Im sitting here in the coffee shop letting my phone and computer charge surrounded by some sort of meerkat looking animal and I figured I would do a lazy checklist of the things Ive found to love about South Korea.
1. How safe I am
Before my trip there had been a lot of things in the news about the terrors of North Korea. I had people question why I would go to South Korea, and I even had someone tell me I should cancel my trip. Its fascinating how much western media influences peoples opinions about a place. I don’t think I have ever felt more safe than I have felt here in South Korea. The police don’t even carry guns for pete sake. I tried to find some data on how many violent crimes have been committed in Seoul in the past year, but all I could find was one that happened in Gangnam about 6 months ago. When I ask the Koreans I have met if they are scared of North Korea, they tell me that there is nothing to worry about. The boarder of north and south Korea is called the DMZ and it is a tourist attraction, just like some of the palaces and everything else in Seoul.
2. The nightlife
Korean bars don’t really close, drinks are cheap, and you don’t tip. This combination of things makes for a fun night. Hungrypartier.com, a website literally about a guy who travels the world partying (what a job) says “Seriously guys, I’ve partied in over 70 countries and 150 cities, and nothing comes even close to the insanity levels of Seoul. I’ve been to almost every club in Las Vegas, and the insane clubs of Barcelona, Stockholm, Berlin, and Bangkok. They have nothing compared to Seoul. You must come here to experience it for yourself.” I haven’t partied as much as this guy, but I can agree that it is an insane experience. Start at the park in Hongdae with a bottle of Soju ( weak flavored vodka that costs 1.50 USD a bottle) and see where the night takes you.
The Jimmjilbang or Korean bath house is in a close relationship with the night life. These palaces are open 24 hours a day and are like huge spas. You pay an entrance fee of around 10-12 U.S dollars and this allows you access to multiple floors of different amenities. When you check in, they give you a set of pajamas that you can wear around everywhere besides the baths ( which are separated by gender) When heading to the baths, you strip down to your birthday suit. Its basically like a giant boys locker room with different hot tubs. Some of my favorite baths were the Mud bath and the Jade bath. Also in the basement are some unique saunas, such as the salt sauna. For about 15 USD you can receive a Korean skin scrub in which a worker will attack you with sandpaper for about 30 minutes and get all of the dead skin off of every inch of your body. I have never felt so clean in my life after receiving one of these skin scrubs. Once finished in the baths, you can throw on your pajamas and head upstairs to many different relaxing saunas, a restaurant, lounging area, and sleeping area. It doesn’t cost anymore to spend the night at the Jimmjilbang, so perfect end to a long night out.
4. Animal Cafes
Probably one of the stranger but equally great things about Seoul is their love of combining coffee shops with interesting animals. During my time here I went to a cat cafe, a raccoon cafe, and meerkat cafe. You pay an entrance fee into the cafe which includes a free drink of your choice, once in it is just like a normal coffee shop, but with furry little creatures running around! What could be more relaxing than this meerkat that’s sitting on my lap while I type ?
5. Family style eating
In Korea, its uncommon for people to eat alone. Most restaraunts meals come in platters that can be shared between 2-4 people. Its also very common to cook your own food here. Once you are seated, your server will turn on whatever style of grill you are using that is located in the middle of the table, after ordering they will bring out numerous side dishes and whatever choice of fish, meat, or vegetables you have ordered. Kimchi is always present on the table. This allows the meal to go at its own pace, and it makes a lot more sense.
Thats all I’ve got, headed to Malaysia tomorrow !