Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seoul-Searching in South Korea: Part 1 of 3

Annyeonghaseyo! (Whew, that’s a mouthful to say ‘hello’ in Korean,) OKAY, so prior to starting off with this blog, I would like to apologize for the horrible pun on this blog entry’s title (sorry, I just had to do it. Word plays are cool). So before summer ends (technically the summer of my brother and I ended a week ago), my parents planned for us a quick trip to South Korea. I am pretty much excited to go since it is a place I have never been to and I wanted so much to see the country that has pretty much invaded my country with their (K-pop) culture. 

I packed summer clothes for SK since I assumed the heat was as intense as it is in Manila. Google did say that it will be 25°C on the day that we will be arriving there. Boy was Google wrong. We landed at Incheon Airport at night with the stewardess announcing that it was 16°C in SK. We were all freezing and it was pretty funny being greeted by our tour guide with our teeth from the cold. We got to our hotel (which was a really cute and cozy hotel,) by about 10PM and called it a night. 

Yup, that was basically our first night in South Korea.

The Hustle & Bustle of The South
Our tour guide said that Seoul is very busy during the weekdays (I can see, it gets super traffic sometimes), and their rest day is on a Sunday (no traffic, because rest day for them means staying indoors). "Work, work, work," he says, and I used to picture Koreans to be pretty much laid back citizens, like their place, which is so clean and oddly peaceful. Maybe because they are inside the towering buildings I saw when we were driving by, working their way until Sunday. 

I have discovered a lot on our first day in Seoul. First off was the Incheon Airport. Our tour guide told us that the airport borders North Korea! It was amazing and kind of scary at the same time! Also, they have this lane called the Diamond Lane, a lane solely reserve for cars with six passengers and up, and with that we got to travel to far destinations in a breeze! I so wish there was something like that in my country, but man, there is no such thing as "stay in your lane" or lanes in general in Manila. We Filipinos just drive anywhere, ha-ha (from my own observation).

KBS World Entrance
Clash of past and present
Seoul’s Shopping District
I enjoy looking at Korean street wear. I admire their sense of fashion. It's vibrant and hip, and no matter how silly they look (e.g. wearing ridiculous onesies or couple outfits,) it suits them. Their styles vary from their footwear, clothes wear, to their hairstyles. Shopping in Seoul ruled, as they have lots of different stores ranging from inexpensive traditional markets to high-end retail shops filled with fun clothing and accessories. You will never get tired shopping in SK! It's a shopper's paradise.

Shopping street in Hongdae, South Korea
Myeong-dong, one of Seoul's main shopping districts
Namdaemun Market in South Korea
Seoul Food (Get It? Soul Food)
(I apologize again for the pun!) We had lunch at a local Korean restaurant and we were welcomed with slabs of pork galbi and kimchi. The pork ribs were HUGE and cooking it was enjoyable because it made me think that I can cook whereas actually I was just flipping the pork back and forth the grill until it was already cooked (see, this is why I love Teppanyaki-styled restaurants). I was looking for a fork in our table when my parents told me that the Korean way of eating is with the use of a spoon and chopsticks. It was a struggle to me since I am not good at eating with chopsticks at all!

Okay, so what I like about the food in South Korea is that they are not aliens when it comes to eating rice. I love eating rice (there goes my "diet")! I have also noticed that SK has a love for ginseng. My family and I also got to taste a Korean dish called, Korean Ginseng Soup, which consisted of white meat, ginseng, noodles, and soup. The serving was so big, but it was good. Just add pepper for better taste.

My parents enjoying the meal. Look at that huge pork galbi in the grill!
What Korea is very much known for: KIMCHI!
A healthy serving of Korean Ginseng Soup
South Korea's sweets are really good and unique! There is this milk in SK that I truly love, unfortunately I cannot read Korean characters, so I have no idea what the name is! They also serve soft ice cream that is not really unusual to basically anyone in the whole world, but look how perfectly sculpted the ice cream looks like. I do not even want to eat it!



Everyone knows Dippin' Dots, right? Those sweet, tiny little molecules of ice cream. Well in SK, they also serve something like that but thrice the size of it, somewhat as big as a pellet. It is so sour but man, it is so yummy! The 3,500 won was well-spent on the delicious treat. 


There is another treat that I would like to share with you. It is called kukul tarea. It is a dessert made of ripened honey, and is woven with 16,000 strands of the ripened honey. How they make it? I have no idea, but it would probably be an amazing thing to see. We bought the chocolate-flavored one, and it has this weird but sweet after taste, and it is kind of sticky. It was a good purchase, though, something new to taste!


The South Koreans
I have noticed that South Koreans look alike. Eyes in slits, cute noses, almost perfect teeth, really pale, I cannot even seem to distinguish one from another! Their skin are flawless, I cannot imagine how they can be that flawless (to South Koreans: teach me your beauty secrets!). They probably give high maintenance to their bodies. My encounters with South Korean citizens were fairly good, but to be honest it was hard to carry a conversation with them, since they prefer speaking with their mother tongue, but plus points for their effort in speaking English! Here are some of my (failed) conversations with them:

*Me buying an ice cream*
Me: What flavor is this?
Korean: Yes, that is ice cream.

*My brother and I buying a shirt*
Me: Do you have another size?
Korean: 죄송합니다나는 당신을 이해하지 않습니다.

So yes, most of my interactions with them consisted of nodding, bowing, and smiling. Now first of all I am not making fun of the fact that they hardly understand English, I just want to put an emphasis regarding language barrier, so if you are planning to book a trip to South Korea, do try to learn their language first. Just the basics will do!

Royal Changing of Guards Ceremony
Koreans in Everland!
A group of Korean students crossing the road
Overall South Koreans are nice people. Our tour guide (Hi, Mr. Steve!) who was with us during our whole trip, was proof. He took care of us, tried his very best in communicating with us, shared his knowledge and history of the country (because that is what tour guides do, duh), was very good at taking pictures, and was a completely animated man. He even gave us surprise trips! 

Alrighty then, this is just PART 1 OF 3 of my SK adventure! I cut it into three parts since it is THAT lengthy. It just shows that I have so many (more) stories to tell and so many (more) pictures for you to see. I cannot wait to share it!

Do you have something in your mind? Suggestions you would like to share? Any South Korean adventures/escapades? Feel free to comment your thoughts below! 

Shots taken from: Canon EOS 550D | Shots fired by: Me!

Next up: Seoul-Searching in South Korea: Part 2 of 3 - City Tour and Attractions

2 comments:

  1. Nice post!! Saw the link on fb :) I went to Seoul and posted about it too :)) We're friends on FB but I don't think I know you personally?? =)) Would be great to be friends with you tho! Looking forward to seeing the rest of your Seoul trip! :)

    ♥ Erika from STYLE AND SUNDRY (http://e-rosales.blogspot.com/)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Erika! Oh yeah, I'd like to meet you someday. :-) I'll update soon! I'll read your post. :-)

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