My second trip to Asia was supposed to be all about Japan. I was not planning on visiting Seoul, Korea but the idea of not going back to this vibrant city didn’t sit well with me. I left for Seoul on the 25th of May after spending 4 days in Tokyo. My flight to Seoul was pleasant but I was feeling a bit anxious about getting to my Airbnb apartment. Last time I came to Seoul (in 2014), my friend Hailey picked me up at the airport and accompanied me to my hostel. This time, she was out-of-town and my other friends weren’t available to pick me up, so I had to figure it out on my own. In addition to stressing out over transportation, I had to pick up my pocket WIFI and get a T-Money card (subway card) before catching the last train to the city. Luckily things went smoothly and I made it to my place in one piece.
On my first day in the city, I revisited Bukchon Hanok Village which is my favorite spot in Seoul. This time, I explored the area while wearing gorgeous hanbok (Korean traditional dress) I rented from Onedayhanbok. Dressed as a Korean princess, I made my way to my first stop, GranHand . I had seen a few Youtube videos about this perfume store and I really wanted to check it out. As I entered the store, I was welcomed by a delightful scent and friendly employees. One of the staff spoke English and helped me choose a fragrance. After my purchase, I went to my favorite spot in the area. It is a view of a street with traditional houses surrounded by greenery. As its description suggests, there isn’t much to it but it’s somehow left an impression on me.
After 15 minutes of reminiscing about my first trip to Seoul, I made my way to Gyeonbokgung Palace. I didn’t have to pay the entrance fee because I was wearing a traditional dress. Inside the palace, I witnessed the change of guards and met very interesting tourists from other parts of Korea and America. I even ended up having tea with two American women before heading back to the rental place to return my dress. Later, I went back to my place to change, only to head out again to meet up with some friends for dinner. We ate delicious sea food pancake and drank Mokoli (Korean rice wine) at Gwangjang Market while catching up on life. We talked for hours before calling it a night.
I was supposed to spend all day shopping but I felt exhausted and I decided to take things easy. I met up with my friend Michelle in Iteawon at the Line flagship store. Later, Michelle and I went to Myeongdong (shopping district in Seoul) where we got a bunch of face masks and facial products from Memebox and Innisfree . After our brief but hectic shopping spree, we got some bingsu (Korean shaved ice) at a nearby dessert place. We caught up on life and reviewed our plans for the Seoul Jazz Festival which we were going to attend the next day. We didn’t spend a long time together because I had to meet some friends in Bucheon, a smaller city near Seoul, later that night. We finalized our plans for the festival and parted ways. I went to back to my apartment to change before heading to Bucheon.
My train ride to Bucheon ended up being longer than I excepted but it was very pleasant. The further away we got from Seoul, the more people seemed relaxed and open, it was nice seeing warm smile on the faces of these curious locals. Once in Bucheon, I managed to meet up with my friends. We didn’t do much but it was great spending time with them while catching glimpses of the city. Before long, it was time for me to head back to Seoul. Despite my love for Seoul, I admit that Bucheon left a big impression on me. I will definitely be staying there next time I visit the Seoul area.
My last day in Seoul was packed with fun. After checking out of my apartment, I went to my friend Candace’s place to drop off my luggage before heading to meet Michelle. Getting to our meeting spot was a bit of a struggle because I had to transfer trains a few times but we managed to find each other. The Seoul Jazz Festival was an unforgettable experience. I’ve always wanted to attend an indie” concert in Korea and I’m overjoyed that I finally got to do it. I watched performances by artists such as Zion T, John Park, 10CM, Roy Kim, and Nell (my ultimate favorite Korean band). Despite feeling extremely tired, I managed to “wild out” during Nell’s performance. I am sure some people raised their eyebrows at the sight of my craziness but I didn’t care one bit because I was having the time of my life! Once the festival concluded, Michelle and I parted ways promising to see each other in the US (Raleigh, North Carolina) next time she would come visit her family. I went back to Candace’s place to get my stuff before catching a taxi to the airport. As I waited for my flight back to Tokyo, I wondered when I will be back in Seoul to discover more of the city and to explore other Korean cities. Before I could finish the rest of my thought, I felt a tingling sensation in nose… ah ah-choo! Thus started my miserable love affair with a cold that persisted until my return to the US.