Seoul, South Korea- the unexpected favorite part of our first trip to Asia. It’s clean, it’s cheap, it’s easy to get around, and it’s BEAUTIFUL. With a population of almost 10 million people, I kind of expected to have the same back-of-my-mind-feelings of “OMG I might get stabbed” and “that person for sure wants to kidnap me” and “OMG it smells like fresh piss” that I get when I visit New York City, but in Seoul I never felt ’em. That’s saying a lot because, as I’ve mentioned before, I always kind of feel like I might get stabbed everywhere I go thanks to my obsession with True Crime that’s pretty much hard wired into most Millennials.
Before our trip, I used tools provided by Pinterst, Youtube, and Instagram to prepare myself. I think it’s important to have a list of must-see places when traveling anywhere, and the best way to get started on said list isn’t from travel websites, but good ole social media. Pinterest is how I learned of South Korean Cafe Culture. Youtube is how I learned to speak a handful of Korean. Instagram is how I found out about Seoul Sky, the CoEx Mall Library, and where to buy the best K-Beauty products whilst in Korea. My “saved” section on Instagram is ripe with travel inspiration.
The flight from Dallas to Seoul was 14 hours, the longest time Joel or myself has ever been on a plane, so upon landing, the jet lag was real. RealLY bad. After buying a Korean Sim card for my iPhone, I assumed my position as navigator (Google Maps, FTW) and got us on a train from Incheon Intl Airport to the hipster neighborhood of Hongdae where we’d be staying at a Holiday Inn Express. Not only was the hotel right next to a train line AND a mall AND a 7/11, but our room had a spectacular view! And, seriously, I cannot recommend the convenience of a continental breakfast enough when you’re that exhausted from traveling. (Holiday Inn, plz sponsor me?)
We dropped our bags, showered, and went in search of Korean Friend Chicken + Beer which Hondae has in spades. After exploring for a few hours that first night, we returned to our hotel room to go to bed at 7 p.m.
The next morning, we were ready to get the ball rolling on the day at around 4 a.m. I tried to go back to sleep, but was too excited to be in another country so I stayed awake for two more hours until breakfast would be available; killing time by editing photos on my phone (my most cathartic phone activity).
One of the big activities that I had planned ahead for was going to Seoul Sky. It’s the observation deck at the top of the Lotte World Tower that makes the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower look wimpy and lame. They have a couple of large glass floors that you can walk and/or sit on that simultaneously fascinated and scared the shit out of me. This was definitely worth the $50 for both of us. They also have the fastest elevator in the world that makes you feel like you’re inside the Ministry Of Magic.
Some of our FAVORITE Korean snacks: strawberry or banana milk and honey butter potato chips. I found the chips on Amazon so YOU KNOW what Joel’s getting for Christmas this year.
Before we departed on our trip, Joel and I told each other we were not going to eat pizza. We were going to delve deep into the cultural foods of the countries in which we were visiting. But then… we saw a pizza place. It was one of my favorite moments in our entire marriage: Joel pointed at pizza place and I said Yes.
One of the best things I did before this trip was update my phone. I got an iPhone XR with the maximum amount of storage to take as many photos as possible. Isn’t Seoul cute?!
One of my goals for traveling the world is to see all of the amazing libraries that are out there. We went to this one in Stuttgart, Germany on our honeymoon and I knew I’d have to see CoEx Mall’s library while in South Korea. This Book Worm was in heaven. There was also a string quartet playing covers of Queen songs which made me love the place even more. A few people on Instagram asked me if I checked out any books, but seeing as how I don’t speak Korean or wouldn’t know how to go about getting a Korean library card, I did not. I did, however, ride up and down the escalators about a dozen times so that my Instagram Husband could get the perfect shot of the back of my head.
What Asian 7/11s lacked in Slurpee machines, they made up for in the freshest, most delicious and cheap food. The Kimchi rice ball was an all around crowd favorite.
I guess I’ll take this time to address the animal cafes in Asia. Yes, we went to them. I never got any weird vibes from the meerkat cafe or raccoon cafe in South Korea, and if I thought there was any sort of mistreatment of animals happening, I wouldn’t have given them my money. These particular places had much more room for the animals to run and play than any sort of zoo I’ve ever been to. (If I sound defensive it’s because I did have one extremely ruuuuuuude girl attempt to shit talk me on Instagram when I posted about the raccoon cafe. I said biiiiiiiitch you’ve never been here, wtf do you know about it.)
Anyway, if you find the opportunity to visit a Meerkat cafe in your life, take it. It might be the most adorable thing you ever do.
On our last full day in Seoul, we visited Bukchon Hanok Village. It was really cool to see a bunch of girls walking around in their hanboks, the traditional Korean dresses.
On the way to Bukchon, we stopped at Jogyesa Buddhist Temple and were in awe of its beauty. The ginormous potted lotus flowers surrounding the temple were incredible!
On our last night in Seoul, we found Blind Alley. The whole reason I ever wanted to go to South Korea (I had seen a buzzfeed article about this particular raccoon cafe years ago) did not disappoint. The owners are so sweet and they love all of their animals so much! I especially loved being greeted at the front door by Cookie the Corgi. And getting to meet Creamer the white raccoon was the highlight of my entire year, if not my life.
Banila Co is one of my all time favorite Korean Beauty lines. I bought 24 sheet masks to give as gifts for a whopping total of $13 and the sweet woman working in the store gave me a bunch of samples to try out. The Miss Flower and Mr Honey skin cream is so freakin’ good. I’m still using my little sample three months later and have a full size container sitting in my amazon cart.
OBVIOUSLY WE HAD TO PAY TRIBUTE TO GANGNAM STYLE. OBVIOUSLY.
Since we were only in Seoul for 3 days and we were delirious with jet lag, we barely touched my list of stuff to do/see/eat. But in true Blumer fashion, that just means we left plenty to do/see/eat next time we’re in Seoul because you better believe we’ll be back one day.