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Weekend Adventures: Shinchon and Hongdae

I already have a backlog of posts from the last week or so, but I had such a fun (food filled) weekend, and I happened to take a bunch of videos so I wanted to share that first. For the most part I stayed around Shinchon on Saturday and ventured out only slightly farther to Hongdae on Sunday.

I am definitely getting to that point where laziness and the draw of Netflix is beginning to win over checking things off my Korea bucket list. It finally feels like I am settling in a living here.

The second day I was in Korea I went out to Daiso in Shinchon with some girls in my program, and it not only took us forever to get there and find the store, it felt like an epic journey just getting to the area. Now, Daiso is a stop we often make as an afterthought after hanging out around Shinchon station or on the way back to the dorm after being out and about father in the city. The first week or two I didn’t want to go around Shinchon alone because I was positive I would get lost in the mayhem of the lights, cars and people. Now I have landmarks in mind and it only takes 20 minutes instead of an hour to find the restaurant I want to eat at šŸ˜‰

On Saturday some friends and I had an impromptu dinner (and dessert) adventure. Somehow we wandered down a street I don’t think we had ever been down, and we ended up finding a Korean barbecue place. That in and of itself was not a surprise, because it seems like one in three restaurants in this area is a Korean barbecue place. But since we don’t know much about the reputations of places based off of their names, we try to go into restaurants that are busy but not too busy, clean but not too fancy, and filled with the right kind of atmosphere. I don’t actually remember the name of this restaurant, but it was super delicious and was not too expensive at all–I think in the end each of us paid about 7,000won or $7 USD.
(Check out my video for epic samgyupsal food porn).

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After samgyupsal and wandering around people watching, of course the only thing left to do is get bingsu. Bingsu is a Korean shaved ice dessert, and is usually loaded up with sweet red beans, rice cakes, fruit, and any other number of flavors. There is a bingsu place that always looked amazing and delicious located about halfway between the dorms and Shinchon station. Unfortunately, every other time we have tried to go there have been way to many people in the store, and we usually travel in a large pack so it would be extra hard to find seats.

This time we were only a group of four, and being old people, we were hitting the store at the beginning of its busy time. Basically everyone else in the store was a couple…but thats Korea for you. We ordered one green tea bingsu and one fruits bingsu–both came with a large bowl of shaved ice with the respective toppings and a separate bowl full of beans and rice cakes so that the ice wouldn’t melt too quickly.

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Delicious. Bingsu is always good, but this was extra good. Also living in the dorms we almost never get fruit unless it is bananas, so needless to say we all devoured the fruit immediately. (Again, more bingsu food porn in the video–check it out).

Sunday we walked to Shinchon station and then traveled only one station away to Hongdae. One of the popular areas of Hongdae is called Parking Lot Street, which is a wide street filled with shops and street vendors on both sides, and though cars sometimes try to get through, it is basically just a pedestrian street that is crowded with young people on the weekends.

While we were wandering around we got some Hoteok for 1,000won ($1) to eat while we walked. Hoteok is a thin layer of dough surrounding a cinnamon/sugar/nut mixture and pressed on a hot skillet like a panini. SO GOOD. It tastes like a hug.

Eventually we made our way (after I stopped at yet another bookstore to buy more books…oops…but this store was so cute I had to >_<) to a coffee shop called Route 9 for a language exchange group that meets every Sunday from 3:00-6:00.

You walk in to the cafe during that time, pay 10,000won ($10), get one drink + one free refill, get a nametag that has your name and languages you speak/are trying to learn and you go to a table. In the beginning there were only a handful of people, but within minutes the entire coffee shop was filled with dozens of people who wanted to speak new languages and meet new people. Some people were cool, some people were weird, and some people were so inspirational I wanted to go home and bury myself in my textbooks. I was so overwhelmed and thrilled that I completely forgot to take a video of the exchange while it was at its height of business.

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As soon as the exchange ended, many people darted off to jobs or other obligations, but about 16 of us remained and decided to go out to dinner together. We finally ended up at a chicken place–finding enough room for 16 at the last minute is a challenge–and we spent more hours eating and getting to know each other. There was a pretty good mix of Koreans to international people, and since not everyone was a student or if they were a student they were from different universities and majors, it kept the conversation interesting.

Even though my schedule is somehow already packed with things over the next few weeks, I am definitely going to try to go back to this and other language exchanges–it was such an amazing way to meet people and get a little outside my comfort zone.

Thanks for reading about my mostly food filled weekend šŸ™‚ Next weekend is going to be a Kpop filled weekend, so music lovers stay tuned! My program is taking us on a "Kpop Tour" that will include visiting YG and JYPE and end in a concert, and Sunday I am going to a B1A4 concert here at Yonsei ^_^

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