Back in March, I blogged about meeting online friends and that I enjoy meeting them whenever the opportunity arises. Well, the opportunity came when Thao, a long-time blogger friend and former hostee, contacted me about coming to Seoul for a brief trip! Stoked, I helped her plan out her itinerary, and even recommended lodging to her. I told her all about Seoul as I could. Her trip was a short one, so it was quite a challenge to try and cram as much as possible, but it all worked out in the end. Thankfully, she arrived here during Memorial Day weekend, so I was able to be her tour guide for two whole days and still hung out with her before and after work.
Day 1: 33km Adventure
The first day was a busy one; this was the day we travelled about 33 kilometres all over Seoul! We started off with me picking Thao up at Grand Hyatt Hotel, and we stopped by my flat to drop her stuff off. We had coffee at Waterstreet Cafe and then we walked to Itaewon for her to see a bit of it, but it was too early and nothing was opened.
We decided to check out couple of the areas south of the Han River. Our first stop was Garosu-gil. We had breakfast at the McDonald’s there for Thao to try the bulgogi burger. After, we walked down the actual Garosu-gil, where Thao had a blast at the Line Friends store. Next, we took a cab to Gangnam Kyobo Bookstore, and we spent some time in the stationery section. Thao wanted to see the “Gangnam area” (which is really nothing special, honestly,) and we walked up to Gangnam Station. Having spent enough time down in Gangnam, we returned to Itaewon to buy an extra luggage for Thao, and we returned to my flat to chill for a bit before heading to the guesthouse for Thao to check in.
Our next destination was heavily full of Korean skincare shopping. We spent time at Shinsegae Department Store, Lotte Young Plaza, and Lotte Department Store looking for an O Hui vendor, so Thao could buy something there. Across the street was Myeong-dong, and Thao shopped her heart out in the cosmetic stores (I think we went into like eight different stores!) and in Artbox. We dropped her haul off at the guesthouse, and we had Korean BBQ at Itaewon Sutbulgalbi where we ordered samgyeopsal and pork galbi. Our super long day ended with a nice, cool cocktail at Noxa Oriental.
Day 2: Ye Olde Seoul
Thao and I started the day by heading to Gwangjang Market for some brunch. We had mayak gimbap, bindaetteok, and sikhye — all specialities of this market. Next we headed over to Gyeongbokgung, the main palace of Seoul. We waited for the free English tour, and we both enjoyed the tour! Because it was such a hot day, Thao and I took a breather at the palace library cafe. We had the iced omijacha. It was a bit too sweet for our taste, and I chewed on one of the omija berries. It was bitter on the first bite, and it eventually turned into a perfume explosion in my mouth! Yech!
Thao and I walked to Insa-dong next. Our first stop was the Sinyetchatjib, a tea house. Thao had the iced citrus punch, and I had the iced jujube tea. Our tea came with some injeolmi tteok and yugwa. I have to say I fell in love with this tea house! After our tea break, we checked out Ssamzie-gil, this winding building with many different shops. Then we checked out Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art tea shop only to see that it was confusing and we never met a server.
We left the tea shop to continue our way down Insa-dong. We stopped and watched the kkultarae demonstration. We were also given a free sample. Both of us bought some of this delicious honey thread snack! We briefly went into by a Korean craft shop before we both went crazy with the street food. We first bought bbopgi — caramelised candy — and then Thao also bought some yakgwa — flower shaped Korean cookies — and fish-shaped pastries with red bean paste and custard.
Finally, we made it out of Insa-dong to head down to Cheonggyecheon. We walked a couple of bridge over to Euljiro Station and we took a cab back to the neighbourhood. We went shopping for Korean snacks at Well-Being Mart. We dropped off the snacks and walked around the neighbourhood, making a pit stop at Berkeley Coffee Social. For dinner, we went to Friend Chicken and had Korean fried chicken and yangnyeom chicken.
Day 3 & 4: DMZ and the Finale
Day 3 was the day Thao visited the DMZ while poor me had to work. I met Thao after work at the President Hotel, and we made it to Namdaemun Market. We mainly went there for Alpha, where Thao bought more stationery merchandises. We were going to eat dinner there, too, but we didn’t see anything enticing. That was when I suggested to her that we try Korean-Chinese cuisine, so we took a cab to Mao. Thao tried jjajangmeyong for the first time.
On the last day, I met Thao and we had brunch together, eating naengmyeon. Soon, it was time to split, so I put her in a cab to the Hyatt for her to take the bus back to the airport.
This was a short trip, but I’m glad I met Thao in person. After years of being blog buddies, it was good to see how she is in person. I had a blast with her, and I’m only sad it wasn’t longer! Oh, well. There’s always next time! :D