Seoul, S. Korea: Day One, Two

By the time we arrived in Seoul and got to our hotel it was about 11:00pm. It was temping to hit the sack right away after traveling for approximately nine hours (from Tokyo, Japan) but with only three full days in Seoul, a number of us decided to maximize our time in this amazing city and go out instead.

A handful of us MIMers met up with Junu, a 2009 MIM grad who recently moved back to Seoul for work after studying for a number of years in the U.S. It was very cool because just a few weeks earlier we had been hanging out together (mostly at his farewell parties) in Portland, Oregon, and now we were hanging out in Seoul together!

Junu took us to the University District where we got to try some delicious food and then checked out one of their most popular clubs, M2. M2 is a techno club and quite an interesting cultural experience as everyone “dances” (more like “bounces”) in synch (and yes, this was an important part of the Korean culture that we needed to experience!) . There are key moves that the whole crowd will do at the same time and then the crowd will pause (and you are not supposed to move at all as one of us was instructed by a local) while the music dies down. As it picks up you are allowed to move and bounce around again with the techno beat. It is great!

Clubs and bars often stay open until 5am or later. Like one Korean expat in Portland told me recently, “Koreans work very hard. But they also play very hard.” When we were finally leaving M2 around 3am, we were amazed that that is when the club started to get packed!

The next day MIMers enjoyed our one free day in Seoul. Many MIMers went on a wonderful excursion organized by MIM’s Korean students, Sunghoon Jung and Sena Nam. This involved sightseeing at the president’s residence, the royal palace and dressing up in traditional Korean garb (if I can get some MIMers to hand over their photos of them dressed in traditional Korean outfits I will happily post them on the blog later – it was the perfect photo op!). Since I had been to these sights on a prior trip to Seoul, I opted to join a few MIMers for a delicious Korean BBQ lunch followed by a visit to the Korean War Museum. MIMers thoroughly enjoyed our full free day in Seoul…thank you “Old MIM” for suggesting it (as they did not get a full free day in Seoul the previous year), and thanks Dr. Allen for working it into the schedule!

This is how we were greeted when we stepped off the plane and on to our private tour bus - bright upholstery, neon lights and a big screen TV...we all knew immediately that we were going to love Seoul.

Junu and the taxi driver share a serious conversation on the way to the University District, Seoul, S. Korea. I could not believe how busy it was at midnight...

Naoki Hirai (MIM 2011) points the way, University District, Seoul

Walking through the University District in Seoul we discovered a karaoke place that looked like a doll house (if you look closely there are people sitting high up on "furniture" inside) - so fun!

A crowded Seoul restaurant even at 12 midnight! This is early by Seoul standards!

MIMers Davvy Lee (full time 2011), Naoki Hirai (full time 2011) and Lisa Stensby (2nd year part time 2011) still going strong after arriving in Seoul at 11pm following a 9-hour day of travel from Tokyo, Japan!

MIM in Seoul! Ali Mondragon (2nd year part time 2011), Junu (MIM 2009) and Xintong "Jackie" Wang (full time 2011) used to hang out in Portland, Oregon together and are now hanging out in Seoul, Korea together!

MIMers Davvy Lee (from Malaysia), Naoki Hirai (from Japan) and Xintong "Jackie" Wang (from China - not in this photo) fought over rights to cook our dinner!

This restaurant was right across the street from M2...I thought the ice cream cups were super cute and I loved the sliding doors.

We loved this place that Junu took us to - the seafood and broth was SO delicious!

Korean BBQ lunch: No one knew what to do with these when they were brought to our table. In the U.S. I have only known multi-colored corn to be something you decorate with around Thanksgiving. We had to ask our waitress what to do with it. These were the appetizers and were not meant to be put on the grill - they were very tasty.

Korean BBQ + Kewpie doll (thought it would be a good idea to get Kewpie in all the MIM travel photos...this was a very short lived idea)

Food carts, Seoul style! (There is a lot of octopus on this cart)

Memorials on the grounds of the Korean War Museum

MIM 2011 full time students, Steven Sin and Michael Mellein in front of the Korean War Museum

Flags on display outside the entrance to the Korean War Museum

UN flags on display at the Korean War Museum

A tear drop sculpture made out of dog tags, Korean War Museum

Refugee Camp replicas, Korean War Museum

Old time battleship history, Korean War Museum

Serious business, Korean War Museum

There are emergency stations like this in the subway in Seoul - gas masks and the like.

We picked these treats up at a 7-11 in the Seoul subway station - donut-like deliciousness with creamy filling, made fresh!

When all else fails, head to the alleyways to try to find a good restaurant, right?!

Steven Sin (full time MIM 2011) was quite pleased that this Seoul restaurant served Coke in glass bottles.

I am a fan of Pepsi (it's a growing up in Hawaii thing), so I find Pepsi packaging and taste very interesting in foreign countries. Seoul has very tasty Pepsi, say, in comparison to Hanoi, Vietnam...

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Filed under Ali's Entries, Asia Trip, Food, South Korea

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