Wow I’ve been so busy and tired I haven’t been able to post anything! I’m in China now, but so many things happened in Korea I think it’s really important to write some posts about Seoul. My week in Seoul was JAM PACKED so I have to split what happened into different posts.
Day 1: Cat Cafe and Grapefruit Tea
I woke up around 7am, my body and stomach were so confused! What time was it? I was so tired, however, I went back to bed and didn’t get out of it until around noon. Best way to combat jetlag? Do exactly the opposite of what your body wants you to do. After Monica’s LSAT class we walked down the block to the cutest restaurant in the world! Koreans really know how to decorate their cafes and restaurants. We opted to sit on the floor and had to remove our shoes. Our lunch was a little more “western” than I was expecting, but even a little European-style cafe lunch spot always has some Korean flair. We ordered a chicken salad with some sort of Asian dressing and angel hair pasta in a bread bowl. Apparently pasta in a bread bowl is very popular in Korea? We also ordered a pot of cherry blossom tea that came in a little ornate kettle with mini painted teacups!
After lunch we ventured to a cafe to meet up with all of the Korean girls that studied abroad at GW! One thing that shocked me was how expensive coffee and tea are in Korea. While food is slightly cheaper (depending on where you go), a tall late in the US is $2.60-$2.80 while in Korea it is anywhere from $5.00-$5.50 and tea is about $4.50! I was amazed at how popular cafes are in Korea. While Starbucks is rampant, it has many competitors. This coffee shop that we were in was 3 stories and had buzzers to let you know when your coffee was ready! As we were sitting in the cafe waiting for everyone to arrive I looked out the window and saw something that stood out: Cat Cafe. What is “Cat Cafe?”, I asked. Apparently it is a cafe that has a bunch of cats that wander around AND you can bring your own cats… what?! How do we not have this in the US? I would go there all the time. I am so obsessed that I’m going to make my own Cat Cafe. It’s happening.
Finally when everyone arrived we wandered the streets to find the perfect Korean BBQ pork restaurant. Don’t ask me where in Seoul I was, I have no idea. After much deliberation the study abroad girls decided on the perfect place. I was amazed when I walked inside! Tables filled with steaming, sizzling pork and vegetables with large tubes dangling from the ceiling. At this point in my trip I had not seen any white people- or any non-Koreans to be exact. I got a lot of stares walking into that restaurant- apparently they don’t get a lot of tourists…
When we were waiting for a table (the place was packed), I asked Monica to point me towards the restrooms. She told me “If it’s gross I’ll take you somewhere else”- maybe it would be my first squat toilet experience (or “squatty potty” as we call them in China)? I walked into the bathroom and I was so confused. There was a sink, and in the corner there was a little area blocked off by raised bricks with a faucet and a drain. Was that the squat toilet? It didn’t make any sense because squat toilets don’t have drains, and there wasn’t even a lock on the door?! All of a sudden I heard a toilet flush and I discovered the secret hidden stall in the wall! First lesson: No squat toilets in Seoul.
Our Korean BBQ dinner was probably one of the best things I’ve eaten in my life. In the table there was a pit with hot coals. You then place a grate with the BBQ pork on top and let it cook. I tried the seaweed soup again and to my amazement I actually really liked it! Instead of just sipping the broth I ate the entire thing, seaweed and all. Yay for trying new things! Apparently it is used for “softening your stomach”.. whatever that means. To eat the pork once it’s finished you pull some pork with your chopsticks and put it on either lettuce or a large mint leaf (the mint leaf is way better). You can then add more toppings if you like, or the other toppings can be eaten with rice. I am pretty sure that Korean BBQ is my favorite Korean food.
As we were leaving the restaurant I used my new found vocabulary “kansam hamida!” (thank you). People working in the restaurant were so shocked/ excited and let out little squeals and screams of delight. I guess I know how to make friends in Korea! Maybe they had never heard a white person say it semi-correctly before?
Our final stop on this day of gluttony was to yet another cafe. We ordered a slice of cheesecake (my favorite food) and a brownie and tea. I had earl grey because I had no idea what the options were, but I was instantly jealous when “Sarah” came back to the table with the prettiest pink tea I’d ever seen. Apparently it was grapefruit tea and I WANT some. I wasn’t sure what it was at first and I actually thought it was one of the deserts but when I open my Cat Cafe in America I’ll make sure it’s on the menu. Dad, start looking up foreclosed commercial properties in Seattle, specifically the Queen Anne area, I feel like I would have a good market there.