Finally made it to Seoul, my last stop in South Korea before moving on to China. My travels in Seoul are actually divided into 3 blogposts since there was so much to do here and mainly because I took so many pictures. In this post I’ll just give you a general overview of Seoul for now. Check out the Heyri Art Village and the cat cafe and trick art museum.
Being the capital of South Korea, there must be a palace for me to visit right? In fact, there were 2 of them! The most prominent one called Gyeongbok-gung also housed the Joseon palace museum and the Korean folk museum, which was included in the entrance ticket (yay!). During certain times, you can witness the guard change, pretty fun to see that these guards still wear the traditional clothing from back in the days. The palace grounds are quite big, not as big as the forbidden city, but still big enough to house several important buildings in 1 compound.
The Korean folk museum itself was interesting to visit, they talk about the history of Korea and Korean culture. They even had little dolls showing the process of making kimchi, the national uhm…. vegetable/dish.
The second palace Changdeok-gung was a bit smaller and actually less visited than its big brother, but this is actually the only palace of the 2 which has been listed as an Unesco World Heritage. The secret garden (Huwon) which is only accessible by guided tours is rather fascinating. It’s hard to imagine such a beautifully kept garden in the middle of modern day Seoul.
In between the 2 palaces there is a district called Insadong. Which is a great place to hang out and relax while you walked through the narrow streets filled with galleries and cozy little tea-rooms. A lot of these galleries have free entrance and some of them even have gallery openings which offer some free snacks and fingerfood. We went there on a wednesday and my friend Sarah actually filled up her stomach by just visiting a few galleries. So be warned!
As I’ve mentioned in my first post about South-Korea, Korean people LOVE to go hiking and of course there are several hiking availabilities around Seoul. I decided to hike up Dobongsan for my last hike and as a recommendation by my friend. As I should’ve known, the path was once again covered in snow, just like the other hikes I did around South Korea. Not that I was complaining, but this time I didn’t have any snow chains with me. But I still managed to make it around though.
Some parts of the trail, were more challenging than others because of the snow. As it was slippery and icy and not to mention steep, some of the people had trouble getting down/up when they had to hoist them self from the ropes. Some even slipped and hurt themselves, so be warned when hiking in snow. The view was pretty good overviewing Seoul and with a couple of temples to visit along the way, you are sure to have a packed day of hiking ahead of you.
One of my favorite things that Sarah introduced me to was the jimjilbang. This is a public bath where people go and bath and hang out afterwards. The big difference in this particular place, called Dragon Hill, was that they had up to 7-8 different baths, with different temperatures and scents. Not to mention the different saunas and “caves”, also with different temperatures. They even had an ice room, to cool down in after the caves. You can easily spend a whole evening in there dipping, bathing, steaming, chilling and eating.
As I used to watch Korean dramas and tv-shows, I noticed that in the jimjilbang, some people were wearing “ramhorns” made out of a towel. As I’m a tourist, I just HAD to make one and wear one too, despite my friend repeatedly mocking me. It turned out so good that some other tourists were asking me how to make it too! I managed to take a picture the second time we went, of me wearing one, but on the picture I looked like a transexual wearing it, so I refrained from posting the picture. It was better the first time.
Be sure to check out the Seoul nightlife too! My friend Sarah took me out one night along with her friends. But not before getting a nice filling meal in our tummies. In fact, that’s how Koreans spend their friday nights. First they fill up on food and the necessary alcohol at one of the Korean BBQ places or other restaurants and afterwards they select their next venture, whether it be a club or another bar or a noreabang (karaoke place). Guess what.. we went to all of them! First went to a Korean BBQ, then bar to fill up on sangria, afterwards to a salsa bar/club and finally ending the night in the noreabang. It’s been a long time since I’ve went home when the sun was coming up. What a night…. For obvious reason, I haven’t taken any pictures that night, but here are some other random ones.
Oh and I also went to the biggest underground shopping mall in the world, COEX. Here is the picture….. Sorry ladies, I’m not a big shopping fan…..