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Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen

Hey there! My name is Joyce, and I’m a Taiwanese American student studying Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University. In Taiwan, I work as an English tutor to 2 adorable preschoolers. When I’m not studying or working, I love to travel throughout Asia! Throughout the incredible journey life has taken me on, I never fail to take a step back and thank God for the opportunities I have been given and to reflect on my faith. I hope you enjoy this little piece of my life, and thanks for visiting!


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Three Days in Seoul



Before school started, I took a quick trip to Seoul, Korea with one of my best friends. It was a short stay, crammed between the ending of our internships and the beginning of school. In just three days and two nights, we tried to see as much as we could.

Where We Stayed

We booked an Airbnb for our trip, located in Jongno. The location was pretty central to a lot of the things we wanted to see. We were able to walk to Myeongdong and Gyeongbokgung Palace quite easily, and there were many shops and restaurants around the Airbnb itself. It was also located right by a little river which was super nice to walk along.

How We Got Around

To get from and to the airport, we took the airport bus. Tickets can be purchased at the counter inside the airport and the employees are very accommodating. It was definitely not a short ride, but the bus into the city was extremely fancy. Going back to the airport, though, was more of your standard tour bus.
Once in Seoul, we relied mostly on walking and taking the metro. Only once did we take a taxi because it was late at night, but we found that the taxi driver couldn’t speak English nor Mandarin. The metro was very affordable, but the taxi was actually quite reasonably priced as well.

What We Did

Myeongdong

To be quite honest, neither of us were there for the shopping. I personally felt like most of the things there I could get in Taiwan, so the shops weren’t a huge priority for me. But Myeongdong was very busy when we went on a Sunday afternoon, and in the evenings, there is a night market filled with amazing street food. You’ll see a lot of shop employees standing in the streets trying to give you a free face mask to lure you into their store. But if you take it, and don’t buy anything, they’ll take it back. Fair warning, they can be quite aggressive as you walk by.
One of the most interesting things about walking through Myeongdong was the sheer amount of BTS I saw. I am personally not a huge K-pop fan, but I have friends who are. I can imagine if you love K-pop how exciting this environment would be. The only item of clothing of bought in Korea: a set of BTS socks for my friend.

Gyeongbokgung

The highlight of our Seoul trip would have to be our photo shoot at Gyeongbokgung. We booked an Airbnb experience that included a three-hour photo shoot in the palace and discounted prices at a hanbok rental store. The photographers (there were two!) met us at a nearby cafe and brought us to the hanbok rental store. The employees help you pick out a beautiful hanbok and do your hair. Then, we headed over to the palace for photos!
The photos turned out amazing, and honestly, some of them look like stock photos in the best way possible. The photographers help you pose, so you don’t have to worry about looking awkward. They were both super friendly and made the entire experience very fun. They edit ten of the photos for you, but send you all the ones they took, so we ended up with over 300 photos!

N Seoul Tower

N Seoul Tower was... N Seoul Tower. One of those places you go once and feel like it’s enough. There was a pretty amazing 360 view of the city from the top, but it was quite crowded especially at sunset. I would say the highlight, for me, was the Hello Kitty Museum inside of it. You get to walk through rooms of what would be Hello Kitty’s house and take cute pictures, perfect for Hello Kitty fans of any age.
To get there from Myeongdong, we took a free shuttle to the cable car and rode it up to the top. But since we were leaving slightly later, after sunset, the shuttle service after the cable car stopped running. We saw a huge line of taxis waiting to take people down the mountain, but when we asked the cost to Myeongdong, which is literally less than a five minute ride, they said it would cost $20. Clearly, they knew we didn’t have much of a choice and were jacking up the prices so DEFINITELY be careful. We were not about to pay that much for such a short ride, so we walked down which wasn’t bad either. It only took around 15-20 minutes.

Dragon Hill Spa (Jjimjilbang)

Everyone had said one of the must-dos in Korea was a korean spa, or a jjimjilbang, so we went to what is supposedly the biggest and best in Seoul. We had a great time testing out all of the different baths and saunas that had different mineral compositions and *healing powers*. Of course, at a jjimjilbang, you also have to eat. We weren’t hungry (like at all), so we just tried the famous eggs and sikhye rice drink.
I was a little disappointed because I forgot to check the times for the scrubbing massage. I was totally looking forward to having my dead skin ferociously scrubbed off by an ahjumma, but it was closed when we went at night. Maybe it’ll give me another reason to come to Seoul.

Bukchon Hanok Village

By the time we made it to Bukchon Hanok Village, we were pretty tired. It’s a steep climb, arguably a hike, with different paths that you can take to reach photo spots. We took a shortcut and just visited one photo spot instead of doing a full route. Once we got there, though, it was really quite beautiful. You can see all of the traditional Korean houses and neighborhoods, but do remember that those are actually people’s homes! Be courteous and respectful if you decide to pay the village a visit.

Conclusion

Three days was not enough time to see Seoul in its fullness, but it did leave me wanting to go back and discover more! If I do go back, I’ll probably put more effort into learning Korean beforehand, so that I can communicate better and travel beyond the major tourist hubs.

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