It is almost mind-boggling to think that almost 4 years ago I came to Seoul for the first time. During that time, I had a view from my AirBnb overlooking the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). Shortly after my arrival, I fell immediately in love with Seoul. It is around that same time that I started writing this very blog! The posts about that time are all archived away somewhere on this site, in a place we may never find. Oh wait, I just found one about the DDP. You can see it by clicking here!
Last night I found myself back at the DDP for work. It was as though the past-me could picture the life I have for myself now. That’s what made me so excited… Somehow she knew I’d be back here. Who knew it would be for helping my company film Holographic Reality video content! I doubt she knew, she was drunk on the floor of her AirBnb drinking grape flavoured soju.
All of these memories came flooding back to me last night and I gave my present-day self a little pat on the back. I wanted to thank my past self for always seeking the opportunities that felt right and for following her curiosities. If I keep along this path, who knows where I might end up!? Most likely back on the floor drinking soju from a slightly higher shelf.
Hello, Seoul/Korea lovers from near and afar! As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am currently a Global Seoul Mate which is basically an ambassador for all things Seoul 2020. So far, this year has been… trying, to say the least.
Our challenges up until now have mostly been related to home life and staying indoors. That changed this month when the theme was announced as ‘A Seoul Itinerary’. I had to challenge myself to put together a one-day itinerary for a trip to Seoul! (I actually cheated and did this over several days because I am quite busy these days… and I also technically don’t live in Seoul, I just work there!) Here is my itinerary for your next trip to Seoul (providing things go well around the world and international borders resume as somewhat normal!)
This itinerary is best for someone coming to the Gangnam area of Seoul for business or a conference. I spend most of my time in the Gangnam/Seocho area of Seoul as my office is located there!
Before you embark on your one-day journey in Seoul, be sure to have the following apps downloaded:
To get around the Seoul subway, download a map of the Seoul Subway network. I’m sure that there are more apps to download, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If you have a phone in Korea, you will be okay. There is a lot of free wifi in Korea, so It’s not always necessary to purchase internet for your trip… or maybe I’m just old fashioned… Okay, let’s start the itinerary!
7:30 am – Yangjae Flower Market
The Yangjae flower market is a great thing to do early in the morning in Seoul. The greenhouses are cool and fresh and there are so many flowers and plants to look at. If you or someone you are travelling with are a big fan of plants, this might be a great way to start off your morning!
Directions: Take the Shinbundang line to Yangjae Citizen’s Forest, exit via exit 4 and keep walking straight until you see the colourful lego building!
8:00 am – Walk along a stream in Seoul
There are so many streams in Seoul, you’re sure to find one on your journey here. My favourite one to walk along is near the flower market and is called ‘Yangjae Cheon’. The stream is peaceful and a great way to get some exercise in before you start a day of… well… walking a lot and exercising!
9:00 am – Drink some coffee at any cute hidden cafe, the scone is optional
Hint: Yes, there are lots of great chain cafes that will charge you $5 for a watered down cup of coffee milk… or you could search the area you are in for an independent cafe and enjoy a unique experience. Independent cafes (i.e. not Starbucks, Holly’s etc) are usually cheaper and less crowded!
11:00 am – Find a view of Namsan Tower, it’s beautiful from any angle
My favourite place to see the tower from is Hannam. But it’s also great to go and climb the mountain! I would also recommend taking a bus when going to Namsan areas because you can get a great view of the houses, the tower and the things that are going on! Use Naver maps to find the best route.
1:00 pm – Time for lunch…Gimbap Heaven
There are gimbap stores all over Korea that sell a huge list of Korean dishes at a very low price. They are usually called ‘Kimbap Country’ or ‘Kimbap Heaven’. Here is what the places usually look like on the outside:
I know, it looks intimidating, but the food is cheap, the service is fast and the gimbap is usually amazing! Note: The above is not owned by me.
2:00 pm – Head across the river to the DDP
If you’re an architecture and design lover, the DDP is a must see location on your Seoul itinerary. The Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) houses exhibitions, restaurants and small design markets all year round. The exhibitions are always design related and often require the purchase of a ticket. When I first came to Seoul in 2017, I stayed in an Air Bnb that overlooked the DDP and it was design heaven.
There is also a lot to do in this area but this district is most famous for its textiles and cheap shopping!
6:00 pm – Dinner Time ~ The best sashimi in Seoul!
My favourite place in Seoul for sashimi is ‘Yangjae Chobap’. Which means Yangjae sushi. It is the best sashimi I have had in Korea….You will have to go back to the Gangnam area for this stuff…and it’s a tiny little restaurant in a tiny little alley way but it is SO GOOD.
8:00 pm – Coex Starfield Library and Bongeunsa Temple
Okay, so after your day of travel, it’s time to head back to the are where your hotel is… which might be in close proximity to CoEx mall if you are here on business. Currently, there is an incredible public art billboard called ‘The Wave’ displaying at CoEx near SM Town. After you have watched ‘The Wave’, you can wander inside the mall and see the amazing Starfield library. There is always an art installation in the centre of the library that changes regularly. A really great way to wind down at night, find a light meal with a coffee and just enjoy some quiet.
If that’s not quiet enough, cross over the road to go to Bongeunsa Temple; a beautiful temple in the middle of the city. It is so nice to walk around there at night, especially on a hot Summer’s day!
Here are the posts for this month’s mission! Be sure to follow my Instagram for all things South Korea!
Today, I forced my couch potato oaf of a body out to Dongdaemun to investigate the famous fabric market. I recently (two months ago) purchased an embroidery starter kit with every intention of learning how to punch needle (seriously, what the hell is punch needling?). After a night of failed punch needling and red wine drinking, I decided that I wanted to stick with good old Sansa Stark needle and thread embroidery. However, I lacked the main ingredient for this ancient handicraft: a needle.
The fabric market in Dongdaemun is a mammoth of a building and would be the perfect place to hide if you were running from the law. They would never find you. I am, in fact, introducing the market as a huge, labyrinth-like fabric mecca in order to get to the punchline ‘there I was, searching for an embroidery needle in a haystack’. Which is exactly what I did. I wandered up to the fifth floor, found my needle and proceeded to have a fluent conversation with the lovely old lady in the stall. Crafts and language learning at the same time? Whoa. Who needs sports when you have low-impact hobbies like mine?
Sadly, I didn’t take pictures inside the market. I was actually extremely busy losing my mind looking at all of the shiny things. I spent 50% of my time losing my mind, 5% of my time looking for a needle in a haystack, and 45% of my time trying to get the hell out of there. I do plan on going back very soon in a more prepared state of mind. So, I will be making a concise post about how to get there and what the deal is (as per usual I got very lost because I’m stubborn and think I can go places without maps). Instead, as promised in the title, here are some of the things my eyeballs witnessed today on my journey! Enjoy your life!
This blog post is sponsored by this gorgeous sunset view from my apartment. Without this sponsorship, who knows when I would have found the time to write this!? I’ve spent the last week in a cosy little studio apartment overlooking the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). I held off from visiting the plaza until this glorious, miserable + rainy day came along. That was obviously the smartest possible thing to do as someone who loves taking photos, particularly of ZAHA HADID buildings. It’s a breathtaking blob of metal, every angle appears anatomical. From my apartment, it’s red blood cell form slowly morphs into a big, silver bum as you walk closer and closer toward it. I am so blown away by this peach/orb/bum/blood cell/muffin top piece of architecture and so fortunate that I got to see it every single day of my visit to Seoul. The Louis Vuitton exhibition, which is currently on, was as amazing as the building it was housed within. It was a free exhibition and I didn’t take any photographs because I was BUSY looking at LV trunks and bags and pretending I could afford them.
Spotted outside the DDP: Tandem cycling with tandem puppies (could only capture one pup in this pic, but the man had a pup with him too!)