Myeongdong area in Seoul is an all-around great place to visit. Its glittering streets feature both high end and budget shopping, row after row of killer street food vendors (i.e. stuffed clams and fresh pomegranite juice), and not to mention random celebrity sightings. But the area that I really love in this trendy shoppers haven is the quiet yet colorful Zaemiro street aka Seoul Comics Road.
Featuring statues, signs, and street art, Zaemiro is lined with art from comics and animations around the world. It’s a somewhat meandering street and at times not the most pedestrian-friendly, but that’s in part what gives it its charm. A trip there gives you a chance to explore–you never quite know where you’ll find the next art installation. And the work itself ranges from cute and conventional to wtf (beefcake Pikachu? ehhh).
There are so many wonderful and breathtaking things to explore in Aeoul, but I’ve realized that while traveling in general, one should never set their expectations too high. As someone who’ll soon be able to say that she’s visited all of the countries she’s dreamt of seeing since she was a child (Korea being one, Japan the other) I’m working on perfecting this whole “reasonable expectations” thing. I bring this up because I have accounts to share about my two recent adventures–to the Hello Kitty Cafe and to Seoul Comic World. Some aspects of my adventures were surprisingly amazing, while others, not so much. Let me elaborate ^^
HELLO KITTY’S PINK-HUED PANDEMONIUM
The Hello Kitty Cafe is a cotton candy-hued building nestled away in a hilly side street in Hongdae. I’ve been there twice–on a Saturday and Sunday–and as one might expect, the experience varied drastically depending on the day. It’s a sought after destination for tourists and kawaii girls no matter what day, but if you show up on a Saturday, anticipate that it could be a madhouse.
Thanks to anime and a love of melodramatic Asian films, I’ve always idealized the idea of walking among cherry blossoms trees, especially in Korea or Japan. In my mind, to be among a sea of cherry blossoms was to no doubt have an experience brimming with drama, tranquility, and romance. Living right by Seokchon Lake, an area that prides itself on its scenic atmosphere and annual cherry blossom display, I finally got to have my overseas cherry blossom experience, and find out for myself if it was grand and profound as I’d dreamed…
Seoul’s cherry blossom display is exceptionally beautiful, but a rather fleeting beauty at that. Due to an abundance of stormy weather and unexpectedly warm temperatures, the blooming of the cherry blossoms came and went in a flash. By the time the Cherry Blossom Festival came around, which is where I snapped these shots, the blooms were already just about on their way out.
I’d been going a mile a minute, exploring everything I could the moment I got here, but this weekend my body told me it’s time to slow down. I’ve been combating a combo of laryngitis, possibly bronchitis for almost two weeks now. If you’re going overseas, don’t ever just take it for granted that you can just pop into any drugstore and easily pick up any medication you got at home. I’ve had to go to a Korean friend, explain my symptoms, have them write it out in Korean, and hand a pharmacist the paper like a child with a permission slip. The chance of me ever needing medication for an embarrassing ailment is reason alone to encourage me to master Korean sooner rather than later.
Illness aside, I’ve done my fair share of shopping, seeking out any and all things cute, and I’ve been trying my hardest to resist post-White Day chocolate sales (In Korea, Valentine’s Day is for the men, White Day is for the women). Subway stations and sidewalk sales are quickly becoming my go-to for good discount purchases, but one unique place my friend and I treated ourselves was at Pinkage in Hongdae–a wig and hair extension boutique with an in-house salon. My friend opted for a full head of hair, while I just went with a small set of fake bangs. Wigs range from about $80-140 and fake bangs start in the $20 range for simple front clip ins, while $40 will get you a set of bangs and fringe to cover the entire top of your hair, for a much more natural, seamlessly blended look.