End of the Week!

Hello all. It’s Friday here in Korea and what better way than to celebrate with Korean BBQ?!

Sorry, I actually forgot to take photos, but you’ll just have to trust me that it was delicious. And only ten dollars Canadian. The media and documentary classes got together for dinner, along with the director Yong Ki Jeong after a class with him as a guest speaker. Our professor, Chang, payed the difference after we all gave him the ten dollars. Not bad for what was essentially all you can eat and drink. 


Korean BBQ at its most basic is basically grilled pork belly, which you can wrap in lettuce along with kimchi, onions, and garlic. We also had fried rice of some sort, topped with seaweed and egg roe. Delicous!

In our media class next week, we’ll be able to meet Yun Ji Lee, and Jeong Se Oh, who both starred in the movie “Couples” (directed by Yong Ki Jeong). So excited for that (I wonder if we’re allowed to take photos?)! Yong Ki Jeong came today as a guest speaker, and I don’t quite know what to make of him. I feel like some of the advice he gave for aspiring film makers was kind of like “follow your dreams,” type stuff, which just seems a little not so practical to me. I’ll just assume it got lost in translation. No doubt though, he is very successful, having directed movies such as “Once Upon a Time,” and “Couples,” as well as many others.

I also tried the famous “Choco Pie” here, a snack which often takes the place of birthday cake for poor students. Apparently, it’s also really popular among the boys in the military. Unfortunately, they’re not actual cake, and pretty much just a Korean version of Wagon Wheels. Ah well, they killed my sugar craving for the next month.

As a side note, it’s still pretty rainy over here and I actually had to wear jeans.

Choco Pie! Well, the no name equivalent anyways.

Last Day at the Hostel and Random Food Pictures

You’ll have to forgive me as posts will now be slightly out of order. I’ll have the rest of my pictures up pretty sporadically, and today you’ll have to suffice with my last day staying at the hostel in Myeongdong. That, and pictures of food.

Last day here so Jiyeon took me out for lunch.
Tall icecream in Myeongdong. Well, technically we got strawberry and yogurt.

I don’t know what this is, but apparently it’s famous in Myeongdong. It’s like hotpot… but with salami and hot dogs… and I think spam…

Add noodles, kimchi, and canned beans.
Mix! Surprisingly, I actually liked it.
Red bean paste bun from Namdaemun.

Black bean noodles and jiggae. I forgot to take a picture it was so good!

Watermelon popsicle/ice cream. So cute!

Oh look who I found. But I still can’t find TOP.

The National Museum of Korea

I think I can officially say I am not a fan of museums. Or at least not historic ones. I much prefer art gallery type museums like the Louvre.

The National Museum of Korea is situated at the top of hill, and is quite an impressive piece of modern architecture. The museum in its entirety is huge, consisting of the main building, one for featured exhibitions, numerous restaurants and cafes, as well as a garden. Admission to the main building and garden is free, however you can expect to pay 10,000 to 15,000 won if you want to see the special exhibition.

The National Museum is three floors, each of which focus on a specific period of time or art form within Korean history. The first floor focused on prehistoric and ancient society, while the second focused on calligraphy. The third floor featured Buddhist sculptures and white porcelain.

Most of what I noticed was the vast amount of pottery on each floor. Most of the displays in the prehistoric section featured earthenware, as well a weapons from the Bronze and Iron Ages. The calligraphy section seemed to consist mostly of scrolls, or brush holders and water droppers, and of course the third floor was dedicated to porcelain.

There were a few exhibits I found interesting though. I enjoyed the large Buddhist sculptures, as well as a mural of the four guardians of the four compass directions. For those of you who don’t know what they are: black tortoise, blue dragon, red phoenix, and white tiger. The mural was found in a tomb with the four guardians meant to protect the tomb and its inhabitant.

During my little museum run, I actually ran into one of the girls from the hostel, so we finished the second and third floors together, then went out to grab lunch. The restaurant and cafes in the museum were a bit expensive, but there was another cafe by the gardens that was reasonably priced.

The National Museum

A painting of what an ancient village would have looked like.

A rubbing of the inscription on the sacred bell of King Seongdeok
A painting from the Joseon Dynasty.

Knives

A statue of a lion.

I couldn’t help taking a photo of this due to my slight obsession with tea.

A Buddhist statue

Ganesha

Another Buddhist statue

Figures with paper arms

A sacred bell

Knives

Traditional hair pins

White porcelain

The ten story pagoda

Lunch at one of the museum cafes!

Last Stop: Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun was the last shopping district I needed to visit (simply because COEX Mall and the Gangnam area are both wickedly expensive), and who better to spend the day with than my lovely friend from Calgary!
Again, I walked, although only for about 45 minutes this time. It was also ridiculously hot outside today, and there was hardly a breeze.

I also managed to get ever so slightly lost inside the station by Dongdaemun Stadium, one stop before Dongdaemun Station, where I was supposed to be meeting my friend. I was 15 minutes late, but as a result, I think it made our meeting that much sweeter. I mean, we ran to each other from half a block away just to hug! Oh the stares we probably got (although we didn’t notice any, not that we were paying attention).

The first thing we did was grab lunch from a cheap little place by the station. There weren’t any pictures or English on the menu, so thankfully my friend was there. My only requirements were that whatever she ordered for me be cold. I think I got bibimguksu again, but this time made with potato starch noodles, unlike Jenny’s homemade version, which I think used a wheat noodle as they were a lot easier to bite through. The potato starch noodles are very, very chewy, and you actually need to take a pair of scissors to them in order to make them somewhat managable. It was very good, and I don’t know why everyone is telling me they’ll be spicy. Neither the homemade version nor the resaurant’s were very spicy at all, or at least not for me.

After we finished our meal, we were served iced plum green tea, which I thought tasted very similar to the plum sake I’m able to buy at home. It wasn’t as sweet though, and of course it didn’t have the alcohol taste, so needless to say, it was very good. We also ordered a bowl of patbingsu to share between the two of us. Unlike the one I saw for takeout in Ewha the other day, this was a giant bowl filled with shaved ice, red beans, canned fruit, corn flakes, and condensed milk. Normally, patbingsu costs anywhere from 6000 to 12,000 won, but this was only about 5000, and could have probably been a meal in itself.

Next we shopped! Dongdaemun is home to four malls: Lotte, APm, Doota, and Migliore.We only went to Doota and Migliore as APm was closed, and Lotte tends to be out of our price range. There were also plenty of street stalls around the area selling clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. I spent $20 on a pair of mint green jeans since I’ve wanted a pair for awhile, and they were a lot cheaper than those you can find in Calgary. Besides, for $20 I don’t care if they aren’t in season next year.

Dongdaemun only took us a few hours to shop through, so we parted ways around 3:30 and I walked back towards my hostel. As always, I browsed through a bit of Myeongdong as I passed through, and ended up buying a few gifts for friends. I can’t help it, I need to at least look through the SSFW shops to decide if I want a new purse or not. Why am I not rich?

On my way to Dongdaemun.

Heunginjimun, also known as the “Gate of Rising Benevolence,” or Dongdaemun.

Patbingsu!

One of the side streets was lined with pet shops selling anything from cats to frogs to chickens.


Cheap Clothes in Ewha!

I am a really cheap person. Sort of.
I could say that I just like to walk, which I do, but that becomes a lie once it’s 30 degrees out. No, instead I walked for two hours to get to Ewha Womans University, because, simply put, I’d rather have an extra two dollars to spend on clothes than a subway ticket. On a side note, I suppose it is good exercise, minus the whole my calf muscles might end up too big from all the walking that I’ve been doing since I’ve arrived.

The first thing I did once I left the hostel was get lost. I knew I would need to head north from Seoul Station, and I made it there perfectly fine. Unfortunately, with all the weird diagonal streets Seoul seems to consist of, I managed to head northeast, and found myself back in Namdaemun, about halfway back from where I originally came from. I changed route and decided to head towards City Hall, as there were signs everywhere pointing towards it, and from there, I could just follow one road towards Sinchon Rotary, which again had signs everywhere pointing in the direction.

After my lovely hike (I didn’t get lost again, thankfully), I finally made it to the university, and thusly the shopping district. Ewha, or Edae, is geared towards young women, selling many trendy clothes and accessories for reasonable prices. For less than $25 I managed to buy a new dress, a pair of flats, and a shirt. Ewha is also the place to go for a new haircut it seems, as there was at least one hair salon on every street.

The Ewha and Sinchon areas also happen to be a haven for both privaately owned cafes, as well as those run by larger businesses. If you’re ever thirsty, you’ll have plenty to choose from here. Not to mention these cafes were selling some of the cheapest desserts I’ve seen so far. If you were to order “patbingsu” as takeout, it would only cost 2500 won for about a Starbucks’ tall sized cup filled with shaved ice, sweet red beans, and ice cream. Yumm. (Disclaimer: This is assuming I managed to read everything correctly, so if you’re in the area and don’t find it, it’s not my fault!)

Finding my way back to the hostel was much easier. There was only one corner where I didn’t know exactly which way to turn, but again, following the road signs helped. I also managed to take the route I originally planned to use to get to Ewha (via Seoul Station), which helped shave some time off the walk and let me explore a little. And, waiting for me at the hostel when I got back was a very late lunch, made by Jenny! Such lovely hosts I have. =]

Ewha Womans University

Shopping!

There are a ton of cafes in Ewha and Sinchon.

On the way to and from Ewha, you pass by a street lined with wedding shops.

Mixed in with the wedding dresses are hanbok.

A few blocks after the wedding shops is a street lined with furniture shops. 

The French Embassy

Seoul Station

Seoul Station’s underground mall

Lunch! Bibimguksu made by Jenny. Delicious!

And look what I saw when I was trying to decide to go back via City Hall or Seoul Station. Sorry for my lack of paparazzi skills and the subsequent slightly blurry picture. Just trust me when I say he had a cute smile.
Oh my, guess which other pretty boys I found on my way back…

Namdaemun Picture Diary

Namdaemun Market is across the street from my hostel, so I go there to grab food a lot, or sometimes just to kill time. Walking through it is a lot cooler since the walkways are close together and the numerous stalls provide plenty of shade.

You can see Seoul Tower from Namdaemun Market

Mandu of all sorts! I come here way too often since the wang mandu is only 1000 won.

In the evening, the streets are lined not only with stalls selling anything from clothes to ginseng, but also plenty of food. 

This is the easiest way to get fruit in Seoul. You can usually find a vendor selling slices of pineapple or  melon on a stick for 1000 won.

There’s also plenty of vendors selling bulgogi. Just choose what you want them to barbecue for you!

You can find souvenirs of all sorts in Namdaemun, including traditional goods, or random k-pop paraphernalia. 

The infamous padded underwear. I wonder if anyone actually wears these?

Namdaemun Market has an entire section dedicated to selling ginseng.

Displayed at a restaurant. I immediately though of “Spirited Away” when I saw it. Remind me not to eat here.

Dinner was mukguksu, or noodles made from buckwheat and acorn starch served in an icy broth. After walking around in 30 degree weather, it was very refreshing.

My hostel is right across the street from Namdaemun Market, and up a giant hill. 

And here’s looking down from the top of the first hill.

The view from about halfway up.

Second hill. The hostel is past those buildings.