After having spent a lovely first weekend in Seoul meeting with Geonha’s brother and his fiancee and touring a few of my favorite spots I was ready to start a new week in Korea. I started my Monday morning in the hotel “gym” where I – whilst wearing a mask – spent a grueling 30 minutes on a treadmill in a small room without or with very little air conditioning. Don’t ask me why I did this. I still don’t know why I chose to harm myself that morning (or the other mornings for that matter).
Freshly showered (and immediately drenched in sweat from the humid Korean summer) I walked around Sinchon and decided to have another bibimbap lunch. I’m a big fan of the franchise 본죽 & 비빔밥 cafe where their 본나물비빔밥 is my option of choice. To my luck another one opened up right by Daeheung station, so there are now two within walking distance from Sinchon.
I like that the bibimbap comes with a variety of veggies and the sauce is not too spicy. In fact, I always ask for an extra pack of sauce as I find only one to be a bit too bland.
After eating lunch I strolled along the streets of Sinchon a bit more and was sad to find that my favorite stationary store Penpia had not survived the pandemic.
Then I went back to my hotel for a bit of rest before meeting one of my Korean students from Denmark for dinner. She’s currently studying Korean in Seoul for 6 months and it was so cool to see her again.
We met at Hapjeong station and had dinner at 순남 시래기 – a Korean franchise restaurant that used to be my go-to lunch place when I was working at Sogang. I love this place because they have the best 반찬 sidedishes and it’s so cheap.
On Tuesday I had made plans to meet Geonha’s friend from school (many of his friends have since become my friends) for dinner but that meant I had the first part of the day to myself. In the morning I set out for Myeongdong knowing full well that the experience would probably be very different from the last time I was there. Myeongdong is a shopping district that particularly caters to foreigners with tons of shops selling all kinds of Korean cosmetics and fashion and the staff speaking at least three languages so that they can best serve the many tourists who come here. Well, as you may have imagined, covid has put a stop to the formerly crowded neighborhood and now only a few shops remain open. It was never the busiest area before noon but it still felt like I was walking through a ghost town with all the closed and boarded-up shops.
It felt quite depressing to be honest, and although this was never my favorite part of Seoul, I used to come here occasionally (mostly for the street food). I hope the area will have a revival before too long.
In the evening I met with Geonha’s friend Daeyeon in Sinchon. We first caught up over a cup of coffee before eating 닭갈비 – a spicy grilled chicken dish that originates from the Chuncheon area. It felt good to talk about all the things that are best talked about face to face and we both shared many stories of Geonha. I find that meeting with the people who knew him and talking about him is the best way to continue to carry him with me, so I really cherish moments like these.
Wednesday was a rainy day and I hardly managed to go outside. I had made plans to meet a Danish girl in Seoul but she canceled last minute so my only time stepping out of my hotel room was when housekeeping came to clean my room. I spent about an hour reading at a nearby Starbucks before going back to my room. Then I just spent a lazy afternoon watching a bit of Netflix and Youtube and went to bed early.
Thursday was way more fun! I had made plans to meet up with Billy from GoBilly Korean to shoot a video about how to improve your listening skills. The video will be up sometime later in the fall but I’ll let you know here on the blog. We met at my hotel lobby and then went for lunch. I wanted to introduce Billy to a very old and traditional restaurant that specializes in 평양 냉면 cold buckwheat noodles Pyongyang style, so I took him to the 을밀대 shop in Daeheung. The place is insanely popular, so if you go during lunch time you should be prepared to wait in line for up to 30 minutes. It’s well worth it though.
Then we went to the nearby 경의선숲길 park to shoot the video. It was scorching hot that day so when you eventually watch it kindly ignore the drops of sweat on my forehead 😅
This concludes the second part of my Korea diaries. I’ll be posting the third before too long. Have a lovely week everyone!