[Adventure(s)] #4: Second Week in Korea

Reminder: Click on the titles for pics and videos~

Day 8 (Saturday, June 24): I LOVE CAFES~

OOTD: black “Alone” t-shirt, dark blue jeans, white Boy London shoes

If you’re ever in Hongdae you MUST check out Arriate Cafe. It is probably the most prettiest cafe I have ever been to. There are flowers literally EVERYWHERE. Hanging from the ceilings, sprawling all over the walls, decorating most of the cafe interior. So tastefully and beautifully decorated. We ordered cheesecake and a fruit smoothie and tea. Jessica spent a good amount of time just taking pictures of each other because it was just so darn pretty. Thanks to YouTubers Q2Han for featuring this place in one of their videos.

Next stop was Noksapyeong where I went to get a tarot card reading to see if it would give me a new perspective and life advice concerning interpersonal relationships, my upcoming trip with my mom, and my hair. I learned a lot and confirmed inklings I had in my mind and tried to soothe my worries. I learned that I do this thing called “borrowing stress/worries.” It means I freak out and stress over so many things. For example, things that could possibly happen but I have the power to do something about it now. It was definitely an insightful experience. It was also though this tarot card reader that I was introduced to a hair stylist at JP Hair in Noksapyeong.

Since we had to pick up our mom from Incheon airport, we spent a good chunk of time hanging out at a dog cafe. It was funny since my sister freaked out because she was surrounded by many dogs. I really like big dogs so we started our time there in the big dogs section. Once we got more tired and moved to the little dogs section, things got a lot more calm as the doggies jumped up and calmly just rest in our laps. So adorableeeeeeeee.

After the puppy cafe, my sis and I headed off to the airport. I tried to do some blogging as we waited for my mom to arrive, which would be about 4am. Yup, we pulled an all-nighter. Yummy kimbap and other snacks to keep us awake. Once our mom arrived, we hugged and said hello and waited for our second cousin to come out. His flight was arriving at about the same time and we figured it’d be nice to say hi. Tbh we were worried about our mom at first since she came out much later than expected. Turns out she went to the wrong baggage carousel. LOL mom.We even made her signs which she enjoyed hahaha. And then off we were on our trip back to my sister’s place. We all kept falling asleep as we sat on the subway. Hahaha.

Day 9 (Sunday, June 25): Feeling Classy

OOTD: White “It’s a beautiful Sunday to leave me alone” sleeveless crop top, black flowy pants (Jessica’s), white Boy London shoes, red lipstick

After pulling an all-nighter, my whole family was pretty wiped out. We finally got up and went out as a family to Coex. Wearing red lipstick and a cute outfit, I felt pretty classy today. Totally need to invest in red lipstick. Anyways, we ate a super pretty Italian restaurant ad had this pasta with squid and whatnot. So yummy although it was more on the expensive. My family had a lot of fun taking pictures of each other.

After lunch we headed to Coex Mall where we did some wandering and shopping. We decided not to spend money on the aquarium but we did get our caricature drawn. So much fun! My first ever caricature and I found it quite cute and realistic.

We then headed off to Itaewon to a restaurant called Two Plus to get some barbecue with my second cousin and his girlfriend. The food was super yummy and the conversation was fun. Yay for family reunions and meeting new people. We pretty much just wandered around Hongdae for a bit before heading home to rest.

Day 10 (Monday, June 26): Rain, Rain, Rain

 OOTD: Don’t remember (wrote this awhile later)

It was raining today so it was pretty sucky. After spending the morning with my sis and eating chicken galbi for lunch, we went to E-mart to do some grocery shopping for the sis before heading to Paris Baguette to get some patbingsoo. It was raining but my mom and I figured we still wanted to go out and have some fun. I took her to Myeongdong where we spent a good amount of time shopping in the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center. My mom got some souvenirs while I got to bargain with some lady to get an army colored jacket for a cheaper price. She complimented me on my Korean. Whoow!

We headed up to the surface and ventured off to get some skincare products for my mom. I had to act as the middle person to help with bits of translation here and there. We stopped by Innisfree first but my mom didn’t bring her passport so we didn’t buy the stuff then since we didn’t want to deal with the tax stuff with the airport later.We wandered into Nature Republic next and then met this Vietnamese exchange student who was super funny, kind, and helpful. It was great she was so honest about the products she was selling. Quite refreshing. We wandered around Myeongdong some more taking a look at the street food and whatnot before heading home to Goyang.

Day 11 (Tuesday, June 27): Feeling Royal

OOTD: Off-the-shoulder cactus blouse, long denim skirt, white Boy London shoes

Today’s mission was to head off to more places on the souvenir plate my mom bought in Myeongdong. Our first stop was Gyeongbokgong palace. Seeing a few other tourists wearing hanboks, we decided we want to try on hanboks as well. We went to the place that was mentioned by Q2Han and I felt so pretty wearing a hanbok for the second time. The purple this time made me feel even more like royalty. Hahaha.

Sadly the palace is closed on Tuesdays so we could only take pictures outside and then we headed over to the museum to learn more about the palace. After changing back to ordinary clothes we headed over to Gwanghwamun Square to take picture with the I Seoul U floral mural. So Instagram-worthy. We walked through the market and I got some dried fruit. Yummy!

Up next we went to Myeongdong so my mom could go get her skincare products from Nature Republic. She bought so much and the bags were pretty heavy. Ugh. We lugged those all the way Dongdaemun where we walked up this path near a fortress and chilled for a bit as we admired the nightlife. We then walked over and chilled some more at the Cheonggyecheon where my mom was impressed with the man-made river and the pretty water that was being squirted up.

We then headed over to Migliore so I could buy some shoes since my sister wouldn’t let me borrow her sneakers for the Jeju trip. I got the same pair in black for about 23,000 won (a little less than $23 USD). What a deal considering my sister bargained to pay 30,000 won (a little less than $30 USD). My mom lied by saying I got it for 20,000won (a little less than $20 USD). Hahaha oh mom. Got to learn some bargaining skills.

As we walked back to the subway station, we passed by the LED rose garden in Dongdaemun. Even though I only got to see it in the distance as we were rushing to get home, I was still awestruck by the beauty and admired the genius who came up with this concept. Had yummy guk bap for dinner. Yum yum.

Day 12 (Wednesday, Day June 28): Kind Strangers

OOTD: gray ㅅeoul shirt, black pants, army colored jacket, black Boy London shoes

Honestly didn’t think today would be a good day. Woke up feeling super anxious about getting to the airport and what to do for the rest of the day once we got to Jeju. I ended up having to carry the ~20 lbs. carry on luggage. It was a little nervewracking to navigate the public transit to get to Gimpo Aiport. Transferring to the Airport Lane was pretty confusing. What made it worse was that I had to stand for the excruciatingly extra long 6 stops to the airport. The grandma sitting down kindly offered to hold onto my luggage but I didn’t want to have to bother her. The gesture warmed my heart nonetheless.

Once we got to the airport, I started to feel a bit better although going through airport security always gets me a bit anxious. Check in was a success and heading to security was a breeze. The staff figured I was Korean so asked me stuff like if I had a laptop and what not to figure out my carry on stuff. In the rush, I end up forgetting to take out my cellphone from my back pocket. Whoops. They had to check me and have my phone run through the x-ray again. They also had to have my carry on luggage checked again. I have no idea why but I always go through issues with Korean airports. It happened last time when I was leaving Incheon for the US. My group leader at the time joked it was because they didn’t want me to leave. Hahaha.

I ended up choosing a seat next to outlets to charge my phone since I figured I would need it to navigate and Snapchat and whatnot. It was at this time when I was notified that I had used all of my data for the month. OH. FREAKING. NO. WHAT WOULD I DO NOW FOR NAVIGATING? I AM GOING TO JEJU FOR GOODNESS SAKES AKA I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE ANYTHINS IS. Not a great sign. Anxiety is added. I tried to coordinate with the Airbnb host how I would get to the place. The conversation was stalled once I asked about a wifi egg so I figured that I wouldn’t be able to get a wifi egg. Just before we are about to board, my mom decides she needed to use the bathroom. Considering the boarding time was 15 min before the flight departure time, you can probably see why I was panicking. Tbh part of me would have been relieved if we missed the flight since I wouldn’t have to freak out about making sure the Jeju trip went smoothly.

(Un)fortuantely(?) we make the flight and spent the hour flight napping (it honestly felt less than an hour). I was so awestruck by the beautiful clouds as we were flying. So pretty~ Once we landed I started feeling nervous again trying to figure a way to the Airbnb. I was originally planning to take the bus since it would have been cheaper but I realized it would take much longer and I wasn’t that sure about the schedule. We ended taking a taxi and I called the Airbnb host for them to talk to the taxi driver. Bless technology and knowledgeable people.

We safely arrived to our Airbnb after paying a 15,000 won fare (a bit less than $15 USD – pretty cheap considering it took like 20 min!) We checked in to the Airbnb and I finally had time to breathe. As I sat down and tried to figure out where to go, how to get there and whatnot, I quickly realized I was way in over my head. My Korean is pretty limited, I haven’t really traveled much on my own before, I had no idea where to go, and how to even get to places. Feeling very much overwhelmed I broke down and cried as I kept apologizing to my mom. This last minute trip was causing me so much stress and I saw no way to make it any better. Things got even worse as it started to rain. GREAT.

My mom was quick to snap me out of it as she said it was okay and that we needed to go out and venture. Sitting in our room and crying would solve nothing. We ventured to talk to the host and we quickly decided we needed to grab something to eat and maybe check out a beach. The host kindly offered to call a taxi for us and told the driver to take us to a restaurant.

We arrived and the driver brought us in and told the restaurant owners that we were foreigners so be sure to know how to handle us. Confused at how the menu worked, I could tell the owners were frustrated and weren’t the most welcoming. This was definitely the lowest point I reached in awhile during this trip. I questioned my Korean abilities. My desire to live and work in Korea someday. My love for Korea. I do really let the small things get to me. I was happy to be able to leave the restaurant in search of the beach. I really wanted to go scream to the ocean. All of my pain and frustrations. My mom and I wandered down a path as I tried to navigate on my phone. It wasn’t that great but that’s all I had. I was glad I got wifi at the restaurant but as we walked farther away the signal got weak just as I got worried.

We ended wandering to a temple and even though no one was around, the gate was opened so we ventured in. We couldn’t enter the praying area inside so we just took some pictures outside. We wandered farther down the road in hopes of approaching some body of water until my mom decided to ask someone for help. We met a woman named Elvy/Elvie (not sure how it’s spelled) who happened to be taking her kids an art class nearby. She spoke fluent English and offered to drive us to Gwakji Beach which was actually super far if we wanted to walk there. The drive there was at least 10-15 min. Her little boys were so cute and it was nice getting to hear her story about how she and her husband met, why she decided to live and raise her kids in Korea, and her teaching English business. What a strong and kind women. My mom wanted to pay her for her kindness but she wouldn’t accept it. What a kind soul. It’s time like this when I’m like she was definitely an angel that sent to answer my outcry. Eternally grateful we just kept thanking her as we walked toward the beach.

My mom joked that the beach was definitely nothing compared to the ones in Hawaii but we appreciated that we finally got to see something of an attraction in Jeju. We took some pictures and then went to a cafe called A Twosome Place (funny and interesting name) to get some pastry and a drink. I got a blueberry yogurt drink that was pretty good. We chilled in the cafe as I figured out a way to get us back home. I was pretty nervous at having to call a taxi since I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to understand me. I get nervous so I started speaking fast and at times mumble. I tried calling Korea Travel Hotline and was then transferred over to the Jeju Information Center. I then ended up just calling the call taxi number but was met with a sorry. I was confused but I think it was because there were no taxis nearby. Weird since I saw one pull right up afterward for someone else. We paced around some more as my mom started getting upset.

Luckily I spotted a couple and asked if they could speak English. They said yes. The guy was from Sweden and the girl was from Korea. She offered to call a taxi with us and I was so relieved. She was also met with some difficulties and the call taxi center said there was no taxi nearby. Yay that it wasn’t just me that had problems! Boo because that meant we still didn’t have a taxi to get home. We walked together to the main road to hail a cab. After many attempts, we finally got a cab and the couple let us get the taxi first and tried to help the taxi driver input the right address. What kind souls. Feeling super blessed. It was super cool that we once again got to know each other more by talking. Oh the beauty of getting to know strangers.

The taxi driver was also super patient and nice as the Airbnb address could not be found on his GPS system. Legit probably took us at least 10 minutes. It involved calling the Airbnb, messing with the GPS system, and just a lot of patience. Bless his soul for getting us back safe and sound. My mom felt bad so she wanted to give him more but he wouldn’t take it. The fare ended up being only 6,700 won (probably a bit less than $6 USD). Like what. He didn’t start the fare until we actually were heading to where we needed to be. Yay for honest to goodness people in the world.

Once we got back to the hotel, we talked to the Airbnb for a bit and returned the umbrella he lent to us (what a nice man). We decided to say hello to our next door neighbors at our Airbnb since the host said that they were Vietnamese Americans. We figured it’d be nice to make friends and see what there is to do in Jeju. We ended up talking for awhile, in Vietnamese and English, about all sorts of things. It was super comforting to hear that they were able to navigate around Jeju knowing no Korean and that they had also struggled but it all worked out. We ended exchanging KakaoTalk and spoke of meeting up again once we returned to Seoul. Once again, so nice to make new friends. My mom ended up spending the rest of the night posting new pictures on Facebook and watching her Viet dramas. I ended up trying to plan for the next day while talking to my new friends on KakaoTalk for advice. Of course I had to update myself on new songs and then write this post before I forget any details. We also ate some Black Shin Ramyun and some cake from A Twosome Place. After a long day, I’m happy to say that I’m super thankful and happy that everything worked out. Like my sister said, “Trust the universe.”

Day 13 (Thursday, June 29): The Big Day (in Jeju)

OOTD: white sleeveless crop top, denim knee-length, army colored jacket, black Boy London shoes

Second day in Jeju! I know today would be a pretty big day considering this is our only full day in Jeju. The original plan was to wake up at 9am but I was so pooped from staying up late to blog. I really do a better job of blogging the day of so it doesn’t all pile up. Well I ended up waking around 11am and was bummed to find out it was raining. We were planning to go to Hanrim Park and although there are a bit of indoor stuff a lot of the things were in outdoors. After getting ready and heading out, we saw the girls from yesterday as they were getting ready to leave. Since it was raining, the Airbnb owner told us that call taxis wouldn’t be available. BUMMER. Does this mean that I have to figure out the confusing bus system that only runs stops our stop 4 times a day? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Well I eventually had to. Because I ran out of data, I had to scurry back to our room to try to figure out the directions and then navigate to the bus stop. The bus stop itself was kind f far and I had to walk with my mom on the main road where there were cars. Like it was a big road people. Thank goodness that we didn’t splashed with water by the big cars driving past. We finally got to the bus stop and stop there for a quite awhile, trying to figure out when the bus came. I bus came by but I thought that we had to get on another bus so we let it go. We saw the other bus I was expecting but it drove past us because I think its stop was a bit further down the road. At this point I was freaking out and very much confused. I was trying to use Google Maps and various other maps to try to figure out the directions and schedules and they were all telling me different things. Google Maps isn’t the most useful in Korea tbh.

After much anxiety inducing waiting, I tried my luck with Kakao Taxi. The app basically was like Uber for taxis so you input where you are and where you ant to go and it will call a taxi for you. No extra fees or anything. BLESS THIS APP. The app is all in Korean so I was intimidated to use it at first but thankfully it was pretty simple. Apparently the location it sent our driver was a little off from where we were so he had to call me to find out where we were. Yay that I was able to successfully tell him where we were. Whooow! We were finally on our way to Hanrim Park! Yay! Who knows ho long we would be standing there and if I’d be able to navigate the stops and whatnot. Whew!

We explored Hanrim Park and took a lot of cute pics. I’ll let the photos do the speaking. I gotta admit thought that after going through one of the caves, I was so freaked out. I felt so small and it as pretty dark and scary even if there were lights. I am not going to be venturing in caves any time soon unless I’m with a lot of people. Bless there was a couple who was venturing too. The four of us ended up going through an off-the-road path to not have to go through the other caves. Hahaha.

For dinner we ended up venturing to the Folk Village because I realized they were serving black pig there – a must have if you’re visiting Jeju, Asking in Korea if we were able to eat inside the restaurant I think the owners were kind enough to let us go in and eat although they were already getting ready to close up. They probably felt bad for us as foreigners. Bless their kind souls. The black pig btw was also soooooo delicious. After our meal, I successfully used Kakao Taxi again to get us back home where we chilled dat our Airbnb for the rest of the night! Long but fun day!

Day 14 (Friday, June 30): Happy Birthday N!

OOTD: white sleeveless crop top, black jeans, army jacket, black Boy London shoes

Today main objective was to get home from Jeju to Seoul. After much traveling we arrived home at around 5:30pm. Toady also happens to be N’s birthday (N is VIXX’s leader)! In honor of his birthday, he held a busking (live music) event at Han River Ban Po Park. Of course I would not pass up this opportunity to see him in person. When I got the chance to high five VIXX a few years back, I have to admit was the one the most lasting impression on me/had me most starstruck even though Ken is my ultimate bias. It’s something about the way he looks at you as if he’s staring into your soul. So I hopped on the subway for an 1 hour and 15 minute trip that would require 10 something minutes of walking. No worries! I borrowed my sister’s phone so I was able to navigate using Naver maps.

I asked my friend Juan Pablo if he wanted to come and we ran into each other at the traffic light. We ran to where N was and got to catch the tail end of his last song and for his final goodbyes. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see much so I would say this mission was a success because I at least got to see him. I spent the rest of the night hanging out with my friend as we checked out the summer festival event thing going on. There was food trucks, live music, and it was right next to the Han River. Ahhhh how fun and refreshing. Now this is what summer is all about. Hehehe. Juan Pablo and I also got the courage t ask to take pics with the lead singer from the band Honest Melody! Yay!

For dinner I had KBBQ once again with my mom and sis. It feels like I’ve had barbecue so many times. I got to use my Korean skills which felt pretty nice hehehe. I like feeling useful!

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