Top picks: 72 hours in Seoul
12:45 a.m. Friday in Hawaii = 7:45 p.m. Friday in Seoul. Myeongdong’s neon canyons are freezing, about 20 degrees tonight, but not so cold really because of all the crowds laughing, eating, surging. K-pop blasts through our earmuffs; warm scents of grilled squid and frying fishcake hang in the air. I can’t believe I was there.
I had 72 hours in Seoul, all of them indelible, all gone in a blink. With only five days notice, I had no time to plan, which left me with my broadest mission ever: to eat Korean food in Korea. How good can life get? If I did anything else, it was to digest what I’d eaten so I could eat more. My only regret is I ran out of time to do the cuisine justice.
But these are the best kind of trips, aren’t they? The kind that leave you wanting more? This one was epic. It was the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s a roundup of things we loved most, fave moments and foods we still crave. I could never have tasted so much if it weren’t for Ryan Ozawa and Burt Lum, fellow bloggers from Hawaii, whose videos added dimension and fresh perspectives to my photo galleries; and Aaron and Annie Namba, Hawaii expats who led us to their favorite eats and shared with us their Seoul.
I had a total blast. I hope it was fun for you too. To Ryan, Burt, Aaron and Annie, and to all of you who came along for a vicarious ride, kamsahamnida!
Things I loved
Street food! I’d heard Myeongdong, the district where I was staying, was great for shopping, but it wasn’t until Aaron and Annie led us into the glittering alleys that I realized we were in street food central.
First there was a lone cart selling freshly roasted chestnuts. Farther on there was another one loaded with rolls of Korean sushi and dokbokki, the signature street food of rice logs and fishcake in a sweet-spicy sauce. Then a man frying sausages. Then plates of fresh-fried mandoo. Then grilled squid, roasted gingko nuts, fried fishcake — it went on and on, one after another, alley after alley.
Realizing the scene, I stood in one spot and spun slowly around, trying to take it all in. I couldn’t speak.
Ryan Ozawa’s Top 9 Seoul moments
Top picks: Ryan
By Ryan Ozawa
Experiencing snow for the first time. I’ve traveled quite a bit, but never seemed to find the white stuff. The closest I got was sleet in Baltimore. For a Hawaii guy, this was a major milestone. I’m not sure I could live anywhere it snowed, but I know now that I’d love to visit snow now and then.
Ryan blogs at Hawaii Blog and is a contributor to Nonstop Honolulu’s coverage of “Hawaii Five-0.” Check out the more than 380 photos that Ryan posted from his iPhone, as well as his daily video recaps.
Burt Lum’s Top 10 picks from Korea
Top picks: Burt
By Burt Lum
Special to Nonstop
One of the first stops on our Korean adventure was at Korea House for lunch. Our guides told us what I thought was “we are going to make a mess” before lunch. Turns out they meant “mask,” not “mess,” although for some folks the two words were synonymous.
We were told these masks were used in traditional Korean dance and the red one was used in Buddhist folktales. We each had to create our own version with whatever creative liberties we wanted to apply. I am not an artist but I found myself channeling my inner child.
Burt blogs at Bytemarks.org and co-hosts a tech/science radio show with Ryan on Hawaii Public Radio. You can find podcasts of the show at Bytemarkscafe.org. You can find more Korea shots and videos taken during this trip.
Disclaimer: Air transportation provided by Hawaiian Airlines.
Read the complete Seoul food series:
OMG — going to Seoul!
Seoul food: Nonstop grinds in Korea
Basement food mania: Sunday in Seoul