” Your feet will take you where your heart is.” — Irish Proverb
Above left and right; Korean street foods & must try candy made of strands of honey with nut filing inside. Right; Enjoying traditional flavors.
I recently visited South Korea for the first time while recovering from my nagging running injury. My mom wanted to take vacation in Asia so I said, ” Let’s go to Korea! “. I was looking for good food and new places to run.
My mom and I met at Inchon International Airport and headed down to our hotel in Meondong district in Seoul. My first impression was how crowded the place was with people even though it was 10:00 p.m. I learned Meongdong was one of the popular tourists hangouts. There were so many restaurants to choose from and after checking in at Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel, we decided on the nearby small family style diner. It was a kind of place to have Korean home cooked meals like spicy ramen, abalone porridge and drink Chamisul. It’s made from 50% rice and 50% barley and served in a shot glass. Chamisul and Soju are the most commonly served wines in Korea and there are many varieties. I had abalone porridge and my mom had spicy seafood ramen. All Korean restaurants serve you little dishes of condiments such as kimchee, bean sprouts, seaweed salad and so much more.
I started the next day with an early morning run of 3 miles. It was quite challenging dodging around a lot of people commuting to work and school. I enjoy running in new places. It’s a good way getting to know new places. I’m not the type of person to follow all my travel plans; I like to leave my days wide open and embrace the unexpected and unknown.
If you like to shop until you drop, this is the place to be. There are flea markets, big department stores like Lotte, Shinsegae and international brands like Forever 21, H&M and Zara. Seoul is a popular tourist destination for stocking up on Korean cosmetics.
All shopping aside, I definitely enjoyed all the food and visiting Changdeonkgung ( Changdeok ) Palace. It’s of of the ” 5 Grand Palaces ” built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty ( 1392-1897 ). The Secret Garden inside of the palace premise was beautiful with multi-hued leaves surrounding ponds and statues. The link to the palace site is down below.
From top to bottom; Palace grounds, dog café , my mom and I having fun on the streets in Seoul
Seoul definitely has so many unique coffee and tea shops to relax and recharge while your stay. Anything from Starbucks to local traditional Korean medicinal tea lounges to Hello Kitty café and dog & cat café s.
After 3 nights of eating, sightseeing and running in Seoul, my mom and I flew to Jeju ( Jejudo ) Island. It’s about an hour flight from Gimpo International Airport. Jeju is the largest island off the coast of Korean Peninsula and the main island of Jeju Provivce. The island is famous for the natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. It’s a popular resort and considered ” Hawaii of Asia “. For more facts and information about the island, there is a link below.
From Top; Grandfather stones, Seaes Hotel, Jungmun Beach, Seafood Hot Pot, Soju
We stayed at Seaes Resort on Jungmun Beach in Seogwipo. If you are tired of boring hotels, this is the place to stay. All the rooms are individual villa style so cozy and private. It’s located a 50-minute drive from Jeju International Airport and a popular resort and only 9 miles away from the scenic Halla mountain. Being an outdoor person, I really enjoyed running there because of a lot of trail courses for hiking. We had rainy days while our stay but the weather didn’t keep us from doing what we wanted to do. My mom enjoyed her latest passion of horseback riding.
The best food in Jeju is seafood caught locally. My favorite place was the Seogwipo fish market where they sold fresh fish and vegetables. Most fish stores had restaurants inside for you to eat the fresh catch of the day. Locally grown tangerines were in season and they were delicious.
Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel, Meondong, Seoul
Jeju Island Facts