Merry Christmas to the four people who consistently read my blog! I hope you had a great time with loved one(s) and reflected on the year we’ve just had. I have been absent on my blog due to visa struggles and moving house! All of our dilemmas have been solved and we are back to our happy normal life selves. My husband and I recently ventured further south east to Yongin in Gyeonggi Province. We feel so excited to move a little further from Seoul away from the chaos…
Today, we spent our afternoon gliding around City Hall’s ice skating rink in an attempt to enact Frozen 2 on ice. It was my first time strapping into ice skating boots and slipping on ice (I’m Australian, this is all foreign to me, I’ve never even been skiing). I managed to find my rhythm rather quickly thanks to many summers spent rollerblading in my local neighbourhood.
There was ample space for skaters of all varieties: speedsters, grandpas, clusters of friends who all kept falling over, and nervous parents. There was a special section for little kids to learn how to skate and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. As well as the learning zone, there was a separate rink for kids and parents to fall over in. I also saw some people playing curling and assumed they were Canadian because who plays curling? Does one ‘play curling‘ or simply just ‘curl‘?
In any case, I regretted not wearing a cape for this icy occasion but I’m pretty sure I’m a contender for Disney’s Frozen 2 On Ice Korea Tour 2020. My husband seemed to be a seasoned skater and glided around effortlessly. He’s good at almost everything so it was no surprise that he had skater’s legs and could spin without hesitation!
How to Ice Skate in Seoul:
If you’re visiting Seoul between Jan and Feb, the ice skating fun will be up and running. Just head to City Hall station on line 2 or line 1 and follow the signs! It’s hard to miss. We were lucky to have a sunny blue sky over us as we skated! It costs 1,000 KRW (roughly $1) to skate for 1 hour including skates and a helmet! How cheap! Also, bring a 500 won coin to use the lockers to keep all of your belongings safe (not that anyone would touch them in Korea!)
Apgujeong is one of Seoul’s more affluent neighbourhoods. There is no shortage of designer clothes, expensive schools and plastic surgeons. Today, I spent the morning walking around Apgujeong Rodeo Street (not to go shopping because I’m not a bajillionaire). Instead, I admired all of the amazing buildings in the area that house some of the world’s most expensive designer brands.
As a designer, I looked at these creations in awe. The craftsmanship, the beauty, and the detail were spectacular. With the facades on these buildings, they were worthy of being in every design magazine.
However, when I looked at them as a human, I couldn’t help but feel it was all a bit too… too much. It almost seems like a waste to have all of this design reserved for the filthy rich. It would be great to see more of this incredible creativity distributed around other parts of Seoul. Should this all be centred around one neighbourhood of Seoul? One street for that matter.
City Hall, Lotte Tower, and the DDP are all places that people can enjoy together. They are examples of architecture that enable all walks of life to share the design. Shouldn’t we save our creative energy for everyone to enjoy? I guess not… otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about this. One or two amazing buildings in a street, yes, but for every designer brand to have its own unique facade? Come on, guys! It’s too much! But I did appreciate the cool petrol station.
I had another social day today, this time we were in Gangnam. We started our adventure in a Vietnamese restaurant called ‘Tam Tam’, which had queues of people waiting to be seated. We enjoyed our soupy pho noodles up at a really high table – the waiter literally had to push our chairs in for us because the seats were so high! The food was delish, but we had to be very careful after eating not to roll our ankles whilst trying to come back down to earth. You can see in this pic, the chairs are at the waiter’s hipbone!
Our teacher fashioned some makeshift chopstick holders out of napkins! So gorgeous!
This is a hill that my friend kindly escorted me down. It was so steep and I was in heeled boots, not a great combo!!
After lunch, we moved onto a cafe nearby! Two of my friends had flavourless tea and had to send them back. I don’t remember the name of the cafe so I can’t tell you. Despite their drinks being a disappointment, we sat here for hours and had a good quality chat. The cafes in Gangnam are so cosy in the wintertime. You can sit there for hours without being guilted into leaving or buying another drink.
If you’re wanting to explore the cafes and restaurants in Gangnam, go to Gangnam station on line 2, take exit 11, kep walking straight and head right up the small alleyways! There are an endless range of food and shopping options!
Merry Christmas one and all! This year, I spent Christmas day with my dreamboat boyfriend in my literal fairytale land; IKEA! But not just any IKEA, IKEA in Seoul! IKOREA! We traversed through the psychological minefield that is IKEA and avoided collecting unnecessary cheap items along the way. However, we did stop for a feast of traditional Christmas day Swedish meatballs and salad. It was very difficult to say no to my second family, cake, but I soldiered on sans cake and continued to lug home a giant blue IKEA bag full of sheets and pillows and complimentary Christmas decorations.
We travelled home to assemble our new LACK table, a name which completely undersells this bad boy, I mean…it has a shelf. A whole shelf. How could it lack anything… apart from real timber, a lifetime guarantee and structural integrity? It’s fantastic. Then, we feasted on another traditional Christmas day meal: fried chicken and pizza. There is a chain restaurant here in Korea that sells amazing fried chicken and incredible pizza for about $20. The food chain is called ‘Come and claim your reduced life expectancy’. It’s a hoot. It’s important for this unimportant story that I tell you that we ate said chicken on pizza on aforementioned LACK table. This photo is not really “blogger” worthy but it just sets the mood. This is my real life, how could I think about aesthetics when I had all of this food in front of me?
Finally, we ventured back out into the ice cold outside world and travelled to Cheonggyecheon Stream to see all of the pretty lights along the river and of course the gorgeous Christmas tree of lights. It was a human hot pot with almost every South Korean couple turning up for the occasion. You can see all of them in these images below.
I had a beautiful Christmas season both in Melbourne and in Seoul. I am so lucky that I was able to spend time being festive in both places with all of the people I love. If you want to see how I celebrated an early Christmas with lunch in Melbourne, check out my previous blog post to compare and contrast and discuss the cultural differences with whoever is closest to you, perhaps your Starbucks Barista. I wish you an insightful and intellectually stimulating conversation. Be merry and be healthy in this new year and may all of your wishes and short-term goals come true! Let me know how you spend your December holiday time from your part of the planet!