Before jetting off in different directions, AC, Peter, Shinae and I had a couple of days together in Seoul, and one of the days, we decided to go biking along Han River. We took the metro to Yeouinaru station, and from there, we walked over to Yeouido Hangang Park down by the river. Picking a bike was an easy task, as they all looked the same: Quite old-fashioned, but comfortable to ride.
The first couple of nights, we stayed at Loisir hotel which is smack in the middle of bustling Myeong-dong. The area mostly caters to tourists and teenagers, and the big pedestrian street is lined with food stalls selling all the trendy snacks you’ve seen on Instagram. Though we weren’t in the mood for Tornado Potatoes or rainbow-colored cotton candy, so instead I did a quick Google-search to find out where we could go for chimaek, the famous Korean beer (maek-ju) and-fried chicken combo. Well, YG Republique was right around the corner.
Located down one of the more anonymous side streets in glitzy Apgujeong, Sahm’s got the vibe of an NYC speakeasy. The small room doesn’t fit more than a handful of guests, so even though there’s nothing secret about Sahm, the cool clientele and the fact that most of the bartenders look like K-Pop stars make you feel kind of special too.
Dongdaemun is the big night market in Seoul. This is where the clothes boutiques in the city go and shop for supplies, but even though some of the malls are strictly wholesale, there are plenty of opportunities for retail customers like you and me to go shopaholic crazy too.
We came to Jeju for beach life and relaxation, but after arriving, it didn’t take long before we decided that of course we also had to get to the summit of Hallasan (1950m/6400ft), which is the highest mountain in Korea. None of us had brought our hiking clothes, but AC has been living in Norway for so long that most of her clothes are suitable for outdoor activities. I only had my running shoes and workout pants, but it was ok, according to AC.
AC and I both have a weakness for xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and Din Tai Fung, and it was AC, who introduced me to both, when we were visiting LA back in 2013. Since then, we’ve been xiao long bao partners in crime, and through the years, we’ve been to a number of Din Tai Fung restaurants together, including the ones in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Dubai. If there’s a Din Tai Fung, you can be sure that AC and I will be there.
I flew from Bali via Kuala Lumpur to Seoul, and since I had a 3-hour wait in KL, I decided to go to the airport lounge that I had access to with my Visa card. I sat down in a corner to blog and relax, when suddenly, the lights were turned off.
Among Seoul expats, Itaewon has always been a popular place to party, but for many years, the area suffered from a somewhat tarnished reputation among the Koreans. When I was doing an internship in Seoul back in 2005, I remember by boss giving me a disapproving look, when I told him I had been out in Itaewon, because apparently, this wasn’t a place for ladies.
Pia and I both love Korean BBQ, so we ended up having it for dinner every single day in Seoul. Our fist BBQ session was at Maple Tree House in Hamilton Hotel, Itaewon. It turned out to be a very good choice, and I regret that we didn’t dine there more than once during our stay.
One of our highest priorities in Seoul was to wear a hanbok, which is the Korean traditional dress. Several photo studios across Seoul offer sessions, which includes hanbok rental, make-up and styling as well as a number of edited photos, but because of Seollal (Korean New Year) and short notice, we couldn’t find any, which could accommodate us.