I ♥ Seoul: Happy to be in Hongdae

After an exhausting 27 hours of travelling since we left home (3 trains and 2 planes), we went to bed feeling grimy, exhausted, and uncomfortable. But what a difference a good night’s sleep makes… we awoke the next morning bright and early, feeling amazing! The sun was shining, we had safely made it to Seoul, the hotel was nice, and we treated ourselves to a buffet breakfast in our hotel which was divine. All was well with the world!

We strolled around Hongdae which we quickly found was a lovely place – safe, with lovely autumnal leaves, quirky little shops and cafes everywhere, a student-y vibe, and a plethora of Animal Cafes. There was a Cat Cafe, a Meercat Cafe, a Sheep Cafe etc. My husband was keen to go to all of them; I was less so. Luckily when we arrived at the Meerkat Cafe we found they also had cats in there, which gave me a “Get Out of Jail Free card” as I’m allergic to cats – yes!

As compensation for not going to the animal cafes my husband got an ice cream as tall  as his head! We then visited the Trick Eye Museum, which is a very strange museum centred around optical illusions. You can download an App which shows your loved one interacting with various illusions in augmented reality, so if you’ve ever wanted to see your husband riding a unicorn / escaping from the jaws of a fish etc, this is the place for you.

There was also an official photographer lady in the museum who will take your photo and then use software to make it look like a painting made of brush-strokes. I was unimpressed anyway, but she then talked herself out of a sale by pointing to the image of my face in the finished product and saying delightedly “look, you can’t see your wrinkles!”. We moved on pretty quickly.

Overall, I found the Trick Eye Museum rather tacky but my husband loved it. It is for a young or silly audience, is best if you can download the App (otherwise you will just see things static which would be much less impressive) and is really only good in a pair or group. We met an Australian girl on her own so I took some photos for her – otherwise, on your own you can’t do much.

The Ice Museum is in the same building. This was much smaller but I preferred it. It was essentially various ice sculptures – animals, a living room, and a rather cool ice slide which you can slide down! I enjoyed this but it was really cold so you can’t spend more than 10 minutes in here – take a jumper!

Also in the Trick Eye Museum building is caFace (as in,Cafe Face). (Which I assume is no relation to Lauren Manzo’s salon in the Real Housewives of New Jersey!). This was interesting – you take a photo of your own face and they print it on the top of your coffee. 

We visited a strolling park in Hongdae, and happened upon a march demanding that cafes stop using plastic cups. The park was pretty, with fall leaves and a meandering path. It’s a lovely idea for urban planning.

We were also delighted to see two stores selling cuddly-toys of popular cartoon characters with interesting names such as “Mature Lion”. These characters are apparently “Line Friends”, and the Korean pop group BTS added a further 7 characters called “BT21”.

Last but not least, we did Noraebang ie. Kareoke in your own private booth! We were ushered into our own room but given no instruction about how to use the machine, and all of the controls were in Korean. Instead of going back to ask for help, we persevered and within 5 minutes my husband had worked out how to use the machine through trial and error, and I then figured out how to scroll through the songs. We were in business! Unfortunately most of the songs were also in Korean – there were a few with English titles but we don’t know a lot of modern pop so there was a decent amount of scrolling until we found something we could sing. Favourites were “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Stand By Your Man”!  NB: The Noraebang is much cheaper in the morning – although it’s probably more atmospheric at night, if you go before lunch you will save a bunch. We had already done it in Japan so we were happy to go for the cheaper option.

Next blog: War and Womens Human Rights Museum, Seoul, South Korea

Previous blog: Kimchi Festival, Seoul, South Korea.

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