23 hours in Seoul

Yesterday I was in Korea for the first time! I’m always excited to experience a ‘new’ city: to people-watch, navigate a different subway layout, admire unfamiliar typographical forms, explore local convenience store offerings, enjoy losing my way…

Unfortunately it was a super-short stay. Though I did still manage to have yummy ‘purple’ rice bibimbap, meet up with two friends from Swarthmore (hi Han and Sung!), take in Seoul’s dynamic vibe and its countless cafés, disorient locals with my nonexistent knowledge of Korean, drink a carton of delicious cocoa milk, and get cognitively weirded out by T-shirts with price tags reading ‘59,000’.

I didn’t have time to soak things in and take pictures that do the city justice. Just a few quick snapshots.

Bizeun at Insadong had all sorts of beautiful rice cakes and desserts. They term themselves a ‘riceteria’, a word which I will wholeheartedly help them spread. : ) Unfortunately the shop window reflection spoils the second picture; I need to learn the technical tricks to get around that…

They’re really too pretty to eat aren’t they?

Quite a few Starbucks branches in Seoul have their own unique look. This one sheds its US corporate identity almost completely (at least facade-wise), and blends in with its street:

A few minutes of overcast sky…

…and then it cleared for the rest of what turned out to be a lovely afternoon

There’s Han, who kindly took me around for the day. Hmm, I don’t remember what he was pointing at here, but I’m sure it was good. : )

I really fancied the design of this seating. It’s simple, visually fun, and creates a rare kind of closeness with others in the subway/big city, without being intrusive or uncomfortable.

We went to Seoul Tower, which had great panoramic views of the city and cherry trees, and locks. LOTS of locks.

I think this was an initiative to celebrate the romantic history of the tower. I couldn’t understand any of the messages, but I hadn’t seen good old-fashioned locks in so long, it was fascinating just to look at all the different kinds and models. O_o

Lastly, back to those cherry trees: Seoul is full of them blooming in spring