Adventures in Seoul, Korea

“Asia is so awesome!” shouted one of my best friends who is half German and half Taiwanese.  I’d heard that before but Asia is so vast that I am always confused by that statement.  Asia does not just include China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam – which is what people where I live (Vancouver) seem to think.  Asia includes India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Tajikistan, etc. So many different cultures and different places to explore in such a vast area – where do you start exploring?

The standard Thailand/Indonesia route is very tourist friendly and a lovely area to explore.  I had done Thailand already so I thought about checking out a different country in Asia but on the eastern side of Asia – somewhere off the beaten track.  I was going with a girlfriend of mine who works for Air Canada so we could get a cheap ticket from Vancouver direct to wherever Air Canada flies.  As interesting as Japan sounded, it was still a bit too standard for me.  I was looking at the map and I noticed KOREA – this peninsula close to China, close to Japan but not nearly as talked about…well except for North Korea and Kim Jong Il’s human rights abuses.  $300 and 11 hours, we were in Seoul for 5 nights! See video below!

SLEEP:

  • After researching all the different areas to stay in, we found a hotel in Myongdong area (the shopping/market district) for around $80CDN a night.  Small-ish hotel room but clean and with a fantastic toilet.🙂

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • By far, the highlight of Seoul for me was how friendly the people were – I was amazed at how polite, friendly and accommodating the locals were.  There were quite a few times that we were lost and we asked someone on the street for directions/help.  Although English isn’t widely spoken, simple hand gestures and smiles did the trick and usually we were accompanied by the stranger to our destination.

AFFORDABILITY:

  • I wouldn’t say Seoul is cheap – it really felt very similar to Vancouver prices except for the odd street food stalls or counterfeit goods.

EAT:

  • Street food was pretty cheap – usually $1CAD for whatever grub you could find – I tried a lot of it (which is apparent in the video) except for the meat.  It looked too sketchy.
  • So it might be terrible to say this but I didn’t realize one of my favourite Taiwanese restaurants has a branch in Seoul.  It’s called Din Tai Fung and the pork dumplings are OUT OF THIS WORLD.  Please see the video – yum.  Again, cost-wise it was pretty similar to Vancouver.
  • We also went to Bulgogi Brothers for Korean BBQ which was reliable and tasty.
  • Note: Coffee in Seoul is pretty expensive – a latte usually costs about $6 or so.  Traditional Korean teahouses also charge about $6 or $7 for tea.
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