Korea Diary | Han River At Night (Day 22, Part 2)

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Shinsegae Gangnam - entrance

The day didn't end at just pedaling bikes and boats. We finished the rest of Day 22 at a much slower pace, by eating and then watching the water show at Banpo Bridge.

Shinsegae Gangnam was a huge high-end department store that was directly en route to the bridge. We had originally stopped by to walk around and kill time until the night time water show. But seeing the Food Court sign had us roam a new area of the store.

Korean department stores are very unique in the sense that they have a very wide variety of food vendors. Typically the entire lower level of the department stores consist of food related goods. A portion will have proper restaurant stalls as would any food court. Another portion is for the grab and go foods and snacks (bakery, doughnuts, cakes, ice creams, etc.). Some department stores might even have another portion that is a supermarket.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Shinsegae Gangnam - Food court ramen

We thoroughly walked through the entire food floor during our time at Shinsegae. Our dinner was bought from the restaurants section. It seems we chose to dine Japanese that night.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Shinsegae Gangnam - Food court Azabu Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Shinsegae Gangnam - Food court Azabu fish bread
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Shinsegae Gangnam - Food court Azabu sweet potato fish bread inside

Whenever I talked about poop bread in the previous posts, I also mentioned something called taiyaki. That is of course the Japanese name for it, in Korean it is boongeobbang 붕어빵 or fish bread. Both are typically a pancake-type bread filled with sweetened red bean. It was my first time seeing fish bread filled with sweet potato so I had to buy one to try from the Azabu stall.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Shinsegae Gangnam - Food court cute animal cakes

None of us bought a cake but I really wish we could have. How cute are these animal shaped cakes?

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Banpo Han River Park 반포 한강공원 - sidewalk direction sign Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Banpo Han River Park 반포 한강공원 - direction sign

The route from Shinsegae to Banpo Bridge was not a short one. We got a little too excited with all the goodies at the food court and ended up having to stay later than expected at the bridge. Luckily we only had to wait a little bit before the last water show of the night started.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Banpo Han River Park 반포 한강공원 - Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain 반포대교 달빛무지개분수

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Banpo Han River Park 반포 한강공원 - Banpo Bridge Moonlight Rainbow Fountain 반포대교 달빛무지개분수

Most of the photos I took in Korea taken with my iPhone. Even though I had brought along my DSLR, I didn't end up using it as much as I thought. On the rare occasion that I chose to bring it out with me, it wasn't an easy photo-op. I learned that it was very difficult to take photos in the dark. I think the moving water jets made it that much harder for my camera to pick a focal point too. Of all the photos I snapped, only a few were meagerly savable on post-editing. Let's just say my pictures don't do the rainbow bridge justice. But if you Google something along the lines of Banpo rainbow bridge, you could see better versions of how pretty the rainbow fountain was like.

Korea Diary | Pedal Along Han River (Day 22, Part 1)

Athleticism is one trait that I am very much not. Ever since my dad taught me how to do ride on two wheels on the sidewalks by my grandma's house, leisure biking was something I enjoyed as a kid. Once I outgrew my kiddie pink & purple Barbie bike sans the training wheels and dad got too busy to take us to the park, my biking days ended as well.

It wasn't until after Senior Prom in High School when my friends and I decided to go bike in Central Park that it sparked the interest again. I thought I had forgotten how to ride a bicycle given the length of time I had spent off one. However, the saying it's like riding a bike is fairly true once you get over the fear of falling. After I got my feet on the pedals and started the motion of going forward, there was no stop.

Okay maybe there was a stop...many stops. Uphills are still a killer. My legs just can't handle the power needed to trudge up inclines.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - guy biking

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - family biking

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - biking path along Han River

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - bike rental station

When someone mentioned that we could rent bicycles near the Han River or Hangang 한강, I was sold. It may have been a hot and humid summer in Seoul but gliding along near water always leads for a very breezy ride. With all the food we consumed and lack of working out (when discounting walking), an extra dose of exercise was very much welcomed.

We took the train from Sinchon Station to Yeouinaru Station 여의나루역 via multiple subway transfers and left at Exit 1 Yeouido Park. A short walk led us to the bike rental station nearby. There were small children bikes, typical cruiser bikes, single bikes, and even tandem bikes.

I don't have a record for the exact price we paid but I remember it being considerably cheaper than bike rentals in NYC. A site I found on Google seems to confirm my memory as it appears the current prices stand at ₩3,000/hour for a single seat cruiser and ₩6,000/hour for a tandem bicycle. (In NYC prices can be double to triple those prices per hour!) All bikes came with baskets for bags and knick-knacks.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - tandem biking

Bestie C, our new UK friend, and I were all too excited for the next couple of hours. Maybe our new friend wasn't 100% happy to be biking since she actually didn't know how to. Hence why we had gotten a tandem bicycle in conjunction with a single seat cruiser.

Apparently there are general rules to consider when tandeming. One major one was the person in the front should probably be tall enough or heavy enough to balance whoever is in the back. Bestie C had wanted to try leading the 2-seater but the staff at the bike rental promptly told her NO!

It was my first time riding a tandem bike and boy was I nervous. I was not only responsible for myself not falling and crashing but also for the safety of a friend that I had just met a couple weeks prior, who might I add was very nervous about being on a bike.

Other than it being more difficult to start off on the tandem bike, after the wheels start moving it felt very much like riding a single. Of course being on mostly flat and nicely paved land helped out a lot. I am not sure I can say the same if there are more uphills along the Han River. There were a lot of professional looking (i.e. in full sweat resistent gear and thin wheeled bicycles) bikers along the Han River, but don't let that scare anyone. For the most part they were nice and, of course, had the ability to go around leisure bikers like us.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - camping Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - picnicking

One thing that that stood out to me during our biking session in Yeuido Park were the tents. Usually when I think of going to the park, at least in the U.S., people are usually found just laying directly on the grass or on easily packable cloths to soak up some sun. The idea of having to bring a tent and pitch it up seemed like such a hassle. But since Asians are really protective of their skin from the sunlight, I guess the tents shouldn't have been that surprising.

There were many families, couples, and friend groups of all ages in every corner of the park. Many probably brought their own food and drinks. But the interesting thing about Korea was for those that make impromptu outings to parks and inevitably get hungry but don't want to leave the park itself, food can be ordered and delivered to you. We didn't get the chance to try that out but it is something to consider for anyone who has the Korean skills to put to use.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - Lotteria Ice Flakes Patbingsoo Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - Lotteria Ice Flakes Patbingsoo mixed

The lunch/snack choice was of course: patbingsoo! I must not have been very hungry or I was super thirsty. While this shaved ice was mediocre and very traditional in the sense that it is most similar to the homemade rustic style, it hit the spot that I needed it to.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - swan pedal boat area
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - swan pedal boats Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - swan pedal boat selfie

Biking along the river was something I was very excited to do. Pedaling a duck/swan boat in the Han River was what I hesitant of. The reason being: I can't swim. It was reassuring to be required to wear a life vest but I was still very nervous.

A 40min session in a pedaling boat was ₩15,000. I don't recall the late penalties but just be sure to slowly fiddle your way back to the starting point after 30min has passed just to be on the safe side. While the motion of pedaling is very easy, trying to steer the boat was a whole 'nother story. There were many times where we bumped into other boats during our short trip out in the river.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeouido Park - Han River - tired out from swan pedal boat

The duck/swan boat rental place offered both the pedaling and motorized options. Being the adventurous souls we were, the three of us decided to go with the oh so romantic former choice. Judging by the looks of it an afternoon full of pedaling two different types of moving contraptions left my friends pooped.

Korea Diary | K-Pop Entertainment Co Walking Tour (Day 21)

My memory is fuzzy regarding many aspects of this trip. One thing I am 100% sure of is Bestie C and I both slept in the Saturday of Day 21. The fact that it was a weekend played a part but we were thoroughly exhausted from the previous day's adventures. All day of walking and blistering heat made for a very good sleep.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Loving Hut - Vegan Restaurant - Soy Cutlet
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Loving Hut - Vegan Restaurant menu

We started the day with a vegan meal from the Loving Hut in Sinchon. I think it was one of a few, if not only, vegan/vegetarian restaurant nearby. Bestie C read about it on a blog and wanted to give it a try. We both ordered the fried cutlet from the Loving Hut. It was ₩7,000, which is pricey compared to some other meals we've had in Korea but still on the cheaper side compared to eating out in NYC.

The regular, non-vegan, version is usually a pork cutlet that is breaded, fried, and served with sauce and rice. In Korea it is referred to as donkatsu. In Japan it is usually called tonkatsu. Both refer to a similar kind of dish. If there was a difference, it is probably just in the sauce styles.

Loving Hut's take on the donkatsu is soy based. In fact the English name on the menu was Soy Cuttlet. In Korean it is called 비건 콩까스 or vegan (soy)bean katsu. I would like to know what kind of magically stuff they used to make this faux meat cutlet because I remember it tasted just like a meaty version. If I didn't know before hand and someone just ordered this for me, I would have probably been completely fooled.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - JYP Entertainment building
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Cube Entertainment building
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - SM Entertainment building

Something else that we were both curious enough to do whilst in Korea was tour the streets of Gangnam and Cheongdamdong to see the Korean entertainment companies. Of course it would have  been a plus to see some celebrities and idols by chance but neither of us were fangirls enough to sit and wait for anyone.

We were only able to spot JYP, Cube, and SM Entertainments' buildings on our self-guided, internet-aided walking tour. All three had very conveniently located shops or small parks across the street where many fans were idling and hoping to catch a glimpse of their idols.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Exercise equipment in parks

I saw these in a few parks that we passed by in Korea and I knew it existed via K-dramas but I always wondered if the free exercise equipment in the parks was ever used. I guess that person might prove me wrong. Now I am also curious if such parks would be popular in the U.S. There's supposedly a higher number of overweight population in America than in Asia and who really wants to make that yearly donation to the gym...

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Gangnam bar
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Gangnam KBBQ pumpkin mascot

A friend met up with Bestie C and I near the main street in the Gangnam district for dinner. I had initially wanted to try a pig intestine KBBQ restaurant that a popular Korean variety member and rapper of Leessang, Kang Gary, ran in Gangnam. Despite being able to locate the restaurant with the help of blogs, the BBQ joint was already shuttered. But my craving for grilled pig intestine only grew bigger during the search. What to do?

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Gangnam The Mak Chang 막창 - KBBQ Restaurant
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Gangnam The Mak Chang 막창 - KBBQ Restaurant - Grilling pork intestine, pork belly, and beef

Of course we went on to find another KBBQ place that had intestine instead. The three of us ended up at The Mak Chang 막창 in a food alley off the Gangnam main street. We ordered those pig intestines that I had wanted in addition to some pork belly and beef.

It might sound really weird to be eating intestines. Yes it is the organ that houses all the feces of an animal. No it doesn't taste like it, if it's been cleaned well. Intestines taste really good when the outside gets super crispy. The inside of the circular food is still soft and slightly chewy. It is really all about the different textures for this cut of meat. Don't hate it until you try it. I love to eat the Chinese fried version but since it is on the fatty side, I don't get to eat it often.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Homilpat 호밀팥 - Fruit and Watermelon Bingsoo 과일빙수 수박빙수

A new day meant a new night to get shaved ice. This time we went a place in Sinchon called Ho Mil Pat or 호밀팥 since we saw a long line up of people waiting for it. If I remember right, the fruit bingsoos were the popular items. If I don't remember right then, we were just really happy to order something with fresh fruit. These two were the fruit shaved ice (과일빙수) and watermelon shaved ice (수박빙수). Both types come with their own serving of sweet red beans and fresh ddeok and were ₩7,500 each. At this point in time, I can say this wasn't my most favorite spot for bingsoo. But hey! It is still fresh fruit, red beans, and ddeok...good components nonetheless.