Seoul Must-Do #17: Spend a relaxing night at Hongdae!
I’ve said it before, and I’m going to say it again – Hongdae is my favorite place in Seoul! It’s got a vibe that I love, and every night, I find myself wanting to go back there just to soak myself in the atmosphere of street performers, good food, Koreans hanging out with their friends, etc. I wish we have such a place in Singapore!
Seoul Must-Do #18: Visit Noryangjin Wholesale Market!
If you have not been to at least one of the wholesale markets and have a meal there, you’ve kind of wasted your trip to Seoul. Seafood is really fresh at such markets before they are slaughtered just before cooking! Plus, if you want to try the raw octopus legs served in fragrant sesame oil, this is the right place to do it. Yes, even I-who-dare-not-take-raw-food took a bite of the squirmy delicacy and declared it was not as bad as I imagined, even quite yummy.
Our meal was an absolutely delightful one though it was not as cheap as I thought it would be. It was one of the most expensive meals we’ve had in Seoul though I felt it was justified because everything was premium seafood, fresh and delicious. The ajummas at the market would recommend the best way to cook every ingredient, so unless you are a great cook yourself, I suggest that you just leave it to them to settle everything for you. The octopus legs were eaten raw, with a generous sprinkle of sesame oil, seeds and seaweed. The scallops were simply boiled and eaten dipped in sesame oil. Super sweet!
Prawns were barbecued and our humongous crab was steamed. After we had devoured the firm flesh of the crab, the roe was used to cook fried rice for us. Super delicious!
We were filled to the brim but could not resist this last dish of fried rice. Deliriously happy after such a hearty and sumptuous meal – You must surely go and try it yourself!
Seoul Must-Do #19: Enjoy Korean BBQ!
It was only after a visit to a Korean BBQ shop in Seoul that I finally understood why the characters in Korean dramas always looked extremely happy whenever their bosses treated them to Korean beef – Korean beef is crazy expensive in Seoul! We wanted to complete our Seoul experience by having at least a BBQ meal and try out authentic Korean beef, but all we could afford was a tiny serving of it without having to go hungry the remaining days. The experience was nice enough – with a staff who helped us to cook the beef to perfection (he used a temperature checker to ensure that the stove was of the right temperature before putting the beef slices on!).
I have to say that Korean beef, though expensive, really tasted good. We reminiscence the taste so much that we went to another BBQ place the following night (a much cheaper on this time round) and ordered cheaper versions of beef so that we could eat to our heart’s contents.
Seoul Must-Do #20: Spend A Night At The Bathhouse
Don’t share I don’t share, but spending a night at the bathhouse not only gives you a complete experience of Seoul living, it also saves you one night of accommodation! If there is only one thing you can do from my list of twenty, this is the one you should go for! Admittedly, I didn’t have a good sleep there at all, but I had no regrets and I would totally do it again!
This one that we went to is Silom Bathhouse, and there are many levels of resting halls, baths, sauna rooms and sleeping rooms. Yes, you go absolutely naked in the baths, but males and females are separated so it’s really not so bad. Having said that, I would be too shy to go with my friends though. I was there alone with mostly ajumma strangers, so it was still okay. No photographs allowed inside the baths for obvious reasons, but just imagine huge pools of different kinds of heated water containing different minerals for different healing purposes. After soaking in the hot baths, you can try soaking in the icy cold bath for contrast (supposedly good for skin elasticity) but I didn’t find the courage then. When we checked in, it was already after 11pm at night – way too cold, thankyouverymuch. The hot baths were awesome though!
We are not fans of saunas – Cold or hot, so we just visited a few just to have a feel of it. I was so amazed to see so many people sleeping through the night in a room as hot as 40 degree celsius – HOW DO THEY BREATHE?! The cold room was –17 degrees celsius and I merely stayed two seconds inside before deciding I would die if I didn’t step out immediately. There was even a room that was as hot as 80 degree celsius, which was obviously not for staying long unless you planned on cooking yourself alive. There was nobody inside but I could not even make my way past the door because the heat made my eyes impossible to open!
Besides the saunas, there were dormitories for sleeping as well and apparently, the air and temperature were controlled to provide for deep sleep. I didn’t opt to sleep inside because the dormitories are male & female separated, but personally, I found it a little too stuffy for any good sleep.
And of course, while you are there, make sure you buy some food and drinks to complete the whole bathhouse experience – Tea leaf eggs and barley tea are staples.
The Korean bathhouse experience was indeed an exquisite one that left me plenty of happy memories! I’d love to do it again when I revisit Seoul. :) And this sums up my whole series on Seoul Travel, and you can read back past entries here.