Seoul Food

Too Dangerous to go at this alone

These are archives of my travel blog from Korea! For more recent info check out for my France journal, and for my photo blog from the past eight years of travel!

Nearing the end...
Only a few days left, two to be exact. It's Saturday afternoon, I leave in less than 48 hours. Trying to do what I can while I can, get my last minute mandu and what not.
Yesterday, I went to Gyeonghui palace, which was the only one I hadn't visited yet. It was sort of creepy, because nobody, and I mean NOBODY was there. No tourists, guards, guides, nothing. Just me wandering around this ancient palace by myself. It let me get some good pictures, though.
Today we had to check out of the dorms, even if we're not leaving yet (but most everyone is) so we had to sit around all morning waiting for them to inspect the room. It was a bit annoying, but what can you do.
This is probably going to be my last post from Korea. It's really been a blast. I know I haven't been the best at updating, but I hope those of you who have been reading enjoyed it.
안녕히 계세요!

Snow Day!
We had a farewell dinner at a fancy restaurant in Insadong last night. It was traditional Buddhist temple food, and was founded by a former monk. There was also a performance at a stage in the centre of the restaurant, featuring several traditional Korean dances and drumming. It's probably the last time everyone in our program will be together, so it was kind of sad, but still fun.
Afterwards a few of us walked to city hall via a walk along a stream, which was surrounded on both sides by colourful Christmas lights. It was the first time it really felt like december to me.
At city hall they had an ice rink set up, which was free to use, and cost 1000 won for skate rental. So most of us hit the ice; snow was falling in puffy flakes, it was such an ideal night. We then split off again, and I went back to the dorm with the other girls, having a nice adventure finding a bus to take us there around midnight.

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Picture Post!
I've hardly considered the fact that what I feel is mundane might actually be interesting to everyone else, just because this is Korea. In that fashion, I'm presenting a bunch of photos of things that I do when I have free time. As usual, click to see larger versions and descriptions.

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And if you're interested in some "artistic" photos that I've been making here, check out my gallery at .

Four Weekends To Go
Well, this weekend turned out not at all as I expected/planned. But I promised to post about something interesting, so I went out and made my weekend fun. Of course, that meant another weekend hanging out toute seule, but that seems to be how I roll anyway.

The plan on Friday was to go to Lotte World since classes were cancelled due to Entrance Exams, but that fell through when the sky opened up. I instead opted to go to Yongsan, my favourite hangout, and take care of some French homework. This involved seeing the film "La môme" (called "La vie en rose" in both the US and Korea) which was a dramatic biography of the singer Édith Piaf. It was pretty good, but over two hours long. Still, it was the first movie I've seen since coming to Yonsei, and it was nice to be in a theatre again. Afterwards I went back to my dorm, and with awesome timing - about 5 min. after I got inside I heard thunder and could see bright flashes of lightening, and it sounded like it was coming down pretty hard. Later that evening, my former roommate called me and wanted to take me out to dinner, so of course I went. We went with another friend to a restaurant in Hongdae called "Dos Tacos" and all had burritos and nachos. It was really good, I haven't had a burrito in a long time. A little on the spicy side, but not overly so. Afterwards we were going to get ice cream, but found Mr. Donut instead. First time I'd seen one of those since Japan, so I got a few for Saturday's breakfast. Instead of ice cream we got drinks at Starbucks, I got a nokcha frappucino (sp?), basically a green tea smoothie. Better than I expected, I won't lie.
Saturday I was supposed to go bungee jumping, but since it still looked like rain, that got cancelled. It's too bad, because it ended up being a really nice day. I decided to go take care of more French homework by going to the Seoul art museum for an exhibition on Vincent Van Gogh. It was the opening day, so naturally it was packed. I followed the crowd through, admiring the works as best I could. After I made it through that ruckus, I decide to go across the street to Deoksu palace. I got there just as a changing of the guard ceremony was taking place, so I watched that. It was pretty interesting. I went inside and wandered about for a while afterwards, then headed back to Sinchon. When I got out of the subway, I decided to stop at Caribou, where I ran into someone who had been on the summer program with me, but I hadn't seen since august. He's also studying at Yonsei this semester, but only the intensive Korean program, which I'm not a part of, so we hadn't run into each other. We probably won't again before I leave, but it was nice catching up.
Today was when I had originally planned to do all my french work, so I had it free as well. It was the warmest day in a while, so I ended up going to Lotte World on my own again. This time it's dressed up for Christmas, and while I tried to get on a bunch of rides, I actually had more fun watching/listening to the various band performances. Jazz versions of Christmas carols = Awesome. I decided to try ice skating this time too, and to my surprise, I didn't fall. Not even once. I actually skated rather well, which is odd, since I haven't been to an ice rink in years, and I'm pretty sure I was awful. Good times though.

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I am so stuffed...
Yay for our awesome program director, Suzanne. She hooked us up with a Thankgiving dinner, complete with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, peas, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and even a birthday cake for all of the november birthdays. It tasted so good, and was also the first time I've used a fork in months. It was weird! I couldn't believe how awkward I felt holding it.
Well, I have lots of fun planned for the next three days, so expect some interesting news come monday. I won't give away any spoilers... ^.^

So, thursday I decided to go to Changdeok palace. This is the only palace that requires you to follow a tour when you go in, except, of course, on thursdays when it costs five times as much for admission (15,000 instead of 3,000). Lucky for me this counts as a cultural activity and my program will reimburse me for it. It is definitely the most beautiful of the palaces, especially the so-called "secret garden" in the back.

Saturday I headed out with my sketchbook, planning to stop and get some coloured pencils before going to Sajik park and drawing. I took the bus to Insadong for the stationary store across the street, but you can't go near Insadong without walking inside for a bit...
Look what I found:

As I was walking to the park afterwards, it started raining so I just got on the bus back to campus.

빼빼로 데이
Today is a sort of unofficial holiday in Korea, called 빼빼로 데이(Pepero Day). Pepero is a very popular snack, which outside of Korea goes by the name of "Pocky" - something people into Japanese culture may recognize. Because 11/11 looks like four sticks of pepero, this day has become similar to Valentine's day, in that people buy sweets for their sweetie. At every convenience store around here there are large displays of fancy boxes of pepero, many decorated in pink with hearts just like a valentine's gift.
Today I set out with the intention of exploring Daehangno, a famous street where many scenes in Korean movies and dramas take place. So I walked to Sinchon station, took the subway to Dongdaemun Stadium, switched to the blue line and got off at Hyehwa station, which is located on Daehangno. I looked around for a while, but there really wasn't anything to do, so I decided to walk towards Changgyeong palace.
Right before I got to the palace, I noticed a different large building, the Seoul National Science Museum. Of course I wanted to check that out, so I crossed the street and decided to buy a ticket. It was only 1000 won, quite reasonable for a museum, but for just 500 more I could get admission to the Palace as well, through the side gate next to the museum, so of course I got that. The museum was quite interesting. Most of it was obviously oriented towards kids, but since most things didn't have explanations in English, that made the Korean descriptions easier to read. My favourite part was of course the space exhibit. It had a timeline of important milestones, which was very interesting to see from a third-party perspective; since Korea wasn't in the space race it had no achievements to glorify, and the facts were presented as is. Most places in America would make anything achieved on the American side seem wonderful, while ignoring or diminishing what the Soviets did. In any case, a new perspective is always refreshing.
After exploring the museum I went into the palace. I am very glad I waited to go there, the area is especially beautiful with the fall colors. Most of it was paths through trees and a small lake, with all of the ancient palace building elegantly inbetween. I didn't stay very long in the palace, but I did enjoy walking through. There was some sort of ceremony going on, but I left before I could figure out exactly what it was.
I got on the bus intending to return to campus, but the traffic was so bad that the driver opened the door in the middle of the road and suggested people should take the subway instead. I took his advice and headed to Angak station. I didn't really feel like going anywhere special, so I took the subway back towards Sinchon, but ended up getting off at Ewha Univ. Station instead, the stop before Sinchon. Ewha University is just across the road from Yonsei, so I thought I would try going that way, since I hadn't yet. The road towards campus was filled with shops and cafés, including a Caribou Coffee where I stopped and had an iced tea. It was really nice, I sat by the fireplace inside and felt at home - from the inside it looks just like any caribou in the states.
I then attempted to get to the Ewha back gate, from which I could get back to my dorm. The campus of Ewha is very confusing however, and it took me a lot longer than I thought. It was very peaceful there though, I hardly felt like I was in the middle of a gigantic city.

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Insadong and Gyeongbokgung
I decided I wanted to go for a walk today, so I headed out with the intention of going to Gyeongbok palace. Unfortunately, there seems to be no pedestrian access through the large tunnel near Ewha University (across the street from where I walk out) and no visible way around. So I was forced to take the bus to the palace. I walked around a bit there, took some pictures of the changing leaves, but it was very crowded and I was too cheap to buy a ticket to go inside. I wanted to keep walking anyway, so I headed to Insadong, the arts district of Seoul. It was quite crowded there as well, but I still liked walking past all the shops with the various Korean souvenirs. There was a tent set up in one of the alleys with free music and tea/coffee, so I had some green tea and listened for a while. It was some sort of traditional flute music, and it was pretty good.
I then went back out on the main road where I was stopped by a couple of girls from Korea University, who wanted to interview me for some sort of assignment. I had nothing better to do, so I went along with it. After that I walked further into the area, when all of the sudden some sort of small parade came through. A bunch of people dressed in traditional outfits, and carrying boxes and playing some music. It was neat to look at. From there I stepped into one of the shops, where I got my first experience of haggling in Korean... I like to think it worked out for me. Before I headed back for campus I bought some pumpkin candy, seemed appropriate for this time of year.

The weekend
Thursday night we had a sort of calligraphy demonstration, a calligraphy teacher showed us a few tricks and then we were set loose with brushes, ink, and as much paper as we wanted. Some people were able to make very beautiful pieces, with bamboo or flowers or such, but I couldn't even write the kanji I had practiced in my class four years ago in Japan. I was disappointed, but it was still a lot of fun. We all got a souvenir, a very large ceramic cup with an image of a painting the teacher had done for Yonsei university. It's really nice, I just hope I can get it home in one piece.
Yesterday I moved into my new room, and I realized just how much stuff I have. Not quite sure how I'm getting it all home, I may have to mail some stuff back. It's still a little weird having my bed on the opposite side of the room, but I think that everything will go well with my new roommate. *knock on wood*
Today was actually really awesome, despite my initial thoughts to the contrary. I'm absolutely wiped out, but I got really good exercise and a good meal out of it. We had a required programme activity that was originally scheduled for September, but that day ended up raining heavily and we've finally gotten around to doing it. We went to Inwang-san, or "benevolent king mountain" to explore Korean shamanism and geomancy. There are special formations in the mountains that make it one of the most sacred places in Korea, but it's right in the heart of Seoul. We climbed to the top of the mountain, from which you can see all of downtown Seoul, including all of the important government buildings, the blue house (the Korean version of the white house, so called for its bright blue roof), and Gyeongbok-gung palace. Our guide was a tourism professor from Kyung-hee university's Seoul campus, an American who had written several books on the subject of mountains in Korea. I found it amusing that he likened an ancient Korean philosopher to a hippie, but most of the things he told us about the mountain spirits and shrines in the area were quite interesting. When we finished at the mountain our program director took us out for lunch, where we had Dweji Kalbi, a very delicious type of pork ribs. I ate more than I had in weeks, it was so good. I'd eat it more often myself, except it's awfully expensive to make a habit of, about 8000 won on average, around $9.
One of the girls in the programme has her birthday tomorrow, so this evening we had some cake and hung out outside for a while. I think it's finally starting to get chilly here, maybe autumn is actually here, although nearly half of the trees I see are still green. It's weird, of the 18 people on our programme, 6 have november birthdays. In fact, we have three in a row from the 23-25, which conveniently is fri-sun this year. I imagine we'll have fun times with that one...

Guess that's about all for now.

(no subject)
Hey, Happy Halloween everyone!

They don't celebrate it in Korea, so no candy or costuming for me. Instead, I spent Halloween studying and watching Babylon 5. Hope it goes well for everyone else, though!

In other news, I'm likely going to be switching rooms on Friday. Nothing wrong on my end, just a girl down the hall seems to be having problems with her roommate, and I agreed to switch rooms with her. I guess the main problem seems to be that her roommate goes to bed early and she stays out all night, so I think it'll work out fine for me, maybe I can finally start going to bed earlier myself... I definitely prefer that. Hopefully things will go smoothly!


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