Thursday, November 16, 2017

Seoul Diaries 1

I had no time to write in Seoul. Traveling with my best friend meant that I had no time alone in cafes. It meant that I constantly had to keep up with her. And she likes to travel, and to shop, so I had little reflection time. I did however manage to scribble some notes in a journal while laying on the bed in our hostel moments before we slept.

The following in an excerpt from that day, Friday March 21, Seoul, South Korea

Arrived in Seoul at noon. Through the entire train ride people were talking on cell phones  - a big contrast to the tomb-silence of trains in Japan. People also chatted with each on the trains, even total strangers, in a loud tone that I sometimes mistook for aggression. The train ceilings also feel very low and the train door will close on you. On the train from the airport to the mains station we saw an old man get stuck in the door  - I'm not sure what happened, maybe his foot or cane went through the crevice between the train and platform. Then in slow motions he fall face forward on the platform and the entire train car gasped. I felt sick watching it happened.  Passengers immediately rushed to help him get unstuck, and when they moved him onto the platform, the train  doors closed and we sped away.

We got off at Meyongdon at 2:45 to find our hostel and put our luggage down. The place looked like a goddam wholesale alley and was really run-down. We found the hostel, walked up a long flight of narrow steps carrying our heavy luggage only to be told that this was not our hostel. The staff gave some direction but offered no other help. We heaved the luggage down the steps.

We got back on the train to Dongminmum and arrived at 3:30. Still, we could find the hostel so we walked into a Pizza Hut and asked for direction. One of the staff members left their post behind the counter and walked us right to the front door of the hostel. That place could not have been more different from the first hostel. It was modern and clean, and the staff took our luggage right away and carried it to our rooms. The man at the counter was so friendly and chatty, and recommended a good local restaurant nearby. It was 5:00pm when we ate “lunch.”

We spent the rest of the day shopping in Galasoo-gil and I was able to make some interesting observations about the people I saw in Seoul:

   Korean girls mostly wear flat shoes, sneakers, and loafers, not like the Japanese girls in high heels and platforms.
   Couples are more affectionate in public  than in Japan. They hold and hands and even sneak kisses.
   Friends of the same gender are also more affectionate in public. They hold hands and put their arms around each other.
    Advertisements show only Koreans, not foreigners, mixed-race people, or even other Asians. In Tokyo, most of the ads for international brands still show only white models.
   People seem aggressive and rude in public, but they nice when you talk to them

   People say helpful things, like giving us directions and or wishing us a good trip, but with a tone that I interpret as aggressive or rude, so its confused me

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

What did I eat in South Korea?

This is a special food edition that could only be possible thanks to the dear friend I was traveling with. The title of this post could easily be “Portraits of the Author with Food” because every single photo that was taken of a snack or meal I had in Korea, featured myself as the focal point.
Enjoy this post featuring food, and me. 
  1. Food I wished I had but didn't:  oh so much, soondobu, chijime, more street food, Korean Ice cream
  2. Food I had but wished I didn't:  our first Korean BBQ meal was disappointing, expensive and best unoriginal, like any old place in LA or Japan, nothing that said “oh, I really am in Korea."
  3. What should have been on the list: more casual, local joints, and places around universities (they are cheaper and better)
  4. Biggest surprise: street food – I was so pleasantly surprised with the quality and variety
  5. Most delicious meal: Korean BBQ at a very famous place that I can’t remember the name of and sadly, I may never find again…

Restaurants: caveat, I know none of the restaurant names, since we just happened upon whatever place and decided to eat there.

Bibimbap: a favorite of mine

Korean BBQ - twice!
first time: a touristy and expensive place that was mediocre

second time: an popular and cheap place that was phenomenal

Dokkboki, fish cake, and Kimbap
rom a small joint near the university. We literally pointed to three pictures on the menu outside, and got none of the three items. But what we got was delicious!

Street food
Tornado Potato: 
a Curly deep friend potato on a giant stick. Fun and delicious

grapes in a sugary glaze

Western food:

more on my obsession with Korean KFC here


Korea is obsessed with coffee. I wrote an entire post on it here

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Photo Diary: Best of Seoul

Some beautiful memories of my three-day weekend in Seoul with my best friend from Japan. It was March, and in northern Asia March is still practically winter. It was very cold and were still wearing thick coats. Seoul’s street were alive with light and color.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

KFC in Korea

I fell in love with KFC in Seoul for the first time in the Incheon Airport on layover form Los Angeles to Hong Kong. I almost never eat fast food in the united states, so it still perplexes me why I chose KFC, of all places, to dine at on my first trip through Incheon. Maybe I didn’t know what else to get. Maybe I felt like something familiar. Whatever the reason, I fell in love with South Korea’s spicy and soft fried chicken. That chicken lived in my mind for so long that I insisted my friend and I return to KFC on our 3-day trip to Seoul.

It was the only meal we had that doesn’t belong in a list of typical Korean dishes. Maybe I’ve just gotten a little older  and my tastes have changed, but the chicken was not quite as good as I remember it. Still nice and spicy though.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find egg tarts there, which is the KFC special in Taiwan. The egg tarts in Korean KFC were not as good as the ones in Taiwanese KFC, but it was still evoked a little nostalgia. 

Seoul Diaries 1

I had no time to write in Seoul. Traveling with my best friend meant that I had no time alone in cafes. It meant that I constantly h...