So, i finally made my way to Korea (South Korea that is, can’t wait to check out the North), and I finally got to experience Autumn in its full red and fiery glory.
Korea is not a place that overwhelms you immediately as you first set foot into the country, or at least, not me. But with each day, i uncovered something i really like, and before i knew it, I was reasonably charmed.
I don’t usually do Lists, but i’m feeling very organized today. So here goes, the 4 things i love about Korea.
I like how the beach is right outside your office. Taking a walk along Haeundae Beach, we saw salary men clad in suits talking a walk by the sea at lunch hour. That’s my kind of lunch hour.
The walk from the beach to the Dongbaek Park was absolutely gorgeous with unobstructed views of the ocean littered with rock formations. And the view of the city from Jangsan mountain was well worth the hike.
2.Mountains, Mountains, Seoraksan!
Koreans love their mountains, and so do I. I love seeing the old folks gather in their full hiking gear on the streets and the subways, looking a lot more energetic than the young Samsungnites. There’s no shortage of outdoor gear shops, and no end to the beauty of the mountains. I came to Korea for autumn leaves, and i found myself in a fairy tale in Seoraksan.
The Journey from Seoul
Make the journey from Seoul, it’s worth it. Get yourself to Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, which is just outside Gangbyeon Metro station. Buy a ticket to Sokcho Intercity bus terminal ( 2.5 hours), and then take a cab to Seoraksan National Park (15-20 mins)
3. Old Seoul, New Seoul
Nevermind the bus loads of tourists disturbing your royal moments in the palaces. Changdeokgung Palace and its massive Secret Garden (which is very popular hence they should rename it to something more accurate such as Open Secret Garden or The No Longer Secret Garden) is really pretty. Go just 2 hours before it closes, and you get some zen.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is massive, which does nothing to dilute the crowds. But still, you find pockets of peace. I love how tall glittery buildings form the backdrop of the palace on one end, and hills on the other.
Nestled between the palaces are Bukchon village and Samcheongdong. For some reason, i was really taken up with how hip Bukchon (the old) and Samcheongdong (the new) are. If you’re in Samcheongdong but don’t want to eat at another hipster indie cafe with organic coffee, head to Samcheong Hwa for a solid Korean meal (The bugolgi was really delicious). A local’s recommendation and i was proud to have diligently queued like a Singaporean. Here’s a review i later found: http://www.koreablogs.net/blog/samcheong-hwa-restaurant/
4. Fake-Nose and Double Eyelid Spotting
I indulged in this activity heavily when i was Seoul. Seriously, where else in the world could this be a reasonably fulfilling activity? Every time i spotted a nose job suspect on the subway, I analyze. And every time a girl closes her eyes, i try to determine if the crease was natural. People-watching can be quite an intense activity.
I have some unfinished business with South Korea and i’m definitely making a return trip. I’m heading to Ulleungdo (google it) the next time, if the ocean permits!