Posts from the “travel” Category

05/15/15 – seoul: deoksugung & bukchon hanok village

Posted on May 15, 2015

At this point in the trip, Kathy & I had explored a lot of the retail and culinary side of Seoul, but not a lot of the cultural side, so we decided to dedicate a day to Deoksugung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village. We started at Deoksugung Palace, which was built in the mid 16th century. It was the residence of Korean royalty up until the Japanese annexation in the early 1900s, where it was then mostly used for government affairs. Today, it is a landmark and home to the National Museum of Art.


deoksugung palaceThis is the entrance gate (Daehanmun) to Deoksugung Palace. We happened to come on the last Wednesday of the month, which was “Cultural Day” aka free entry. Yay!


deoksugung palaceWe also happened to arrive right on time to witness the changing of the guards.


deoksugung palaceNew guards getting ready to do their thing.


deoksugung palace

deoksugung palaceWe also happened to be there when the fire department was running drills. It’s like everything was happening on the one day we were visiting.


deoksugung palaceThey’re currently hosing down Junghwajeon Hall, the throne room and audience hall.


deoksugung palace

deoksugung palace

deoksugung palaceSeokjojeon, the modern quarters built in the 1900s. Deoksugung is a really interesting mix of Asian and European architecture. Seokjojeon is placed in the middle of the palace grounds, surrounded by classic Asian buildings, as if it got lost.


deoksugung palaceSo many colors.


gyeongbokgungNow on our way to Bukchon Hanok Village. These little straw toppers are placed on top of planters to keep the plants warm during the winter months. Seriously!


gyeongbokgung

seoul street art

gyeongbokgungMore wide streets.


sewol ferry memorialMemorial for all the students who died in the terrible Sewol ferry disaster in April 2014.


sejong the greatStatue of Sejong the Great, the king of Korea who created Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet.


gyeongbokgung

gyeongbokgung

gyeongbokgung

gyeongbokgung

samcheong-dongWalking around Samcheong-dong on our way to Bukchon.


samcheong-dong

samcheong-dong

samcheong-dong korean dramaA K-Drama filming outside a cafe.


heedonga ummadaWe stumbled upon a really adorable bakery and cafe called Heedonga Ummada (translates to “Heedonga, It’s Mom”).


heedonga ummadaTheir specialty is tteok, super soft rice cakes filled with a sweet syrupy center. Absolutely delicious. This was their pumpkin tteok.


bukchon hanok villageFinally, we made it to Bukchon Hanok Village. It’s a traditional Korean village (Hanok), dating back to the 1400s. The houses are preserved, but many still serve as residences, outfitted with modern interiors. Some even allow for visitors at certain hours. The area in and surrounding Bukchon is one of the most expensive areas to live in Seoul.


bukchon hanok village

bukchon hanok village

bukchon hanok villageThe peak of Bukchon Hanok Village, atop which sits a cultural center. It’s a bit of a hike to get up here.


bukchon hanok village

bukchon hanok village hostelNow that’s a dope hostel.


bukchon hanok villageJapanese tourists dressed in hanbok, the traditional Korean dress.


gahoe-dong seoulLarge modern houses in the neighborhood of Gahoe-dong.


gahoe-dong seoul

gahoe-dong seoulA more suburban feel in this area of Seoul to end our day. This also happened to be the area that Kathy grew up in, so she really felt nostalgic walking around these streets. It’s always special to see someone’s hometown from their own perspective.

04/22/2015 – Seoul: Myeong-Dong

Posted on April 22, 2015

When people think of South Korea, one thing that primarily comes to mind is technology. Korea is one of the leading countries in new technology (hello, Samsung!) and the way that it permeates the culture is unlike any other country I’ve been to. In the US, I always found the sight of everyone staring at their phones all the time a little sad. In Korea, it’s not only accepted, it’s embraced. Friends on their phones together at dinner, special apps that are only for couples, watching k-dramas on the metro… technology is just another part of their lives, their phones another appendage. It’s truly a selfie culture.

So on our way to Myeong-Dong, Kathy and I stopped by the Yongsan Electronics Market. It’s a giant sprawling space of indoor and outdoor malls with stall after stall of any type of technology you could dream of.

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThis floor was just cameras and tablets, aka my favorite floor.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedPost-browsing meal of kimchi udon and chicken tonkatsu.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMyeong-dong!


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMyeong-dong is similar to Times Square in NYC in that it’s super bright, filled with shops, food stalls, and tourists. It’s one of the main tourism centers in Seoul.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedA shop dedicated to colored contacts.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedYessss street food. My favorite part.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMmm, soondae: a Korean blood sausage. It’s pork intestine, filled with noodles, barley, herbs, and pork blood. Absolutely tasty and delicious.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedKoreans love their socks. These all cost less than $1. I think I picked up about 10 pairs over the duration of my trip.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedWho knew cotton candy could become an art form?


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedOur favorite part of Myeong-dong, the Goyangi Darakbang (literally “Attic Cat”) cat cafe! We’re both unabashed cat ladies, so this spot was a must see on our list. It has an entry fee of 8000 (about $8) but that includes a drink and you can stay as long as you like. There are about 20 cats of varying ages and breeds in the small cafe, and unlike many house cats, these won’t run away if you try to pet them.  Located at: 51-14 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThe yellow bandana means “not friendly for children” but this dude was chillin with us the entire time.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedDream life.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThe workers of the cafe are able to handle cats unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. This cat is not amused, but if I tried to do this with my cat at home, he would probably claw my hands and never come near me again.


cat cafe Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedMyeong-dong at night.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedAwesome sweatshirt, spelling Seoul with a hangul “S”.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedCornbread egg treat. Mmmmm.


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedAbove this cosmetics store was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen….


Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed…a delicious, authentic, Korean BBQ spot. Wangbijib (왕비집 명동본점), one of the most popular spots in Seoul, was worth the wait. The bbq is cooked by one of the servers over a coal pit in the middle of the table. We chose to go with the traditional beef cut along with a pork belly dish. The entire meal cost us about $40, and it was worth every penny. Located at: 2F 63-6 Chungmuro-2ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedEgg yolk on a cucumber/noodle salad, a traditional k-bbq side dish.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazed

korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedJust a delicious pile of meat being cooked to perfection right in front of us.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedThe standard way to eat Korean BBQ: take a lettuce leaf, place a piece of meat, kimchi, and other sides, wrap it up and eat it in one bite. My personal favorite touch was adding some grilled garlic on top.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedSucculent amazing pork belly. Food coma for days after this meal.


korean bbq Myeong-dong Seoul South Korea Sarah Kuszelewicz halfdazedHowever, we still had enough room for dessert: a plain cookie-cracker baked into a ball shape and covered in chocolate. You smash it with a hammer when you buy it, so you can eat the pieces. Perfect way to end the day.


04/11/15 – Seoul: Hongdae

Posted on April 11, 2015

Kathy and I spent a day walking around Hongdae, a neighborhood known for its vibrant culture. It’s one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Seoul, filled with eccentric food stalls and clothing shops, the streets packed with students, neon signs, Karaoke bars and fried chicken restaurants as far as the eye can see.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyLunch at a traditional bokkeumbap spot.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyCHILSENG CIDER. Seriously, where in London can I find this? I’ve been craving it ever since I left Korea. It’s a less sweet, extra carbonated version of Sprite. It’s delicious and I want it now.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyBokkeumbap: Soft rice cakes, kimchi, spring onions, and other veggies, stir friend with white rice and placed on top of a large pile of cheese.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyI need to be transported back to this moment. The most perfect cheesy goodness.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyStores literally on top of other stores.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyNo other country has a sock game as strong as Korea’s.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyHotteok: a sweet pancake that’s fried and filled with a syrupy chestnut mixture and topped with crushed mixed nuts. I think Kathy and I had at least one of these a day.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySweet corn bread baked with an egg.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyEverything in Seoul is almost cartoonishly cute– case and point: these popsicles.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySo many tiny shops and stalls pack the narrow side streets.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThe street food here is something out of my wildest dreams. Just look at this waffle cone filled with fries and sausage.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyA giant waffle on a stick topped with fresh whipped cream.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyPizza waffles?! Why the hell hasn’t this food found its way to the USA?


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThe first of three animal themed cafes that Kathy and I visited over my trip in SK. This is the Thanks Nature Cafe. It features two sheep that literally just chill outside the cafe. There are benches for you to sit where the sheep can come up to you while you enjoy a latte.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyMore street food: caramelized sugar molded into disks and other easy to eat shapes, usually made by an 80 year old woman over a tiny burner on the sidewalk.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyA very nondescript commercial area that held mainly business buildings and also the BEST cafe in all of Seoul…


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyPuppy cafe!!!!!! Literally dozens of dogs all ages, breeds, and sizes just running around a large cafe.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThis chick had 3 chihuahuas sleeping on her lap.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyKathy making some friends.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySup.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photography

hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyMy new buddy.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographySo sleepy from a day of attention.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyLook at that derpy face.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyThe tiniest Pomeranian. He probably weighed like 2 pounds. It took all of my self control to not just stick him in my purse and bring him to London.


hongdae seoul south korea halfdazed sarah kuszelewicz photographyIt was a long and exciting day for all of us.