Our final destination on this fabulous change of plan trip to Korea was the capital city, Seoul. We hopped off of the budget bus we took from Jeonju (which was still such a remarkably nice bus compared to the ones we’ve been taking recently) and headed straight to the Dongdaemun design plaza. A remarkable space located right on a metro line. The sleek and futuristic metal sheeted buildings and surrounding sculptures make a perfect playground for any photographer. So many different angles and lights to capture! There are places to eat and shop both inside and out of the buildings making it even more enticing to stick around this area for a while. A space also exists inside one of the buildings where designers can display their projects or set up shops to sell their goods. It’s an amazing place to find something unique and special. A center for arts and culture is one of the best things to have at the heart of any city and I’m glad we got to see this one in Seoul.
Space aged vibes in S. Korea’s capital city
The second day spent exploring Seoul was by far my favorite. For starters it was my amazing, kind hearted, always inspiring partners birthday! Liam was feeling a bit jaded about this being the last year before he turns thirty but luckily we had an exciting day ahead of us to make this birthday memorable. Our first stop was to Bukhansan National Park. We were both so thrilled with our visit to Mudegusan National Park in Gwangju that as soon as we saw there was this park near Seoul we knew we had to go. It exceeded any expectations we had. We received a great 6 km trail loop suggestion from the ranger and set off into the park. Seeing as how it was a weekday the place was quite empty which made our experience hiking up through another dazzling display of fall colours even more special.
What a beautiful birthday
The hike led up to a 12 km fortress built along the top of part of this mountain range. It looked to us like something that came straight off the Great Wall of China! It was magical to see this piece of Korean history and architecture on the top of somewhere so beautiful. The vista looking further into the mountains was breathtaking, especially seeing the large jagged peak cutting through the foliage below.
Perfect hike all the way through
After wrapping up one of the most lovely hikes we’ve had we set of for Liam’s birthday dinner, and what did the birthday boy want? An all you can eat Korean BBQ experience, of course. We walked through a massive hectic beauty shopping center, I’ve never seen so many cosmetics brands in one place and so many people so excited to shop for them. It’s basically exactly what I thought shopping in Korea would look like. The BBQ was such a fun way to share an all you can eat meal. We kept grillin’ and piling up plates of meat and various side dishes. I think it’s safe to say we beat the buffet on this one.
We didn’t get a picture of the BBQ but by the end of the meal we felt like this cute chubby cat napping
Because Liam’s the world’s best boyfriend, when we saw a cat cafe being advertised in the streets he whisked me upstairs to go see the 52 cats there because he knew I’d love it. On his birthday. Unbelievably sweet and I couldn’t feel any luckier to have him. Although I must admit I think Liam loved sippin on a cinnamon iced coffee and hanging out with these balls of fluff every bit as much as I did. There was a little girl who came over and kept giving the cats little treats and watching them chase the feathers on a stick we had, which made the experience even sweeter.
Liam and his new friends, as if I needed further proof that he’s a complete keeper 🙂
We woke up the next day to a day of full rain forecasted, so we decided to keep it relaxed and just head out to spend the day at the National Museum of Korea. The building was clean and beautifully modern. To make things even better, entry to the museum is free of charge, and all the exhibits are in Korean and English! As you would expect it was the biggest collection of Korean historical artefacts that we’ve ever seen. Wandering between rooms and taking in the various ancient tools, ceramics from various dynasties, and vintage to more modern pieces of art and calligraphy was fantastic.
Traditional calligraphy set
Before travelling in Korea I had never come across the brand “Lotte” but after a few days it was clear to see it was a massive company. There were Lotte department stores, Lotte groceries, Lotte fast food chains… You name it, the Lotte corporation had it! So when we found out the largest building in Seoul was the Lotte World Tower it made sense. Since we were already heading to see the mammoth Lotte skyscraper we figured we might as well check out their shopping center and fast food chain as well. The shopping center was jam packed with over the top features including an aquarium, an ice rink, a VR immersion room, and some train rides for children. Its kind of what I imagined the Mall of America would be like. As for the fast food chain, it was pretty bang average, with the exception of their spicy chicken sandwich which was pretty standout.
We were going to try to skate until we figured breaking an ankle while travelling was probably a bad idea
The World Tower is the sixth tallest skyscraper in the world, a curved glass exterior reaching far past any surrounding building. It bears some resemblance to London’s Shard with the glass peak jutting out at the top of the building. There’s a beautiful lake park right across the street where you can take a walk and get even better views. In the center of one of the two lakes here there’s also what looks like a mini Disney castle with more rides, so if you were travelling with kids it’d absolutely be a place you’d get talked into going.
What a building! But imagine having to take the stairs to the top floor
The final dinner we’d have in Korea rolled around and I genuinely think it was one of the best meals either of us have had. Jokbal is a famous Korean dish, it’s spiced pigs trotters. The pork is tender and the fat is silky and super flavorful. We got a combination of the original Chinese five spice jokbal and fire jokbal that had a sweet and spicy chili glaze on it. Absolutely mouthwatering. The meal also came with a massive amount of wonton soup and all of the incredible sides we’ve become so used to in Korean cuisine. This was such a highlight to end our wonderful time in Korea. The whole trip here really could not have worked out any better, it was surprising in all the best ways and we’re so grateful for that. A country filled with convenience, an amazing respect and preservation towards nature, and unbelievably good food to share with kind people. We will definitely come back when we’re older and would recommend a trip here to anyone!
I’ve been Emily Colorado and you can check me out on Instagram
Goodbye Korea! Thanks for the warm sendoff