Gami – Chimaek in Melbourne!

Johanna shared a sketch with you 1046525791_276177716577050_8519110753087651840_n

Hello, Chickens. Last night, my hardworking design pals and I went out to eat so much chicken and beer that I am still feeling the food baby triplets kicking a day later. We all recently completed our Industrial Design Honours projects and had been threatening the idea of a Korean chicken and karaoke night for eight months. (You know, one of those, ‘Oh, gosh, wow, yeah we gotta do that’, kind of circular discussion that never amounts to anything. UNTIL NOW!) We finally did it but replaced the Karaoke part with ten pin bowling. Bowling and Karaoke are basically the same things – hard work and elbow grease will make you a pro but being inadequate and embarrassingly losing will still lead to fun times and mandatory tequila shots all around.

We ate our long-awaited Korean chicken at Gami and I’m happy to report that they serve up a good time and a good chicken. I’m yet to have chicken like this in Korea because these chooks tasted like they had been on a 7-day spa slash yoga “journey” in India and were reluctant to return home. The ones that didn’t extend their Eat Prey Love holidays ended up at Gami and boy am I glad they did. Washed down with some cold beer, kimchi pancakes and shots of straight soju, we had quite the time. Check out Gami’s website here (even if you’re not in Melbourne) it’s such a cute site, wow!! I also didn’t realise how many locations they have in Australia! Go and have a yummy meal, people! They’re great!

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Whole chicken (ft. bones) – Garlic Soy (left) and Sweet Chilli (right)

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We went for another round of self-discovery chick this time with original (top) and really mother f***ing spicy flavour. The spicy chicken sat in a bath of chilli and got lost in its thoughts, letting its fingers go pruney and sultan-ry. Then the chicken was all like, ‘oh gosh, I’d best get out of this chilli-filled tub and slap my frock on, I have a chicken social event to get to’. Little did that chicken know…

Thank you Chris for letting me use your photos! ^_^

Summer in Seoul: Royal Food

We ate Royal Food like a couple of Royal Korean Emperors and Empresses and boy did we EAT. We ate a LOT. I’m not exaggerating. So much so that, as the meal went on, my enthusiasm for photographing the food faded as my belly became fuller and fuller… and FULLER. Also the images look hella yella (=really yellow toned in Australian) so please excuse the weird colour of these images.

I could not tell you the names of all of these dishes. I mean, I could go and look the names up on Google and write them down beneath each picture… but we all know that we will NOT remember the names and it will be a huge misuse of my precious holiday time… just take my word for it, it was all delish.

At the end of the meal, the lovely Ajumma serving us kindly offered to roll us out of the building and onto Cheonggyecheon like a pair of royal bread rolls. We gracefully declined her offer out of politeness and concern that she would crack a hip. Fortunately, the restaurant overlooked Cheonggyecheon (a masterpiece in landscape architecture and urban planning), and we were able to walk off our enormous meal without any additional rolling assistance.

Round 1:

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Okay, this was the best Japchae of my entire life:

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Okay, I’ve lost track of the rounds…

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Final round aka “sorry, no crib for his bed, food consumption does not compute”

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Is it legal to leave yet? It should be like when you get a vaccination at the doctor and they make you wait for 5 minutes to make sure you don’t pass out. I feel like there should have been a lounge for a post-royal food siesta to make sure we didn’t plummet to our deaths on the elevator ride.

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Cheonggyecheon!

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There is a law in Korea that states ‘thou shalt not sit on the banks of any Korean river (or in any open space for that matter) without a lover by their side’. I wish I was joking. This is a real law and the punishment for all you single rulebreakers is a lifetime of loneliness.

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Misty clouds to cleanse the palate after what felt like a 300-course meal. I highly recommend a Royal Food experience if you travel to Seoul and you want to taste all of the flavours of Korea in one sitting. It was the tastiest night of my entire existence.

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What happens in Korea literally only happens in Korea

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Hello, followers of the most sporadically updated blog in the history of WordPress. I have been working on this post since August 2017 when I spent my first week in Seoul. I’m hyper-aware of everything in my surroundings, even the things that aren’t there. I’m definitely not crazy but we’re working on figuring it all out. I wanted to compile a list of observations I made about South Korea while I was living there last year. Some of them may be common knowledge, some of them may be random, once off encounters. These are the observations of a young and energetic Australian human lady so I hope you enjoy learning more about Korea as you read!!!

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1. Oh, you want to walk through a door? Well, don’t expect anyone to hold it open for you

When it comes to door time, it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. Also, don’t expect people to applaud you or give you a fist bump for holding the door open for them. I’ve found that holding doors open for people is actually MORE annoying than the alternative and you tend to get in the way. Just worry about your own entrances and exits, folks. Eyes on the handle, not the crowds.

This is a tricky situation for a western person to navigate because I’m one of those people who will see a complete stranger 10m away and stand and wait to hold the door while they awkwardly shuffle inside and mumble a thank you. It’s because I just don’t know what else to do. Maybe that person was having a bad day, I don’t want to ruin it by slamming the door in front of them and completely ignoring the world around me. But in Korea, it’s just kind of expected that nobody will hold the door for you so there are no door opening expectations to be met. I really need to CALM DOWN with all of the door opening manners.

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2. So, you want to take a 30kg suitcase on the Seoul Metro system?

That’s fine, just don’t expect any elevators to be hanging around. Your broken rib cage will NOT be thanking you later. PACK light, pack like those people you see eating baked beans out of their Vibram FiveFingers sock shoes on the side of the street while wearing their 5kg hiking backpacks and 1okg dreadlocks. It’s not that there aren’t any elevators and escalators, it’s just that they’re quite tricky to find.

Sometimes you tap your train card to get into a station and realise the elevator is 500m in the other direction and you can’t figure out how to get there. It’s also super busy on the Seoul metro so your suitcase is going to really be a point of contention between you and the other commuters. I did have one experience in Dongdaemun where a man hauled my 30kg suitcase up a broken escalator on the first day that I ever went to Korea. I hope that guy is doing well and eating all of the kimchi and drinking all of the soju.

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3. Found a person you love more than you love yourself?

Well, firstly, that’s really sad, self-love is super important. Secondly, go to town on those milestones. Wear matching outfits, buy matching underwear sets or even purchase a 2 pack T Money train cards designed for couples (which I made the devastating mistake of doing). Korean couples won’t really gross you out with public kissing ordeals and excessive touching, but they’ll dress identically to show you that they’re exponentially happier than you will ever be. (Edit: I wrote this before I fell in love with a Korean man and ironically did all of the couple things with, so take Number 5 with a grain of saltiness).

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4. Helmets? Safety? Who needs them?

I know this is not unique to Korea, but people really don’t want to get helmet hair. It’s understandable that you don’t really need to wear a helmet on a university campus while peddling around, but being on a motorcycle on a busy road in Seoul, sans helmet!!!?? That makes me feel uneasy n queazy quite frankly.

5. Sorry, SORRY, sorry, I’m so sorry, oh I’m sorry, hey there I’m sorry

Do you often find yourself using the word ‘sorry’ excessively? Well, perhaps you should take a trip to South Korea and learn how to get your ‘sorry’ usage down to an appropriate amount. It’s not that people in South Korea aren’t sorry that they’ve just walked directly into you or shoved past you on a train, it’s just that they aren’t sorry enough to say sorry. This is my personal favourite because it’s really teaching me how to control my sorry’s. Sorry if this offended you.

6. People in Korea brush their teeth anywhere at any time of the day

I have actually adopted this habit since starting this blog post. Maybe it’s because I experienced living at a university and people study really hard and rarely sleep, but people were just brushing their teeth all over the shop. Walk into a classroom, BAM, you’ll hear the “ch ch ch” of a set of pearly-Korean-whites being scrubbed. I love this. Koreans eat a lot of garlic and kimchi so #8 is admirable. It’s also a sign that people in this country actually take care of themselves and employ impeccable hygiene strategies just about anywhere they go.

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7. The Hiking get-ups are no joke

If you fall over in a Korean forest, and nobody can hear you, did you really fall? YES! You did. The combination of leopard print, fluoro yellow, pink and orange will be audible from SPACE. I LOVE Korean hiking fashion. Please refer to my personal fave snap from our Gyeongju trip last October!

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8. Korean people are nocturnal

Ew, did you wake up before 10am and leave the house? Okay, you need to work harder. Okay, so this one might just be applicable to university students. If I went for a run on a Saturday morning, the streets were as quiet as dead moose. Silent. No people. Meanwhile, standing at 2am at the ramen vending machine was like being on a crowded train carriage during peak hour. Damn, do they know how to STUDY. It’s just so safe in this country! The image above is Seoul at night: couples, beers, a river you’re not allowed to swim in which is a law people actually obey and smooth live music from various buskers. What a life! You just couldn’t have a place like Cheonggyecheon in Australia. People would completely disobey the no swimming rule, there would be public urination, people would throw shopping trolleys in there, there would be graffiti everywhere and silly drunk people would be a danger to themselves.

9. People are chilled out

Probably due to their Jimjilbang (sauna) culture and readily available Soju.

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10. Korean spicy does not feel like other spicy

We’re talking 1 minute of ‘Oh yeah, this isn’t too bad, omg this is not spicy at ALL ahahah are you joking omg you’re crazy, you completely underestima…..’ to an entire night of ‘WATER. MILK. CTRL + Z. Please knock me out cold so I don’t have to be conscious for this ‘. (I’m not a spice lass so please acknowledge the exaggeratedness of this).

Image Above: It may not look like it but this was the spiciest meal of my life. 감자탕 (gamja-tang) is a Korean pork bone soup and it is normally one of my fave meals but this bad boy you see here was like eating a small chilli farm.

11. Learning Korean is hard 

It’s a language. It’s hard. This is not a revelation. Fortunately there are many amazing resources that can help us in our struggle to learn Korean. I love Talk To Me In Korean, watching YouTubers who speak Korean and also, Netflix. I have a blog post coming up about my favourite Korean things on Netflix that you must watch!

12. Singing is a completely normal thing to do

So it should be? Korean Noraebangs (translates to ‘song rooms’) are ubiquitous on the streets of Korea and are also part of people’s lives. You will often see a group of friends or even a solo song lover wander into a Karaoke room like it ain’t no thang. This is not a thang in Australia but it SHOULD be.

13. Google maps and the whole Google family is redundant in Korea

Use Naver. Don’t bother with Google. You’ll get lost. However, Google works wonders in Japan.

14. Appearances are everything

You can’t stereotype a country and all of its citizens by generalising that every human in that country cares collectively about ONE thing, that’s just not a thing you can do. Not everyone cares about their appearance in Korea. However, from what I have observed and may be well known to the outside world is that skincare, beauty, fashion, cleanliness, politeness and respect are all important aspects of Korean life. The way Korean people value their appearance and allow their external and internal selves to look respectful and put together is a great thing. It’s something I am sure Koreans are very proud of.

Appearances aren’t always just about how beautiful you are or about trying to make yourself aspire to a certain beauty standard. There is more to appearance than just aesthetics and I think western culture could possibly learn a thing or two from this Korean philosophy. Be the best version of yourself. Be polite. Make an effort. Be proud of yourself. These are not bad things.

Yes, South Korea is known for its plastic surgery and its extreme beauty standards but, HELLO, have you seen an old person in Hollywood? Korea just decided that if they’re going to do something, they’re going to do it really well and be renowned worldwide for it. In Western culture, plastic surgery is seen as this secret little demon that must never be mentioned in the light of day. To keep this sort of physical body change a secret is to deny that you are trying to feel better about yourself. It instead teaches young women that they can be beautiful and skinny and sexy with minimal effort.

We may not be as vocal about it as Korea but we all have unattainable beauty standards embedded within our cultures. Even people who say they don’t care about the way they look are putting effort into making it known that they don’t in fact care about how they look. That seems like a lot more effort in my opinion. Either way, you’re giving a fork about some kind of appearance philosophy and I am so fascinated by Koreas openness about this. However, it can be disheartening to hear people say that the more attractive you are, the easier your job and life prospects will become. It is also rather disturbing to see perfect K-Drama stars attain the lives of their dreams effortlessly and without much of an inner struggle. I think in the future, Korea will figure out how to balance this incredible ideology with the way it is portrayed to the masses. In the meantime, I shall continue to take care of myself and my appearance and not give a shiz about who knows it.

 

15. Koreans don’t do drugs (This is a great thing). It’s incredibly illegal and frowned upon

Instead, they do K-DRAMAS. K-DRAMAS may as well be drugs, people! Those shows are more addictive than any street drug I’ve heard about on Vice. K-Dramas will make you want to stay at home, order-in, sit in your pyjamas and completely immerse yourself in a fictitious Korean political scandal or impossible unrequited love situation (that 9/10 times has a happy ending).

16. South Korea is gosh darn COLD in winter

I was not aware of this last fact. They get this bone-chilling wind known as the Siberian Anticyclone and it is particularly problematic in December and January. Be warned, intrepid travellers.

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Do you have any more observations you’ve made about Korea? Let’s discuss below!

Don’t forget to follow my instagram for more snaps and drawings!

Jeonju – the students flee the study nest

This weekend, the international students of KAIST were hauled across the Daejeon freeway and into a new place where homework was banned and fun times were compulsory. It was odd to leave the 10km radius surrounding KAIST that I’ve been trapped in for the past two weeks. I’d forgotten that the world beyond university involved houses and small children frolicking in ponds, enjoying their lives. We were fortunate enough to explore the village of Jeonju, about a 1.5 hour bus ride from campus. The streets there are filled with Hanbok rental stores, street food and, as was the case yesterday, sweaty international students on the quest for the strongest, most pure rice wine. Please enjoy my captions of the images that are often self explanatory but really fun to write about nonetheless.

When you’re getting married at 10 but have to be at the race track at 1:30:

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I think I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, or perhaps have just had 20 conversations about it, but people do NOT wear helmets in Korea. It’s absolutely fascinating. Safety first, folks. IMG_1166

This bike rental store in Jeonju must know no carrying capacity bounds. Small families of 5 or 6 were being carted all over Jeonju in these bad boys. Babies, big people, old, tall, short. No helmets, of course. Helmets will ruin your ‘do.IMG_1167IMG_1096

‘So yeah, if you could just help me get 30+ likes on this profile pic, I’ll buy you a chicken skewer. Thanks, kiddo. Appreciate it.’IMG_1129IMG_1102IMG_1143

The hanbok photoshoots were happening everywhere.IMG_1177IMG_1205

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Oh hey, here’s Magnus eating soup!IMG_1059

Bibimbap Bibimbap. I love it I love it!IMG_1056IMG_1050

Here is Kaity standing in front of some textural surfaces and complementary colour schemes.IMG_1025

Nathan was a good sport and finished off our un-finish-able bowls of bibimbap. Cheers, nath! Everyone needs a Nathan with them when they travel. IMG_1062

Balloon darts! IMG_1084IMG_1090IMG_1188

My friends looking at something.IMG_1148IMG_1197

My friends throwing some sticks at something. IMG_1193

Close up of the sticks.IMG_1201

Men, doing men things.IMG_1218

Oh hey, bonus friend snaps!IMG_1110IMG_0983

And there you have it folks, an actual blog post that was posted with actual internet. People keep telling me that ‘Korea has the fastest internet in the world’. Okay, show me whatcha got, Korea, I’m ready for high speed internet. Anything you got. Please!

Oh hey, bonus round of images of me just for you, mum! (and because I’m a borderline psycho narcissist lady!)

Here we are drinking beer at 11am! It’s cheaper than coffee and just as energising!

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I’ve definitely nailed the ‘How to look like an awkward emo teenager in a photograph in 3 simple steps!’ look!P1050727

Seriously, could somebody send me some bondi sands spray tan in the mail, this ghost lady is almost invisible!

It’s not Daejeon…It’s bike Daejeon

The title of this post is my interpretation of signs that are all around Daejeon’s plentiful bike paths. The signs make sense but at the same time, no, no sense at all. (There is a photo at the end of this post which shows what I’m talking about). I’ve been in Daejeon for one whole week now, and have finally settled into my dorm and a new life on campus at KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). I was sadly (or not-so-sadly) one of the few students who didn’t get assigned a roommate. Yesterday, I decided to venture out on my bike and take some photographs of the campus and the surrounding areas outside of the campus. So far, I am loving the greenery and the swampiness. It feels extremely refreshing to be here after spending time in Hong Kong and Seoul which are both heavily air-polluted places. I will be sure to post more updates about my experience at KAIST once I get further into the semester and gain a full understanding of what goes on here. My blog posts might start to get less and less witty and hilarious because I think my English is getting worse. I feel that sometimes I have to adjust the way I speak to other international students in order to make some sense.

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There are many cats here on campus, they all hang around this shed like some sort of adorable kitten gang?

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A bit further east of the adorable kitten gang is the Geese Club. The geese get to hang out at their own fountain and even have a designated “geese crossing”. Everyone at KAIST is treated as respectfully as possible: student and goose alike.

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The river and bike paths just across from campus. Such an incredible spot for jogging, fishing, cycling and contemplating your life.

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This guy clearly aligns his sartorial choices with his favourite bridges.

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‘Yo, papz, just let me walk like a normal baby? This foreign lady is over here taking a photo of me like I’m some kind of circus monkey.’ This is an actual quote from this small child, babies are really smart here in Daejeon.

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My leisurely bike ride was all fun and games…. until I had to cross this tiny bridge with my bike to get back to KAIST. It looked nice’n’easy except the water had quite a strong current and was semi crashing into the rocks…and it was a bit slippery and…next time I might just ride around and not be a silly billy.

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It’s Bike Daejeon!

Note: I started writing this post three days ago but my slow wifi and my minimal patience has meant that I’m only getting around to posting it now. I’ve since started classes and will be sure to update my blog about how my life is going at KAIST!

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.