Asia South Korea

More Than A Stopover in Seoul

I first visited Seoul on a stopover coming back from China in January 2019. There are a lot of great things to say about China, but it was also pretty tough in some ways, and I remember being unbelievably excited that places in Seoul would take my foreign credit card. I had told myself that I would return at some point, because I could tell that I needed more than 24 hours to explore the city, and it ended up working with my flight path for this trip! I was so happy to get the chance to take more time in Seoul, which remains one of my favorite places in East Asia. I got an Airbnb near the Mapo train station, and it had cool views both during the day and at night.

One of the fun things since the last time I’ve been in Seoul is that I’ve gotten more interested in Korean media. I still haven’t watched any K dramas yet (I know, I need to!) but I did see Parasite in the theater, became mildly obsessed with it, and have been working my way through Bong Joon-ho’s entire filmography. So I was super excited to come across this view of the river.

Yes, that is the monster from The Host (2006). Not the Stephanie Meyer one. Look it up and join me in this rabbit hole. Not too far away is the Korean version of Denmark’s Little Mermaid, and she’s even smaller this time.

I also did a couple things that I found overrated – I went to the top of N Seoul Tower, which had cool views of the city but otherwise felt a little touristy, and went to the bookstore at COEX mall, which was cool to see but obviously I wasn’t the only one who went to go take pictures so it wasn’t exactly my optimal bookstore experience (which is walking through in a fugue state and picking up every book with a cool cover to see if the plot looks interesting).

My favorite thing in Seoul is still just wandering. Especially given my next destination on this trip is not a good place to just walk aimlessly (more on this later), so I was truly savoring it in Seoul. I love getting lost in a place and then trying to figure it out. At one point, I was trying to meet a friend for lunch and I ended up on some sort of pathway, and then had to try to figure out how to get back on a normal street again.

I also love in the East Asian cities how the temples are built seamlessly into ultra modern parts of cities – I still think about that photo I took in Beijing with the temple with the Old Navy sign in the background. I had a fun time trying for some artsy shots in Seoul as well.

One of the other things I was most excited about was getting the chance to do a day trip to the DMZ! I would have loved to go last time but I didn’t have time. The next post will be focused on my experience there before I left the Korean peninsula for my next country and 5th continent.

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