Seoul Food: Edae, Insadong & Hongdae (Day 4)

8:00:00 AM

Back to School: Blending in with the Uni Students

It’s been almost three years since I graduated from college, but… it doesn’t mean I can’t blend in on campus! It was Sunday morning and today was the day we decided to meet up with a friend who was coincidentally in Korea for a study abroad program.

Designated meeting spot: The Front Gates of Ewha Women's University.

By this time, I want to say I'm well accustomed enough with the subway to successfully make our way there without a hitch. TIP: For those looking to visit Seoul in the near future and you're not quite sure where to head after getting off the subway, look for a group of people wearing a red shirt around the entrance of the subway stations. Especially when in tourist heavy areas like Myeongdong and Insadong. They are there specifically to offer information and help to visitors.

Surprisingly and luckily for us, there were some hanging around the Ewha Station. The helpers seem well-versed in English and Mandarin (possibly even Japanese) because there were a group of Chinese tourists asking  questions as well. A brief question was all it took for them to point us towards the direction of the Gates of Ewha.


The university is gorgeous. I could almost hear the soundtrack of Hanazakari no Kimitachi (which is ironic because this was a Women’s University, not an all Boys High School) playing while walking through the campus.

After spending some time being a total tourist and taking photos of the university, we went back to the gates to wait.

TIP: I turned on my wi-fi just to check and they do have free wi-fi.

And when we finally met up with our friend who bought along his friend, we went to have lunch.

Highlights from the afternoon at Ewha

  • First time trying Stewed Chicken (Correct me if I’m wrong, but Google tells me the name is Dakdoritang) Delicious bubbling stew-y goodness with boneless chicken, sweet potatoes, noodles and an assortment of vegetables. Afterwards, we got a serving of fried rice, which they made using the leftover soup (which turned into a thick sauce, at this point). The ingredients were simple, but it tasted delicious. Since it was flattened against the pan, we had to carve it off and that reminded me of Monjayaki with the melted cheese.  The restaurant was a hole in a wall, and I wouldn’t have known or even attempted to go visit the place if I was by myself.

  • Snack of the Afternoon: Regurgitated Taiyaki. A taiyaki with custard, but they made it so that it’s hollow so that it can be filled with soft serve ice cream and top it all off with a skewer of chocolate dipped pineapple and grape. Baffling and odd looking, but damn  delicious. Also a little too much after our lunch though.  
  • Went shopping on the streets of Edae. A lot of small boutiques with cute clothing. I bought a mustache crop top while I was there. And also happened to finally find the contacts my friend wanted me to buy for her in one of the shops in that area. Luckily for me this time, my friend spoke more Korean than the two of us combined and could communicate with the guy working there. The past previous times, I just asked and pointed at the paper where I wrote down which brand I needed.

After some time wandering around, my friend needed to leave because he had finals to study for, but he would meet up with us in Hongdae later that night. And since the two of us wanted to buy some souvenirs to take home for family and coworkers, we decided to take his advice and head over to Insadong to fulfill this mission.

Highlights from Insadong

  • Insadong on a Sunday afternoon was very family oriented. Much more so than when I was walking around Myeongdong on Saturday night.
  • There were a lot of people eating the ice cream in the corn tubes? I have no idea what’s the proper term for those things were, but at that time I was still “ice cream-ed” out after the encounter with the taiyaki.
  • Bought some knick-knacks for the family and co-workers back home.

A small cafe around the area.

  • Decided that we had some spare time and wanted to go exploring in the nearby area. We went searching for the Bukchon Hanok Village, but got lost and couldn’t find it.

Found one!

  • Plan B: find a Korean Palace instead. FYI: by this point, we were physically and mentally exhausted. All the walking in Korea the past several days had taken its toll on our legs. I reckon I must have walked at least 10 miles over the course of my stay in Seoul, if not more.

Insadong is a great place to go if you want to explore the cultural side of Korea and take a step back in time. While it was just as bustling and crowded as other places like Myeongdong, if you just step away from the major streets of Insadong and walk down the small roads, it’s calm and relaxing. I would’ve appreciated it more-- if my legs didn’t ache so much.

Spotted! Hello Kitty Cafe.

As the sun started to set, we headed to Hongdae. Hongdae is equivalent to a college town, but with a bustling art and music scene. Unlike Myeongdong or Insadong, the majority of the people hanging out in Hongdae at night were in their twenties and either hanging out with friends or a lot of couples out on dates. We strolled down the streets of Hongdae as it started to get darker and I really like the live music atmosphere mixed in with your usual chatter.

Highlights from Hongdae

  • The one inconvenient thing about Hongdae is their lack of money exchange places. There’s only ONE in Hongdae and it’s located in a Sharehouse/apartment away from the bustling streets of Hongdae. Honestly, it was pretty hard to find and the streets were dark. My friends keep telling me that South Korea is really safe in comparison to the States, but even then the two of us were wary. But the young woman who did our exchange was very friendly and accomodating.

  • Our last night in Seoul, what did we eat? KOREAN BBQ! Our friend insisted that we must try Korean BBQ while in Korea, since it tasted much better than back home, so we splurged and stuffed ourselves full that night with some really tasty pork. Also incredibly cheap since over here, we’re forking out $20+ per person, while our entire meal for 3 person was ₩30,000.

  • Always room for dessert! Even though the idea and concept was simple, we still ended up being enraptured watching ice cream being in a mixer with liquid nitrogen. It’s a total fad and it’s not the first time I’ve tasted liquid nitrogen ice cream since my science teacher made it before back in high school, but it’s definitely much tastier than the grainy icy bits back in high school. Never mind the fact, the three of us nearly got ran over by an expensive car while attempting to walk and eat ice cream out of one cup at the same time.
  • Ended the night with a round of noraebang (karaoke). The first time I got carded at a karaoke place. Our room had some pretty intense flashing lights going on. Not to mention the interesting layout where your seats sunk into the ground. And due to the extreme kindness of the noraebang staff who keeps giving us service (extra 15 minutes, on top of another extra 15 minutes), my friend missed the last bus and we made it on the train just to get stranded at Euljiro 1-ga Station.
  • However due to being stranded, we found the piano stairs (which I do have photos of, but I looked incredibly worn out by that point! For those who are curious, check out the video I uploaded on my Instagram a few months back instead.)
  • Also a first in Korea, we took a taxi back to the hotel. And yes, their driving… is on a whole other level. U-turns that would be illegal over here means nothing over there.

What a great way to wrap up our final “free” day in Korea. Monday was essentially a “pack and get ready to fly” back to California. Five days and 4 nights passed by so quickly and there are so many places left I haven’t explored in Seoul alone. So many places left unvisited! So much food left uneaten! Especially the food!

I’ll come back for you South Korea. And next time, I’ll stay much longer!

Coming Up Day 5: Last minute shopping. Packing. Flying Home. And final thoughts.

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