Despite getting sick mid trip, this was a great Seoul trip. I took the same red-eye Jeju air flight as I did last time – and just like last time, it was a breeze. Cheap flight, free checked bags, and super nice staff at the counter. It took me just a few minutes to check in and get through security.
Upon arrival at ICN, I picked up my pocket wifi (I reserved online this time Pocket Wifi– cheaper, and also a breeze) and grabbed a coffee. I purchased my ticket for the Airport Limo Bus for a whopping $12 and grabbed breakfast while I waited for my bus.I took my time, and finally got to Gangnam around 9 am. I chose to go with AirBnb this trip – I was not impressed with my hotel last time, and the area I chose to stay in doesn’t have many hotels to choose from…but tons of nice apartment rentals! I stayed in the Sinsadong/ Garosu-gil neighborhood of Gangnam, in a cute studio next to the Riverside Hotel, and the Sinsa subway stop. I was about a five minute walk from the Garosu-gil shopping area, and that made me very, very happy. Click here for the studio.
The weather was fantastic. I wanted some cooler weather and I was excited to bust out my favorite jeans (and purchase another pair…) and booties. It got pretty warm during the day, but the lack of humidity was extremely refreshing.
Day one – I just wandered around my neighborhood, settled into my apartment, and drank good coffee. check these out! I could wander around that neighborhood every day and not get tired of it, and the millions of coffee shops makes me extremely happy.
My apartment happened to be next to a traditional Korean spa,Spa Lei, but ladies only. This experience was one for the books. It was $14 to enter, and it had a sauna, hot and cold baths, massaging hot tubs, and a lot of other eye opening services. I had NO idea what I was doing and it was extremely obvious…I was also the only foreigner in the place. Because of this, I did not find it that relaxing, perhaps if I get the courage to go again I can let the weirdness go and take advantage of it more. I have never, in my life, seen so many naked ladies. It seemed like a regular activity for them, and I think they’ve got the right idea. Just gonna take some getting used to, I guess…
That night, I met up with Mike and had a great dinner at a little italian place nearby. It was lovely. I wish I could remember the name of it, but I can’t. We had planned on going to Made but after wandering around a bit, chose our unnamed restaurant instead. It was a cozy yet modern and trendy little wine bar/pizza/italian restaurant and everything was delicious.
Friday morning I got up and ventured to Olympic Park. I love everything that is remotely related to the Olympics…I went to boarding school in an Olympic village, study abroad in the Olympic Capital of the world (Lausanne, Switzerland) and if i’m ever near an Olympic venue I try to see it. Olympic Park in Seoul did not disappoint, it was a beautiful day and I took a nice run through the park, stopping for coffee and a million selfies. I stopped by the Olympic Museum – it was small, but i’ll take it.
That afternoon I wandered around some more and relaxed at the apartment. I went over to Itaewon that evening for dinner, and destroyed a delicious pizza at Pizza Muzzo all by myself. I tried to “bar hop” but was faced with the same dilemma as last time – NO ONE SPOKE TO ME. Not even Americans…ok, especially not Americans. People looked at me funny and then proceeded to ignore me. That’s ok – I wasn’t trying to have a big night out, I really just wanted to people watch anyway.
I didn’t make it to Glamping, a seemingly awesome camping themed Thai restaurant. Maybe next trip. It was recommended that I try out Southside Parlour, a rooftop/open air bar owned by guys from Texas. I ventured over, had a drink in silence, and left. It was super quiet and again, no one spoke to me. So weird!
I finally had a conversation at the last pub I was in – Aaron, from Korea, just moved his family back there from England. He explained to me the troubles he was having with his 11 year old son, and my slightly intoxicated self decided that his son needed some HOCKEY in his life. At the very least, its would be a fun thing for the kid to do alone with his dad. I gave the man the details of the games and they actually showed up to the Sunday Halla game – the kid seemed super into it.
I woke up Saturday morning feeling terrible. I stayed in bed and relaxed and finally dragged myself out for some shopping and much needed coffee, as I was getting sick of the instant coffee I had in the studio. I attempted Dongdaeumun but was completely overwhelmed, so I went to Myeongdong and got my bearings. Zara, H&M, more Zara, and all the cosmetic stores you could want. I left just as the food carts were starting to pop up, which was probably a good thing. (there were french fry trees and ice cream and fried everything).
Saturday evening was filled with hockey! It was great to be at another Anyang Halla game and to see Mike play, and they won! We went out for suuuper yummy chicken & beer afterwards. I went to bed early that night in an effort to avoid the impending illness that I knew was coming my way.
Sunday I woke up even sicker. I google cold medicine in Korea and went to the nearest convenient store and bought something that might have been sudafed? I waited until I got to the hockey game to consult some locals before I took it. It made me feel better in the short term.
The game was fun and the Halla won again, and we went to traditional Korean bbq afterwards. Mike and I ventured out to a couple bars, most notably “Top Ten,” where everyone rushes the stage and dances when K-Pop hits come on. Sadly we were there on a quiet night and didn’t really get the full effect; but we did get glowsticks and a fruit salad. Yes, a fruit salad. It was a bowl of ice with various fruits (including tomatoes) and covered in sprinkles. Yup. Oh, Korea.
Monday…another morning spent in bed. It may have been slightly more enjoyable had I known how to work the tv. I was still feeling terrible and stayed in bed for a looong time, before finally extracting myself for coffee. I made an honest attempt to look and feel like a human and almost succeeded by the time I was off to meet Mike at the temple.
We managed to have a great afternoon and evening. We met up at Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam, and spent some time walking the grounds. It was incredible. After the temple we made our way across the street the enormous COEX mall, where we walked about a mile until we found the Aquarium! We had not planned on going to the aquarium, but, why not? It was great. We saw way too many eels, had some laughs at the designated “photo points” and checked out some really cool sharks. After the aquarium we (a bit too excitedly) ate way too much (delicious) food at P.F. Chang’s and enjoyed each other’s company. We took a picture in front of the giant horse before going our separate ways back “home.” It was a great, great evening.
I spent my last day in Korea on a DMZ tour that I booked on Viator. This was one of the coolest things I’ve done, and i am so, so, so glad that I did it.I think it deserves a post of its own so you can here about there [here].
After the tour I headed back to the apartment to pack up my bags. My airbnb host let me stay in the apartment as long as I needed it, and I didn’t “check out” until 4pm. I jumped back on the limo bus and headed to ICN. Dropping off the pocket wifi took no time at all, and security was fast as well. Like last time, I got a fried chicken + beer set for 12,000KRW and had a super greasy pre flight dinner.
My flight back to Guam was crowded, a little too hot, and had way too many small children on it. The girl next to me was aggressively consuming white wine “pouches” (think, capri-sun but wine) and constantly getting up to pee, or perhaps vomit. I wasn’t sure if I was grossed out or impressed. (I’m not one to judge plane drinkers, for obvious reasons…)
I tried to remind myself that most of the people on the plane were headed for vacation. Although all I wanted to do was sleep and forget about the copious amounts of grease I had recently consumed, I tried to be as pleasant as possible, as to not kill their Guamcation excitement.
Maddy picked me up at the airport at 3am, with a smile and freshly baked cookies. Seriously. I went home and passed out and ate the cookies for breakfast. Maddy = lifesaver.
Til next time! ✌🏼️🇰🇷