Korean Love

So here it is! My last post about South Korea… I experienced a lot of amazing things there, learned a new culture, learned a new way of seeing things and I’m so grateful to all the people that were with me. They helped me so much to understand the culture,to make me try typical things and I came grown up from this trip of six months.

I will definitely go back there one day to experience more of Korea, because even on a long trip like this one you can’t discover everything. I’m sure Korea has so many surprises for me!

To close this chapter I decided to post some of my favorite pictures that I took when I was there without commenting anything.

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Goodbye Pohang

Pohang is not the most attractive destination in South Korea, and yet I lived there for almost 6 months. I experienced most of my Korean adventures there, got lost, met people and this is why Pohang has a special  place in my heart. I would not recommend to someone that is traveling in Korea to go there because the city is just as another city in Korea. However, if you stop by this city you’ll maybe like it because of its different aspects.

The first one is the city center of the city. It looks like another medium city in Korea: nothing extraordinary but you’ll find a special street called “Yugkeori” meaning the 6 streets. Here you’ll find a lot of clothes shops in the main artery. If you are going in the side streets you’ll find a lot of cute shops, restaurant, juice places etc. I spent so many afternoons there, hanging out with my friends, buying souvenirs and useless stuff. It’s a really charming area!

img_1757Near the area of Yugkeori, if you walk along the main street for few blocks you’ll go into Jukdo market. This market is a huge one where you can find a lot of different stuff for cheap. If you want to visit a Korean market this is a really good one.The most impressive part is the fish part. You’ll find huge backs of different fishes, crabs…

 

 

 

 

The next charming place in Pohang is in the area of “Yeongildae beach”which is near the beach (like the name say). There you have a lot of different restaurants, bars, the beach and Yeongildae monument. At night it’s even more beautiful because of the lighting. It seems that it’s on the sea! I spent a lot of nights on the beach walking around, and it’s better to see the sea at night. Indeed, Koreans don’t swim so I wasn’t really comfortable to be the only one swimming. Moreover, the beach is not the prettiest one in Pohang because you see in front of you a lot of industries. At night the industries are color’s lighted so the view with all these lights is cool. At night, you also can play with small fireworks on the beach !

 

So, to spend some time on the beach the best place to go in Pohang is “Chilpo beach”. The water is really beautiful, the beach almost empty and the mountains are near it. From the beach, there is a trail in the mountain which is beautiful. You can see the beach from the top. On the contrary of Yeongildae beach, on this one you can go swim because the water is so much cleaner and even some Koreans go swim there.

 

 

There are also a lot more of other places that are really pretty to see in Pohang. I  already talked about them in previous posts that you can find there:

Homigot sunrise and its famous hand :  Click here for Homigot sunrise 

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Also far from the city center but still in Pohang the Bogyeoungsa temple and its waterfall, a really great escape of one day that you can find in this post: Click here for Bogyeoungsa temple and its waterfall

 

 

 

Korean food

Each country has its own specialities for food. You may think that Korean food is similar to Chinese and Japanese ones. Indeed, they have some common ingredients such as noodles, rice, lots of side dishes. Except of that Korean food is really particular. First of all, it’s really spicy. Secondly, you don’t eat one main dish but a lot of small dishes. Thirdly, they rarely eat dessert. Lastly, they eat Kimchee EVERYWHERE (they are obsessed with this fermented spicy cabbage).

So here few examples of what you can eat when you go to Korea:

  1. MANDU

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This food is call Mandu which is some kind of Korean Dumplings. It’s most of the time stuffed with meat and vegetables. You rarely eat this as a meal but more like a snack when you buy them on markets.

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This is another example of Mandu which can be found in restaurants. These ones were filled with pork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. JAJANGMYEON

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This dish is a mix between Korean and Chinese cuisine. I ordered this in a Chinese restaurant but my Chinese friend told me it was more Korean than Chinese. It’s basically black noodles called Jajangmyeon with rice and cooked vegetables.

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Here another version of Jajangmyeon in a Korean restaurant. It doesn’t look appetizing but trust me it’s not bad.

 

3. HONEY BREAD

This meal is a honey bread. It looks like a big french toast but way much better. If you can try this DO IT! It’s delicious.

 

4. SOUPS

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Koreans do eat a lot of soups. Almost in every meal, they have a side dish which is a soup. For this picture, the main dish was a soup with fish and shrimp and the other soup with black pork.

5. GOGIGUI

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Here is the famous Korean barbecue or Gogigui which is one of the most well known Korean dishes. You basically cook meat (pork, beef, duck or chicken) on a small barbecue on the middle of the table. With that, you have a lot of side dishes. To eat correctly a Korean barbecue you have to take a slice of salad, put meat and everything from the side dishes that you like and eat everything at the same time.

If you have the chance you should try it’s really tasty and there is a lot of restaurant of Korean barbecue even abroad.

 

6. WEIRD FOOD

Here is some weird thing about food in Korea. The first one is pizza. Pizzas in Korea are most of the time not good, full of oil and really sweet. The one in the picture is sweet potato pizza and it’s really sweet. Not really good for a fan of traditional pizza.

The second thing is a Korean fruit which looks and tastes like yellow melon but has the same size than a tennis ball.

Lastly, Koreans drink a lot of milk. This is maybe because their dishes are really spicy. They have a lot of flavored milk such as strawberry, banana, watermelon, melon …(They even have a banana milk coffee shop).

 

7. BUBBLE TEA

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Bubble tea is famous all over the world but it originally comes from Korea. It can be an Ice tea, yogurt, smoothie with tapioca balls at the bottom. It’s really good and you can drink this in a lot of countries.

 

8. ICE CREAM

Koreans also eat a lot of ice cream (because of the cheap price) during winter and summer. They have a lot of different flavor and shapes which is good to try.

 

9. ORDERING CHICKEN

 

Ordering food in Korea is really famous. (and useful). Because Koreans eat dinner really early (around 5:30) at night they get hungry and order either chicken or Jjimdak. When they order chicken they have to choose the sauce between so many, the most famous ones are spicy, honey, barbecue. Then they eat the fried chicken with the sauce on it.

 

10. BINSU

Binsu is the most famous dessert in Korea. This is basically crushed ice with a topping such as fruits or biscuit and condensed milk. You can find a lot of different flavors such as mango, strawberry, chocolate, melon, oreo, berries… This dish is really big and like a lot of dishes in Korea you share it.

 

11. BULGOGI

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This dish is call Bulgogi which is marinated beef. You eat it the same way as the barbecue so in a slice of salad with side dishes. Really good!

 

12. COOKED SPICY CHICKEN

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Cooked meat with vegetables and cheese. One of my favorite meal. You basically eat the meat after that it’s cook. If you go in restaurants like this they’ll give you a burp cloth because when it’s cooking you can have spicy things jumping out of the plate. (and it’s really hard to take off).

 

13. JJIMDAK

This is my favorite meal called Jjimdak. On the picture, the first one is red Jjimdak which is chicken with cheese and vegetables. This is really good I love it. The second one is soy sauce Jjimdak which is also really really good.

 

14. RAMEN

You can’t survive in Korea without eating Ramen (noodles). It’s really cheap, easy, quick to do so this is why they do it a lot of Ramen.

Speaking of noodles they also eat udon which is bigger than ramen and doesn’t have the same taste.

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15. DAK GALBI

IMG_3032This dish looks like the number 12 but it’s a special duck meal called Dak Galbi.You’ll have inside meat, spicy sauce, rice and vegetables.

 

16. PORK FRIED CUTLET

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Koreans also eat a lot of fried pork cutlet with some sauce and cheese on it. First, it taste weird but after you get used to it.

 

17. TTEOKBOKKI and GIMPAP

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Lastly, you’ll see at the left one of the picture one of the favorite dish of Koreans : Tteokbokki which is rice cake in a spicy sauce. It doesn’t look good but it is.

At the right, you’ll see Gimbap which are rolls of vegetables, meat and rice.

 

 

Here are few examples of the food in Korea. Even if I stayed a long time there I couldn’t try everything they eat. If you go there, try to discover more flavors …

Seoul from above

What’s better that watching a city from above? Through this perspective, we are able to admire the perspectives, the architecture, the colors and the main soul of the city.

This is why I went to see Seoul from day and night on the top of two hills.

The first one was during the day on Bukhansan mountain also called Bukhansan national park. To be honest, I struggled a lot to find the entrance of the trail which allows seeing Seoul. The thing is that I came by the other way but I managed to find the entrance and get to the top. The trail is easy if you take your time. You don’t need any equipment except for good shoes. After 30 minutes to 45 minutes, you’ll be at the top admiring the beauty of the city of Seoul. The trail in itself is great, you’ll follow the old rampart of the city of Seoul.

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On the trail, you’ll find some guards that do not allow you to take certain pictures. When I asked why one of them replied that it’s to protect the city from North Korean spies. Indeed, from the top, you can see the Blue house which is the house of the head of state of South Korea.

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If you want to see Seoul from higher the best solution is to go at the Namsan tower. To do so, you can even go by walking or by taking the cable car. Because it was the afternoon and I wanted to see it at night I choose to go by walking. On the trail, I first stopped at a traditional Korean village and then I went near the tower.

 

When you arrive at the bottom of the N Seoul tower, you can see the beautiful city while watching couples put a locker on the fences or trees (Basically where they can find some space).

 

Even if you already see a lot of the city from the bottom of the tower,  the panorama at the top is even more beautiful. To go at the top you must pay 10,000 won (about 9 dollars). At night, the view is stunning. On the contrary of some cities where the tower is too high and  buildings not enough, in the city of Seoul, the contrast with lights is important. This is what makes the view pretty.

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A modern Seoul

As you may guess Seoul besides being the capital of Korea is also a modern city. Everyone know the electronic brands like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, Kia etc … These big companies actually propelled the economy of the country during the 90’s. Nowadays, if you go in Korea you will see a lot of high buildings, big screens, electronic devices everywhere.

 The most impressive example of this modernity is Seoul. This is the most developed city in Korea (which make sense because half of the population is living there).

The most impressive example of this modernity is Seoul. This is the most developed city in Korea (which make sense because half of the population is living there).

One place where you can find high, shiny, impressive buildings are in the area of Apujeong where all the plastic surgery offices are. If you are from a country where buildings are part of your life such as New York you will find nothing extraordinary. But if you are like me, from a country where high and shiny buildings are not in every corner of streets it’s a new experience.

Another place where modernity is omnipresent is at the Cheonggyecheon river. Indeed this river has been built by the city of Seoul for Koreans. Now, they are enjoying to walk there near the built river in the middle of the buildings. Honestly, before going there I wasn’t really excited of walking near a fake river between the buildings but surprisingly it was great. You don’t hear the cars, the river and vegetation near it are pretty and if you just want to grab a drink you can go upstairs and go in a building.

During the weekends a lot of Seoulites are spending time there with their family or friends.

An area of Seoul where modernity is also present is Gangnam. This business center full of men and women  wearing suits, has a lot of modern buildings with the name of the companies like Samsung on them. There is also a lot of luxury shops in beautiful buildings. If you go there at the evening lighting of the buildings is pretty.

The last example of modernity in Seoul is the huge mall called « Coex »  which is the largest in the world. This big complex is a big building. In the inside, you can find led flowers, clean areas, electronic map, glass window etc… There, you can find anything from shops to restaurants and even an aquarium. Anyway, Coex is the perfect example of a modern and moving Seoul.

At the end of the day, the modernity of Seoul and Korea is also combined with a strong traditionality. This is what makes Korea a country full of contrast and a country with a strong personality.

On a rainy day in Seoul : visiting museums

It’s happening to everyone… You perfectly planned your trip abroad but the weather is so bad that you can’t do what you organized. But you still want to do something, for example, going to a museum! But which one? Here are 3 options of museums that I visited in Seoul.

So the first one I want to talk about is one of the most famous one in the country : The war memorial museum. I went there because I wanted to learn more about the Korean war and the situation between North and South Korea.

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The part I preferred was the outside of the museum : you’ll find some signs of reunification and also the planes, boats and tanks used during the war. You can even go in one of the big boats and be immersed in the war.

After seeing the outside of the museum I was a little disappointed by the inside. The main part of the museum is not about Korean war but more about the history of Korea. It’s true that to understand the Korean war you should first understand the history of Korea but the museum wasn’t really interactive. The part about the Korean war is not an explanation of the war but a memorial for the countries which helped during the war.

After living in Korea and learned more about the Korean war I would say that I would like to visit the museum. So in order to enjoy it, I’ll recommend having some knowledge first about the war.

 

The second museum I’ve been to was the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. The thing to know about Samsung is that it’s EVERWHERE in Korea. Everyone has a Samsung, some buildings of apartments are paid by Samsung…It’s part of the culture in Korea.  By going to this museum I was expecting some modern art, seeing a lot of technology…

 

 

And it was true! Just after you walked into the place you can take a free audioguide which is a beautiful smartphone and modern earphone. You don’t have to touch the phone it will detect which object you have in front of you and explain it.

The thing about this big museum is that almost half of the museum wasn’t really interesting. Basically, it was some objects found in Korea but it was for most of them vases…

However, the other part of the museum about contemporary art is really good. I really liked it and even if I don’t understand the meaning of every piece of art I found a certain beauty in it.

 

 

The last museum I have been to was the Trick-eye museum and Ice museum (they are both in the same place). Once you found the museum which is in the basement of a building, you can have fun. Indeed this museum can’t be boring because you are interacting to make the art alive.

There is a lot of rooms and different sceneries to have fun with your friend. If you are bored this is the perfect place to take funny pictures.

To make the fun even longer you can go in the ice museum. This huge freezer will make you very cold but you’ll love it. It was the first time I saw so many big things made with ice. You can see there Santa, an igloo, a living room and even some toilet.

The most incredible thing was a big ice toboggan where you can slide on the ice.

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After 10 minutes there you’ll quickly get out because of the cold! But it’s really worth it if you’re going to the trick eye museum.

 

So here are few options to do if you want to visit a museum in Seoul or you plan changed!

 

More info about the museums:

War memorial : Price : Free, Area of Itaewon, Open every day from 9 am to 6pm except Monday.

Samsung museum: Price: 10 000 won per adults, Area of Itaewon, Open every day from 10:30 to 6pm expect Monday.

Trick-eye museum: Price :15 000 won per adult with the ice museum, Area of Hongdae, Open from 9 am to 9pm every day.

Korean markets

Markets in Korea are everywhere! If you are going to Korea you can’t miss one because they are in every city. When I first came in Korea I visited some markets because it’s really different from my country. However, once you started to live there, markets are just places where you can find cheap products and in your quotidian life.

So, what’s inside these Korean market? Everything !

Most of the time, you’ll find food. A lot of food. A lot. It’s usually not the main Korean dishes that you can eat in restaurants but more street food which is usually Gimpab, Tteokbokki, Udon skewer, Korean pancake…

 

The advantage of eating them is that you can try a lot of Korean food without ordering a whole meal. Moreover, the food in markets is really cheap (between 1000 and 2000 for one piece so between 0,86 and 1,72 $).

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In bigger markets, you will also find people eating their meal seated just next to or in front of the seller. Sometimes, Koreans actually take their meal in these crowdy and noisy markets. Eating like this is normal for Koreans because the time spent to eat is really short. They eat fast and right after they finished they go.

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Speaking of food, fish markets are also really popular in Korea. Because seafood is accessible there, people go into fishes market to get their future meal.The most famous one is the Noryangjin fish market in Seoul.There is also another big one in Busan that I already talked about in : https://travelwithtinablog.com/2016/07/04/a-day-in-busan/

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What is different from a normal fish market is first its size: so much bigger than what we are usually used to. Moreover the variety of species. You can find everything you imagined there (and also weird things that you never imagined before).

 

The last food street market that you can find in Korea is the independent shoppers on the streets. There is a lot of old people, most of the time seated on the floor selling their vegetables/fruits. Sometimes they have a carriage but most of the time they are selling their products on the streets.

 

Korean markets are also composed of clothes. There is a lot of places where you can find cheap clothes in the markets made for it. One of the most famous ones in Seoul is the  Dongdaemun market.

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However, in these kinds of places, it’s better to know some basic Korean if you want to buy something because sellers don’t speak English. If you can’t speak Korean you can always make some signs.

One thing in the clothing area in Korean markets that I loved was the socks part. They really get crazy with socks and have incredible patterns…. they are all so cute… You can find animals, princesses, heroes… everything !

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Finally, the last part in Korean markets are gadgets and toys. This is one thing that there is in Asia. You can find in street markets all kind of stuff for cheap. It’s really useful when you want to buy something but you also want it cheap. Also,  don’t hesitate to negotiate if the prices are not on the objects.

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