Sorry for the delay on this, guys! Large quantities of additional time plus unexpectedly shifting has mushed my schedule sideways.
It’s our first full day in Seoul! Or, to be extra precise, Hongdae, although in our first day of energy tourism, we spend valuable little time in our house base as an alternative hopping off on the hunt for idols in Gangnam, kpop shops, and mind-bending libraries. We try and cram this in earlier than becoming a member of a meals tour which took us by way of the winding alleyways of Insadong where we ate, ate, ate some extra, drank our overfill, met superb new pals, all earlier than certainly one of us suffers a loss of epic proportions throughout a basic kdrama episode.
While it takes me an excessive period of time to write down these posts, (I do know, you’re internally shouting, BECAUSE YOU MAKE THEM SO DAMN LONG), I’m really having fun with the process of writing them. Memory is a fickle factor. Even now, a number of months out, I can keep in mind virtually second by moment our time in Busan, however Seoul? It’s like an enormous blur of food, drinks, buying, touring — spotlights on moments whereas others gently fade into the background. During this process right here or there I’ve wanted to supplement my reminiscence with Google, but often only for names of locations. This episode? As I look back on our collective footage of the day, there’s a big portion that looks like it happened to a totally totally different group of women. It required some inquiries to be answered:
So, although I sit here on this chair till my butt is numb, I’m grateful for this expertise as not only is it serving to me relive the second, but in years to return, I’ll be capable of look again on these (hundreds of) words and keep in mind.
Let’s get into it! As you’ll be able to see, we’ve a LOT to go over.
First off, an FYI, Seoul beds? Usually are not any more snug than Busan beds. The extra you realize…
Despite that, our house was pretty, precisely what we would have liked it to be. The winding streets uphills we needed to navigate with a purpose to find our method have been punctuated with numerous comfort shops, coffee outlets, and a tiny little restaurant we had a implausible experience. (Simply not in the present day, so hold that in your hats.) We discovered our approach out to the primary road and again using these little outlets as pin drops on a map. Proper at Man Loves Market, Left on the CU, right at the other convenience retailer. No lie, there were a number of occasions, particularly after Alix had to depart us, the place we managed to lose ourselves and had to backtrack.
Down the hill from us was a tiny little coffee shop and this morning, Leila and I, feeling adventurous, decided to supply up ourselves to seek out the morning’s triangle kimbap on the convenience retailer and tea and occasional for the group. Triangle Kimbap? We’re officially previous execs. Not to point out, it’s straightforward, you stroll in, trade your hellos with the attendant, discover whatever triangle kimbap is on tap, plop it down on the counter with smiles and some extent to the display for the worth. Straightforward Peasy.
This tiny little espresso store, run by an ahjussi who, contemplating the brand of the shop was a caricature of his face, was the proprietor. He was there on a regular basis. Once I say on a regular basis, I mean ALL THE TIME. Morning, afternoon and night time, you’d see him standing in his principally empty espresso shop, or outdoors, shaking coffee beans in some kind of espresso bean contraption. This man meant business about coffee, as it appeared he additionally roasted his personal, onsite.
He was additionally in all probability the slooooowwest man we’ve ever met. We went in, awkwardly putting our order as I feel us and our lack of Korean made him nervous. Being we have been brief the boldest and most Korean talking of us, it was something I used to be fairly pleased with, with the ability to make these coffees happen. We positioned our order, two milk teas, and two americanos, and he gestured us to take a seat down. Seemed humorous to us, however who have been we to say no? Tiredly, we sat on our chairs and waited. And waited. And waited. I’m fairly positive he was roasting to order. I hadn’t thought we’d be gone so lengthy, so I hadn’t introduced my telephone. We sat there fairly sure Sara and Alix have been in all probability both wondering the place we have been or assuming we obtained distracted and have been stalking buskers somewhere.
Finally, we obtained our espresso, bid the man we officially dubbed Coffee Ahjussi goodbye and headed back to the house and not using a second to lose! We had a crazy busy day planned as we have been officially in “Cram in as much stuff as possible before Friday” mode. We received to gussying up (or as gussying as tired vacationers might be) as we have been headed to the large leagues.
Or to be even more particular, SMTown. Yep, we have been officially idol searching now and if we didn’t find any precise idols there? Alix had tracked down some kpop stores for us to loot. We simply wanted to hunt them down…
Now execs at the Korean subway system, Alix firmly in charge of our course, we crossed the Han River and into the flamboyant part of city. (I say that like most of Seoul isn’t fancy AF.) We emerged from tunnels; the air was cold and windy; nevertheless, did that deter us? No! We’re east coasters! We’re made from heartier stock than that! Soon we discovered the CoEx constructing where the SMTown museum lives, took our obligatory selfies:
And headed in.
Okay. Soo, this is the place we cheated a bit. We have been brief on time. It’s a factor. We appeared at the actual museum experience and stated, “Are we positive we have to spend 18000 gained on the historical past of SM once they have all of these wonderful shows and superior present outlets right right here? Free of charge? Positive, when you may decide us for this… we went with choice two.
The graphics are superb. Seeing all the photographs that includes the history of SM, the historical past of their artists, seeing what talent got here out of there was astonishing. Say what we’ll about SM as an organization, they know tips on how to put a gaggle collectively, they know find out how to make good music.
We all took a moment, as I’m positive many do, on the big picture of Shinee, a shrine to Junghyun. It was arduous for me as that was an enormous second in our kpop historical past, and, I still cry about his dying to today.
Considering on it, I’m unsure why all the management corporations don’t do one thing like this! The journey to the present outlets/cafe alone was well worth the time. It’s not like the administration corporations don’t have a quick rotation of merch or costumes to show. I swear if the businesses built them, all the kpop followers would arrive in droves to purchase stuff. It’s a no brainer.
Here’s a show of previous video and stage outfits.
The coffee store was crammed with SM themed snacks and drinks. To this present day, I kick myself for not buying one of many drinks with the reusable containers. I’d like to get my palms on an NCT latte jug proper now. I assume I’ll have to go back…and perhaps that time I’ll go to the museum.
The building truly housed two separate present outlets, with some merch both previous and new. There was a print on demand photograph room the place you possibly can select an image of your favourite idol and have it printed out proper there for you. Oddly, there was loads of displays, so lovable, but have been displays only.
Come on, who wouldn’t need to purchase this?
In all probability for one of the best as I’d hate to see how much some of those collectible figurines value, and I do know, certainly, I’d want a minimum of three.
Once we have been present shopped out, (seems, that’s a thing) our arms crammed with numerous presents and souvenirs, the place I, sadly, forgot to buy something for myself, we moved on to the actual CoEx Mall, which was a must-visit to for all the individuals in our group. Sounds shallow, proper? Ooh, gonna go to Korea, gotta go to the mall! However this mall has a secret shock within the middle. A library that towers to the sky!
Our good friend Lisa who lives in Korea, had posted pics to her Instagram once and it was an instantaneous WE MUST DO THIS. Not solely are all of us big e-book individuals, however we had the added bonus of having a real, stay librarian in our midst, Ms. Leila.
As we don’t converse Korean, we also cannot learn it, so we primarily appeared, skilled, and moved on.
Cultured up, hanger is a real thing and we would have liked food. STAT. So off to the meals courtroom which held a collection of small eating places. We ate knife minimize noodles and kimchi rice balls! How kdrama is that?? Additionally? Yummy. Even tempers now back firmly in place, it was time for the subsequent cease on our day, no, not mall buying — we’re vacationers, not tourists!
LAUGH. Truly, we have been off now to seek out these rumored Kpop shops. Each Alix and Sara had been to at least one in the big outside shopping mall that was Myeong-Dong, however they’d heard rumors of one nearby, so off we went! Now reminded we have been there, I can say the building was superb and was crammed with all types of design studios and outlets. We searched high and low for the kpop store; the quiet hallways accentuated with the delicate squeaking of my sneakers.
Yeah. That had come again. We have been very enthusiastic about it.
Up and down floors, by way of hallways, we searched, pretending we slot in, scouring the walls for a listing that may inform us the place we have been, or the place we might find what we needed. Finally, tucked round a corner, we stumbled up it! Kpop shop #1! (Spoiler alert: We also go to Kpop store #2.)
Now, should you haven’t had a chance to buy kpop in an actual Kpop shop, listed here are some belongings you need to plan before going.
- Make an inventory of the precise CDs you already own. Sounds foolish, however with so many various packages for the same album or totally different albums which have the identical design scheme to be able to make the listener conscious they’re made to be a part of a collection makes it arduous on the excessive strain second if you find yourself in the retailer to know what you personal and what you don’t.
- Make a wishlist with plenty of options. Do not go in blind! Belief me; it happens where, faced with all of these options, the thrill of seeing all of these albums in one place, your thoughts WILL go clean, and also you’re solely going to return out with the large hitters. You additionally need a huge listing as you could prepare for the concept one album you went in for? The one you could have your coronary heart set on? Might be out of stock, or not stocked, or only a digital launch.
All of this stuff occurred to me. In this first shop, I principally wandered, simply aiding the ladies within the hunt for his or her decisions. At this point, I used to be still firm in my resolve not to come house with any more CDs. It was an concept I used to be making an attempt. On the time, I didn’t even personal anything that may even play a CD, so wasn’t it silly to purchase an album for a CD I wasn’t going to take heed to and for packaging I was solely going to take a look at a couple of occasions earlier than putting it onto a shelf?
We all know how nicely I managed to carry as much as this resolve. Not nicely. Not properly in any respect.
However on this store I was robust, barely managing by simply focusing on a few of the different merch around, like these BigBang action figures.
I was about to go away the store unscathed before something caught my eye. The right present for the McFeeleys!
Don’t acknowledge it? Nicely, clearly you’re not a Operating Man fan and subsequently no pal of the McFeeleys. This is the stuffy model of castmember Kwangsoo as a giraffe. Dur. I knew right away I had to purchase him. There was no approach I’d ever have the ability to face them, the last word Operating Man followers, the most important of massive Kwangsoo fans, understanding this factor was sitting on a shelf somewhere in Gangnam. It was the PERFECT present. So, I purchased it. After which carted him around for all the remainder of the day and night time.
Purchases in hand, a little bit of the Kpop retailer fervor whittled down, we checked out our watches. We had a certain amount of time earlier than we picked up the meals tour in Insadong (which, turns out is smack dab between the two palaces) and decided to fill it with a visit to Myeong-Dong, one of the largest buying districts in Seoul.
It was AMAZING.
A mixture of giant corporate shops, so many magnificence merchandise it might make my Korean skincare loving buddies drop into an immediate type of purchasing coma. Coffee outlets, eating places, and meals carts lining the streets. It was upscale and chaotic all of sudden — so much enjoyable.
Leila lastly obtained to eat the treat that had caught her eye, noticing it each time we passed (and we passed quite a bit). It was a line of strawberries on a stick, coated in a sticky sugar paste. It tasted exactly favored it seemed. Strawberries drenched in sugar.
SaraG and I ate warm egg tarts!
And here is a wonderful shot of the Monster Scorching Dog, our previous buddy Steve, informed us about during our journey to Gwangju. Whereas, yes, technically we have been eating before we planned to stuff ourselves full on the meals tour, we thought the Monster was a bit too much to attempt at that time.
Don’t worry…we meet the Monster again.
We separated a bit here as I used to be still on the hunt for a weather-appropriate jacket as I continued to be uncomfortably chilly throughout my occasions out. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t jacket season, so I was unsuccessful…properly, until the last days of our journey. How did I manage? Understanding we have been going to be wandering the streets in the course of the coldest of night time, my artistic brain clicked into place. Going into one of the convenience shops, I bought a few hand-hot packs…and stuck them into my bra. Sounds weird? Yeah, it’s, nevertheless it works! Give it some thought. Heat your coronary heart, heat your blood.
I’m going to take a moment to inform you how superb the Korean heat packs are! No lie, they are so a lot better than their US counterparts. Whereas they don’t get fairly as scorching (which means you’re not going to burn your delicate bra pores and skin, which I’ve completed before), they often final 16 hours. One set would last me nearly the whole day! I’m presently making an attempt to figure out the way to get these within the US as, now that I do know they’re a factor? I don’t plan on going the rest of my life without them.
Meeting again up with the women, we popped in, and out of magnificence shops, and clothing outlets, managing to seek out the bigger of the two kpop music shops sitting above a Face Shop. I’m ashamed to say, I virtually instantly broke my vow not to purchase CDs. Yeah, all of us saw that one coming. I picked up somewhat ATEEZ, some Seventeen, a little bit of Ilhoon. Swooon.
We stopped at a espresso store to hang, wanting over our purchases, evaluating our boyfriend playing cards, drooling over our footage. We drank coffees and teas, warming, and killing time earlier than our treck to Insadong.
LAUGH. Once we did depart? I completely missed that there have been two steps on the landing and sailed off. No Kpop was harmed throughout this example of clutzery… simply my dignity. The place was my hero???
Luggage in hand, we made it to our meetup spot, ready for our meals tour information, Gloria. This tour was to take us off the crushed path, consuming our means by means of tiny eateries, making an attempt basic food and alcohol pairings.
Gloria? DELIGHTFUL. She utterly reminded me of Park Shin Hye and was in all probability one of many coolest individuals we’ve ever met. She had a type of personalities where you spent the evening wishing you can be greatest pals together with her. As this was an experience tour on Airbnb tour, the occasion was one thing she put collectively herself. She loves meals, she loves consuming and loves new experiences. So why not put them together and get paid for it? Two other People from the northwest joined us, also cool women who have been mainly in Korea to eat. Yep. Our kind of individuals.
With a smile and snigger, Gloria took us by way of the maze that was Instadong. So many Kdrama feels here, guys!
Our first stop was a small makkoli home. The partitions have been coated within the earthen serving bowls, and the tables have been lengthy planks and benches. While we weren’t an enormous shock, we have been undoubtedly given some seems. It was nice, when you realize you’re headed off the crushed path. Gloria ordered for us and every part of our desk had their very own bowl of candy makkoli, seafood pajeon (pancake), and this incredible noodle soup. She gave us some historical past, however principally it was identical to a gaggle of latest buddies hanging out.
As I’d gotten….tipsi the night time before, I wasn’t consuming so much — I didn’t care to tipsi my means by means of these streets and with these new individuals. Witnessing Tipsi Stephanie is an honor that not many come by. 😉 I sipped a bit but principally just ate the delicious food, making an attempt to remind myself that this was solely stop #one.
It wasn’t long although earlier than it was time for stop #two, so we packed up all our luggage and headed out to the alleyways again, Gloria mentioning random spots of interest. After passing one desert place where she stated, if we ever acquired again we completely wanted to attempt, she modified her plans, popped us inside and ordered us two packing containers of tiramisu for the street. The desert place was so cool, with little hide-y places the place cool individuals might disguise out on their cool dates being all cool. Alix and I have been intrigued by their collection of fancy wanting coffee luggage, on numerous arty shelves. They smelled scrumptious, so we decided to purchase…where we have been instantly chided for touching the luggage. In front of our new pal Gloria! What would she consider us??
We nonetheless bought them.
Our second cease was, finally, one of the pink food tents! I advised you this was shades of Kdrama! We all piled into the tiny tent, circling a plastic desk that was….octopus adjoining.
Yes. I made a good friend. After which I ate him.
Gloria showed us the limited menu and asked us simply how adventurous we have been. We instantly knew. This was a coolness check. Deliver on the octopus, we stated, immediately passing. Where our drink of selection before was makkoli, this tent DEMANDED soju. Continuing our chat we ate the octopus, which, surprisingly, turned out to be my favorite thing of the cease. We ate deboned hen ft and before breaking into some fried pig skin. I’m not saying the dishes have been horrible, they have been good, it was extra of a texture factor that stopped me from consuming a ton of it. Gummy bits of skin, seems? Not my bag.
Gloria began education us on consuming video games, winners allowed to selected who was going to drink for them, losers taking love photographs. We obtained loud and rambunctious, becoming in properly with our tent mates.
Have I mentioned how much I appreciated Gloria?
By the top of the night time, we all liked Gloria, and fortunately, she truly favored us too! Keep tuned, she might or might not make a cameo additional alongside in our trip.
Quite toasty at this point, crammed to the gills with creatures from the land and sea, we left, heading along for our last cease, a small restaurant that was well-liked with salarymen! A few the gents in question truly obtained up so we might have their desk! Apparently, it’s a real man kind of place to go, but Gloria is like, fudge that, they’ve nice consuming snacks! We ate more noodles and some dried fish that I LOVED.
What goes with this type of snack you ask? Somac! What is somac you ask? Properly, it’s a mix of beer and soju! We played extra consuming games, including Titanic, where they put a shot glass in the midst of a glass of beer, every taking turns pouring in soju till the shot glass sank to the underside. Loser chugs the combination! As I genuinely detest beer, SaraG was sort enough to be my black knight.
Please keep in mind this for later.
While no one took off their tie and tied it round their head (in all probability because none of us had thought to wear a tie…we might make horrible salarymen) we have been just about a foreigner model of each office drama you’ve ever seen. It was superior.
However unfortunately, this was our final cease. Waaah. Besides…. No night time of consuming is full with no cease at your local comfort store for a bottle of hangover drugs. We packed in, and Gloria bought us each a container for the subsequent day. (I also purchased copious quantities of water, understanding that after this quantity of consuming and salt intake, we would wish it to survive tomorrow’s very massive day.) We have been fairly the spectacle inside this tiny comfort retailer. It was delightful.
Oh! And some random ahjussi bought Leila a bottle of water! Just came out of the comfort store and provided it to her, boasting the place the water was harvested. And who might blame him? Leila is sort of fetching.
Outdoors, we started to say our goodbyes when Gloria realized we hadn’t eaten the deserts she’d picked up from the dessert store. So we crowded around, devouring bins of cake in the midst of the sidewalk. I’m positive we have been quite the sight. Completely value it — as she was proper — it was scrumptious.
We couldn’t put it off any longer. It was time to go away our new buddies. Gloria fetched us all taxis and poured us in, promising she actually did mean it when she stated we should always hang around again before we left.
It was within the taxi we realized just how…tipsi…nah, there was no tipsi about it, SaraG was DRUNK. It seemed fitting, at the least one in every of us needed to be with a view to complete the visual, I’m simply comfortable SaraG took one for the group to do that for us. Plus? A great portion of the somacs she consumed on the final cease have been mine, so I really feel like I must be held partially responsible.
We made it again to the condo, and whereas SaraG was within the other room, taking good care of drunken business, we all looked at our loot from the day. It was then we heard the unhappy cry of…. “Where’s my phone?”
Next episode? Where is Sara’s telephone? Can it’s discovered? Can a traveler these days exist and not using a telephone? And it’s lastly time to deal with the elephant within the room. The Burning Solar/ Seungri/Chat Scandal that exploded throughout our time there. All this and Stephanie kicks some bishes.
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