After leaving Bangkok, I didn’t think I could encounter a bigger city but landing in Seoul I could see I was in for a shock. Seoul is such a dense city, with thousands of people on the street around you at all times. SO MANY PEOPLES! I couldn’t believe it.
My flight from Bangkok to Seoul was very tiring as I was in an aisle seat and ever since I can remember I’ve never been able to fall asleep for the life of me when I’m sitting in an isle seat. We had left for the airport in Bangkok at 11:30pm and landed in Seoul at 10:30am local time. Not having slept a wink you can imagine how delirious I was. I even fell asleep in the taxi on the way to the hotel, which looked like a racing car I might add. The moment I landed at the airport, I immediately noticed the cleanliness and that continued on throughout Seoul. As big and crowded as the city is, the people and city of Seoul take so much pride in cleanliness, order and efficiency! Everything is so exact and timely. I was very impressed. Once I checked into the Grand Hotel in Myeongdong I decided to lay down and try to rest a bit before venturing out but a couple dozen emails later, I realized a nap wasn’t going to happen so I got dressed and went for a walk.
I ended up in a nearby mall’s food court only to be impressed once again by the spread in the basement food court of a mall in Asian. I don’t think I can describe it accurately and it’s something everyone should see for themselves but imagine a large group of immaculate restaurants serving the most enticing food you’ve ever seen. By large, I mean thirty plus restaurants all next to each other so when you make the rounds you can’t decide what looks better so you often end up over-eating at multiple places and that’s how I packed on the weight that I am working off as we speak. What I want to stress to everyone is the importance of doing a lap around the whole cafeteria (if you can even call it that) before you make a decision of where to eat on your second lap. It’s definitely an experience to say the least!
I can’t stress enough the cleanliness of Seoul! I ended up doing a mixture of subways and taxis while I was there and having been in subways and public transportation in other cities I was so impressed at how clean it was down there! The bathrooms were immaculate and everyone in the subways followed the same rule and gave up their seat to anyone their senior. I thought that was so honorable.
The people of Seoul were so respectful. For example, every interaction ended with “kam sam ham ni da” a formal thank you. When presenting anything, it is customary to hold the right arm when extending your hand. The children are also very well behaved in public. I can say for certain I did not see a single child throwing a tantrum or being disrespectful. Not once.
For as much tourism as there is in that city they do a great job for keeping order. There are lines even in the escalators (the right side for people standing still and the left for people that want to climb up faster to make the exit of the subway systems more efficient. I also really loved the accuracy of their posted signs. For example, the signage for indicating the bathroom locations also have an exact distance of how many meters from your location it is. Also the digital signs indicating the location of the subway train in real time as it’s approaching you was extremely helpful. Not that you are there bored by a means because you can entertain yourself with the many ads displayed on the walls as well as large LED screens that frankly were better quality then what I have at home! What I though was extremely amusing was all the plastic surgery ads as soon as you enter the ritzy part of town which is known for their abundant plastic surely centers. The advertisements showcase the before and after pictures of surgeries such as jaw shaving, eye lip/eye fold surgery (the most popular one), feet, nose, lips, toes… Really anything you can think of! You can walk around that part of town and see patients walking around hiding their scars and stitches with the white surgical masks people tend to wear to help combat the bad air pollution.
On top of the surgeries, people there are obsessed with preserving their youthful appearances. They will be covered from head to town in blistering heat as well as using an umbrella to combat the high UV rays that supposedly plague the area. To me everything seemed normal but I guess people there check the UV index as casually as I check the weather. Also, the skin care scene there is unparalleled by any other country. You can’t walk more than 15 feet before you see another skin care store. I am not exaggerating! They are that abundant there. As you would expect I did some shopping and will be posting my reviews of their skin products as soon as I’ve tested them. I would literally be walking down the street and at the end of the day end up with at least five free samples. Not to mention, when you purchase any products they usually throw in a bunch of free stuff and give you a discount! I felt as if I had hit the jackpot. I even bought skin care for men which I will make my guy friends try and report back to me. All the beauty stores were intoxicating and I couldn’t help myself but shop.
On another note, I greatly enjoyed the food in Seoul. I was already a big fan of Koran BBQ and absolutely love Kimchi so you can imagine I was in haven. I tried a few different Korean BBQ places and was even taken to a Korean BBQ type place that was inspired by a part of China that is mainly muslim. Instead of the traditional pork and beef dishes they served lamb skewers that we cooked at our table on a contraption that rotated our skewers for us.
I also got to experience a little bit of the nightlife in an artsy section of town called Seo Gyo Dong where the design students study. The area was cluttered with cafes! I was in heaven. You could literally walk down the street and pass a cafe a minute. We stopped at one called the Green Cloud Cafe where I discovered a new type of tea made from fruits and honey. In that part of town, I also had my first Korean Popsicle which I went on to have another and another… I mainly tired the watermelon one and the cantaloupe one and I was again surprised with the accuracy of the taste! In the watermelon Popsicles, the pieces that looked like seeds actually tasted like seeds. We also went to a pork only Korean BBQ place where I probably consumed more pork than I have in my whole life. I also noticed that Seoul had so many options of decadent desserts at every cafe. So many choices and so many calories, but I did try a few. I stuck with the traditional Korean choices, things I wasn’t going to find easily back in the states.
I was very lucky to have been traveling with friends and some were locals to Seoul. That made it so much easier to get a great tour of the city. One night we even stopped by a bar that a great little alternative rock band playing live music. It was reminiscent of what a small live music night at a bar would be in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles. Then, we even headed to a children’s park in the center of that area where teenagers and college kids go to drink and hang with friends. There we randomly happened to catch a dancing act by two ladies that had set up shop to show off their moves and they were quite good! I was told another popular night time activity besides the obvious club scene is the Karaoke bars that get quite competitive with their grading scale. There are also Karaoke places where youngsters go to “be alone/ have adult meetings/ spend time together”… You get the picture. I guess that’s a pretty normal thing because it is customary for young people to live at home with their families until they get married so they have to get hotel rooms and go other places to be alone. Although I noticed that the Korean youth is quite reserved and conservative which may have something to do with the low birth rate and the declining population growth.
All in all, I had an amazing time on my trip! It was eye opening and entertaining and I will definitely be visiting Korea again to explore other parts of the country, such as the islands and the coastal city of Busan.
Things you must try in Seoul:
- The street food is fantabulous!!!!
- 32cm green tea ice cream cone
- Korean Popsicle bars: The shark one, the watermelon one and the Melona one. You’re welcome!
This is a little Vlog I did while in Seoul. Don’t forget to Subscribe to my YouTube channel.