Korea Diary | Lock Our Mark (Day 41, Part 2)

5:59:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Namsan N Seoul Tower at night

Namsan and N Seoul Tower is one of those sights in Seoul that can't be missed. For anyone who followed or still follows Korean dramas and variety shows, the tower is a familiar feature. The spot where couples go for romantic dates and to lock their relationship wishes and hopes. While I nor my friends were going with a significant other, we did have each other and our new friendship to cheers to.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Manhwa road in Myeongdong

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Walk towards Namsan Cable Car

The walk to the cable car building was short but very hilly from the Myeongdong. It wasn't difficult to find since we just had to walk towards the direction of the N Seoul Tower. Along the way we spotted many restaurants advertising the famous Namsan donkatsu. Why was the area famous for that? I am not too sure. But there were tons of places offering the dish.

Once we reached the cable car station, a long (very long) line awaited us. I think we waited for a good hour before we reached the ticket booth and another hour before we reached the top of the building where the cable car platform was. Since this was a major destination for local couples and foreigners alike, the line was pretty inevitable. There may have been a bus or even a hiking trail that goes up Namsan for those more adventurous.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Namsan N Seoul Tower up close

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - View of Seoul from Namsan N Seoul Tower base at night

The views at the top were worth all the wait. Of course, that is after we had to squish our way through crowds of people to try to get to the edge. It costs an extra fee to go up the actual tower so the three of us didn't end up going that high. I imagine the cityscape from the tippy top would have been killer. The base was more than sufficient for us.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Love lock for new and old friends Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Love lock for new and old friends

Traditionally loving couples would leave their marks at the base of the tower but for me, this visit was all about being in the good company of friends. We secured our beer locks in a corner spot after much surveying. I am not sure how our inexpensive little guys would hold up to the natural elements but they are there! (I hope still...)

0 comments:

Korea Diary | Crossing Borders (Day 41, Part 1)

3:28:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - DMZ Museum crossing the model border North and South Korea

The final Yonsei organized one-day field trip was to visit the DMZ area. As with the previous trips, everyone had to get up early in order to be bussed to the destination. The air this time was a little heavier since we were going closer to the border. The bus made several stops in order for the soldiers to check and approve of our entering. It was surreal to see all the Caution! signs which indicated of possible land mines outside.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - North Korea in the distance

Our tour couldn't bring us to the actual bordering lines. We were brought to the next closest stop where most other tourists go instead. This stop had a small museum and observatory deck. The speckles of structures way beyond the trees in the foreground were considered North Korean territory.

Afterwards, our guide took us into one of the discovered tunnels that North Koreans had dug out many years ago. Phones and recording devices weren't allowed inside. From my memory, it was shocking to see and be in such a large tunnel. To think if went undiscovered it was a discrete passage from the North to South.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Korail Interconnected Gyeonogui Railroad Line Map
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Korail Interconnected Gyeongui Railroad Line station Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Korail Interconnected Railroad Line station

The next stop on the itinerary was to a potential North-South interconnected railroad station. Before the war and the creation of the DMZ, (if I remember correctly) there was a railway that ran from the North Korean area to Seoul and beyond. When times became more hostile it was officially stopped and now closed off to be a museum/attraction of sorts.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Dukongso 豆콩소 Tofu lunch set
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Dukongso 豆콩소 lunch set side dishes

Our final stop on the tour was a food stop. A tofu themed meal was waiting for us at Dukongso 豆콩소. This may have been the fanciest meal we had in Korea. Everything was perfectly presented and most items were served in single bite servings. While everything we were given tasted very light and flavorful, most of my friends and I left wishing for more food to eat. As this was a part of our tour, I am not sure how a typical set meal at Dukongso would have been like.

0 comments:

Korea Diary | Movie Night Thrills (Day 40)

11:56:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Deoksugung 덕수궁 Seokjojeon 석조전 Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Deoksugung 덕수궁
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Deoksugung 덕수궁 blooming trees

Another Thursday meant another class trip for my Asian art history class. This time, it was to Deoksugung 덕수궁. Our professor's original plan was to go to The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. However, an unexpected closure at the time brought us to Deoksugung instead.

Somehow I overslept that morning and had a mid-morning freakout. I had missed the start of class time by (at least) 30 minutes or more, which meant I completely miss the scheduled gathering time. I was faced with another crisis after rushing to get ready and left the dorms: the subway station was at least a 15-minute walk/jog away and taxis didn't stop right by the area closest to the dorms. I ultimately chose to wait for a taxi at the designated stand near the Yonsei Severance Hospital to try and save some time. Luckily the ride was only a short few minutes since all the palaces are relatively nearby to Yonsei University. If we were in any other city, a taxi wouldn't even be an option due to pricing but in Seoul the fares were affordable.

I had to purchase my own tickets in order to reunite with the class inside the palace walls. Even though this palace was the smallest of the 3 that we visited on our trips, I didn't find the class until I made a full circle of the place. Turns out I was so late and the palace was so small that they were already finished with their tour/lesson. Despite the rushed experience, I was still able to get a quick look at the structures. It was interesting to see more Western-style buildings here as Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung were very traditional. The museum in the mansion-esque structure was closed for renovation at the time.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Hyundai Department Store food court sujebi 수제비

By the time we got back to Sinchon I was starving. Bestie C and I found our way to Hyundai Department Store once again. This visit I opted to try something I had only seen videos on YouTube of and that was sujebi 수제비 or dough flake/hand torn noodles. Maybe the bowl of kalgooksoo I had left too strong of an impression on me but this bowl of sujebi wasn't all too exciting.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - KLI Classmate chalkboard art

The highlight of the day that all my friends were patiently waiting for was the impending 4D movie experience awaiting us at the end of the night. A fellow student helped many others purchase tickets in advance to see Guardians of the Galaxy. Needless to say that was all I could think about throughout Korean class that afternoon.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Naemooban Sikdang 내무반 식당 - Meat grilling Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Naemooban Sikdang 내무반 식당 - Scallion bean sprout side dish

Our movie was scheduled for 11:10PM. Korean BBQ was a unanimous choice for dinner. Filling our bellies with meat would help us last through the night. We ended up at Naemooban Sikdang 내무반 식당 that was along the way to the CGV theater. Even though this place wasn't AYCE, I think we still left pretty full without spending an obscene amount. The cuts of meat were definitely tastier and chunkier and the bean sprouts & scallion side dish was love.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Baskin Robbins super large ice cream cup

With some time left to kill, our next stop was to a Baskin Robbins nearby. Our selection of choice? Probably one of the largest ice cream cup bucket that they offered! Since this size was calculated by weight, we went a little crazy with our selection of mishmash flavors we all enjoyed and wanted to try.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon CGV Movie Theater Cinema Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon CGV Movie Theater Cinema - Transformers statue figure
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon CGV Movie Theater Cinema - Guardians of the Galaxy in 4DX

11:00PM came and we were finally at the Sinchon CGV theater. Other than the short Shrek 4D film ride at Universal, this was the only time I watched anything in 4D. It was something else to be sprayed at with water and perfumes, swooshed to and fro in the chairs, and bashed on by the massage like knobs every time an equivalent happened in the movie. While I only experienced it for a few minutes on the Shrek ride, this movie was a full-length feature film. Theater-going, at least for action movies, was forever changed for me that night.

0 comments:

Korea Diary | Nom Life (Days 37-39)

3:30:00 AM mandy 0 Comments

The second to last week of the study abroad trip arrived before we knew it. Things always seem to come to an end when it is at it's best. I finally got comfortable with a routine in a foreign place and around my newfound friends, yet we only had mere 14 days left together. When all of us weren't busy with the school aspects of the experience, foods brought us all closer.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Noodle Box sweet potato roll Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Noodle Box sweet potato roll
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Noodle Box Migoreng

Bestie C and I went out (of campus) for the majority of our lunch breaks during the remainder of our time in Seoul. We didn't have a particular place in mind but found a small restaurant named Noodle Box during a stroll through Edae. They sold a variety of different stir-fried noodle dishes that were served in cardboard take-out style boxes. I ordered the migoreng since I had never tried it before, but cannot attest to the authenticity of what I had. Of the noodles and the spring rolls appetizers we got, I remember much preferring the latter bite.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Lab Time Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Lab Time Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream - making of
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Lab Time Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Oreo Milk
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Lab Time Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Tiramisu

Whilst on the hunt for lunch, Bestie C spotted the other liquid nitrogen ice cream shop that she had read about. Since we had more fruity flavors at Solid Works, we opted to try the dairy based versions at Lab Time. Oreo milk ice cream can never be a wrong choice. Tiramisu ice cream was a pleasant surprise. I think it had some cheesiness to it and the melted chocolate syringe made the experience extra exciting.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeonhuidong Kalgooksoo store front
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Yeonhuidong Kalgooksoo store front

After discovering the West Gate area of Yonsei, our group of friends decided to see what else Yeonhui-dong 연희동 had to offer. We stumbled into Yeonhuidong Kalgooksoo 연희동 칼국수 by pure chance. All of us were hungry after a day of classes and I think many of us had to get back to our studies. Somehow our big group walked into the bottom-most floor of this noodle restaurant one night. The servers didn't speak much English but it wasn't an issue because there was 1 and only 1 item that this place served, it's eponymous dish. The only options given were small or big bowls.

In translation, the restaurant name simply meant knife-cut noodles from the Yeonhui neighborhood. But the bowl of noodles was far from plain. It may look like just a boring bowl of noodle soup with only a few strands of julienne carrots, egg, and scallions at first glance. But this was the best bowl of noodles I had. The broth was so flavorful but slightly under seasoned. Their spicy kimchi was seasoned well, crunchy and not too fermented (just the way I like it) so it balanced the broth just right when eaten together. This restaurant even offered a non-spicy white kimchi that tasted just as nice. It seemed like everything that was served matched my tastes exactly! My friends and I probably devoured every last morsel of food on the table that night.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Cake

Ice cream cakes from the big chains, in NYC at least, are pretty boring. If not all vanilla flavored, then all chocolate. If not either then a combination of the two. If none of the above then part cookies 'n cream and part sheet cake.

We were all amazed by the ice cream cake selection we saw at all the Baskin Robbins. One night when we gathered one of our biggest group together for a dinner outing, the dessert of choice was to share a cake rather than each buy our own little cups. There were about 9 different flavored cubes of ice cream in the cake that we picked and none were the basic options either.

Our cake was safe from the heat since we all chipped away at the blocks right away in the shop. Had we chose to share it in the comforts of our dorm lounge, there was no need to worry about rushing back with a melting cake either. The Baskin Robbins in Korea actually packs the cakes first in the typical cardboard cake boxes and then in another styrofoam container with dry ice. How awesome is that?

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Hyundai Department Store - Magokoro Tonkotsu Ramen

In case you haven't noticed already, I really enjoyed going to the Hyundai Department Store in Sinchon for food. Bestie C and I stumbled upon a Japanese ramen vendor called Magokoro and had to satisfy our ramen craving. Even though ramyeon is very popular in Korea, that is just the instant variety for noodle fare. Nothing really beats the taste and texture of fresh noodles.

At first, I was skeptical of the flavors since most foreign foods we've had in Seoul didn't turn out to be all too authentic. But the tonkotsu ramen from Magokoro was pretty spot on. It wasn't the best Japanese ramen I have ever had but it was a good replacement to fill the missing void.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Edae Albab House Mixed Katsudon

There weren't very many restaurants that my friends or myself visited more than once in Korea. The exception was albab house 알밥 하우스 in Edae. It was convenient and very affordable with decent sized portions. I tended to order the rice bowls and during this particular visit I had the mixed katsudon, which was essentially donkatsu, shrimp tempura, and egg over rice.
SaveSave

0 comments:

Korea Diary | Soaked in the Streets (Day 36)

10:25:00 PM mandy 0 Comments

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014

The closest I remember ever getting to any sort of water fight was at the local park, and that was when I was still in the single digits. There were always kids defending and attacking each other with water balloons. But once the weather got warmer, the water features were always the main attractions at the playground. Kids instinctively raced under the sprinklers the moment they reached the park's entrance. My parents wouldn't let me partake in most of the water soaking since they thoroughly believed "you'll get sick" and "(you) can't be in wet clothes while you play."

Imagine their horror if they knew that was exactly what my friends and I did in Seoul during the Sinchon Water Gun Festival. They would have called me crazy.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 CF filming with Henry Lau Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 by Sprite Korea

The festivities began in the morning with a celebrity sighting. We missed out on seeing Suzy from Miss A the day before but arrived just in time to join the hoards of onlookers and fans to see Henry from Super Junior-M. It was just a brief encounter as the crowds quickly grew and the idol wrapped up his Sprite commercial filming.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 inflatable slide

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 Korean firetruck Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 Korean firetruck

I didn't end up purchasing a water gun of my own. Just the thought of having to deal with it afterward was troublesome. Yet it didn't mean I didn't have a good time. Watching everyone else target unsuspecting strangers and being shot with water myself was fun enough.

The most unexpected part of the whole festival were the firetrucks. When it first rolled up, I thought perhaps it was more of a prop. After the festival goers really began to get heated so did the firemen. How you ask?

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 blasted by fire hose

With their powerful fire extinguishing hoses! Those water features at the playground at the local park were mere babies compared to the immense pressure from the fire hoses. Even when none of us were being targeted directly, the streams and pellets of water were still very painful. The once friendly rivalry amongst strangers disappeared under the professional soakers.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Water Gun Festival 2014 Live singing

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Bock Sung Gak Chinese Restaurant Club jajangmyeon Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Bock Sung Gak Chinese Restaurant Club tangsooyook

Being blasted with water wouldn't make anyone full. Perhaps full with laughter but not with food. Luckily, we stuffed our bellies at a Chinese restaurant called Bok Sung Gak 복성각 before the madness began.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Waffle University ice cream and waffles
Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Waffle University Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Sinchon Waffle University making waffles

It was impossible to pass by one of my favorite snacks from the street vendors in Sinchon, waffle ice cream sandwiches.

Seoul, Korea - Summer Study Abroad 2014 - Boneless chicken delivery

After a much-needed shower and change of clothes, all my friends and I gathered in the lounge to dined on delicious chicken. I think this particular day we ordered soy sauce chicken with rice cakes and cheese flavored fried chicken. I really loved both of them but the fried version was something else. It was weird at first to have cheese powdered coated chicken but it ultimately really grew on me.
SaveSave

0 comments: