Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Over the holiday that marked Buddha's Birthday, Tyler and I decided to visit Seoul for the first time. We had an absolute blast and are already planning our second Seoul excursion. 

The first thing we had to do upon arrival was to figure out the complicated subway system. If you've ever seen a picture of Seoul's underground, it looks like a convoluted spiderweb. Luckily, Tyler is a human compass and was able to successfully navigate us wherever we needed to go. As you can see in the picture below, the subways are wide and long... much wider and longer than the subways in Busan. It was nice to have some leg room! 

Our first stop in Seoul was the popular shopping district named Myung-Dong. We both agreed that Myung-Dong was the most crowded place we'd ever been. There were literally stop-and-go human traffic jams in the shopping alleys. However, the shopping was fantastic! This was a fashionista's paradise. Tyler was so patient waiting for me outside of the boutiques. 

In Myung-Dong, Tyler found a super-size ice cream that drew a huge line of customers. He was in heaven. 

Soon after, we came upon signs on the street advertising a Cat Cafe. We'd heard of Cat Cafes in Busan, but had never managed to go to one. We followed the signs, went up a few flights of stairs, and then found a cafe full of crowded people drinking coffee with cats in every nook and cranny. I captured a gem of a photo below. Thirsty anymore? 

The next day, we traveled to a different shopping district called Insadong. The shops here all sold traditional Korean items and clothing. We were able to buy some really unique souvenirs. 

Just a short walk away from Insadong is the Bukchon Hanok Village. This traditional village is home to many Korean traditional houses called hanok that date back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). Now, the narrow streets of Bukchon are filled with adorable shops and interesting street vendors.  One of the most fun experiences we had was getting our 1-minute portraits drawn by a quirky Korean man sitting next to a cafe. For ₩1,000, which is a little less than a dollar, he sketches your picture in roughly 60 seconds. As you can see by the long line, his drawings were fantastic and full of personality. Tyler and I plan on framing our sketches for display in our future home. 

That evening, we went to NANTA, a cooking theater performance. From the description online we were slightly skeptical about attending. However, we've relied heavily on Trip Advisor for trustworthy recommendations throughout our travels, and the NANTA reviews were unsurpassed. Actually, as you can see here, the show is currently ranked as the #1 thing to do in Seoul. We were not disappointed. The show was hilarious and the actors were extremely skilled. To top it off, I was chosen as one of the guests to appear on stage in the performance! The actors made me drink soup, dress up as a Korean bride, and feign getting married in front of a large audience. It was a blast. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed during the performance, so you'll just have to go see the show for yourself! 

After the performance, we ended our evening by going to Sanchon, a vegetarian restaurant serving temple food. This dining experience is definitely in the top 5 best dinners we've ever eaten. Buddhist monks escorted us to our table and immediately served us a wide spread of appetizers. Soon after, we got our "main course" spread which contained more food than our stomachs could handle. Also during our dinner, we watched traditional Korean dancing. Overall, this event was one of the most authentic Korean experiences we've had and we would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Seoul. 

On our last day, we woke up early to go on a DMZ Tour. Unfortunately, because it was Sunday, we could not visit Panmunjon which is the joint security area between North and South Korea. However, we were still able to visit Imjingak Park, the Freedom Bridge, the Third Infiltration Tunnel, the Dora Observatory, and Dorasan Station. I think the highlights of the tour included venturing into the Third Infiltration Tunnel and visiting the Dora Observatory where we caught glimpses of North Korea. Photo taking was very limited on this tour, but in the photo below, you can see the mountains of North Korea in the distance. 

Last, we attended the long awaited Sigur Ros concert. Sigur Ros is one of Tyler's favorite bands. Although the stadium was old, the music far made up for the setting. The music, video projections, and the light design made the show a one-of-a-kind experience. Tyler said it was the best concert he's ever been to. 

All in all, our trip to Seoul was incredible. When comparing Seoul to Busan, we found Seoul much more international and much more abundant in shopping, food, and opportunities to experience Korean culture. If you ever plan to travel to East Asia, you absolutely must visit Seoul. 

1 comment:

  1. Woohoo you guys saw Sigur Ros!!!! I am so happy you could experience their incredibleness :D

    It sounds like you had such a fun time in Seoul. I love your humor when you explain how Tyler is a human compass and how he was patient for you while shopping. Can you show a photo of how your sketches turned out? Or email :) Also yummm, that food looks great and I love the display! I am also liking your head band look in the last photo of you.