Our time in Korea was coming to an end. Andrew and I had been Couch Surfing in and around Seoul for close to two weeks, so that we could experience more of the city before we shipped out. We wanted to walk away feeling like we had checked off a lot of the Korea Bucket List.
On our very last day at the apartment, Andrew and I threw on our backpacks and grabbed the last of the boxes. We lugged those things onto a bus and to the local post office. After we had mailed off the boxes, we hopped on a bus to Seoul.
We made a new friend in Gongdeok, while we had our first Couch Surfing experience. His name is Jooahn, and he is a really positive, outgoing person. We had a lot of fun times with him and with his other Couch Surfers!
Jooahn was really helpful and caring. He took a lot of his time and took us to different places. He helped translate and figure out the best way to accomplish our last todos. There were some things we needed to do before we left Korea, and only a few days left!
We got in one last bar night with him before we left the country. It was a place called Passion Potato. They serve french fries from a cone that sits in a hole in the table.
We couch surfed two more times before we left Korea. Both times it worked out great, and the host was super accommodating. We got our own room and the hosts were really nice and interesting to talk to.
It was convenient being able to stay in Seoul because everything we wanted to do was in the city center. We enjoyed ourselves and took our time, as we explored in and around Seoul.
One of the first things I wanted to do was put a lock on the Namsan Tower. I read all about it and got hyped up, hahaha. The idea of it was really appealing, and I had already bought the lock, so we went off and made our way to the tower.
After taking a gondola up to the main platform, I started to see the colorful locks. The closer we got, the more interesting it became. There were soooo many locks! Stacks of locks protruded from the fence in some places.
The next day, we visited Dondaemun and the market streets. Apparently the entire area is a gigantic market that is divided into five shopping districts situated over 10 blocks. We didn’t even make it down an entire road! Some side roads got us all turned around and I’m pretty sure we zigzagged through the place.
On a different day, we visited a cute neighborhood called Bukchon Hanok Village. The weather was nice, for a winter day, and there weren’t too many people. Walking down the streets was fun and everything was really interesting.
Our friend Jooahn went with us this day, and as we walked, he told us that the village had been the setting of many famous Korean movies/TV shows. It was interesting to see several models posing in the streets to have a professional picture taken. “For their portfolios,” we were told.
We did a little bit of shopping and then sat down to eat lunch. Not too long after we started walking again, we stumbled into a movie scene in the street. The director shouted Korean through a loudspeaker, and everyone quieted down and cleared the road to stand on the sidewalks. I was straining to see what was being filmed. Turns out, it was a simple scene where the two main characters walked down the street, hand in hand. We watched from the side street and heard the “action!” and “cut!” from the director, in Korean of course.
Soon before we left, we tried to go out in search of an action camera, so that we could document our travels in a cool way. We couldn’t decide on which one to get, so we wanted to see what choices there were. Our time was running out, so it was nearly impossible to buy it online and receive it before our flight. We ended up browsing through this popular place in Yongsan. It’s called the Electronics Market.
Almost every side street, within several square blocks were filled with shops and vendors. It seemed that each had it’s own thing goin on. The shop would have a purpose, say, to sell CCTV cameras and accessories. And that would be the only thing they sold. We saw one shop where all they sold was rice cookers. Another sold nothing but used TVs.
We made a brief visit to Gangnam, too. Because… why not? Now we can say we’ve visited Psy’s hometown, hahaha..
We also made it to a PC room! I was excited to do this because I had read so much about “bangs.” Korea is famous for their karaoke rooms, called noraebangs. Their PC bangs are popular too, especially among our students. So we found one in Seoul and checked it out. There were only a couple games that we could play on the computers, so we ended up playing the Starcraft. Either we couldn’t understand the game because it was in Korean, or we were unable to create a game account. But we took advantage of the cheap entertainment (roughly $1 for an hour of playtime.. Crazy cheap!!), and we had a fun time 🙂
In the same area, we stumbled upon a comic book cafe! It was really neat to go inside. I had always wanted to visit a comic book shop. The basement stairs led down into a quiet room. People were sitting around reading. There were so many themes to choose from, and they used an awesome display system. The walls were actually three-layered, sliding bookcases. Such a good idea for housing many many books. I’m not sure if this is a paid cafe, but we just snuck down there to poke around. I was amazed.
We had been to many different places in a short amount of time, but there was one restaurant in particular that we really wanted to go to, one last time, before we left. It’s called Copa Cabana, and it’s a Brazilian, fantastic, all-you-can-eat restaurant in Itaewon. For $30, we stuff ourselves with delicious grilled meats and steak. They also offer a small self bar with tasty side dishes and salad ingredients.
All of the grilled meats are brought to your table on a sword-sized grill spit. They bring out more than 5 different meats, one at a time, and then at the end, just when you think you’ve eaten too much and your stomach will burst, they give you slices of a pineapple that has been smothered in brown sugar and roasting on the grill. It is soooooooo good!!
The next couple of days were a blur between getting visa stamps, mailing out the rest of our stuff, and coordinating appointments and “goodbye” meetups. We went out everyday to hustle and get things done, and before you know it, we were on our way to the Incheon Airport.