Korea Diary | Seoul City Touring (Day 13)
Fridays at YISS meant the start of the 3-day weekend. Plans could be endless for Fridays. Between a bunch of school arranged 1-day field trips, Korean culture special activities (taekwondo classes, cooking lessons, & dance/sing groups), and just general extra free time.
There were 4 different field trips available at the time: Seoul City Tour, NANTA Show, Mud Festival, and DMZ Tour. They all required pre-payment and sign-up. Of those Bestie and I signed up for 2, the Seoul City Tour and DMZ Tour. The Seoul City Tour happened to fall on the first Friday of the YISS program. (Which makes sense since it is probably many attendees' first weekend in Seoul.)
Gwanghwamun (광화문 - 光化門) & Gyeongbokgung (경복궁 - 景福宫)
Gyeongbokgung was definitely a must see on my Korea trip itinerary. Who isn't curious about how palaces were hundreds of years ago? I also just enjoy seeing how a part of history is preserved in a more natural setting, versus objects in a museum. It lets me fully immerse myself into the culture and surrounding.
Of course the architecture and colors used in the Korean palaces are just breathtaking. Even though they are smack-dab in the middle of high-rise buildings in a fast developing concrete jungle, once you step into the palace grounds and roam around it is as if you're in a completely different and isolated place. Even if you're not much of a history or architecture kind of person, I think is still worth a stroll around the grounds.
Seoul Museum of History (서울역사박물관)
Seoul Museum of History wasn't on my radar but it was definitely an interesting itinerary stop. It worked well with the "learn more about Seoul theme". This museum was all about the history and traditions of Seoul. The exhibits showed how the city developed structurally to how the people and their lifestyles changed through the course of time. Judging from the photos I took, I seemed to have been really fascinated by all the different miniature models of the city.
Buffets are the style of restaurants I am more accustomed to on guided bus tours. However, let me tell you Ashley is no food-for-survival type of bus tour food stop. I remember everything tasted really great, hence the multiple plates in the above photo. The decor and cleanliness of this buffet chain makes it appear to be a fancy-type (i.e. expensive) buffet restaurant. I am not 100% sure of the price here since it was part of the field trip cost. I made a quick Google search and found that this is actually an affordable Western/fusion buffet restaurant chain.
Insadong is a neighborhood in Seoul that is known to be more artsy: galleries, handmade crafts, teahouses, etc. We were brought to a particular street within there that had a bit of that artsy culture along with the typical tourist-oriented souvenirs shops. One of the things I was interested in buying was a personalized stamp. I wouldn't know when I would ever use it outside of Korea but it just seemed like a very interesting and more personal(ized) item to bring home. Unfortunately, with my indecisive nature and limit time restraint I wasn't able to get myself one that day.
Ssamziegil is a shopping center for small artists and business to sell their works at Insadong. We didn't have a lot of time to spend at this fourth stop of the Seoul City tour so we couldn't explore the higher levels of the complex.
Instead we made the most of what was on the ground floor. What did that mean exactly? Poop bread!
Now that may sound weird but poop bread is delicious. Yes, dee-lish! Like taiyaki (or fish bread) in Japan, this is just a poop-shaped crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside bread stuffed with some sort of filling. If I remember correctly, this particular vendor filled it with a chocolate ganache or pudding. For ₩1,000 or $1 a piece, you can't go wrong. When paired with sikhye (식혜), or sweet rice drink, it was a nice refresher for the hot summer day in Seoul.
Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을 - 北村韓屋마을)
The chances of me be able to stay at a traditional Korean house, hanok, anytime soon is not high. I have heard that they can be pretty pricey to stay in. But it is a very popular activity for tourists to just
Dinner wasn't included with the tour. With a full day of walking and hiking up the steep hills in Bukchon, my friends and I were pooped. We opted to chow down in Sinchon rather than venturing too far away for food. Maybe the 18번지 부대찌개 signs shone the brightest or something, but despite the hot day and being all tired out we still chose a bubbly pan of army base stew for dinner. Don't underestimate the looks of the pan though. Everything in it with a bit of rice can be very filling. I think for the option we picked the price was only around ₩6,000 per person for this meal.