Last week I did something very Japanese: I had a quick get-away to Seoul – and never mind the fact that for me Japan was already the get-away! The trip was the idea of my son, Gerard, and his fiancée, Rimi. We had a great time.
Ask any young Japanese woman what to do in Seoul, and the answer is obvious: eat, drink, shop, sleep, repeat. Oh, and get excited about BLACKPINK, a K-pop girl group featured on the Welcome to Korea! poster, in the title image.
Seoul: Hong Dae
We arrived in time for dinner and went straight to Hong Dae. It’s the eat-drink university neighborhood, chock full of restaurants.
There’s street food:
As well as intriguing locals:
She definitely represents a type. (I get it: we’re all types.) I include her because I feel the face mask protects her identity. Also I include her because face masks are a very big thing both in Japan and Korea. In Japan they tend to be white or flesh colored. In Korea they can be any color – so the red one here with facial features is not uncommon. Many are black, see below.
Seoul: Staz Hotel
Next we caught a cab and drove across a very bright and busy town.
We actually got in an accident when a car smashed into the side of our taxi. We hopped out and got in another one. Apparently car accidents are more common in Korea than in Japan.
The entrance to our hotel:
Guess what? Our neighborhood is chock full of restaurants, too, so we had another meal. I am not kidding.
Our table top was eye-catching:
The chopsticks in every restaurant in Korea are non-disposable metal. In Japan they’re disposable wood (cedar, I think).
I’m a fan of Korean soju (the alcohol in our glasses).
Afterwards we sat on the balcony of my 9th floor room and enjoyed the skyline.
Seoul Tower is visible in the background and green lit.
Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace
The next morning, before more eating and drinking (and then shopping), we stopped by the palace, which is a massive complex and a very busy place.
I mean, really busy.
I hope I’m not violating their identity. On the other hand, they are violating the DO NOT ENTER sign.
There were tons and tons of people, both men and women, in traditional Korean dress, called chogori (in Japanese, at least).
At first I thought it must be some national holiday because so many people were dressed up. Then I noticed you can rent the outfits all sorts of places, particularly around the palace. I saw plenty of non-Koreans around town in them, too.
A glimpse inside:
I took dozens of pictures of the palace ground, of course, but will offer only one last one of the gate to the street:
Okay, okay, tourist duty done. Back to the main business of being here.
Seoul: Hanbok Neighborhood
A neighborhood away is Hanbok, full of traditional houses, many of which are still inhabited and a lot more of which are now shops and restaurants.
We ate in this one:
Here are some – but not all – of the dishes we ate.
Seoul: Tea House
So then you walk around the streets, enjoying the views …
… until you find a tea house:
My cup, in the foreground, is jujubee tea with three jujubee seeds floating on top, along with ice.
And enjoy a different view:
Seoul: Myeong Dong
At last: Shopping!
Myeong Dong is the place:
Top items: skin care products, snacks, and clothing. Given the rigors of our activities, we had to stop for more food.
I successfully resisted buying this black face mask with the letters: BTS. Anyone know the reference?
I started with the K-pop girl band BLACKPINK, so I’m ending with a K-pop boy band, namely BTS.
See: All My Asia Blogs
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen