik University because I am considering attending the school in the future here in Korea. I also wanted to see if we could find Abkido Curry, which is another Japanese Restaurant, but it is one of Big Bang’s favorite Hongdae haunts. It turns out we were super close to it and we found it easily!
We went in (part of me was having inner fangirl attacks like ‘OMG Taeyang touches this door handle’) and saw that the place was really small and the staff was very friendly. They handed us a menu and asked us to wait outside 10 minutes which we had no problem with. A cute waiter came out to take our order. At Abkido Curry you get to choose your plate’s ingredients.
1.) Choose a rice or noodle. I choose chicken curry rice.
2.) Choose a spice level. Of course we were told that ‘medium spicy’ it’s probably too spicy for us, so we went with ‘mild’ (I also didn’t want to get something too spicy and look like an ass at the restaurant Taeyang frequents), but we thought that next time we would prefer one of the spicier options. Mild was way too bland for us.
3.) Choose your sides and/or meat. It comes with garlic and green onions for free. I added a side of fried chicken.
I can definitely see why the Big Bang boys like it - it was delicious! The atmosphere was really friendly and lively (the cooks would shout orders) but quiet with chill music, a calming Cheery Blossom tree and a rich wood interior. It looks like the front windows open fully so I am sure that they pop those open in the summer time and people eat on the small patio for a inside-outside dining experience. I kind of felt like a tool while we were there because I had bought a Big Bang light stick at the concert the night before and I only brought my purse with me so I was forced to carry the light stick around with me, including inside Abkido Curry. I am sure the restaurant gets many customers because of Big Bang and YG Entertainment (while we ate, many people stopped to take photos of the exterior) but I felt weird about taking photos and having my light stick, but pics or it didn’t happen, right? :) If you have easy access to Hongdae, go check it out!
We then attempted to find Hongik University, but it seems like it’s several buildings, or at least, we did not see anything resembling a campus. Maybe I had the address wrong. BUT, we did witness our first Seoul car accident while searching! We heard a huge crunching sound and looked over to see a large truck running over the front end of a car that was trying to switch lanes or turn. No one was hurt but we just kind of gawked at the incident for a while to make sure. The people involved in the accident were so calm. With the way Koreans drive I am sure accidents are not all too shocking to them.
We thought about checking out Myeondong, but it was chilly and Gerald and I were sleepy and unwilling to spend more money, so we headed back to Gangnam to grab a bus home to Gwangju. When buying our bus tickets, they cashier asked if we wanted ‘luxury’ or ‘normal’ tickets. We said ‘normal’ without giving it much thought, but it turns out that the buses that leave from Gwangju are all considered ‘luxury’ - and the ‘normal’ bus had narrower seats, no foot rest, and a shitty head and neck support. A ‘normal’ ticket is about 17,000W, while a ‘luxury’ ticket will run you 35,000W, so it depends on how much you’d like comfort vs. price. Another 3.5 hours later and we were back to Gwangju - home sweet home.
Seoul definitely expanded my perception of Korea as a whole. It’s a small country and rather cheap, easy and painless to get to Seoul. Yet Seoul definitely had a different feel than Gwangju did. Our neighborhood in Gwangju is next to schools and very family friendly - but I miss seeing people our age sometimes. Seoul is full of young, vibrant people and it’s much more crowded (and polluted). Visiting Seoul definitely got my excited to redefine and plan my goals and research and realize a possible future in Korea outside of teaching.
- 2 notes
- estelio posted this