Sunday, February 28, 2016

Seoul 2015 - 14/16

Welcome back to my posts about our trip to Seoul last summer! Let's just continue where we left off and let me tell you how we spent the day (and night!) on August 2nd.

Today I went to Insadong with Camilla to buy the last presents for our families and friends.
At that point I still needed to buy something for Emilie, whom I never feel like I can find something good enough for. That day, too, I feared that I wouldn't be able to find anything for her until I saw the stand selling dragon's beard. No. It wasn't beard and especially not from a dragon but rather a traditional Chinese sweet. (I thought it was Korean until I read up on it) and it was just 'exotic' enough to be the perfect gift.
So I bought a package (it was like 20 pieces I think) and while the guy working there was making them, he asked me where I was from. "Denmark," I said, to which he replied: "Oh cool" and finished wrapping them up.
Camilla was trying to find the most Korean gift possible for her dad and had gone into a traditional pottery store. Back then I wasn't very interested in ceramics (It changed after I learned how important celadon had been during Goryeo and the Joseon dynasty) so I just stood outside waiting. I guess if you stand there long enough and look like you're considering buying something, they'll lower the price like they did to me.
Anyways! While I was standing there and Camilla was inside the store paying, I made eye-contact with the guy who sold me the dragon's beard and he called out: "Denmark, Denmark!" and waved me over the moment Camilla was leaving the other store. We did a brofist before he turned to Camilla and asked if she wanted some as well but she had already bought some yesterday by one of his colleagues.
Then he asked: "How old are you? Do you have boyfriend?" to which we both answered no.
We both shrugged our shoulders before he reached out to shake our hands.
"I love you! "Give me your number. I am king of Korea!"
Camilla and I turned to each other and laughed.
"Okay welcome to Korea! *shakes our hands again* Have a good day and enjoy your stay!"

When we were leaving, we noticed a big crowd had gathered and as we got closer, we saw the cameras. We suspected that they were filming something for maybe a drama because in the middle of the whole thing there was this tall guy in a white shirt who seemed to be the center of attention as he walked around, seemingly talking to himself.

A quick picture that I snapped on the way back to the hostel. It's a preeeetty different environment compared to the other places we went to. But was safe and clean and in the nights it would be filled with the scents from various restaurants.

Back at the hostel I messaged Kong and we planned to meet up with him in Gangnam (강남) to have dinner when he was off from work. He picked me, Philip, John, and Camilla up at the subway station (I rushed into him and we had a dramatic reunion in the form of a hug) and then we headed off to a place that a friend of his had recommended. Cindy and Alex had come back around this time but they were too tired from the bus ride to join us.

The place was called JangEO and if you'd like to go, you should find it on this address:
24, Gangnam-daero 55-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul.
(서울 서초구 강남대로55길 24 장이오)

When we got inside (or actually down. You'll have to walk down the stairs), we were greeted by the receptionist who lead us to a table at the very end (beside the little cart with a handkerchief hanging).
The place looked really fancy and was also a little more pricey than the other places we had gone to - but nothing that would ruin you financially.
We weren't sure what to get and just let Kong order for us. Soon after, the waiter came back with soup, side dishes, and some cold tea that was supposedly really healthy.
Afterwards each of us had a bowl of rice and some more side dishes placed in front of us. The little 'pancakes' in the small bowl to the right were made out of vegetables. They came in two different colours and one of them had pieces of squid in them while the other one was just vegetables.
Other than that we had what I remember to be some fermented vegetables, kimchi (김치), and some sort of soft nut that we tried eating with the cold tea.
Then came the main dish! To the left we have some more kimchi (김치) and to the right pork pieces and enoki mushrooms, which I have grown to like a lot. As we were sitting there, eating the other foods and chatting, Kong suddenly stops and asks: "Why haven't you eaten? Don't you like it?", referring to the meat.
Now that we'd grown accustomed to black 'plates' like this being grills to cook our food on, we were surprised to hear that the food was already done when it was served! The mail had been boiled and was supposed to be eaten like this while the black 'plate' just kept it heated.
And here we were waiting for it to cook..
When we'd finished, my eyes fell on the other side dishes - especially these little white things. I jokingly said that it looked like little animals with eyes. Well, Kong took a look and confirmed my statement, they were tiny shrimps!
We decided to all give them a try and as I was about to eat mine, I made eye-contact with it! Oh.Mygod ˚º·(˚ ˃̣̣̥ д ˂̣̣̥ )º·˚
But I ate it and it was like eating pure salt. There was no taste but salt.
Afterwards we walked outside to look around and find a coffee shop.
At the coffee shop Kong asked me what I thought would be good and we found two interesting smoothies. He ordered one, I ordered the other and then we tasted the other one's afterwards. Kong and I were the last ones to order due to my ever-so-amazing indecisiveness and when it was my turn to order, he gave me a small push and told me to order in Korean. I semi panicked right there.
"하나 [name of drink] 주세요" (horrible incorrect Korean for 'one [name of drink] please'), I said.
*le cringes*
Then the girl taking our order asked me something in Korean and after having stood there looking blankly at her for a couple of seconds, Kong asked me if I wanted it hot or cold.

My mom had been very excited about Kong and I meeting again after so long but we forgot to take a picture together in the airport (as she'd requested) so we snapped a few before leaving the café.
I love how we matched! Kong had grown so much taller since last time I saw him (he was just a few centimeters taller than me) and bleached his hair. The one below was blurry but I like the face he was making ♥(ˆ⌣ˆԅ)
Kong rode the subway with us some of the way before he had to get off and then Philip, John, Camilla, and I went back to the hostel.
In the morning, Jinbo and Bangjoo had invited us to play basketball with them and their friends from the bar at 2am. Yes, 2am. I think it was Jinbo who told us that they all used to play basketball when they were younger and they would play in the night because it was a lot cooler in the night. So when the bar closed, me, John, the Spanish girls, the guys from the hostel, and the guys from the bar split up into the different cars and then they drove us to... I forgot the name of the place but It was close to the river.
We divided into teams and one of my teammates was a tall guy from the bar that had caught Camilla's interest. He didn't speak a word of English though. I forgot his name so every time we passed to each other, he'd yell 'Rushi' while I'd go 'tall guy'! That was a beautiful friendship right there.

After one game we took a break before the next. I went with John to buy some water and then we took a stroll down to the river.
It wasn't as hot as during the day... but it wasn't cold either. I ran around in a tank top and it was perfect.
Down near the river you couldn't hear a sound. Everything was so peaceful~ (except for a horde of bloodthirsty mosquitoes that were out to get John).
We climbed down to some big rocks bordering the river and stayed a while to have a chat. I had let some things build up the past few days so this was very much needed on my part and I was so happy that John would stay with me and listen.
John dropped his phone down between the stones and was scared half do death for a moment. With my phone we lit up the hole it had fallen into and saw that it had landed, face down, so that it just exactly didn't touch the water and in the end we got it up without the slightest scratch. Phew!
We walked back to the others and stayed for maybe half an hour before being driving back to the bar by the bar guys and returning to the hostel.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Seoul 2015 - 13/16

Eeeeey another post! No formalities today. Let's just skip to the post~
Today was my and Camilla's girls' day out! I honestly don't remember what Philip was doing that day but Cindy and Alex were still in Busan and John came home around dinnertime that day.

One of the things I had told myself that I had to do once I got to Seoul was to visit the You Are Here Cafe that the people behind TalkToMeInKorean and EatYourKimchi started - and so that was the first thing we had to do.

The You Are Here Cafe is located in the hostel area of Hongdae (홍대). Here's the address:
38 Donggyo-ro 25-gil, Donggyo-dong, Mapo-Gu, Seoul.
(서울 마포구 동교동 동교로25길 38)
To get there we took the green subway line (Line 2), got off at Hongik University's exit 9 (we learned that it was easier to get out through exit 1), and from there on followed the video below to get there.

Trust me, it's as easy as it seems! Thank you Martina!

Outside the cafe~
And here's the entrance!
As your near the door you'll see a big drawing/painting featuring Spudgy (and Dr. Meemersworth?) on the wall to the left.
Once you're inside you'll have the speaker's corner to the left (I'll talk about that later), a staircase ahead of you, and the 'lounge' where you can sit an enjoy foods or drinks that you have bought from the counter.
On the shelves you'll see language teaching books and merchandise. There are cute stickers all over the place and I just really like how they designed the place. It's super cute yet stylish!
There weren't many costumers when we got there so we sat down across the counter, right beside a window so we could look out as well. Here are the drinks we bought: I forgot what exactly Camilla ordered but it looks like something with caramel, right? I had a nutella (yes, nutella!) milkshake that I'm pretty sure I heard Simon (from EYK) talk about in one of their videos - and I tell you, this is one of the best milkshakes I've had in my life!
After having finished our drinks we went to check out the speaker's corner. 
Camilla standing outside~
Eeeeeeh it was super hard to get good pictures in that kind of light.
Inside speaker's corner was a mic, a 'keyboard', a camera, and a screen showing what you looked like while you were recording. On the wall hung little signs with ideas on what to talk about, how to record, and links! If you'd like to see some of the videos that have been recorded, go check out the Youtube channel HERE.
On the bottom lay paper beards, glasses, lips, and whatnot that you could play with while recording. We had a lot of fun with these.
When you're ready to record, simply type in your name and press the big yellow button.
When we were done we went upstairs to an even larger room where you could sit and drink/eat while perhaps studying as well. Beside the toilets there was a big wall with notes and drawings from fans from all over the world.

After having spent about an hour at the cafe, we went back to what I'd like to believe to be the main street in Hongdae (홍대) to look around and shop a little. One of the stores we went into was an Etude House to look for something for Camilla and almost immediately after we walked out, two Korean girls stopped us. They had a 21-year-old friend from Denmark (that's a freaky coincidence right there!) and wanted to ask us what a nice present for her would be. After helping them we exchanged Kakaotalks and took pictures together on the bench outside the store.
This picture here was like: "Look cute but weird!"
Camilla and I also got to watch some of the dancers perform. There were so many people but somehow we managed to find a place to sit down on the front row.
It seemed like the whole thing was recorded for afreecaTV (a Korean video streaming service).
It wasn't just guys dancing! Nah-uh. These girls did a cover of EXID's Ah Yeah.

Once again I didn't write anything down from that day and I have no pictures of us eating so I really can't remember what we did for dinner that day. What I do have, however, is this picture of a kimbap (김밥) that I snacked on. It was so good! I miss these so bad!
The guys at the hostel really wanted to go drinking with us and some days ago, Jinbo and Bangjoo had asked us and the Spanish girls if we'd like to go to Itaewon (이태원) with them one night. And that night was tonight!
When the guys had ended their shifts, all of us except for Camilla (her stomach was hurting her again) met up downstairs. 'All of us' including Philip, John, and even David/Gunwoo! The guys had called taxis that we all split into and it was only like 10000₩ (around 8-10 USD at that time) but Jinbo, who was in the same car as I, wouldn't let us pay our share.

Sena, the Swedish girl, was also with us but as we were trying to get into the first club, she realized that she had forgotten her ID at home. Somehow the Jinbo got hold of a fake ID but the girl on the picture didn't resemble Sena enough and she was denied entrance. Now, unable to get in, Sena just wanted to return to her apartment in Hongdae (홍대) so Jinbo, Bangjoo and I helped her through the mass of people and into a taxi.
On our way back to the club (and I swear it was just a couple of meters), a group of Koreans passed by us and one of them grabbed my arm(!!). It was super quick and neither a hard nor soft grip but I was just so confused. The group, including the guy, kept walking and the guy sent a strange smiling/probably drunk smile in my direction while I must have looked like a huge question mark. I looked to Jinbo in confusion as well and he mouthed a "what the F" before we went back inside.

I don't recall having to pay an entrance fee (I could be wrong, though) but I do remember that we got a little slip for a free drink upon entrance. A discount that John and I redeemed together before jumping into the ocean of people.
Now 'an ocean of people' might sound like an exaggeration to you, correct? It's not! There were SOOOO many people! I swear you could barely move!
The place wasn't really that big to begin with but we were probably between 100-150 people inside anyways. Wanting to dance we went to the dance floor but instead of dancing we ended up standing chest-to-back shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and all the other people. A bunch of middle eastern-looking men were surrounding this tall redhead, who was sloppily kissing one of them while the rest were grinding on her. An Indian guy/man/older than me male asked me for a dance but that never happened because 1) we were all quite literally STUCK in the spot we were standing and 2) we were pretty much already on our way out.

The next club we went to was much nicer in the way that we were actually able to move around. We couldn't move that much though but we at least we weren't stuck in one spot like before. This place was also different in the way that there was the dance floor and then surrounding that were tables and seating spots. People paid to have these tables and if you stepped unto the platform, they wouldn't hesitate to ask you to back up a little. Again, wanting to dance we went to the dance floor but were stuck in the area beside two of these tables. An obviously drunk man, a Korean around his 40's maybe, sitting around one of the tables we were dancing near grabbed Philip, had him sit down beside himself and poured him several drinks while the rest of us were 'allowed' to step up and dance near the table. A bunch of young Korean soldiers on weekend leave were sitting around the other table near us. One of them struck up a conversation with me and I, too, got a few drinks (of course I made sure to watch him pour it from the bottle to make sure that nothing sketchy was going to happen) and a new person to dance with. Bangjoo saw us getting drinks from the others and bent down to me (because the music was so loud that you could barely hear a thing) and told us that we shouldn't accept drinks from others (not that he suspected anything though).
Because the guy saw Bangjoo 'warning' us and said that he didn't like the way that he had whispered into my ear. Wat? Now, I'm not saying that he was a bad guy. The attitude was just so very different from what I'm used to. He actually seemed like a nice guy. When we wanted to leave, we stood outside for some time waiting for the Spanish girls' having a dramatic moment. The guy's group was leaving as well and he came over, as you'd expect from a k-drama, grabbed my hand, and said he really wanted to see me again before we went back to our respective countries.

THE THIRD and last place we went to was even less crowded and you could pretty much dance wherever you wanted to. Amazing, right!? Upon entrance us girls were handed little tickets for a free drink. And the guys? Nothing. Well at least not before Jinbo and Bangjoo went up to ask for some for Philip and John (and I'm pretty sure they got a ticket each after that).
This place had a kind of scene that we jumped unto a began dancing on. Now this was fun! Philip, John, one of the Spanish girls, and I were having a great time dancing up there while a bunch of Indian, Middle-eastern, and few Koreans were watching us. It was a bit weird dancing and having them standing maybe half a meter away, looking up to you and watching like that.

Depending on where you are in Seoul, the subways will stop around midnight and not start again before 4am (or so). As we were standing there, waiting for Jinbo and Bangjoo to try to get a taxi (which is impossible at that time btw. Don't even try) we saw a guy/man run after a taxi, his back covered in large blood stains .___.

Now the only thing we could do was to go into a convenience store to wait and get something to eat. John had had too much to drink so I spent the time there making sure that he'd drink enough water and get something to eat before we could take a subway back home.

← Return to 12/16                                                                                                        Continue to 14/16 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Seoul 2015 - 12/16

Weeeeeelcome back to my mini series about our vacation in Seoul! Today's post is actually way too overdue due to me having been so busy with school. I'm truly sorry > <
But ey! Now it's up! This day, Friday the 31st of July, was one of our more lazy days.

Although John had stayed out partying until 3am, he still managed to get up in the morning and on a bus back to Masan where his [then] girlfriend lived. I was impressed. Cindy and Alex were still in Busan (부산) so today it was just me, Philip, and Camilla.

I don't have anything written down from this say so I apologize for this not being able to elaborate more. However, like I just stated in the first piece of text, today was a lazy day, which is probably the reason I didn't bother to write anything down.
The day started out slow with us sleeping in and when I finally decided that it was time to leave my bed, I walked down to the convenience store and bought a kimbap (김밥). When we first came to Korea, some of us had troubles opening these without breaking the seaweed so while Camilla was getting ready, I took a couple of pictures to show you how it's done!

Step 1:
Follow the instructions on the packaging. If you succeed = great. Enjoy your kimbap. If you failed miserable = go to Step 2 to learn how to do it correctly the next time.

Step 2:
Alright, here's how to do it. Grab the piece of wrapping above the little red '1' and pull it straight down and up again when you get to the backside.

Step 3:
Grab both lower corners (I obviously couldn't do it since I had to take the picture) and pull simultaneously.

Step 4:
Now you're ready to eat! 잘 먹으세요!

Okay back to the post!
Camilla was all ready to go but Philip had promised to go meet and help an acquaintance from Sweden, who was moving to Korea, so we went out alone. Since we didn't have any specific plans for the day, we thought that this was the perfect chance to buy the last souvenirs before going home. When we came down, James, the owner of the hostel, and some of the guys working there were sitting outside the hostel eating these packs of mango jelly that one of the guys had bought and sent home from Taiwan.
Not minding the fact that it was a rather strange feeling eating jelly from little packs of paper and plastic, they were good! It was a refreshing treat in such hot weather.

If you're going to buy souvenirs, Insadong (인사동) (and Namdaemun (남대문) I've heard) is the place to go! After having thought about a suitable gift for Emilie for some days, I had finally decided upon buying some of the dragon beard candy sold there.

Other than Emilie's dragon beards, I also bought myself a backpack like Camilla's and some cute bags for Maria and Jasmin. Camilla also finally found something for her dad and stepmom.
Philip joined us around this time and we ran into this guy, who had been entertaining a group of kids.

The guy was promoting for a shopping center down one of the side streets and we went in there to check it out afterwards.
There was a piano placed in the middle of everything and a guy was playing but other than listening to the live music, we didn't spend much time there. If I remember correctly, it was more of a place with a bunch of coffee shops and not-the-cheapest clothes stores.
Around 5.30-6pm we decided to move on. Philip was going to watch some of his friends perform as well as dance himself in Hongdae in the evening so I went with him while Camilla returned to the hostel with our souvenirs. She was having a stomach ache and really didn't feel well.

Hongdae (홍대) was already way crowded by this time and we were quick to find the popular spots with people dancing. As we were standing there watching, some of Philip's friends called him over. Short after, two Korean women came up to me to chat while we were watching the dancers. When they left again, Philip was still with the group of dancers waiting to perform so I walked off on my own to discover more of Hongdae.
I stopped at the next big gathering of people to watch a magician perform just a bit further down the street. The guy didn't speak but instead flapped his arms like mad and made loud exclamations for a comical effect all the while The Lion Sleeps Tonight was playing in the background.
Ever since a magician performed in my my kindergarten, I've been impressed by this trickery. And I actually managed to get a clip of one of his tricks! How did he do it? I don't know!

After having watched for a while, I walked up towards the Trick Eye Museum (트릭아이미술관) since there are a couple of clothes stores there that I really like. I looked around for a while but it was getting late'ish so I thought I'd go back to Philip and see if he'd like to grab some food with me. On my way back, a group of 3 passed me up (I hadn't seen them so I jumped back a little when one of them suddenly talked to me). They were from out of town and had a foreign friend coming soon so they'd like to know if I knew of any good places to eat in the Hongdae area. Well, I was jut a tourist so I was unable to help them and we ended up just chatting a bit instead. 
I think I must have accidentally forgot to save these somewhere when I cleaned up my old phone because I couldn't find them anywhere when it was time to write these posts ㅠㅠ At least I was able to screenshot my Instagram but the quality is absolutely horrible;;
After having exchanged Kakaotalks and taken the mandatory selcas, we parted and I went back to Philip. He was still busy so I decided to go back to the hostel and check up on Camilla.

Once I came back, Camilla was nowhere to be found and she hadn't brought her phone. I thought that maybe she had just gone for a walk so I walked down and bought a piece of bread form the convenience store to chew on while waiting for her.
This was one of the better sweet breads that I ate while in Korea but it was still miles away from being even close to as good as good ol' Danish pastry. I have learned my lesson; stay away from breads in plastic packaging. To me it all feels like I'm eating a sponge without taste.

Selcas from the hostel room because I was content with my make-up that day!

After a while of waiting and still no Camilla in sight, I went down to the lobby to meet the hostel owner and some of the guys from the hostel. They had just come back from playing beer pong and told me that Camilla had gone out for a walk as she was feeling better and then later joined the Spanish girls going drinking again.
Amazing timing indeed.

I texted Philip telling him that Camilla was okay (we had both been super worried since there was no way of getting in contact with her) but that she wasn't coming back anytime soon. He told me to come back to Hongdae (홍대) and hang out with him and the Swedish girl.
James and the guys were now sitting outside the hostel enjoying ice cream that James had bought and he handed me one as well as I was on my way out.
Today was the first time I took the subway alone and I was so happy that I, on that exact day, had asked Philip to tell me how to get to Hongdae (홍대). If you have been riding the subway in Seoul, you'll know that a voice will tell you the stop you at and also the next stop every time you reach a new station. Well, I didn't pay enough attention and thought that this was the stop I had to get off at - It turned out that I got off a stop too late. This station was a little different than the other stations in the way that I could just go to the other side and take the subway back but had to go up the stairs and then down some other stairs to get to the one that would take me back. At that point I didn't know that so I went over to ask some guys a bit older than me for help. They hadn't a single clue about what I wanted or how to help me (but were fascinated and jumped back in surprised when I pointed at a map with the stations and said '이건' (= this/this thing)). One of them waved a young woman over and she was SO pretty I swear! The woman spoke English really really well and I got the help that I needed while the 3 guys were completely blown away by her beauty and English proficiency.

Because of my moment of getting lost, I was late to meet Philip and the girl, Sena, so our adventures together were short. Sena had arrived on that same day and needed to buy a few things. We hit it off well during the short time that we spent together though. Look at this hat that we found! (Try sing it like the Mary Poppins theme).

← Return to 11/16                                                                                                        Continue to 13/16 
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