Being in the office only Thursday of last week, we had a long weekend ahead of us and still no set plans. Friday was a public holiday, Children's Day, which celebrates...children.
Being in the office only Thursday of last week, we had a long weekend ahead of us and still no set plans. Friday was a public holiday, Children's Day, which celebrates...children. Lots of families spend this time together and the take the kids to various events and activities. Originally, we wanted to go up North to Sokcho, one of South Korea's popular National Parks. There was a 15 mile hike we wanted to try to do. We would have either slept somewhere halfway through, or started early before sunrise and gone all day. Unfortunately (but maybe for the best), all of the buses going there for the weekend were at max capacity and therefore sold out. We decided to instead go to Seoul. There is still so much we haven't seen or done there since the city is so large.
So Friday morning we get up and head in to town to catch the 8 AM bus to Seoul. We arrive around noon and Luke had found this amaaaaazing Mexican restaurant. I may have exaggerated a while back saying I missed pizza, but pizza is actually pretty easy to find. It's just weird pizza, or pepperoni. But Mexican food is by far the hardest food to find. Luke and I can agree that it's definitely our most missed cuisine. We took the subway to the guest house we were going to be staying at, but stopped along the way at Gusto Taco. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Seoul (and is looking for non-Korean food). Although a bit pricey, it was worth every Won. We chose the Nacho Set: two pork tacos, two chicken tacos and a plate of nachos. The tortillas were handmade, and they roast their pork for hours before serving. The tacos were to die for - sooo good! And the nachos were...cheesy. Still yummy, but just couldn't hang with the tacos. I know I tend to exaggerate but I can easily and honestly say this was the best Mexican food I have ever had. Yumm! The owner of the restaurant started talking to us asking where we were from and how often we had come to Seoul. He sat down with us for a couple minutes and even wrote down a few of his recommended locations to visit throughout the city. Very nice man.
After checking into our guest house, we dropped our bags and headed to the Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market. On the way, we dropped into "Beer To Go" which was located near our guest house. In Korea, public drinking is allowed and there are no open container laws. So obviously we each got a beer. Luke chose the Red Rock from Hite Brewery and I went with the Seoul Porter from Goodman Brewery, both breweries located in Seoul. Nothing to brag about, but I do think we picked some goodins! After our beers, I went to get my haircut at Hair and Joy located nearby. Hannah had gotten her haircut there the last time we were in Seoul so I went for it. It was a salon that focused on foreign hair so they worked with hair other than straight fine hair and spoke English well. Bottom line, it was a great experience, a great price, and one of the best cuts I've gotten. It was just weird to have two people dry and straighten my hair at once - but much more efficient, haha!
We finally got to the fish market which is open 24 hours a day and sells just about any sea creature you can think of at one of the hundreds of vendors. I was a tiny bit uncomfortable when I saw vendors "preparing" a customer's chosen creature with what looked like a butcher's knife, but once I got past that, it was actually very cool. There were a million fresh fish, crabs, squid, salmon, and you name it that were so readily available. And as big of a market as it was, we were very surprised that we didn't see any other foreigners there. (Okay, I think we saw one or two...but still.) Perhaps if we had gone in the morning when it's a lot busier, it would have been different, but I liked being able to walk through the area at a leisurely pace without having to worry about getting in people's way. In one area, we found ourselves in what looked like a warehouse with restaurants. We were just exploring the whole scene but we think this is where you could bring your newly bought fresh fish and have them cook it for you. Pretty neat!
My allergies were acting up a bit and I needed a short break so we hopped on over to Holly's Coffee and went to the top level to hang out for a bit. It was right around 6 PM so it was really cool to see the sunset from so high up in the city. After sunset, we went to checkout movie times for Guardian of the Galaxy 2, bought our ticket with two hours to spare and headed out to find some dinner. Dinner was a challenge since it was Children's Day and many locations had unusual hours. We were looking for something affordable and not Korean, and after an hour, something quick. Not sure why we had such a hard time but we ended up at KFC. Yep. But hey, what kind of Kentuckian would I be if I didn't go to KFC at least once while in Korea, huh? Shortly after KFC, I opted for popcorn. Half butter, half caramel. Options included were: butter, cheese, caramel or onion. (Koreans love their onions!) Unfortunately, about twenty minutes in, I realized that I was actually getting sick. But the movie was still really great! Love it as much as the first one.
Saturday we slept in pretty late and then went to grab brunch. Near the Beer To Go, there was the perfect breakfast spot, Travel Maker. Lots of foreigners here as breakfast food is not a thing in Korea. For Luke and I, it's a major part of our day. I opted for the grilled cheese and tomato soup and Luke had the jumbo burrito. Both delicious! Luke knew of two beer festivals that were happening that day so we went to check them out. The first was next to the World Trade Center. About 20 tents with different beers from all over. Many from Korea, but I did see 312 from Chicago - heyo! There was music playing throughout and a good mix of Koreans and foreigners. Luke got a couple of beers and I just poured a sip or two of his into a cup for myself but I didn't think a full one would settle well with my system. We walked about a block and saw a presidential candidate's campaign in full effect. (Korea's election day was Tuesday, May 15th) It was a bit different than what you would see in the States as there was K-Pop music blaring, balloons all over the place, and most importantly - synchronized dances! Politics talk ends there. We headed to a second beer festival which had a completely different vibe, but was still very cool. It was within a bunch of steel shipping containers. There were food vendors and of course live music and was a great place to people watch, but was very busy. It was a bit pricier at this location so after taking it all in, we stopped at a nearby pharmacy to grab some medicine and face masks and then got some Cuban food for dinner. The pharmacist gave me two different types of medicine and a small warm bottle to drink right away (I'm pretty sure she said liquor to help with the headache) but it tasted a bit like ginseng. And of course, I was to take 6 pills after each meal, three times a day - ohhh Korea. After what had been a very long week and with me feeling under the weather, we picked up some snacks and went back to the guest house for the night to relax.
Sunday morning, we checked out, grabbed breakfast at the same place, found a locker at the bus terminal to hold our big bags, and then headed to Seoul Racecourse Park to watch the horses! I'm not a big gambler and still don't really understand how to read the guides of each horse, but somehow Luke managed to figure it out - even when it was all in Korean! I was feeling a bit better so we each got a beer and explored as much of the area as we could. It was a super nice track with a huge screen that alternated races from Seoul and Busan. We bet on a couple races and won a total of about 22,000 Won (about $22). So many funny things we noticed about this place: the Asian squat was occurring everywhere; Koreans are very much into horse racing; there was an incredible "fun zone" inside with darts, air hockey, and Virtual Reality sets, and even a pizza baking vending machine. But the funniest part was probably watching all of the Koreans move seats gradually as the shade slowly moved out to cover the seats. Koreans do NOT want their skin being exposed to the sun and it was pretty funny to watch everyone inch forward every hour.
That ends our weekend in Seoul and this incredibly long post. Props if you've hung on this long, you rock! Hopefully the pictures made it a bit easier though. Until next time.