Apr 23, 2014

My Lists: 10 things I miss most about Seoul

I'm booked for a trip to Seoul for autumn this year! I am beyond excited. Like, I have a feeling this trip is going to be awesome. (As if my previous 2 visits to Seoul have been anything less than awesome). For the first time ever, I'm traveling abroad with someone who isn't family. So that's bound to be interesting. Traveling together, as they say, is putting your friendship to the test. I don't know but I have a feeling we're gonna be pretty good during the 9-day trip. *crosses fingers*

My friend has never been to Korea before and is a fairly new k-drama/k-variety fan. How new? She watched her first drama last year. Which drama? Boys Over Flowers. She's that new. She eventually found Running Man on her own and has since marathoned the show, episode by episode, and is making her way through 2012's episodes by now. She's probably seen more episodes than I have.

Our upcoming trip (I know it's 6 months away but I can already feel it, okaaayyyy) will consist mostly of places I've already been to because it's my friend's first time, but I seriously don't mind. No one can possibly get sick of Hongdae and Myeongdong. I've added a handful of new places for me, like Nami Island! And Everland! And hopefully we get to watch a music show or two. *crosses fingers again*

There are just so many things I love about Seoul that I can't wait to experience again. Here's a rundown of my top 10 Seoul things, in no particular order.

1. Korean Barbecue - I've been to plenty Korean restaurants in my country. Most of them Korean-owned and as authentic as you can get outside of Korea. But, for some reason, nothing beats Korean food in Korea. Gimme some samgyupsal, kimchi jjigae, and sosa (soju + cider) and I'm a happy camper.

2. Korean Subways - Believe you me, no one appreciates the efficiency of the Korean rail system than a person who has to suffer commuting every single day in a city whose transportation infrastructure is probably one of the worst the world has seen. This is one of the pleasures Seoul has to offer that I tend to miss the very moment I have to get back on the Philippines' dreaded MRT.

3. Egg Bread - Mmmmm.... Gyeran bbang (계란빵) or egg bread is exactly what it sounds like. It's bread... with egg. Sounds simple, and it is. And sooo delish. There's an ahjussi selling them from a food truck in one of the alleys of Myeongdong and my sister and I once visited him thrice in a span of 4 days.

4. Nature in the City - Everyone thinks of Seoul as this busy, high-tech, concrete jungle - and for the most part, it's true. But, still, you're never 5 minutes away from some sort of natural space. Seoul is surrounded by mountains and this explains Seoulites' love for hiking and nature walks. Parks are everywhere, too. Along with the banks of the Han river and the restored Cheonggye stream, bodies of water aren't rare either.

5. Kitschy Cafés - I'm not a big coffee drinker but I somehow turn into one whenever I'm in Seoul. Not only because of their colder weather, but because the quaint little cafés keep appealing to the wannabe artist-writer in me. Cute little café in Hongdae? Gimme a Moleskin and toss me my quill, I'm going to drown in caffeine and write!

6. Street Art - For a city that boasts of its science and technological advancement, Seoul, ironically, has a lot of artists. From visual artists to buskers to fashion designers, Seoul is filled with them. It's no wonder that the mecca of artists boasts of street vandalism that looks like this:

7. Side Dishes - Banchan (반찬) refers to small dishes of food served along with cooked rice in Korean cuisine. Not only are they delicious, they are also free and refillable. Sometimes it means assorted kimchi and soy bean sprouts, sometimes it's spam and rolled omelettes. I could probably live well on banchan and rice alone.

8. Service - Free things a business gives out to customers are called "service" and is a very widely used marketing strategy over there. Whether it's free packets of body wash and face mask that come along with your purchases at Etude House, or the free serving of pretzels along with your sweet potato latte at Café Jass, these are all part and parcel of the Korean idea of service. Isn't that just awesome?

9.  Your favorite Korean artist on everything - In the land of k-pop and k-drama stars, of course it's going to be filled with all your oppas gracing billboards everywhere and advertising everything from the newest Nintendo game to an online shopping site. Sometimes, they're also on your soda cup at Lotteria.

10. Street Food - Notice how many items on this list are food related? I'm such a glutton. But seriously, street food. Everything from fish cake (odeng, 오뎅), spicy rice cake (ddeokbokki, 쫄볶이), blood sausages (soondae, 순대), and even kebabs and the Korean version of tempura (twigim, 튀김) can be found in food trucks everywhere. Easy access food!

I can't wait to experience all of this again this coming October. Aaaaaaah! Our trip isn't for another 6 months but my friend and I have already come up with a list of possible guesthouses to stay at and a rough draft of our itinerary. No, we're not excited. NOT. AT. ALL.


  1. I'll be spending 15 hours in Seoul (one of two times) tomorrow en route to Manila!

    1. Ooooh. Excited for you! Also, yaaaaay for coming home to Manila. Congrats to your baby bro too! :)

      What're your plans for Seoul?

    2. There's a LOT to cram in 10 hours (5 hours leeway for boarding and whatnot). I had my mom do the sked for our first layover and I'm doing round two... that means YG building and Gangnam lol.

    3. YG Building!! Hahaha. I should try to find it too. I've never tried looking for agencies. Except for the FNC Academy (trainees' building) in Hondgae, but that was accidental as it was right by the guesthouse we stayed at.

  2. Was it only last year that I saw "Boys Over Flowers"?!

    I'm so excited I'm gonna cry.

    1. I think it was last year... No? It couldn't have been 2012! Haha.

      Don't cryyyy. You might be crying for the next 6 months!

  3. No, you're right. It WAS just last year. Grabe.

    And okay. I'll save the tears for the spicy food. Hehe ;)

    1. Grabe, how far you've gone. I'm proud. Hahahaha.

      And yesss. We'll cry together.

  4. I like no. 9. That's certainly an awesome aspect of Korea. Walking around and constantly seeing pretty people on billboards, and Big Bang at most train stations, lol. And oh, the Korean and Japanese subway systems are my favourite in the world. They're always on time, they go everywhere, it's awesome!

    I want to go with a friend to Korea and show them everything, I would totally repeat everything I've already done, it'd be even better the second time because you'd have someone completely new to share it with! Man, I'm totally jealous, ha ha

    1. Guuurl, don't be jealous. I just saw your blog entry on going to see M! Countdown and Simply K-Pop and I'm jealous! That looked like so much fun. I don't know if I'm brave enough to try and get into those shows.