Another unfinished post written back in spring 2015. Finally I found the time to finish and upload it. Hope you’ll like it.
Seoul, Koreas capital is enormous. It feels very hard to give a good description, considering all the facettes of this booming city. I was based in Hongdae, a famous subculture district close to two important universities. Every evening, even during weekdays it’s absolutely no problem to hang out here until late at night, as most bars will be open and there are many street musicians around, entertaining their audience. It is also a good place to pick up some fried pork belly, a very famous Korean dish. Eating out in Korea is completely different from other Asian countries, as you will always get a lot of side dishes with your main dish for free. Those usually contain soup, vegetables, mostly pickled, and the famous Kim Chi! And refills for the side dishes are for free! Another different aspect is the use of metal chopsticks instead of wooden or plastic ones and long spoons for soup. Food in Korea is not as cheap as it is in Thailand for example, but it’s still a little cheaper than in Japan and usually a good value, except of course if you look for some very fancy places. Still, many famous restaurants are reasonably priced. And in some places you can even order free refills of the main dish – usually in those cases no meat.
Thanks to my Korean friend, I got a very great tour through Seoul including many famous districts and sights. And I figured, that Seoul offers huge possibilities. It’s a healthy mix of unesco-listed sites, skyscrapers, traditional markets, vast parks and riverside promenades. All connected by a very efficient public transport network of metro lines and buses. A single ride ticket is just about 1€ and you can transfer without any problem between all lines. Of course, for destinations on the opposite side of town, you may have to pay a little more, but the price will stay below 2€. The markets are awesome places to eat authentic Korean food. I recommend to go in the evenings, and of course, a fatty dish comes best side by side with Korean spirits! But, of course, everything else can also be combined with alcoholic beverages. Yes, there is a big drinking culture in Korea, best enjoyed by just joining in. At the Noryangjin fish market, of course they also had the hilarious looking Gaebool! There was no way, that I could not eat some Gaebool sashimi. And I have to say, it’s really good and doesn’t taste as its look might suggest.
People here are very different from Japanese and also from Chinese. Especially young Koreans are really easy going and not being too serious. But in general, people are really really helpful here. And also kind of surprised, seeing a foreigner loving their food and specialties. But as Korean pop culture, clothing and beauty products are famous all across Asia, you will find some of the biggest department stores in Seoul, constantly under siege by crowds of Chinese tourists. In some shopping areas, even most signs will be written in Chinese!
I like the fact, that Korea kept it’s identity over the centuries next to China and Japan. There was always huge bidirectional influence with both big neighbours, but still Korea remained unique! I wish, I could spend more time there!