A Weekend of "Seoul"
Friday night we tried a new dish, Shabu Shabu, which is actually Japanese. It came as no surprise that this too, was delicious. Shabu Shabu has three courses. The first is a stew where you throw in sliced beef, greens, and anything else you want (mushrooms, shredded carrots, etc.). Once everything is cooked, you take a sheet of rice paper, quickly dunk it in hot water, and then place whatever you want from the stew and side veggies onto the paper to make a wrap. Similar to our rice wraps we've made previously but with more options, and this was more delicious since we didn't have to make it :) The second course is soup. When you are finished with the beef and the wraps, they dump noodles into the leftover liquid and mix it up to make soup. And the third course is rice and acorn squash all mixed together with the rest of the pot. It's a great way to finish every bit of the food, but it is definitely a meal that requires pacing yourself! Yumm!
On Saturday morning, Hannah, Cameron, Luke and I rode into Seoul for the weekend. We had only been during New Year's and were dying to go again. We stayed in different hostels - both in Hongdae - but L&I walked with them to their place and then we went and grabbed lunch afterwards. We found a YouTube video of a couple people that lived in Korea and had a couple suggestions on where to go in Seoul that wasn't super touristy. We went to all of them. The first was for some yummy bibimbap which L&I had in Louisville before we got here, but surprisingly hadn't had it since. It was sooo good and the service was great. The gentleman serving us was super nice and the woman was extremely helpful (as all of the older women are here) when the food came out, as she mixed our food for us "the right way" haha. Next was a cupcake shop. L&I didn't get one since we were full on our Tiramisu ice cream and coffee haha, but we had a swipe of the frosting. :) And later that evening we went to Magpie for my all time favorite meal - pizza and beer! We were not disappointed all day!
During the day we walked around Hongdae which is known for its artsy/music culture. It was very crowded and the streets were lined with tiny shops that sold hats, dresses, sweatshirts and all the konglish you can imagine. Then there were streets with tons of bigger stores like H&M and Forever21 with multiple floors! All the shopping!! We all went back to relax for a bit after shopping and met up later for dinner. When we finished cleaning up our drool from the deliciousness, we checked out a couple places nearby and ended up at a hookah bar with a really cool vibe. It was a room on the smaller side with a bar, and five or six tables, darts, and no waygooks (foreigners) except us! (Hookah is typically flavored tobacco whose vapor or smoke is passed through a water basin before inhaling. Usually a small group of people will share one for a couple of hours.) The bar had great music and everyone was so friendly. It was low key but still alive and super fun. We hung out there for the rest of the night and had a blast - and I finally got to jump in and dance with some Koreans on our way out haha.
We got back pretty late and the next morning L&I woke up, grabbed a quick breakfast and went out for a day hike at Bukhansan National Park. It was actually pretty easy! We took the orange subway line (#3) all the way to the end to Gupabal Station, got on bus 704 and got off the bus at the park entrance. Although we had done some research (okay, Luke did the research), we really just followed a bunch of hikers and ended up where we needed to be! It is probably about a 3 or 4 level difficulty on a scale to 5. We hiked to Baegundae Peak which took a little over two hours. The beginning started out very easy with pathways and some stairs as we followed a gorgeous stream. It gradually got harder but by the end of the course, you needed to pull yourself up with ropes already anchored to the rock. At the very top, everyone was sitting for lunch. Quite a few groups brought blankets and had a full picnic! It was SO cold and SO windy that after a couple pictures, the two of us put our jackets on, huddled up and sat down to eat our very American PB&J (with my homemade peanut butter!) and peanuts. It took us about an hour and a half to get back down to the bottom of the trail and then my nerves kicked in. To my knowledge, the last bus back home was at 6:10, and we had gotten on the subway around 5:15 and had at least a 45 minute ride ahead of us. We already had our worst-case scenario plan and I still didn't think we would make it in time. Meanwhile, Luke is "calm, cool and collected" (his words) telling me we'll be fine and to settle down. We ended up sitting in our seats at 6:08 and Luke's response was, "Great! I still have two minutes to go get food!" Although we weren't able to grab dinner before the four hour ride back, we made it in time, and there were even two buses leaving later that night! Luke has consistently been patient and calming in the midst of my constant anxiousness...I guess I'll keep him around a little longer. :)
Luke doing his Korean stretches midway through the hike!
Baegundae Peak in Bukhansan National Park - Seoul, South Korea