I am writing this post as I’m sitting on a plane towards Bangkok. Christmas eve is already over and I hope that you all had a wonderful time with your loved ones! Normally, I spend the holidays at home with my family but this year, the location has changed and it is actually my third Christmas abroad – the other two times being in L.A and Sydney during my semesters abroad.
First Stop: Christmas in Seoul
View of Gangnam from the 16th floor of the Cappuccino Hotel Seoul.
The first stop on this Asia Trip 2018/2019 was Seoul and to be honest, I did not do much research about the Korean culture on beforehand. I didn´t really look into what was worth seeing in Seoul and only relied on tips from some colleagues. I guess on the one hand, I didn´t have much time before the trip to google about Seoul since my focus was very much on Thailand and Bali due to my longer stays there. However, on the other hand, I simply wanted to play it by ear and let myself be surprised: no research -> no expectations -> low risk of disappointment.
Well, no expectations at all would be a lie. I did expect the food to be amazing and since I love Korean cuisine so much, I expected Seoul to offer the best of it. This expectation was met to the fullest and then some. Whatever I ate and whichever restaurant I ate it at, the food was better than what I have had in Europe. This goes for hot pot, bbq, stew, street food etc. but more on this on later post.
My other expectation was for Seoul not to be so crowded on the streets for Christmas. I knew that it would be freezing cold and somehow just assumed that people wouldn´t go out much and that they would spend time at home with their families on Christmas Eve – just how I know it from Europe. Boy, was I wrong about this one. I was surprised by the insane activity on the streets on the 24th! I arrived in Seoul on December 21st and checked out the city the following couple of days and already found it to be way more packed than I´ve seen it anywhere else. However, the number of people who went out on Christmas Eve was incredibly high, which was fine to me because it made it even more fun. Stores, restaurants, cafés etc. were all open until late (I left around midnight and the shops were still open). It meant that I could shop, eat, and then shop again to digest the delicious food – what more could I want for Christmas Eve?
I love busy cities where there is always something to do at any time hence New York, London, and Sydney being on my list of favorite cities. Seoul just made it into that list and possibly climbed to the top of it. Korean people are high respectful and even though there was a language barrier, they still tried to help as much as possible. The food was amazing as well as its prices unless you fancy the infamous, yet relatively unknown, Hanwoo beef (Korea´s answer to Kobe and Wagyu beef). The public transportation worked very well and taxis were reasonably priced. So if you are looking for an Asian city that literally has everything that you know from the rest of the world and then some, Seoul would definitely be worth a visit – especially during Christmas but don´t forget to bring warm clothes! My last day in Seoul saw a temperature of minus 5 degrees Celsius during the day, so I´m just glad that I am now on the way to 30+ degrees in Thailand – a country whose cuisine I very much look forward to.
Happy holidays, guys! Talk to you soon. xx Lynn