Seoul City Tour

Last Wednesday, Hanyang University took us on a one-day tour of Seoul. It wasn’t very in depth, and in my opinion you’d be better off with a bit of free travel, but it did get the last few things I hadn’t done out of the way.

Continue reading

Advertisements

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.

I’m Back!

Sorry for the little hiatus there everyone. It ended up being a busy week doing the rest of my touring and then moving into the dorms. I’ll have pictures of the places I visited up in the next few posts, as well as of the dorms and campus. For now, you’ll just get to read a description of Hanyang University.

Hanyang University is situated on the top of a mountain, or perhaps a very large hill by Korean standards. By Canadian standards however, it could definitely only be called a hill. And here I thought I was done climbing mountains/hills. I must massage my calves vigorously (to quote my dear friend) due to all the climbing.
I was situated in an off campus dorm, which is about fifteen minutes away from classes. Uphill in the morning and downhill at night. I suppose it’s good exercise at least.
On a more positive note, our dorm has a kitchenette! Thank God for Daiso, because buying pots and pans at the local market was pretty expensive in comparison. Also, we found some cheap bags of rice, laundry detergent, and some glass tupperware to use as bowls. We also found a Daiso about a half hour walk away from our dorm, meaning we won’t need to go all the way to Myeongdong again if we need anything else!
We’ve also managed to figure out the hot water system here. For the first two days, we had to use cold since we just couldn’t figure out how the boiler worked. There’s a control panel and we were just flipping buttons on and off, and upping the temperature. Luckily, we now have hot water, although we haven’t figured out how to turn off the heated floor without shutting off the hot water as well.

SSFW Accessories

I finally found my perfect bag, in the perfect colour. Wandering around Myeongdong provides a lot of eye candy for me, and SSFW is one of my favourite stores there. There are two branches I believe (but who knows, as I may have just passed the same one while I was, err, directionally challenged), as well as SSFW Accessories.


Originally, I had seen the bag in one of the branches, but none of the colours appealed to me despite loving the style and size. SSFW bags come in nearly every shade of the rainbow, except for neutral colours. This particular style did come in black, but for some reason I always find black purses to look so… boring. Anyways, I went in again today trying to decide if I liked one of the blue purses, and randomly saw that the style I wanted came in an off-white, creamy colour. Yay! I will definitely choose a cream bag over black. So, 66,000 won later, and I now have a new bag for school. I don’t think it will fit my laptop, but hey, that’s what hands are for.

Sorry for the crappy picture. I guess I need to learn how to style my shopping hauls to shoot now. 

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.


Myeongdong Picture Diary

Myeongdong was far busier Sunday than any of the previous days I walked through. With the crowds also came plenty of food stalls and more street vendors selling clothes and accessories.

Bean Pole is a famous fashion brand which G-Dragon endorses.
I saw them setting up and thought the display was actually a set of chairs for B2ST to do a signing. Unfortunately, not the case, nor was I staying in the area to see!
MyeongDong Cathedral
Dried squid is a common snack you can find in any of the outdoor shopping areas.
Spiraled potatoes wrapped around sausage and fried. This just reminds of Stampede food.

All of these cosmetic stores are right beside each other on both sides of the street. There’s plenty more throughout Myeongdong as well.
The Myeongdong Theatre

English Speakers!!! And as a consequence, more snail slime.

More money was spent today. I need to stop this, but I swear it’s almost at an end. Just a few more things to buy and then I should be good (except for the fact that I’ll need to buy more to bring home).


Besides, I couldn’t help myself. Jiyeon was nice enough to recommend a new moisturizer for me as I had just run out and was talking about my skin woes. It’s amazing how many of us are raving maniacs about skincare here at the hostel. Including the guys. I came back home with the Nature Republic Aqua Max cream, which one a beauty award apparently. The saleswoman spoke English, and was able to recommend a new foam cleanser for me as well (again, I’m nearly finished what brought with me). So, just to let you know, snail and aloe are both very good for “trouble skin” and she let me decide which I wanted. The aloe was cheaper, but she told me the snail actually works a bit better, so I went with that. Snail cleanser cost me more than my award winning cream, but less so than the usual cleanser I buy. I think if Laneige were to have a snail line, my bank account would be screwed. Thankfully they don’t.

My next stop was to Namdaemun Market. Yay, I didn’t spend money there! Namdaemun is considered to be a traditional market, and basically consists of street stalls selling a variety of goods including clothes, souvenirs, and kitchenware. The streets wind all over the place, and in circles so it’s a bit easy to get lost. I actually didn’t have this problem – I was always able to find my way back to the entrance I originally came through. However, I originally didn’t manage to visit about half of it since I kept going around in circles without realizing. Eventually I made it to the other side though.

Namdaemun is very cheap, especially the clothes. Mind you, these are mostly made of very thin fabrics, which I suppose are good considering the heat here. Not only that, but food prices are ridiculously priced. I bought a “wang mandu” for 1000 won! Wang mandu are like some sort of cross between Chinese baozi and regular Korean mandu, a type of dumpling. They’re about the size of a baseball, albeit flatter, and mine came with a pork and onion filling. Either way, it makes for a great light dinner for less than a dollar. I should just eat a few of these everyday (assuming they’re that cheap everywhere)! Tomorrow, the plan is to try traditional mandu filled with kimchi. And this time I’ll actually take pictures! (I haven’t been since I’ve just been too busy shopping, and I figured I can walk the five to fifteen minutes to take pictures without struggling with bags in my hands.)

I’ve also found out that there really is internet EVERYWHERE here. I actually thought that you’d have to be in a store in order to access the free wifi, but nope, you can just be in the middle of the street. It’s quite amazing really. So although I can’t text, at least I can still chat on google or or kakao talk (an app one of the guys at the hostel told me about). Kind of made my day today.

Shopping Spree!

Yesterday was my first day here in Seoul, and needless to say, it was spent shopping. There’s a reason why I picked a hostel 15 minutes away from Myeondong.






Myeondong is one of the main shopping districts here, and is known for being the home to many cosmetic brands. However, I think this is a bit misleading, as most of the shops are actually the same. There’s something like six Etude House stores, four Missha’s, two Holika Holikas, etc. On a side note, if you count the many drugstores specializing in cosmetics that sell lesser known brands, then yes, you could easily say Myeondong is home to an astounding number of skincare and makeup brands.

The area is actually quite large, and took me about five hours to walk though it all. That doesn’t count me getting lost trying to find my way out either. Myeondong, or probably just Seoul in general, is full of smaller side streets, making the area a tad bit confusing to navigate without a map. Not only that, but the fact that there are so many repeated store fronts, means I can’t navigate well by landmarks. How many times did I pass by Etude House again?

Many of the cosmetic shops also offer an array of samples simply for walking in, mostly in the form of sheet masks or cotton pads. If you actually buy something, you can usually look forward to better goodies, including samples of the brand’s newest BB cream, their best selling products, cleansers, or makeup. Needless to say, I have an armful of cotton pads. And here I made my mother go to Costco so that I could bring some here with me. Sorry. As for purchases, I tried to only buy what I actually needed. It didn’t work out so well. I came back to the hostel with a new eye liner, eye primer (I did need those, just to let you know), as well as a snail eye mask and a pack brush.

So, for those of you unfamiliar with those last two products, I’ll give a brief explanation. The snail eye pack is basically two gel sheets in the shape of a crescent moon, soaked in, you guessed it, snail mucus. Adding snail mucus to skincare (as well as BB creams), is very popular here. The mucus is said to help whiten and repair skin structure. I’m just hoping it helps with the dark circles under my eyes leftover from last week’s severe lack of sleep. The pack brush is basically a paint brush used to apply face masks (or packs) here. Korean skincare is very hygienic, so the brush is meant to help prevent cross contamination when you scoop out the mask to apply on your face (this way you don’t need to use your fingers). Most creams that come in a jar also include a little spoon to scoop everything out for hygienic purposes.

Myeondong not only has a large selection of cosmetics to choose from, but also many clothing stores with varying prices and styles. Most were quite trendy and I found a bag I adore (although I’m gonna hold off on buying it until I shop around a bit more). I did, however, buy an asymmetrical skirt. One of those ones you can find at Zara for some ungodly amount of money. They seem to be quite popular here, and you can find them for a range of prices. The more expensive ones are obviously better quality and often feature pleats and more layering. I decided to be cheap and found a very simple one for 12,000 won, a little less than $12 Canadian. It’s not fancy and the quality isn’t couture, but it was cheap and I wanted one. Besides, I can’t usually be bothered to spend money on trendier items I may only wear for a short amount of time. I might shell out for a nicer one later, but this will work for now.

Moving on to the hostel. Warning: this won’t be nearly as interesting compared to reading about snails. The hostel is situated between Myeondong and Namdaemun Market, Seoul’s largest traditional market. It’s also located about halfway up a hill, which is nearly as steep as Calgary’s Home Road at some points. Trying to locate it was also a bit difficult, as there’s a fork in the road, one of which leads to flatter ground and one that continues uphill. I chose to take the flatter route at first, as continuing uphill with a 40 pound suitcase wasn’t an appealing thought. The hostel is actually on the uphill part of the fork, so my attempt at taking a more leisurely walk was futile. I had to back track and continue on up. Ugh. At least now I don’t have luggage to carry up. And when I leave, it shall all be downhill!

The residents here are very friendly, including the owners. We usually go off on our own for the day, and when everyone gets back, we all talk about what we did until one in the morning, so I’m quite enjoying my stay here. =]