It’s already been a week since I’ve arrived in Korea. Time has gone by so fast, and I’m scared that 2016 will fly by too quickly! Anyway, during this first week in Korea, I checked off a few things I had on my to-do list. Shopping for makeup and clothes was a given (so might do a haul post later on), so here are some of the other highlights of the week.
I started off the first few days of my stay in Korea with lots of food that I had been craving. My family went to get bossam, which is boiled pork belly that is thinly sliced and eaten in a ssam (a vegetable wrap). Many Korean dishes are family-style, so in New York it is harder for me to enjoy them since I often eat alone or just with a few other people.
Then we visited the Fish Market in Noryangjin. I was pretty stoked to check this place out, since the entirety of Seoul considers it the go-to place for fresh seafood. We bought a whole pack of salmon and devoured it for dinner.
Next on the list was hair! I was originally thinking about bleaching my hair for a short, ombre look, but decided that growing roots would be enough to deal with for a busy student, let alone taking care of bleached hair prone to damage.
So I cut away six inches of my long hair and colored it a bright ash brown. I also purchased a new pair of glasses (call them Harry Potter or retro, I like them either way!) instead of getting the LASIK surgery. I was 90 percent sure that I was gonna get the surgery, but changed my mind last minute and decided to get it when I’m a little bit older and my eyesight has stabilized a bit more. It would definitely be a lot more convenient to live without having to wear glasses or contacts, but I don’t want to take any risks.
On Wednesday my Dad took an unexpected day off, so the whole family headed out to Lotte World! If you’ve kept up with my travels, I’ve visited Lotte World quite a few times during the past few years, but my parents were pretty excited because they hadn’t been there in over a decade. I was excited too, since it was probably the first time my whole family had gone to a theme park since I was in high school.
Post-rollercoaster ice cream cones! We thought there wouldn’t be that many people since we went on a weekday, but it was still pretty crowded…we had to wait for over an hour for this ride!
Normally we would also go outside for the rest of the rides, but it was freezing out and we had bought tickets for a musical that night, so we headed out to Gangnam to catch the musical. The musical was called 작업의 정석 (roughly translated into ‘The Art of Seduction’); the majority of the audience were couples, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the show…
When we stepped outside after the musical was over, it was drizzling. We walked over to a nearby restaurant to get Al tang (알탕), a spicy fish roe soup. It was my first time trying it, but the soup base was similar to a lot of other Korean soups, and I love eating fish roe, so the taste was somewhat familiar. We also ordered sannakji (산낙지). Nakji is a type of octopus I think…and it’s cut up fresh while still alive and served with a side of sesame oil and salt! The sight of little tentacled legs squirming on the plate can be a little revolting at first, but once you get into it, you can’t stop.
Overall a very tiring day, but sooo worth it.
The next day started with a beautiful breakfast thanks to Mama Seo: A sunny side up on top of a crispy toast, served with baby greens and sweet potato – along with a glass of yogurt with fruit and nuts inside.
For lunch, I headed out to Apgujeong to meet my friends from high school. We got sushi (YOU CAN NEVER GET TIRED OF SUSHI) at a place called 은행골, then walked over to Garosugil, where we sat down with a nice chocolate cake and coffee to catch up and talk about our lives.
On Christmas Eve, I did some holiday shopping with my mom, and went to Church for the NYE service. Our family left for Cheonan early morning the next day to beat the traffic.
Grandma had moved into a new apartment, so I got to see her new place for the first time – and I went to Toujours (one of my favorite bakeries – unfortunately they only have locations in Cheonan) for some delicious baked goods.
Feasting is the norm at the Seo family gatherings. Enough said.
The next day, the whole family gathered at Grandma’s house for family pictures. We were going to make a reservation at a photo studio, but in the end we decided to DIY the whole deal, and the photographer duties were delegated to me! We moved all the furniture in the living room to one side, and turned the room into a temporary photo zone. I think the pictures turned out great, and I got to take a lot of candids, which we wouldn’t have been able to get at a professional studio. After this fun photoshoot, we visited a “healthy Korean-Chinese restaurant” that was featured on TV for using all-natural ingredients and no MSG. Their specialty was the flower pork; it was basically a type of deep-fried pork tempura and it was delicious.
After the drive back to Seoul, we ordered some classic comfort foods – fried chicken and Korean pizza with a delicious sweet potato crust.
I think this was enough junk food for 2015 and the first few days of 2016.
I’ve run most of my errands and lots of friends are in Seoul; I’m excited to meet up and hang out with all of them! The next few weeks should be fun.