See what I did there?
As part of StinkBrains’s requirements for his Rangel fellowship, he had to do an internship at an embassy abroad. We’re both interested in living in Asia, so we figured that he would do a summer there as a test run. He was deciding between a few places, but Seoul was the clear winner. He’d spend 10 weeks there and I’d come and visit the last week before we both head to Japan.
We only had one week in Seoul, and Stink was working for most of it. So I wouldn’t be sitting back at embassy housing all alone, I booked a group tour through Viator. This was an excellent option since the tour picked me up and I wouldn’t be stuck wondering the city alone. While Seoul is a very safe city, I still wanted someone to figuratively hold my hand an tell me where to go. On my guided tour I was able to see two imperial palaces, a museum, and Insa-dong, a vibrant neighborhood with many shops and eateries. Also, since this was a guided tour I was able listen to the guide’s personal stories, and Korean knowledge instead of searching for wifi and googling things. If you’re in a new city, and want to see the highlights in a day – book a tour.
There is also some fantastic food in Seoul. I knew that I liked Korean food before I left, but I didn’t know how much until I got there. There wasn’t a single meal in Seoul that I didn’t like. Beyond the barbecue and street food, another Korean favorite is chimaek – fried chicken and beer. Fried. Chicken. and. Beer. Chimaek is a combination of the words “chicken” and “maekju” (beer) – they love it so much it has its own name. It’s everywhere and you can never get enough of it. Amazing.
I got a lot of sights seen in that week. Below are some highlights
My favorite place to shop – Myeon-dong
Myeon-dong is the spot. Plenty of places to get food, souvenirs, clothes, and multiple Korean skincare stores. Speaking of Korean Skincare – if you haven’t heard, it’s a thing. A big thing. More on that later.
With food stalls scattered around so many store options, it’s easy to spend an entire day buying all the things. You won’t regret it.
On the border – the DMZ & JMA
Seeing the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea was something I had to do. You have to go through a tour company and provide your passport beforehand, but it’s not a hassle and it’s worth it. In the DMZ you can walk through secret tunnels created by the North Koreans and view the North Korean Peace Village – a town uninhabited by people that’s staged to appear as a prosperous, happy village, aka Propaganda Village.
If you do decide to go to the DMZ, make sure your tour includes a stop at the Joint-Military Area. This is the area pictured above, with blue meeting rooms that straddle the border between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea. You’ll see ROK soldiers standing in Taekwondo pose, facing the North, and KPA soldiers facing each other – prepared to shoot the other if they attempt to deflect. To see this in real life, was eerie, cool, and worth the price of admission.
We usually like to get some culture when we travel, be it a play, musicial, or a traditional show. Korea House had all of those things. It’s a musical based on Korean Folklore and was delightful. There is also a restaurant with traditional Korean food. This place is perfect for a nice date night in Seoul as it includes dinner and a show.
Overall, Seoul was wonderful. It was probably my favorite stop on this trip, and I’ll be glad if we ever get a post here. If you get the chance to visit, do it.
…How’d I do? Is there something you would like to see/know more/less of? Food, shopping, pictures? Let me know in the comments!