Korea always has a special spot in my heart. Every time I am there, it feels too comfortable and I don’t want to leave. Even though I had only been there three times, everything feels familiar. Most probably because I watch too many Korean dramas and I have a lot of fantasies of being in the drama.
I spent most of my trips in Seoul. The environment is a good mix of Western and Asian feel. Some days I feel like I’m in Washington DC, other days I feel like I’m just in China. Just like in many capital cities, you can find high rise buildings as well as slumps. Any cuisine is easily available (but why would you eat anything other than Korean food?). Most places are super accessible by the Metro. The city and people are child-friendly. To top it all off, you can definitely survive with English.
My first trip to Korea was back when I was in primary school. I don’t remember much. I remember eating my first ever samgyetang while it was cold outside. I remember tiny bits and pieces of Everland. And… That’s about it.
The second time I was there with two of my girlfriends and my then-fiancé. I remember a lot more this time. We went in December 2014. It was crazy cold. We spent a lot of time in Myeongdong shopping and eating street foods. We ate Korean BBQ, fried chickens, jajjangmyeon, mandu (my favorite), tteokbokki, donkatsu, greentea cakes and ice cream, gyeranppang (also my favorite). We went to the palace. We shopped at Dongdaemun in the middle of the night. We went to a plastic surgery clinic Gangnam. We went to a hanbok studio where you can dress up and take tons of pictures there. We had a traditional Korean meal (hanjeongsik) where they served us with way too much food for our tummies (it was not that good but super fun). My fiancé and I did a Korean pre-prewedding photoshoot with a local studio (laugh-worthy pictures). It was surely very memorable.
Third time around was with my big family. My first time traveling with three young children. As much as it was a lot of hassle, Korea is so child-friendly. The population seems to adore little children. Probably because of the show, The Return of Superman? Wherever we go, we always meet Koreans who would look at the kids and smile or try to play with them. My son was once given a free yogurt from a store owner.
Tayo Cafe at Doota Mall was heavenly. Everything was clean and organized. Finally we could stretch our legs and breathe while they get immersed in their own world. One of the highlights of the trip as I could for once eat in peace. We also had the chance to visit Lotte World. It was a very nicely put-together indoor theme park. We didn't really try the rides since the kids are too young, but they enjoyed the carousel and train ride so much. They are content enough just by the view.
Initially we were so worried that it would be so hot since it was already June. However, we were blessed by the best possible weather. It was not too cold nor too hot. We were greeted by breezy cloudy days almost every day. Only on the last two days that it got really sunny and hot.
This time I finally went out of Seoul for a few days. We opted for Busan because we thought the weather would be perfect to visit the beaches. We couldn’t be more wrong. It was very windy and cold that we ended up not touching the sand at all. Nevertheless, Busan was a bliss. It was metropolitan yet quite peaceful. We stayed in Haeundae area and food was just everywhere. One of the local delicacies that I was looking forward to try was gukbap, soup with rice. Totally my kind of food. I loved it. My son loved it. Happy tummies!
The Busan Cultural Village was alright. Very touristy for sure. There were a lot of small shops selling souvenirs and, again, food! A bunch of tourists dressed up in hanbok while strolling the village. We didn’t go all the way but next time I’ll make sure I go all the way.
Korea, I’ll be back for more. I’m keen to explore the suburbs.