After living in one of the most orderly and polite societies for a year (looking at you, Japan), it took some work adjusting to Seoul’s behavioral etiquette. By that I mean, the lack of eye contact, bluntness in the way they talk, and willingness to push others out of the way to get a seat on the subway. Those characteristics aren’t specific to Korea, but for some reason, it struck me the wrong way my first day in Seoul. It reminded me of NYC, but the good news is that it wasn’t long before I started feeling comfortable with the vibe and pace of the city again. It had been 3 years since I first visited Seoul. I don’t remember much of what I did with my time then, but I was quickly reminded that Seoul is one of the best cities in the world for shopping, technology, and FOOD.
Splurging on foods like kimchi fried rice, Korean BBQ, spicy rice cakes, bibimbap, and spicy seafood hotpot, I was in heaven. In my search to stuff my belly with delicious foods, I concluded that the true five star restaurants in Seoul are the hole in the walls where it feels like you’re eating in the dining room next to your mother’s kitchen. Many of the restaurants I ate at had an open kitchen so I could see them cooking and the various aromas drew me in like a child taking candy from a stranger. Additionally, I have to say, Seoul’s cafe culture is on point.
Cafes are like convenience stores in Japan. There’s one every 50 meters, always to the rescue never leaving you stranded without food or in this case wifi or coffee. It’s a freelancer’s and coffee-holic’s and student’s dream. With so many cafes to choose from, it’s easy to catch up with friends over a meal or hang out and study/work for a few hours.
For 2 nights, I stayed at an AirBnb in an apartment building that was connected to Gongdeok station which made it easy to come and go especially to/from the airport and on rainy days. The space was a cozy and modern studio, and even though I had the apartment to myself, I got to meet my host. She was very kind in letting me borrow her adapter since I forgot mine at home, and she left the apartment well equipped with bath products, towels, and cooking utensils. The snapshot above captures the view of the streets below the apartment.
When I got on the plane heading back to Japan, I was left feeling intrigued, wanting to try living in Seoul for 1 year, and most of all, yearning for more food. Thankfully I only live 2 hours away by plane now so whenever I want to take a weekend trip to Korea, I can. Outside of Seoul, I think Korea is one of the more underrated Asian nations, and I’m looking forward to going back again and again.