Asia,  Seoul,  South Korea,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #4: Seoul with friends

I didn’t think you could see so many familiar faces in Seoul (which isn’t the number one tourist destination in Asia), but here it is, who looks alike comes together 😀 my friends also love Seoul!

We are fortunate to be in Seoul at the same time as J., who has lived and studied in Seoul and is fluent in Korean. As a result, he made us feel less guilty about a lot of things: like our difficulty to find good restaurants, or despite our insistence, the dishes are always served super spicy…

He explained to us that not only was Seoul less interesting gastronomically than the south of Korea, but moreover, many dishes are already prepared and simmered hours in advance => hence the inevitable red soup that we are served when we were told that we did not want chilli pepper

Because of the language barrier, there are a lot of things we didn’t dare to do (for fear of ordering a live fish by mistake for example) but which were possible thanks to J. For example, we went to drink soju and another type of rice wine in a bui-bui (where the menu is only in Korean)

Here are the good addresses where J. brought us

A chain of restaurants where you can order bulgogi to share and choose any kind of salad to eat with (you put meat and sauce in the salad and then roll it up to eat)

We also went to the restaurant in “altitude”: SKY KINGDOM with a transparent swimming pool and windows on which we can walk on, at 150m high. It is at the top of a footbridge linking two hotels (ibis and Novotel). I confess that I felt dizzy and my heart was beating very, very fast. Here, you can enjoy a simmered chicken (you have to wait for 45 minutes, however, if you are in a hurry, call them to do the cooking before your arrival)

It is also thanks to J. that we met two other very nice girls

Including M., who is Korean living in France, I took the opportunity to ask him a lot of questions about what Koreans think because sometimes I can’t understand. For example, when we were at Lotte World, a young man came to “interview” JB, pretexting an assignment for his school. Behind him, his friends were also very intrigued, even laughing their heads off. The questions he was asking were of close to zero interest: “what’s your name”, “how much did you pay for the entrance ticket?”… there was no form and he wrote down the answers on a poor notebook. JB and I had put it all down to the fact that Koreans don’t dare approach a foreigner without a good reason

M., simply explained that it was probably a challenge that his friends were imposing on him:D

M. has a checklist of restaurants to go to during her stay in Korea and we are delighted to do this checklist with her. First of all, we have to go to this famous ginseng chicken soup restaurant (type Local Food ginseng chicken soup on Naver). Here, reservations are accepted for minimum 10 people. For less than 10 people, you just have to wait in line. The restaurant is in a hanok (traditional Korean house), so you might as well say that the decoration is great, there is even a place where you can sit on the floor (but it hurts a little bit your back)

Note: I put a sticker on M.’s head because she doesn’t like the idea of her picture being spread in my blog, read and consulted all over the world ahahha. And a wink to J.’s mom who will recognize him in the picture, and who is a faithful reader of our blog. Thanks a lot !

I choose a yellow chicken with wild ginseng. Yes here it’s one chicken per person but the Korean chicken is a bit bigger than a quail, besides being delicious so I was able to finish it all. Inside the chicken is even a real piece of ginseng (the root, a bit bitter) and sticky rice

Korean ginseng is very famous, you will find about a hundred ginseng products at duty free in Incheon. According to my mother, a faithful ginseng consumer for the past xx years, there are 2 types of ginseng, the ginseng that you can eat in a soup like this; and the ginseng so hard, that you have to let it macerate in honey, or alcohol, whose consumption is limited to a few small slices, in “lollipop” mode

When I was little, a few months before summer, I had to dilute a sachet of ginseng powder in a glass of water and drink it every day, so my body would stay cool during the summer. At first, the bitter taste was unbearable, and then, with habit, I became addicted

I specify that ginseng is a root, rare. And the roots that look more like a human form are even more prized than the others

By the way, it reminds me of the movie “Les filles du Botaniste”. There’s a scene where one of the protagonists extracts ginseng from the earth, taking every precaution. She explains to the other protagonist that ginseng has a soul: “Ginseng is like us humans. It has a soul. You must tie it first. Otherwise once you dig it out, it’ll run away”. And I think it’s one of the most beautiful scenes in the movie (not counting the breathtakingly beautiful scenes shot in beautiful landscapes in the north of Vietnam +++ the scene where they release pigeons, so heartbreaking). Well, I’ll stop spoiling you, watch the movie yourself!

After this very good but very caloric and energetic dish (ginseng revitalizes and helps to feel energetic, and chicken with ginseng is an excellent dish for the sick), we walk for a long time in the alleys of Seoul. And then, we come across these famous bui bui installed on the street (half on the street, half on the sidewalk). Ohhhh these famous bui bui that we see in the Korean dramas. Every time a character gets dumped, he inevitably ends up drunk in a bui bui like that (to experience these bui bui, go to Jongno3(sam)-ga Line 5station at night)

But we are very wise, ordering only a bottle of rice alcohol (and not soju), served in small metal bowls

At the beginning, everyone was saying: “we’re not hungry, let’s just order something to drink” and then we ended up ordering all this and finishing everything 😀 heheh The magic of Korean bui bui!

It gives me great pleasure to go out with friends because we enjoy Seoul. Koreans always go out in groups, whether it’s family, colleagues, or friends. There are a lot of activities that only make sense when there are many of us

The bui bui above is an example, now that I think about it, the food was not fabulous, but we had a great time. Whereas if there were only two of us, we would have been more focused on the quality of the food and we would have found it disastrous

The next day, I meet a childhood friend, Vietnamese, who came to Seoul to buy clothes to resell in Vietnam. We meet at Dongdaemun Design Plaza, with an incredible futuristic design

The funny thing is that given the design of the thing, we’re like “oh yeah, there must be a 9-story mall in the basement” and we’re so happy to shop together. But when you go down one floor, you go around in circles, you don’t find any more floors. I am talking to three young girls sitting there doing nothing, they must be 11-12 years old? They are all 3 made up in the same way: super white skin, the two pink cheeks that stand out, and the cherry-colored mouth – lively lol dolls. Really too cute! And they answer us in a mixed English-Korean, that Dongdaemun Design Plaza is just that and that there are no clothes stores here. My girlfriend, later, tells me that if even the little girls sit there doing nothing, it’s because this place is indeed so boring that they couldn’t even window-shop 😀 Note: we will discover later with Mr. the huge clothing markets just nextdoor

We quickly return to Myeongdong to eat soup in a tourist restaurant, where the picture is very different from what is in the looool plate. It’s only at the end of the meal, lips swollen from the chilli pepper (in Kylie Jenner mode), that I notice the total absence of ground pork vs. the picture on the menu

Everyone went home, I’ll update you on our trip with Mr. at the restaurant selling marinated crab next time. Kisses!

Did you like this article? Discover all our Seoul & Jeju travel diaries:

Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #1 : Discovery of Myeongdong & Lotus Lantern Festival
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #2: Namdaemun Market, Namsangol Hanok Village and Gangnam
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #3: Changdeokgung Palace, Insadong, Noryangjin Fish Market, Hongdae, Namsan Tower, Seoul City Tour Bus
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #4: Seoul with friends
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #5 : Lotte World, tickets, flagship attractions, magic pass
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #6: War Memorial Hall of Korea, Barbecue, Lenses and Shopping
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #7: Marinated raw crab, Gilsangsa Temple, Suyeonsanbang, shopping in Myeong-dong
Travel Diary Seoul (South Korea) #8: B2B Market, Palais Royal, Notre-Dame de Paris, Barbecues

Practical Guide to Seoul
Seoul Shopping Guide
Guide to Cosmetics to buy in South Korea

Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #1
Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #2
Travel Diary Jeju Island (South Korea) #3

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