I went back to Korea a few weeks ago and didn’t blog about it… Hongdae + Lotte World

I am currently in my final year of university and squeezing in trips to South Korea here and there has been my number one motivation to work harder! Although the workload is challenging, what is important to me is this new life I’ve discovered in Korea. About three weeks ago, I slipped away to Seoul for a week right before my final honours presentation for the semester. We stayed in Hongdae and Jamsil and managed to cram a whole lot into a very short space of time! Here is a collection of really random photos taken on my phone and my small tiny point and shoot that doesn’t take very good photos despite being less than a year old and not very cheap…yay cameras.

Hongdae streets at night!

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Naengmyeon (vinegary noodles), BBQ, Kimchi Fried Rice and other yummy things that I don’t know the names of!

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In Korea, fans pay to celebrate the birthdays of their “idols”. It’s like a Kickstarter but for birthday advertisements. I’m still trying to grasp Korean Idol culture…will keep you posted (will literally keep you posted in a blog post…)

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Yellow stairs and mirror situation. Seoul is a giant city but everyone is so chilled out (in my opinion..)

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Lotte World Yes, we wore a couple outfit and I bought bunny ears that I will never get rid of (I’m not putting these pictures on the internet, I like to keep SOME of my pictures private…).

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After exploring Lotte World and becoming delirious with motion sickness and the realisation that we are adult-sized children, we ate potentially the spiciest gamjatang (pork-bone soup) of my entire life. We had to constantly pour water into the pot and look around the room to make sure people couldn’t see us being spice-wusses.

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Our Seoul trip was short and very sweet. We managed to go to an amusement park, a water park, eat a 4-million course Royal Food degustation, go clubbing in Hongdae, eat every tasty Korean dish available, visit our Kakao friends in Hongdae and have an amazing dream-like experience (in 3.5 days). For any long-distance lovers out there, you must know the thrills and joys of being able to spend even just a silent moment together. Time is precious and we certainly don’t have time to waste on super spicy pork soup or bad sushi!!!

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.

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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