Shortly after getting married, Andrew and I took a leap of faith and decided to travel to Asia for a month. We went to Korea, Japan, Thailand, then back to Korea, before heading home. I guess you could call it our second honeymoon.
Although I would love to chat about my entire trip on this post, I'll just focus on Korea for now. First and foremost, I absolutely loved Korea. It felt really great to be in an environment where everyone shares the same culture as you. The closest thing to that here is Annandale/Centreville or a 4 hour drive to K-Town in NYC. Korea was a bit of a culture shock to suddenly be surrounded by thousands and thousands of Koreans. Nonetheless, it felt like everyone was family to me. I was one with my people!
Andrew and I did a lot of exploring, shopping, endless eating, chilling at animal cafes, and embracing all of what Korea had to offer. What made this trip more exciting was meeting my parents and the number of friends I was able to catch up with. One friend in particular, You Jin, was someone I haven't seen for over 15 years. She hasn't changed one bit other than the cute accent she acquired from all her travels. Very envious! I'm thankful I had the opportunity to spend time with friends whom I don't get to see very often. Per usual, I listed my observations of what I learned in Korea, things we did, a video and photos of our trip. Come back soon for the next post on Japan.
THINGS I LEARNED IN KOREA
Cab rides are pretty cheap depending on the area. Don't get the black cabs, they're luxury taxis!
Subways have a wall on the platform which is smart so no one falls/jumps off.
There's usually restrooms and food courts underground the train stations. Such a life savor!
Subway rides are very quiet...so quiet that I felt loud when whispering!
No matter what, there will always be someone who will squeeze their booty in an empty seat on the subway. I've been sat on a couple of times but it's all good.
Incheon airport is the fanciest airport I've ever been to. It felt like a luxury mall.
There are facial/makeup shops on every block.
Personally, I couldn't really see what all the hype with Gangnam's Coex Mall was about. We preferred the Lotte Mall or street boutiques.
In general, I was not in love with Gangnam other than this one neighborhood called Garosugil for shopping. Everything is very modern and spreadout and I prefer the old school neighborhoods like Hongdae and Myeongdong.
Kakao Friends is all over Korea and I absolutely loved it!
Restaurants all seem to use the same thin napkins that deteriorate every time I wiped my lips. I kid you not, I would use at least 5 at a time.
Mall food courts are very fancy. It reminds me of NYC's Plaza Food Hall but cleaner.
People are often wearing a nose/mouth mask due to the pollution (from China) or for surgical reasons. I totally get why they wear it now because I had a chronic cough as soon as I arrived in Korea that eventually went away in Japan.
Google maps is not supported in Korea so it's a bit difficult to get around, use Naver.
Koreans LOVE to drink and smoke all day everyday!
There are usually no dressing rooms and most clothes run one size fits all.
You sometimes don't have privacy to shop because an employee will usually follow you to make sure to assist at any given moment.
Food in Korea of course is amazing, but I don't think America's take on Korean food is that far off either. I've eaten at delicious places that are similar or almost as good especially in LA and NYC. Although I do think the dukbboki in Korea is 10 times better than America. It's super soft and I want more! It's just great to have Korean BBQ, Naengmyeon, and jajangmyun be so accessible on every block.
Most Koreans learn English as their second language which was really nice.
Korean Airbnb places are nice and affordable. You can get an entire place for around $45.
Don't throw tissues in the toilet even though I did it almost every time. The plumbing is very weak in Korea.
Koreans love taking selfies which makes you feel less self conscious for taking so many tourists photos. Yes!
Some Korean apartments have the entire bathroom as a shower stall. The sink, shower head, and yes, the toilet in one stall. It sounds gross but if you think about it, it kinda makes sense to do that. That doesn't mean I like it though especially since I don't like my feet touching cold water on the floor!
Korean Air service was outstanding and the flight attendants are all so beautiful! The food is surprisingly good too for an airline! I've had bibimbap, galbi jjim, samgyetang, and curry. Avoid the foods that aren't Korean because it will most likely be a bad idea.
Part of experiencing the culture is by eating foods you can't try anywhere else. Although that is true, there are some things I do not need to digest such as chicken's feet or live octopus! I did try intestines though because Andrew convinced me it was good. I couldn't even swallow it because my body REJECTED it!
Pojangmacha (red tents) have always been on my list of things-to-do in Korea because of all those Kdramas I've watched made it look so good. It may not be the most hygienic place but it's a fun experience nonetheless.
If you want really good jajangmyeon go to the neighborhood where it originated in Incheon's Chinatown. So good!
SEOUL (Not all listed)
HOHO MYOLL (Cute cafe) | BAU HOUSE (Dog cafe) | THANKS NATURE CAFE (Sheep cafe) | HELLO KITTY CAFE (Go to this location. We went to the Myeongdong location and it doesn't look as nice) | POOP CAFE (Get the chocolate bread that's shaped like poop just outside the cafe) | BLUTE CAFE (Cute cafe and really good tea) | BLIND ALLEY (Raccoon cafe) | CAFE COMMA | TRICK EYE MUSEUM | DONGDAEMUN DESIGN PLAZA | NAMSAN TOWER (Love locks) | MYEONGDONG KYOJA (So delicious. Get the noodle soup and dumplings! | 이대조 뼈다귀해장국 (Really good gamjatang) | GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE (We rented hanboks in Insadong for about $25 each for four hours. Additional costs for accessories but still affordable) | KWANGJANG MARKET | FRANK'S (Mendl's Courtesan au Chocolate inspired pastry from the film "Grand Budapest Hotel") | HONGDAE (Fun street shopping) | GENTLE MONSTER | REMICONE (Cotton Candy Ice Cream) | MR. HOLMES BAKEHOUSE (Get the cruffin) | KAKAO FRIENDS | ROBOT GIMBAP (Really good jjolmyeon at Incheon Airport)