Waving Goodbye to Seoul

Here is a picture of me waving goodbye to Seoul yesterday! Apparently, cities don’t really care whether you’re staying or going? This is news to me. I’m sorry, I’m not a capital city, Seoul, I can’t empathise with you here. I would have liked a little more of an effort from you when I boarded the train to Daejeon? Yah, maybe next time I WON’T go to Seoul. I’ll go to Busan. How would you like that?

Okay, I’ve said too much here. People are going to know what my brain is really like and that’s not good for anybody. Like I always say, quit while you’re not going to win anyway. (I don’t ever say that, that’s a terrible mantra to live by, do not advise).

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Anyway, the POINT of the post was to say that I’m now in Daejeon to begin my orientation at KAIST University and Seoul can go be sulky over in Seoul. I’m sure I will be back again soon because I can’t resist the hustle and bustle of a densely populated city.

How To: Solo in Seoul

If you’re reading this and are planning a solo trip to Seoul (a Seoulo trip) within the next 14 years, then come and have a sit and let’s look at your potential sightseeing opportunities. This post is more of a nice summary of my visit to Seoul and less of a helpful how-to guide. However, I do really want to help the three people that read my blog in the hopes that it will change their lives forever.

Now, the natural reaction to being alone in Seoul is to cry and curl up into a ball when you realise that couples and lovers are going to rub their happiness in your lonely little face. You must fight this urge, crying will get you nowhere (except everywhere because who doesn’t feel good after a good weep). Their adorable matching couple outfits and their bizarre public displays of gently hitting each other will really get to you after a while. Never fear, I’ve made this list of five things to do to keep busy and help you enjoy this delicious city as a lone soldier in Seoul (lone Seouldier – okay, now I’m done with the Seoul portmanteaus).

1. Walk to the top of Namsan Park

There is a cable car that will take you to the top of this mountain where the N Seoul Tower is located, but physically exerting yourself will drown out the lovey-dovey nonsense that’s taking place at the top. We don’t need to talk about the Love Locks and the Love Tunnel. Just take in the fresh air, the picturesque views and talk to some squirrel friends on the walk up. Once you’ve finished being sad and lonely at the top of the mountain, walk down to Namsan Market and fill up on cheap street food and fake designer bags. You’ll feel cleansed and wholesome.

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2. Go to all of the art galleries. Every last one of them.

Art helps you think about all of the skills you don’t have and your shallow understanding of the world around you. However, it’s fun to look at and affordable (the entry fees, not the art). These are the galleries I personally had the least amount of anxiety in:

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

Located in Dongdaemun (obviously). Something is always happening around this part of town. Markets, traffic, people walking! The fun is endless!! Just ask this man with the umbrella!

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Seoul Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Located in Anguk (Not so obvious) They have a student discount!!

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Kumho Museum of Art

Located in Anguk (I’m not too sure where Anguk begins and ends but just walk around and you’ll know what’s what)

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I thought I had more to add to this list of must-visit galleries but I actually didn’t go to that many. I think I was mistaking the large amount of street art, fashion and stylish pedestrians for art galleries. Sorry to disappoint you, my loyal followers. Just walk the streets, you’ll see plenty of arty business.

3. Go to this Sky Garden near Seoul Station

So look, you don’t HAVE to go here, but it’s a fun thing to do when you’re alone at night and is an alternative to eating Pocky in your Pyjamas like a comPlete Plebeian.

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4. Just go to Anguk

It’s really great you won’t regret it and you’ll see lots of things that will make you think you’re in Yosemite when in you are in fact in Anguk (which is in South Korea).

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5. Cosy up in your accomodation and learn Korean

This is not really a tourist attraction per se, but learning a bit of Korean might make your trip a bit more easy breezy. You can absolutely get by with ZERO knowledge of the language but it’s super endearing to throw a few ‘Anyonghaseyo’s and ‘Kamsamnida’s’ around. Who knows, you might enjoy it! Learning two different numbering systems is a truly humbling experience, highly recommend.

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*BONUS ROUND* Alternatively, you could go and make some friends. I’m a bit of a lonely tomato and I wanted to use my trip to Seoul as a mini holiday before beginning my semester at KAIST next week. Hongdae is the best place to go with your pals, it’s super youthful and Korean BBQ-y. You’ll have a jolly good time I tell you.

So that’s my poorly thought out guide to Seoul as a solo traveller. I’m making loneliness jokes at my own expense because I think it’s funny and if you didn’t interpret it that way then perhaps we should tweet each other and discuss it further. I have had such a lovely time in Seoul and I highly recommend experiencing it as a lone wolf. Having the freedom to veer off and meander about added so many surprises to my trip. Even though I got lost everyday and had too much confidence in my human brain compass, I enjoyed every minute of it and who doesn’t want to get a little more sweaty than they should have? If you found this interesting, please read my other posts to read more about each destination. Goodbye for now, Seoul, my sweet, sweaty friend. I will be back to snap you in a few months.

Namsan Park, Seoul

I successfully climbed a mountain today and I’m not quite sure I even know who I am anymore. I’m glad this rare, energised, mountain climbing version of myself decided to climb out from its former trash can house. Boy, was it worth the effort. The sweat I felt dripping down my back and into my shoes was all the more satisfying at the top of Namsan mountain. The scene in Boys Over Flowers where Gu Jun Pyo and Geum Jandi have their date at the Seoul Tower isn’t the only reason I visited Namsan park (ok it definitely is because it’s the cutest episode). But it ALL makes sense as to why they had their date there, there are so many love-related activities (it’s almost sickening). From thousands of couple padlocks with names and dates immortalised onto the Seoul Tower forever, to an actual ‘love tunnel’: this country is drunk in love. Sorry to say it Jay and Bey, South Korea beat you at your own game. On the contrary, there was little old me, covered in a glistening concoction of sweat and sunscreen, buying a souvenir ‘Seoul Tower’ T Shirt all alone.

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Grassy gradients
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The Great Wall of South Korea
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On top of the South of Korea
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Shiny love is way better than regular matte, boring love (dah)
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Lock your love down because god knows we have nothing else to live for
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I love how this photo is jam-packed with bridge features and windows and the colour green and lines and, okay you’ve already scrolled down to the next image, never mind

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DDP, Dongdaemun, Seoul

This blog post is sponsored by this gorgeous sunset view from my apartment. Without this sponsorship, who knows when I would have found the time to write this!? I’ve spent the last week in a cosy little studio apartment overlooking the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). I held off from visiting the plaza until this glorious, miserable + rainy day came along. That was obviously the smartest possible thing to do as someone who loves taking photos, particularly of ZAHA HADID buildings. It’s a breathtaking blob of metal, every angle appears anatomical. From my apartment, it’s red blood cell form slowly morphs into a big, silver bum as you walk closer and closer toward it. I am so blown away by this peach/orb/bum/blood cell/muffin top piece of architecture and so fortunate that I got to see it every single day of my visit to Seoul. The Louis Vuitton exhibition, which is currently on, was as amazing as the building it was housed within. It was a free exhibition and I didn’t take any photographs because I was BUSY looking at LV trunks and bags and pretending I could afford them.

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Rain at the DDP i.e. Optimal time to use it’s shell as a water theme park and slip’n’slide all over it (based on my previous descriptions of the building, I regret saying this)
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This is my body’s exact reaction when people ask me ‘so what do you want to do when you graduate university?’

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Inside the DDP! Sometimes you forget that buildings have to look cool on the inside as well as the outside. I was just expecting it to look like a giant metal shed, alas the Zaha Hadid team had better intentions

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Spotted outside the DDP: Tandem cycling with tandem puppies (could only capture one pup in this pic, but the man had a pup with him too!)

Streets + Peeps (Anguk Edition)

ANGUK, SEOUL 18 AUGUST 2017 – Mark that as the date and location of my head over heels in love falling for South Korea. Also, file that sentence under the ‘my ever-growing evidence of my terrible English language skills’ in Jo’s brain filing cabinet. Anguk felt so right it was almost wrong. I went there for the sole purpose of visiting Gallery Hyundai but my goodness was I in for a treat. You know what, actually, I don’t want to write anything. I know this is a blog but I don’t think typing out a half arse attempt at an “Anguk Review” would do the place justice. Let’s just do some good old fashioned picture captioning.

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Hanboks and mountains – they have more in common than you’d think

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Wineglass vases – so chic, so simple

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So what, I love pot plants on stairs, sue me?

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This lady was in my gosh darn way but she brought this nice pic together so thank you, lady, in the way.

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Cute hands/shuttlecocks/chicken feet/reindeer? The world is your oyster!

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Korean fashion in one photo: linen, modest, bright, comfy fresh, leather accessories, a good sale, dead plant, cute hat. I know, I have been considering becoming a fashion commentator but I think I might be too observant.

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They seem to have a cool bottle recycling scheme going on this country. But what would I know, I can’t understand a damn thing!! I communicate solely through the universal language of colour and composition and good timing.

Alone in Seoul – Night Time Edition

I came across Seoul’s answer to the NYC High Line whilst wandering through Seoul at night. Seoul has a very different feel to it, the area around the train station in particular. I felt slightly unsafe for the first time since being in Korea and was convinced that at least 4 people were stalking me but I think that says more about my paranoia than stalker crimes in Seoul. I’m trying my best to take better photos at night time but they all more or less turned out like the last one in this thread: just rows of multicoloured dots in place of cars and street lights. The Sky Garden in Seoul near Seoul station is great to do at night if you’re alone in Seoul and want to talk to some plants.

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Myeongdong

Let’s do a recap of the day where I ordered enough fried chicken to feed a small family and took creepy photos on the subway in Seoul. I’ve been having a minor breakdown in Seoul and I’ve realised that six weeks of Korean lessons prior to arriving here was in fact, not enough. Seoul also appears (to me) to be a very social city and so it feels quite isolating to wander around on your lonesome, eating fried chicken by yourself and getting sauce all over your face without having anyone there to tell you. However, I’ve discovered that the cure for said lonely feelings is to sit in a cafe surrounded by other lonely people. As we speak, the people around me are all studiously tapping and writing away, reading furiously and I even saw a group of people downstairs coding in a big nerdy huddle. The future of this country is literally being developed in this very Starbucks, it feels so exciting. Here are some photos snapped on my journey of doing nothing but everything at the same time.

IMG_0061Streets of shops and restaurants go on for days in Myeongdong. IMG_0063Phone case frenzyIMG_0070It started raining lightly and everyone went into full panic mode, people were practically throwing money at umbrella vendors and taking shelter.IMG_0073Cleaning supplies so colourful that it would almost make me want to clean. Almost.IMG_0045Here is an entire chicken I ordered and a giant bottle of beer. I wanted to try the real deal here in Korea considering I regularly eat Korean Fried Chicken in Melbourne. I successfully ordered in broken Korean and even asked for a bag so I could take away the other three quarters of the chicken that I couldn’t eat. Hello, left over fried chicken for dinner, anyone? I think I might sit in the shower and eat it so I don’t leave sticky-handprint-chicken-crumb marks all over my apartment. IMG_0047A sea of fried chicken restaurants in Myeongdong.IMG_0037From one train, looking out to the other platforms.IMG_0076City Hall Station.IMG_0077I accidentally bought the T Money card bundle that is meant for couples. I now have an awkward matching train card for the oppa that I don’t have, so sad. I can’t imagine Myki coming out with a couples range. (Update: Shortly after I posted this, I fell in love with my now-Oppa!)IMG_0081ReflectionIMG_0098Seoul Station

I’m in Seoul and I’m already drunk

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My trip to Seoul started on a high note when my camera decided to be on some kind of freaky dystopian setting (see pics below). Schlepping my bags from Hong Kong to Korea was more of a hazed nightmare than a ‘this is real life and I’m alive’ situation. Yo, cities of the world, get some escalators? Get a lift? Just one or two? By the time I’d reached the train station near my Seoul Airbnb I was about ready to just leave my suitcase on the train. I mean, I didn’t have much hope of carrying it up the stairs anyway? Surely I can just pick it up on my way home? Alas, I pushed on with a level of strength and resilience that I wasn’t aware I possessed and arrived at my adorable apartment in Dongdaemun. I’m currently in shock and have had several existential crises today. It’s always so fun to realise just how BAD your language skills are! Just look at all that room for improvement and learning! More Seoul snaps to come once I figure out how the heck to get anywhere. Peace

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