TRAVEL DIARY: South Korea 2016

We visited South Korea last May!!! ^_^

My family stayed for a total of 10 days, but I was only there for the first 4.5 days before flying back home by myself. It was also my first time traveling alone internationally!

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Some park in Korea lol

Even if my trip was cut short, it was five days well spent. We stayed right at the heart of Seoul in Myeongdong. Equal parts modern and quaint, there is so much to love about Seoul! Here are the top 3 things that made me fall in love with South Korea:

THE STREET FOOD & SHOPPING

We had the best time trying out all the street food in Myeongdong. While I’m not particularly a fan of spicy, I really enjoyed the diverse food you can find at the stalls and hole-in-a-wall’s just by walking Myeongdong, where there was something new to try every night.

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Fresh fruit on the streets!!! Heaven for me!!!
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30cm soft serve ice cream made it the best day of Ica’s life
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Fried cheese & rice cakes I will never forget u
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My brother’s Korean friend Tom took us to an unli pork cutlets place in Myeongdong!!!
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Cheap thrills
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Spotted on the way to Bukchon Village: the best chicken BBQ I have ever tasted!
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One of the best memories of our trip: over-ordering authentic Korean Strawberry Subling!

Korea wouldn’t be Korea without the abundance of cute shops of makeup, clothes, knick knacks. For makeup and clothes, you’ll have a field day in Myeongdong. For bulk buying of souvenirs and all kinds of supplies at negotiable prices, you must check out Namdaemun Market.

For interesting finds, I recommend Insadong for artsy and unique souvenirs, as well as the streets on the way to Bukchon Village, where we wandered into artisan flower shops and frontyard clothes shops. We also made a special detour to Dongdaemun Fabric Market right along the Cheonggyecheon (a creek that flows right through the heart of the city) for my crochet enthusiast sister, where she bought a bunch of colorful yarn.

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Makeup + accessories shopping on point at the subway
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Nandaemun Market for a Divisoria-esque shopping experience.
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This colorful stall in Insadong brought me so much joy
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Flowers on the way to Bukchon Village
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My sister in her happy place
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Better watch out, Myeongdong’s got all eyes on ya wallet

THE ART & CULTURE

On our first full day, we went marathon sight seeing via the hop-on-hop-off bus system. We visited the Love Lock Zone, Insadong District, took a fail detour to Bukchon Hanok Village (we never made it to the village itself because we got hungry lol) and ended with a spontaneous visit to the National Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, where we got free admission by chance! The fam were such troopers for letting me indulge in the gallery despite our intense walkathon. (Thanks guys!)

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Mum & Dad at the Love Lock Zone
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So much love
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Art appreciation moment at Insadong
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So much ~culture~ at Insadong
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Artsy Insadong is one of my fave places in Seoul
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Tapgol Park right beside Insadong Street
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Bit.fall Pulse by Julius Popp, a 4-storey high art installment displaying keywords from the net via falling drops of water generated precisely that each word is seen only for a moment.

 

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One of my favorite artworks ever –  Red House #1-36 by Noh Suntag, which examines the valued idea of wholeness in North Korean society and yet how the individual is lost within that whole. Look closely and you’ll notice each figure is slightly different from his neighbor, despite being forced into the same activities. Paraphrased from the artwork info card.

On our second day, we explored more cultural spots in Seoul. We watched the changing of the guards at Gyeongbokgong Palace, the main royal palace. We also visited the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or as I call it, the futuristic bean! It was a day appreciating traditions and the past, but also innovation and the future.

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Toy soldiers
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Yes we’re tourists

 

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My parents’ Matrix moment at Dongdaemun Design Plaza
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Being abducted by the mothership

THE TOURS: DMZ & NAMI ISLAND

The other half of our trip was all about out of city tours! Luckily, we were able to book tours to the mysterious DMZ or Demilitarized Zone marking the border between North & South Korea, and the charming Nami Island!

For booking, our hotel helped us find a guide for DMZ, and for Nami Island, we visited the Naminara Republic Center in Insadong, the day before we went. Nami Island was my favorite part of the trip. Imagine romantic nature walks, live indie Korean music, perfect weather and fresh air, tandem bike rides, lanterns on pine trees, and so so much charm. It was pretty much the best day ever.

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We weren’t allowed to take much photos at DMZ, but it was a surreal experience. The highlight of the tour was getting to explore the underground tunnels North Korea tried to build all the way to Seoul city center. The claustrophobia was so real.
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^_^ fam pic ^_^
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I don’t know how to ride a bike, but I had a great time pretending I did and letting Miguel do all the cycling work hehe
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Winter Sonata monument hehe
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Pensive brother
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My sister is beautiful
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Recycled art! Love!
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I was obsessed with the interiors
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The sunset on my last day before flying out

It’s cheesy to say, but I love our family’s trips. There’s always so much laughter & weirdness going on, and even if we drive each other crazy sometimes, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. There’s really something about traveling that makes you appreciate the company you’re with.

Till the next adventure,

Bea

 

 

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