Other Stuff, Seoul
If you are in S. Korea, you have to try this signature dish! Its very tasty and all foreigners love it...
Bulgogi is as typical as Kimchi when you mention Korean food. It is BBQ marinated beef, sliced thinly to obtain the sweet, juicy taste and it goes with sticky rice.
This is a trap for young players - after getting along just fine with my chopstick skills in China and Sth East Asia, I quickly became unstuck in Korea. Here, for some reason they like to use metal chopsticks as opposed to the normal wooden or plastic versions. I found the metal to be very slippery and it was like I had to learn all over again - frustrating, but it gave my local friends a good laugh.
Fondest memory: If you get the opportunity to go out with some local friends - jump on it. The Seoul that the locals know and love is likely to be much different than the city you're likely to see with a guidebook. There are some great places to eat, drink and be merry, and the Koreans would have to be among the genuinely friendliest in Asia.
Favorite thing: One of the more surprising aspects of Seoul is the number of Christian churches, often located in prominent places. With the exception of the Philippines, there are more Christians in South Korea than any other East Asian nation. I believe about 20% of the Korean population claims to belong to one of the Christian religions.
Favorite thing: I am pleasantly surprised with the pride Koreans take in their traditions and history, despite years of being invaded by China or Japan. this is obvious in how well-maintained their cultural landmarks are despite years of abuse at the hands of occupiers.
No matter where you go in Seoul, you will continually be reminded of the U.S. military presence in Korea. Because of the large role the United States played un the U.N. defense of South Korea in the 1950's and over the last 50 years, this is unavoidable.
For the most part, the South Korean people realize that U.S. presence has had a positive influence. Without the U.S. presence, the present prosperity and democracy probably wouldn't exist. However, polls show that Koreans under the age of 35, brought up with the sunshine policy in a successsful nation worth being proud of, are less positively disposed toward the American presence. While they don't remember the Korean War, they do recall several accidents and crimes for which they believe American servicemen have received light or no punishment. While older Koreans support a continued US presence on peninsula, many younger Koreans would like to see it reduced.
Still, relations between individual Americans and Koreans are usually good. Lots of soldiers end up meeting Koreans and marrying them -- creating a strong and permanent link between the countries. No matter what the political situation, I have always been treated graciously by Koreans everywhere in Seoul.
I couldn't understand why my Korean friends would ask where the store was when we were hiking in the woods or at a park or somewhere. Once I got here I understood. Koreans are creatures of comfort (well, so am I) and convenience stores are all over the place.
Within one block of my apartment there are 6 little stores (some right beside each other!) all selling pretty similar products. As well, if you take a stroll down the Han River you'll see many shops like the one pictured on the left. In true Korean/extreme fashion, they are every 50 feet in some areas and non-existant in others. I could never understand how they all stayed afloat financially until I noticed on a hot day that the parks were so packed that you could hardly walk (well, not that packed, but you get the picture).
At these stores there are the usual Korean and some Western snacks and drinks as well as beer, Korean alcohol, toys, kites, ramen noodles and many other goodies (few of which have much nutritive value which makes me wonder why Koreans are so thin).
Favorite thing: If you are looking for a bit of Sunday morning Church. I can recommend the Anglican Cathedral in the center of Seoul (on the side of Toksugu Palace and Koreana Hotel- opposite City Hall). There is an English service there at 9:30 in the small cyrpt under the main church. The Minister there is a Kiwi and gives a good message. The members of the chruch are extemely welcoming and good to talk to during the coffee after the service.
Fondest memory: When looking for accomodation facilities, make shure that your acomodation is located along subway line No. 5! Nearly every main sights are located along this line ... or they are very close so that you have to change the trains only once ... My host Jinih told me that.
Favorite thing: stay in a resort. You must opt to stay in a tatami room, where you sleep on the floor. It is an experience. Do not worry about catching a cold cos the floor is warm. The pillow is very lovely with the embroidery. It is slightly larger and flatter as compared to a tissue box (ehhhh Singapore standard :P). I like it so much that I bought one home.
Favorite thing: If you wear grasses usually, or you want to try other unique ones, you can buy it by very cheap price. This is each 30000W including lenses, quality is also good! It doesn't need doctor's prescription because the shop person have special license for fitting grasses to customer. My favorite shops are on the underground at Myongdong station.
Favorite thing: Where am I?!! Never did I speak so much Japanese!!! Only at the Hilton did English come in useful. In restaurants, shops, sight-seeing spots: I used Japanese. Now, what has Praha got to do with any of this?! I don't know.... :))
Favorite thing: ride subway..It is very cheap and advanced except line 1 and 2. And you can get Gimpo airport(line 5) by subway directly. This is a subway map in english.
Favorite thing: Actually, this picture informs you about 10 prides which Busan, the second greatest city in Korea, is proud of....
Favorite thing: Seoul has energy. Sure this is just me playing with Photoshop (TM), but since you can't hear the music, the cars, smell the petrol... I have to make you SEE it!