S. Korea: Modern Seoul

For all my griping about the boys being more interested in shopping and eating, I must admit I bought my fair share of products too (about half of which were cosmetics and skin care items).

A big area to shop in is Insadong, which features tourist items and more traditional art for sale

A big area to shop in is Insadong, (look out for the open-air Ssamziegil mall!) which features tourist items and more traditional art for sale

The shops usually opened late and closed late, so we were out at night a lot

The shops usually opened late and closed late, so we were out at night a lot

We spent a lot of time going in and out of any store that caught our eyes (sometimes fighting against the crowds). Considering our age, it was no surprise we went craziest in the shops around the two most famous university districts, Hongik (home to Hongik University which specializes in art and design) and Ewha (home to Ewha Womans University, a super prestigious women-only school).

A street performer in one of the main areas of Hongik (he was pretty good)

A street performer in one of the main areas of Hongik (he was pretty good)

We also went to Gangnam for fun, but as expected, the prices were a bit above our budget…Also, no PSY.

The main shopping area in Gangnam district is actually along "Garosu-gil"

The main shopping area in Gangnam district is actually along “Garosu-gil”

Taxis weren't that expensive if we stayed within central Seoul and split the fare 4 ways

Taxis weren’t expensive at all if we stayed within central Seoul and split the fare 4 ways

Of course, being in Seoul, I had to visit Ewha’s main campus as well, for their famous “sunken” building by Dominique Perrault. HZ, being in that industry, was my partner-in-crime — both JH and RP opted to do more shopping on their own for an afternoon (they’re so crazy).

Lower ground view, when you approach the building from the university entrance

Lower ground view, when you approach the building from the university entrance

Such a nice building...

Such a nice building…

Steel-frame and glass details

Steel-frame and glass details

We got to the campus at a good time, during golden hour

We got to the campus at a good time, during golden hour

At some point during this trip, HZ improved his modelling skills

At some point during this trip, HZ improved his modelling skills

Like most universities in winter, only the most frequently used paths were cleared of snow and ice -- the middle of the walkway was still icy despite the warm sun

Like most universities in winter, only the most frequently used paths were cleared of snow and ice — the middle of the walkway was still icy despite the warm sun

Before the building was built, this was the natural elevation for the school. I really like how the architecture preserved the slope and greenery of the hill while making use of it at the same time

Before the building was built, this was the natural elevation for the school. I really like how the architecture preserved the slope and greenery of the hill, while making use of it at the same time

One of the special activities we all enjoyed was the Cookin’ Nanta theatre show. It’s quite popular with foreign tourists, as it’s almost entirely non-verbal. It was hilarious, and some of the tricks the actors performed were very well-executed. I highly recommend going to this if you’re in town! (Be sure to book tickets ahead of time, or you might not get a seat.)

We couldn't take pictures during the performance of course, but if we could have, the pictures would show us laughing hard

We couldn’t take pictures during the performance of course, but if we had, the pictures would show us laughing hard

Another special activity we enjoyed was visiting the Trick Eye Museum. I think it’s been featured in a K-drama recently, but it’s a fun place to go and take silly pictures. Depending on the angle you take it from, you can capture some really fantastical scenes!

Entering the museum...

Entering the museum…

The entire museum consists of trompe l’oeil paintings, which create optical illusions using forced perspectives. Unfortunately, the lighting ruined the believability of some of the paintings (I hope they fix that), and sometimes the paintings were not particularly cool/funny. The ones I included below are some of my favourites!

Poor horse...

Poor horse…

He sort of looks like he's checking her out, doesn't he...

He sort of looks like he’s checking her out, doesn’t he…Tsk tsk!

Panda Rescue Mission!

Panda Rescue Mission!

This was a lot of fun to shoot (JH is so mean)

This was a lot of fun to shoot (JH is so mean)

Guess how we shot this?

Guess how we shot this?

We had to let a few crowds pass by before we could take our own pictures. It was worth the wait!

We had to let a few crowds pass by before we could take our own pictures. But it was worth the wait!

Within the building, there was also a small studio where you could dress in traditional clothing and pose for pictures (either informal or formal ones). The entrance tickets to Trick Eye included a discount coupon, and of course I took advantage of it!

Hehe!

Hehe! I really like hanboks (Korea’s traditional dress)



It was only to be expected that we each had different reasons to go to Korea for our trip. After seven busy days spent in Seoul, both HZ and I were getting fatigued from all the shopping (also, our luggage literally couldn’t fit any more items). Sort of last-minute, we decided on a three-day trip to Jeju, before returning to our respective countries. We left JH and RP in Seoul to shop their hearts out for the rest of the week.

Though it was rushed, we did manage to spend midnight of New Year’s Day together. Too bad there were no fireworks (and it was really cold on the hostel’s rooftop), but at least we were all there, huddled together! Korea, your holiday customs confuse me sometimes…

The empty sky at midnight...

The empty sky at midnight…

Oh well, happy new year's anyway!

Oh well, happy new year’s anyway!

The next post will be very picture-heavy with all those food pictures! Then, I’ll show you what we saw in Jeju!

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