Apr 072024

Hello! Here is a video and some pictures from our first night in Seoul. Our flight landed around 3pm but by the time we did the whole customs/baggage claim rigmarole, picked up our portable wifi thingie, and then settled on the subway as opposed to the airport train which wasn’t leaving for another hour, it was around 6pm when we arrived at our hotel in Seodaemun. This was our first time being in that area of Seoul and it ended up being quite nice and convenient. One of the entrances to the subway was literally right outside of our hotel. The only way it could have been more convenient would be if there was, I dunno, a slide from our room’s window that shot us straight down into it.

So, I think I left off on 3-23-24 saying that we had checked in and were going to refresh before going out to explore in order to stave off the jet lag. And we did just that! We walked our fucking asses off, with no plan, just soaking it all in. I was beside myself, being there again. The sounds! The smells! The sights! It was surreal. Seoul is next level. I always rope Henry into the discussion of “would Korea still feel so magical if we went here knowing nothing about it?” I just don’t know if it feels this way because I already had a strong connection to it based on how it completely changed my lifestyle in 2015/2016, or if it would still feel like Heaven to me without any of that background? I think it’s a combo of both, probably and because of that I always worry that someone will vacation there someday and be like, “The fuck was Erin talking about? This place is OK, but not all that.”

Which then leads me to start wondering about my past life again, lol.

I just asked Henry last night if he’s sad to have left (“yes”) and if he even likes Korea (“yes”) but when I started to ask if he likes it as much as I do, he cut me off and said, “No one likes anything as much you!” and “you obsessive freak” was implied at the end. :)

So, let’s enjoy an evening stroll through Seoul together, shall we?

I was excited to see that our hotel was within walking distance (maybe a 10 minute walk?) from Gwanghwamun Square, which is the lively space leading up to Seoul’s biggest and most popular palace, Gyeongbokgung. This is also where the US Embassy is which is where we needed to go the following Tuesday to get the whole marriage party started. So, that was good to know we could walk there easily if needed, but we did take the <3subway<3

I have so many pictures of this beauty from all three trips now: King Sejong – the creator of the Korean alphabet, hangul. Love him. Underneath this square, there’s a free museum for the language, as well! Don’t miss it.

To the left of this, there were some night market stalls set up and I bought a Korean mother of pearl ring off the sweetest halmeoni. Henry glared at me and I snapped, “WHAT I TOLD YOU I’M BUYING ALL OF THE THINGS THIS TIME AROUND!” The last two trips I swear we came home with nothing because we always do the, “We’ll come back and get it before we leave” bullshit and then, well, you know how that story ends.

Palace at Night vibes.

We had a lot of fun taking selfies and just hanging out in this area.

I thought my hair looked pretty decent after a billion hours on multiple planes! (Speaking of, have I mentioned that I fell in love with the Minneapolis airport? I don’t know what I was expecting, something lame like the PIT airport, but this was sparkly and vibrant and had so many shops and good food places and CARIBOU COFFEE which I miss having in Pittsburgh.)

You’re shocked to know this, but it was NOT shorts and t-shirt weather.

My favorite color palette.

OK, OK, you get the point.

We continued walking and when we saw this big ass spire thing, I knew we made it to the entrance of the Cheonggyechon Stream! Fun fact: the law firm I work at has an office in this area and I swear to god if I could ever transfer there, watch me spend every lunch break strolling around the Cheonggyechon, for real. Love that area so much!! It’s a must-do for us every trip at this point.

We have so many nice memories from this area!

It was so lively on this night!

Chooch was being ridiculous while taking pictures of us (he does this thing where he hyper-zooms in on Henry’s face multiple times so then I have to go through my camera roll and delete them all) when these three girls were walking by and stopped to ask if we wanted a picture of all of us. It was a white Australian girl and two Korean girls, all carrying yoga mats. I was like, “OMG yes please, I can’t trust him to take a nice picture” and she laughed and said, “Oh no, I don’t know how much you can trust me either! I’m not very good at taking pictures.”

So while she was taking them, her friends were coaching her and then finally one of them fully took my phone from her and started taking her own. It was so cute and this was the result:

A natural laugh/smile on my face, can you even believe it?!

Chooch always takes a series of shots and as they go on you can see the progression of my exasperation, lol. In this one, I was definitely reaching that point and probably was starting to say, “Did you get it? OK you’re done, stop, let’s go, don’t be an idiot.”  And then again, it’s me deleting a series of Henry close-ups.

Walking around the Jongno area at night is so comforting. We stayed in Jongno on our first trip there so this area is special to me/us (probably just me, who am I kidding).

It’s weird to feel this conforting familiarity when surrounded by signs that aren’t in English.

Our first tteokbokki of the trip!!

We started walking toward a more crowded area – I believe we were near Insadong – where it started to get pretty dicey trying to walk down the sidewalks because so many restaurants had tables out there and there were a ton of food stalls too. I probably would have been scared if this was anywhere else, even in America because I’m so averse to crowds, but it just felt exciting being there in the middle of it all. And we “lost” Henry for a few minutes which was funny.

At first I was like, “Why did I take a picture of the adult shop, grow up Erin” but then I remembered that I was taking a picture of the Isaac Toast window down there, which is where “we” had our first Isaac Toast experience in 2018 and by “we” I mean that Chooch got one and didn’t like it because he’s so fucking picky, so Henry and I ended up eating it and loving it. I think it was the sauce that Chooch didn’t like  – it’s sort of reminiscent of honey mustard. But overall, it’s just a really delicious sandwich. We always get the one that has the hashbrown and egg on it because it’s the only non-meat option. I dunno, I like it enough that we’ve gone back to the sit-down location in Hongdae every time since then.

Then we took the subway!! I wanted to go to Seoul Station to see if I could find a cute T-Money card because I refused to use a basic one or the one that you get per-ride.

Their first subway argument! Always fighting over the machines. Anyway, for some reason none of the T-Money card machines were in use?!!? I ended up panicking and buying some non-T-Money card called Namake which can be used for transit as well as a debit card. I only got it because they had a Wiggle Wiggle design series to choose from. Of course, right at the end of our trip, Seventeen announced that they were collabing with Namake too and had a bunch of designs lol oh well it was a moot point anyway because two days later, Chooch found a Haechan one at an eMart in one of the subway stations (the Dongdaemun one I think) so then he used my Wiggle Wiggle one until he found one that he liked too. You don’t understand – T-money cards are part of the process. You gotta get one that suits your style or you can be like Henry and get some ugly WOW PASS thing that he also used for the subway/buses.

The Seodaemun subway steps that we walked up a million times during our time in Seoul. Is it weird to miss steps.

Then we had a late night tteokbokki & banana uyu feast back at the hotel after walking around for a good four hours. What a satisfying first time, you guys. It felt like being home again. I want to inject these memories and feelings into a blanket and burrito myself in it.

Say it don't spray it.

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