Back to Seoul & we’re Big in Japan!

The trip to Seoul & Tokyo was a really memorable experience. It was for a uni subject – International Management Field Study and I can say it was the best subject ever. It was far less academic than I thought it would be and we had plenty of free time to explore both cities whilst drinking every single night!
Both are huge cities and the impact they have on Australia is bigger than I thought. Learning about how business is done in each city was interesting as it is so different to how business is done in Australia. Regardless of the trip being for uni, you nevertheless learn so much about a city or country that you never knew whilst travelling.
I was in Seoul 2 days earlier, staying with my aunt and doing some of my own exploring of the city before meeting up with the group. However, Seoul in winter is so contrastly different to summer. Having visited Seoul last year, I knew my way around but since the weather hit negative degrees, it was somewhat harder to get around. I experienced falling snow on the 2nd day and then we all experienced the coldest day in 55 years – it was -17 degrees! However, it is bearable as you are in thermals and layers. We got to Tokyo and it was 5 degrees and was thinking “yes, this is so warm!” We stayed a further 4 full days in Seoul before heading to Tokyo for 10 days.
There are so many funny stories and good times had in both cities but I will break it down to some of the good things done and visited.
Highlights of Seoul
  • Stayed at Yeouido which is more of a financial district, however we were still close to the centre of the city and the student/university town of Hongdae.
  • Exploring Itaewon (foreigner town), Sinsa, Gangnam and Apkujeong (upper class surburbs of Seoul)
  • Gwanghwamun and Insadong for the more traditional aspects of the city – where old meets new.
  • Shopping in Namdaemeun and Dongdaemeun markets as well as Myeong Dong
  • Namsan tower for the amazing view of the city.
  • First night out in Seoul : Losing half the group and ending up at a tiny local BBQ restaurant in Hongdae, Ho Bar then dancing the night away in Club Cocoon. Having priority entry and getting a free drink card was one of the advantages of being a “foreigner”!
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace and Buddhist temple – The architecture was stunning!
  • Second night in Seoul – playing Kings Cup in the boys room and being inebriated before having another night in Club Cocoon.
  • Iceskating at Sinchon (City Hall) was so much fun. It is an outdoor ice rink and costs only W1000 for skate hire and entry fee…that’s about a dollar! Hadn’t iceskated in years and it was so much fun being outside than our usual indoor ice rinks.
  • DMZ (Demilitarization Zone) was fascinating to see the North Korean border and the ramifications of the war between the South and the North (which is still going on!) Unification may happen and can happen but has its implications.
  • Meeting up with Reina & her friends and experiencing real Korean eating and drinking! Koreans are extremely good drinkers and love to drink soju (the Korean spirit) with food whilst socialising. We were also playing drinking games which are so different to the ones we play back home and by the end of the night, I pretty much couldn’t walk!
Exploring streets of Hongdae
Seoul N Tower
Snowing near DMZ
Dinner and drinks with Reina & her friends
Sejong Dae Wan
Ice skating in Seoul
Dinner in Hongdae
Partying at Club Cocoon
Highlights of Tokyo
  • Stayed in Shinjuku which was a great place to stay as it was a major transport hub, was very convenient and had everything you needed from food, nightlife to shopping.
  • First night – Karaoke and then room party!
  • All the room parties actually (which was pretty much every night we didn’t go out properly as well as the pre drinking especially in “SCam’s” room haha)
  • Shibuya and clubbing at Club Camelot both Friday and Saturday nights. Even with the drama happening on the Friday night.
  • Kamakura – there were beautiful zen temples and is highly recommended for a day trip outside of Tokyo as you feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city and it’s only a mere 55min train trip from Shinjuku.
  • Asahi Brewery visit in Sumida.
  • Mt. Fuji – Amazing views going on the pirate ship and cable car up to Hakone National Park. Definitely want to go back in the warmer months to actually climb Mt. Fuji as you can’t in winter.
  • Asakusa – Old Tokyo feel with temples and shops lined with traditional Japanese items and souvenirs.
  • Harajuku – Visiting Meiji Shrine and Takeshita-dori which was the back streets of Harajuku. The fashion is crazy and there were crowds and crowds of people which was bustling! Luckily went on a Sunday where the Harajuku girls come out!
  • Ginza – High end, luxury stores were lined up which was pretty fantastic to see. Going to the Apple store, just to get wifi haha. One thing about wifi in Tokyo was that there was hardly any – there wasn’t even any in our hotel! In Seoul, there is wifi everywhere which makes it so convenient.
  • Food – I cannot say anything bad about the food in Tokyo as it was delicious. From sushi, sashimi, shabu-shabu, soba to udon, katsu, gyoza and sake! All so amazing! Food was so accessible and there is such a wide variety. It is so convenient where some places you would order by using a machine outside where you choose and pay beforehand. We went to lots of traditional Japanese restaurants which you either sat down on the floor or on stools (bar style) There was no English menu and you pointed to what you wanted or guessed. These ended up being the best meals as they make the food right in front of you and it is extremely fresh! There was a particular place in Shinjuku in an alley we named “Diagon Alley” as it was hard to find the second time round. Also you can’t forget the shots of warm sake!
  • Really wish I had a couple more days in Japan to hit the slopes – definitely need to come back again in Winter to experience the Japanese snow.
Shinjuku
At Meiji Shrine
Best meal in Tokyo!
Sashimi and sushi
Asahi Brewery
Kamakura

Harajuku girl
Group before Mount Fuji
Dinner in Shinjuku

Before a night out
Near Mount Fuji area

The songs for the trip are pretty much “Big In Japan” by Martin Solveig & “Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)” by The Wombats.

Seoul & Tokyo were both amazing places and the trip was an unforgettable experience especially since it was a uni trip – who would have thought uni could be this much fun! We got to explore new cities, eat amazing food and make new friends. Can’t wait to reminisce about the times spent in both cities over some food & few drinks (preferably a Korean BBQ or Japanese, accompanied with soju or sake!)

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