The first weekend in Seoul since I arrived. Torrents of rain! Humidity. Can’t move out of the bed, jet lagged. Stayed late in bed, really late, like 2 PM. Back to the weather. It’s the Monsoon season and this means heat, humidity, rain. 24/7. It’s good all public places are air conditioned, including all the buses and the metro. Every time you get out though…
If there are no friends around, I would stay home the how weekend when the weather is so bad. But I’m back and I have to see some friends, and they say they want to see me too. This what I did. I met Ariana couple of months ago, a true digital nomad that traveled the world but found kind of home in Seoul (cannot blame her, I like it here too). So had to move my butt to Sinsa – up and coming part of Gangnam, famous with great places for shopping. Used to be very hipsterish, but big brands moved fast. Still, it’s really interesting part of the city and I love to hang out there whenever I can. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to live there, it’s sooo expensive.
The problem with meeting girlfriends in this area is they always have to go to 16 shops before they meet you. Worked perfectly in my case as I needed some time to get my morning (actually late afternoon) coffee and pretend I’m studying Korean. I’m actually trying hard but it takes a lot of time.
Another night, another great Korean BBQ. Seoul already feels home, and you know, when you are home you just know the great food restaurants, right – no need to check ratings in apps. So no time on the phone, but when I met Ariana, we just walked around in a search for a place to eat. It’s never bad strategy in Seoul. There are hundreds of restaurants 5 min away from where you are, anywhere you are! Koreans like to eat out. This results in so many places and all of them serve good Korean food (have some comments on International food, but I will write about this separately)
Saturday night you cannot stay home in Seoul. It’s not possible, it’s forbidden. The police will come and get you out on the street and ask you to party! It’s a city that never sleeps, and weekends are crazy as hell. There’s no better place to party in Seoul but Hongdae.
Oh, Hongdae!!! I considered moving to live there but at the end, the reason prevail. This is where most of the universities are and you can imagine what your people do when they don’t study. (Here they study hard and party hard, I think they’ve figured out how not to sleep at all for at least 4 years).
Taxi from Gangnam to Hongdae Is just 11,000 won (EUR 8) and even less if you share a taxi. Fast, efficient. The only problem is taxi drivers here don’t speak English and most of them can’t even read in English so you have to be really good in pronouncing your destination or have it written down with really BIG Korean letters. Taxi drivers here always use navigation so don’t expect they will know that famous bar you are going. You can pay cash, credit card or T-money(public transportation card).
Partying in Hongdae is always good. You start with buying some drinks (beer or soju – Korean low alcoholic drink) from the hundreds of convenient stores spread around the area. Then you sit in a park, listen to some people busking and talk with your friends. People that you don’t know may come great and ask you questions. They just like the way you look ( Koreans will say stare at you and say it out loud they like you!) or they figured out you speak English so they want to practice a bit. Either way, it’s always fun meeting new people. I started doing this as well and it’s fun.
That night we joined a group of friends that turned to be quite international – Spanish couple that is doing translation startup and is traveling all over Asia, a girl from Egypt, a Polish friend that stayed here forever and speaks Korean line native and a couple of Koreans. Man, was a bit rainy, so we had to change places, but on the way to finding a place I met a French girl and two guys and I spent 30 min talking to them. It’s always good to meet new people.
Then more soju, more beer, and another bar in Hongdae. Oh, this was a surprise. Was a bit underground place, not fancy at all, with very basic furniture but great DJ that was playing world music. There was a stage with a full drum set and all, so I guess they have live music some of the days. I was not in a mood for any alcohol so I was astonished to find out they have Club Mate. It almost felt I’m in Berlin, seriously – the simplistic interior, music choice and now Club Mate, can’t be more hipsters than that. Then taxi and do not remember anything but my bed.