Seoul, South Korea, was a place that we knew almost nothing about before going there. The thing was that we had to make a stop before going to our next destination and this was a good excuse to stay and see a bit of the city.
It was brief, but we did enjoy it. We would have liked however to have stayed an extra day, to go beyond the central neighbourhoods and visit the parks in front of the river.
Seoul has interesting places to visit and we could quickly notice that the city is very developed and organized. It’s quite safe! (South Korea is on the top of the list of the safest countries in the world, which can be a bit contradictory with the fact that technically they are still in war against North Korea).
War Memorial of Korea. Apart from learning about the war they have been gone through against North Korea (military point of view, of course) we could also see how planes, war tanks and even a boat were from the inside.
When walking around its modern buildings sometimes we could feel we were in a street of London, Tokyo or even Sao Paulo. It seems that business architecture shares a similar style in many places in the world. We didn’t see anything on that style that had really impressed us (like happened in Singapore) but loved to see how they love flowers and the beautiful gardens they have there.
The modern streets of Seoul
Views from Seoul Tower are quite nice, the best place to go and watch the sunset in the city.
A street of Myeongdong area, the commercial neighbourhood
But Seoul has also old interesting places: they have beautiful palaces and also the Bukchon Hanok Village, the neighbourhood that I most liked to visit and which is a window to the past.
A street of Bukchon Hanok Village
We were very lucky to be in Seoul at a bank holiday, so we could see many people wearing hanbok, a traditional outfit that they used to wear daily a hundred years ago. Nowadays this is only for festive days or anniversaries.
Well, I already said we didn’t know much about the country… so after visiting different countries in Asia where Buddhism is the main religion, I was surprised that in South Korea you can find more Christians (Protestants and Catholics) than Buddhists. Also, there are a lot of people that don’t follow any religion. Maybe that’s why they have the highest consumption per capita of alcohol in Asia (of course I’m not including Russia). You can find beer for a good price there.
Jogyesa Temple (Buddhist temple).
Food is really good! We are always seeking for local food and we tried some delicious stuff there!! There is this dish with noodles on a soup, topped with minced meat and dumplings which was amazing!! And there are many places that sell a wide variety of ice teas. I’m a tea lover so paradise for me 😀
But rather than the main attractions or food, what we most enjoyed on this trip was the place we had as our home (and the things attached to it). We decided to try couchsurfing for the second time (the first one was in New Zealand) to interact with resident people and know the city from a different perspective. So we found this guy, Alseng, which has lived in different countries and is a teacher of tango, zouk and kizomba. We thought he should be a very cool guy and made a request to stay at his house which he surprisingly accepted ☺ (is not easy to find a host as a couple & with almost no references from other hosts). And he is one of this people that you feel lucky to have crossed your way. He is a very kind person, who treated us as an old friend. We even had our own room at his place! We definitely learnt a lot of stuff with him about Korea and his life view. And he also helped us to trust a bit more on the human kind (I still find wonderful this couchsurfing thing, that some people can offer so much for who they don’t even know. I believe kindness is something to practice to make a better world and he is definitely doing his part).
On our second night he invited us for one of his classes of tango and of course we accepted. It was so fun!!And challengeable I must say haha Thiago also liked a lot… maybe something to start when we go back home 😀 After the class we went with Alseng and two of his students/friends, a Peruvian guy who lived in many different places and a Chinese girl that is also a bit Korean and likes Ivete Sangalo (Brazilian singer) to a Korean restaurant. Both nice & interesting people with so different background. It was a beautiful interchange, a good ending for a lovely night.