- I'm saying this as early as now: no you won't see the usual palaces, no you won't see the N Seoul Tower, no you won't see the folk villages, and no, nothing of those usual things. If you wanna see the usual Seoul things, click here (and subsequent parts of the series) and here (and subsequent parts of the series.) I have been to South Korea 6 times as of 2019, and all but one of my trips were for academic reasons (conferences, workshops, and the like.) This time, I was fortunate enough to be sent to Korea again by my work to meet with some partners institutions in Korea for some proposals and lectures. Our one week trip to Seoul and Busan was filled with meetings that I only had little time to insert some leisure activities. I've done all the usual trips before, and whenever I go back to Seoul, I always try to find new things to do or find new places to visit. Thankfully, I still managed to do something new, or squeeze in some time to revisit some places in Seoul that are very dear to me - most of which were some of Seoul's markets.
|Was welcomed by these mascots. Glad I was wearing my casual hanbok.|
|Budae jjigae!! <3 <3 <3 <3|
|So many cherry blossomssss.|
|A very traditional photo of Seoul in spring.|
|The colors of the cherry blossoms look even nicer during the day.|
|I've seen cherry blossoms before in Japan, but it was nice to see them again, and appreciate the cherry blossoms' fragile existence.|
|Cherry blossoms are usually a big deal in countries like Japan or Korea, as the flowers only bloom for a week in a year during spring.|
|The ever-busy Gwangjang Market.|
|For the foodies out there.|
- The Gwangjang Market today is known for two things: clothes and food. This no frills market serves traditional Korean food of any kind, but for people who know me, they know that the only reason I go to Gwangjang is to find cheap but gorgeous hanboks or hanbok vests ("jokki") to add to my small hanbok collection. The clothes section of the market sells casual hanboks, formal hanboks, hanbok accessories, traditional shoes and hats, and so on. Some stalls may also sell bedsheets or souvenirs. (Don't forget to haggle!!)
- That evening we had a traditional Korean bossam (boiled pork wraps) dinner near our hotel, and had a taste of traditional Tibetan food at my favorite Tibetan restaurant in Seoul - Potala Restaurant (read more about the restaurant here: here). I usually visit this restaurant whenever I visit Seoul.
|Introducing Tibetan food to my amazing colleagues.|
|My forever favorite: the humble tsampa and yak butter tea.|
|Here I am, waiting for the market to open.|
|The market is organized into categories (each color represents a certain type of item being sold, like clothes, electronics, or antiques.)|
|Too many things!!|
|Wanted these second-hand Mongolian boots but they were not my size.|
|Music from the past!!|
|They were captured and turned to stone. Hahahaha. (I wonder who they're supposed to represent though.)|
|Cool!! Antique toy cars!!|
|Blast to the past.|
|If I were a teacher in the year 19xx.|
|Just a bystander.|
|Waiting for my soju.|
|Old orange telephone!!|
|Insadong is always home to me.|
- The funniest thing happened to me in Insadong. While standing in the middle of the road. Someone shouted my name twice. I thought I was hallucinating, when it turned out to be one of my former students who's taking her master's in Korea now!! I was happy that she was given the opportunity to study in Korea as I wrote her recommendation letter for the scholarship.
|So happy that you made it!!|
- We went back to the hotel afterwards, and since my luggage was already good to go for the next leg of our Korea trip, I went outside and walked around Jongno to get a last glimpse of Korea before leaving the next day.
|What a friendly bus.|
|CAN I TAKE THEM HOME.|
|Bought some after-dinner snacks - a corndog, hotteok (bean pancakes), and cherry-blossom coke.|