Merry Christmas to the four people who consistently read my blog! I hope you had a great time with loved one(s) and reflected on the year we’ve just had. I have been absent on my blog due to visa struggles and moving house! All of our dilemmas have been solved and we are back to our happy normal life selves. My husband and I recently ventured further south east to Yongin in Gyeonggi Province. We feel so excited to move a little further from Seoul away from the chaos…
Today, we spent our afternoon gliding around City Hall’s ice skating rink in an attempt to enact Frozen 2 on ice. It was my first time strapping into ice skating boots and slipping on ice (I’m Australian, this is all foreign to me, I’ve never even been skiing). I managed to find my rhythm rather quickly thanks to many summers spent rollerblading in my local neighbourhood.
There was ample space for skaters of all varieties: speedsters, grandpas, clusters of friends who all kept falling over, and nervous parents. There was a special section for little kids to learn how to skate and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. As well as the learning zone, there was a separate rink for kids and parents to fall over in. I also saw some people playing curling and assumed they were Canadian because who plays curling? Does one ‘play curling‘ or simply just ‘curl‘?
In any case, I regretted not wearing a cape for this icy occasion but I’m pretty sure I’m a contender for Disney’s Frozen 2 On Ice Korea Tour 2020. My husband seemed to be a seasoned skater and glided around effortlessly. He’s good at almost everything so it was no surprise that he had skater’s legs and could spin without hesitation!
How to Ice Skate in Seoul:
If you’re visiting Seoul between Jan and Feb, the ice skating fun will be up and running. Just head to City Hall station on line 2 or line 1 and follow the signs! It’s hard to miss. We were lucky to have a sunny blue sky over us as we skated! It costs 1,000 KRW (roughly $1) to skate for 1 hour including skates and a helmet! How cheap! Also, bring a 500 won coin to use the lockers to keep all of your belongings safe (not that anyone would touch them in Korea!)
This weekend, the international students of KAIST were hauled across the Daejeon freeway and into a new place where homework was banned and fun times were compulsory. It was odd to leave the 10km radius surrounding KAIST that I’ve been trapped in for the past two weeks. I’d forgotten that the world beyond university involved houses and small children frolicking in ponds, enjoying their lives. We were fortunate enough to explore the village of Jeonju, about a 1.5 hour bus ride from campus. The streets there are filled with Hanbok rental stores, street food and, as was the case yesterday, sweaty international students on the quest for the strongest, most pure rice wine. Please enjoy my captions of the images that are often self explanatory but really fun to write about nonetheless.
When you’re getting married at 10 but have to be at the race track at 1:30:
I think I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, or perhaps have just had 20 conversations about it, but people do NOT wear helmets in Korea. It’s absolutely fascinating. Safety first, folks.
This bike rental store in Jeonju must know no carrying capacity bounds. Small families of 5 or 6 were being carted all over Jeonju in these bad boys. Babies, big people, old, tall, short. No helmets, of course. Helmets will ruin your ‘do.
‘So yeah, if you could just help me get 30+ likes on this profile pic, I’ll buy you a chicken skewer. Thanks, kiddo. Appreciate it.’
The hanbok photoshoots were happening everywhere.
Oh hey, here’s me!
Oh hey, here’s Magnus eating soup!
Bibimbap Bibimbap. I love it I love it!
Here is Kaity standing in front of some textural surfaces and complementary colour schemes.
Nathan was a good sport and finished off our un-finish-able bowls of bibimbap. Cheers, nath! Everyone needs a Nathan with them when they travel.
My friends looking at something.
My friends throwing some sticks at something.
Close up of the sticks.
Men, doing men things.
Oh hey, bonus friend snaps!
And there you have it folks, an actual blog post that was posted with actual internet. People keep telling me that ‘Korea has the fastest internet in the world’. Okay, show me whatcha got, Korea, I’m ready for high speed internet. Anything you got. Please!
Oh hey, bonus round of images of me just for you, mum! (and because I’m a borderline psycho narcissist lady!)
Here we are drinking beer at 11am! It’s cheaper than coffee and just as energising!
I’ve definitely nailed the ‘How to look like an awkward emo teenager in a photograph in 3 simple steps!’ look!
Seriously, could somebody send me some bondi sands spray tan in the mail, this ghost lady is almost invisible!
The title of this post is my interpretation of signs that are all around Daejeon’s plentiful bike paths. The signs make sense but at the same time, no, no sense at all. (There is a photo at the end of this post which shows what I’m talking about). I’ve been in Daejeon for one whole week now, and have finally settled into my dorm and a new life on campus at KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). I was sadly (or not-so-sadly) one of the few students who didn’t get assigned a roommate. Yesterday, I decided to venture out on my bike and take some photographs of the campus and the surrounding areas outside of the campus. So far, I am loving the greenery and the swampiness. It feels extremely refreshing to be here after spending time in Hong Kong and Seoul which are both heavily air-polluted places. I will be sure to post more updates about my experience at KAIST once I get further into the semester and gain a full understanding of what goes on here. My blog posts might start to get less and less witty and hilarious because I think my English is getting worse. I feel that sometimes I have to adjust the way I speak to other international students in order to make some sense.
There are many cats here on campus, they all hang around this shed like some sort of adorable kitten gang?
A bit further east of the adorable kitten gang is the Geese Club. The geese get to hang out at their own fountain and even have a designated “geese crossing”. Everyone at KAIST is treated as respectfully as possible: student and goose alike.
The river and bike paths just across from campus. Such an incredible spot for jogging, fishing, cycling and contemplating your life.
This guy clearly aligns his sartorial choices with his favourite bridges.
‘Yo, papz, just let me walk like a normal baby? This foreign lady is over here taking a photo of me like I’m some kind of circus monkey.’ This is an actual quote from this small child, babies are really smart here in Daejeon.
My leisurely bike ride was all fun and games…. until I had to cross this tiny bridge with my bike to get back to KAIST. It looked nice’n’easy except the water had quite a strong current and was semi crashing into the rocks…and it was a bit slippery and…next time I might just ride around and not be a silly billy.
It’s Bike Daejeon!
Note: I started writing this post three days ago but my slow wifi and my minimal patience has meant that I’m only getting around to posting it now. I’ve since started classes and will be sure to update my blog about how my life is going at KAIST!
Here is a picture of me waving goodbye to Seoul yesterday! Apparently, cities don’t really care whether you’re staying or going? This is news to me. I’m sorry, I’m not a capital city, Seoul, I can’t empathise with you here. I would have liked a little more of an effort from you when I boarded the train to Daejeon? Yah, maybe next time I WON’T go to Seoul. I’ll go to Busan. How would you like that?
Okay, I’ve said too much here. People are going to know what my brain is really like and that’s not good for anybody. Like I always say, quit while you’re not going to win anyway. (I don’t ever say that, that’s a terrible mantra to live by, do not advise).
Anyway, the POINT of the post was to say that I’m now in Daejeon to begin my orientation at KAIST University and Seoul can go be sulky over in Seoul. I’m sure I will be back again soon because I can’t resist the hustle and bustle of a densely populated city.
If you’re reading this and are planning a solo trip to Seoul (a Seoulo trip) within the next 14 years, then come and have a sit and let’s look at your potential sightseeing opportunities. This post is more of a nice summary of my visit to Seoul and less of a helpful how-to guide. However, I do really want to help the three people that read my blog in the hopes that it will change their lives forever.
Now, the natural reaction to being alone in Seoul is to cry and curl up into a ball when you realise that couples and lovers are going to rub their happiness in your lonely little face. You must fight this urge, crying will get you nowhere (except everywhere because who doesn’t feel good after a good weep). Their adorable matching couple outfits and their bizarre public displays of gently hitting each other will really get to you after a while. Never fear, I’ve made this list of five things to do to keep busy and help you enjoy this delicious city as a lone soldier in Seoul (lone Seouldier – okay, now I’m done with the Seoul portmanteaus).
1. Walk to the top of Namsan Park
There is a cable car that will take you to the top of this mountain where the N Seoul Tower is located, but physically exerting yourself will drown out the lovey-dovey nonsense that’s taking place at the top. We don’t need to talk about the Love Locks and the Love Tunnel. Just take in the fresh air, the picturesque views and talk to some squirrel friends on the walk up. Once you’ve finished being sad and lonely at the top of the mountain, walk down to Namsan Market and fill up on cheap street food and fake designer bags. You’ll feel cleansed and wholesome.
2. Go to all of the art galleries. Every last one of them.
Art helps you think about all of the skills you don’t have and your shallow understanding of the world around you. However, it’s fun to look at and affordable (the entry fees, not the art). These are the galleries I personally had the least amount of anxiety in:
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
Located in Dongdaemun (obviously). Something is always happening around this part of town. Markets, traffic, people walking! The fun is endless!! Just ask this man with the umbrella!
Seoul Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Located in Anguk (Not so obvious) They have a student discount!!
Kumho Museum of Art
Located in Anguk (I’m not too sure where Anguk begins and ends but just walk around and you’ll know what’s what)
I thought I had more to add to this list of must-visit galleries but I actually didn’t go to that many. I think I was mistaking the large amount of street art, fashion and stylish pedestrians for art galleries. Sorry to disappoint you, my loyal followers. Just walk the streets, you’ll see plenty of arty business.
3. Go to this Sky Garden near Seoul Station
So look, you don’t HAVE to go here, but it’s a fun thing to do when you’re alone at night and is an alternative to eating Pocky in your Pyjamas like a comPlete Plebeian.
4. Just go to Anguk
It’s really great you won’t regret it and you’ll see lots of things that will make you think you’re in Yosemite when in you are in fact in Anguk (which is in South Korea).
5. Cosy up in your accomodation and learn Korean
This is not really a tourist attraction per se, but learning a bit of Korean might make your trip a bit more easy breezy. You can absolutely get by with ZERO knowledge of the language but it’s super endearing to throw a few ‘Anyonghaseyo’s and ‘Kamsamnida’s’ around. Who knows, you might enjoy it! Learning two different numbering systems is a truly humbling experience, highly recommend.
*BONUS ROUND* Alternatively, you could go and make some friends. I’m a bit of a lonely tomato and I wanted to use my trip to Seoul as a mini holiday before beginning my semester at KAIST next week. Hongdae is the best place to go with your pals, it’s super youthful and Korean BBQ-y. You’ll have a jolly good time I tell you.
So that’s my poorly thought out guide to Seoul as a solo traveller. I’m making loneliness jokes at my own expense because I think it’s funny and if you didn’t interpret it that way then perhaps we should tweet each other and discuss it further. I have had such a lovely time in Seoul and I highly recommend experiencing it as a lone wolf. Having the freedom to veer off and meander about added so many surprises to my trip. Even though I got lost everyday and had too much confidence in my human brain compass, I enjoyed every minute of it and who doesn’t want to get a little more sweaty than they should have? If you found this interesting, please read my other posts to read more about each destination. Goodbye for now, Seoul, my sweet, sweaty friend. I will be back to snap you in a few months.
I successfully climbed a mountain today and I’m not quite sure I even know who I am anymore. I’m glad this rare, energised, mountain climbing version of myself decided to climb out from its former trash can house. Boy, was it worth the effort. The sweat I felt dripping down my back and into my shoes was all the more satisfying at the top of Namsan mountain. The scene in Boys Over Flowers where Gu Jun Pyo and Geum Jandi have their date at the Seoul Tower isn’t the only reason I visited Namsan park (ok it definitely is because it’s the cutest episode). But it ALL makes sense as to why they had their date there, there are so many love-related activities (it’s almost sickening). From thousands of couple padlocks with names and dates immortalised onto the Seoul Tower forever, to an actual ‘love tunnel’: this country is drunk in love. Sorry to say it Jay and Bey, South Korea beat you at your own game. On the contrary, there was little old me, covered in a glistening concoction of sweat and sunscreen, buying a souvenir ‘Seoul Tower’ T Shirt all alone.
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!)
ANGUK, SEOUL 18 AUGUST 2017 – Mark that as the date and location of my head over heels in love falling for South Korea. Also, file that sentence under the ‘my ever-growing evidence of my terrible English language skills’ in Jo’s brain filing cabinet. Anguk felt so right it was almost wrong. I went there for the sole purpose of visiting Gallery Hyundai but my goodness was I in for a treat. You know what, actually, I don’t want to write anything. I know this is a blog but I don’t think typing out a half arse attempt at an “Anguk Review” would do the place justice. Let’s just do some good old fashioned picture captioning.
Hanboks and mountains – they have more in common than you’d think
Wineglass vases – so chic, so simple
So what, I love pot plants on stairs, sue me?
This lady was in my gosh darn way but she brought this nice pic together so thank you, lady, in the way.
Cute hands/shuttlecocks/chicken feet/reindeer? The world is your oyster!
Korean fashion in one photo: linen, modest, bright, comfy fresh, leather accessories, a good sale, dead plant, cute hat. I know, I have been considering becoming a fashion commentator but I think I might be too observant.
They seem to have a cool bottle recycling scheme going on this country. But what would I know, I can’t understand a damn thing!! I communicate solely through the universal language of colour and composition and good timing.
I came across Seoul’s answer to the NYC High Line whilst wandering through the Seoul Station area at night. This area has a very different feel to it, the area around the train station in particular. I felt slightly unsafe for the first time since being in Korea and was convinced that at least 4 people were stalking me but I think that says more about my paranoia than stalker crimes in Seoul. I’m trying my best to take better photos at night time but they all more or less turned out like the last one in this thread: just rows of multicoloured dots in place of cars and street lights. The Seoullo Sky Garden near Seoul Station is great to do at night if you’re alone in Seoul and want to talk to some plants.