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So we’ve travelled for most of his wonderful year with no agenda and very much in a “go with the flow and see where we are drawn to” style – however there was one place we both fuelled a desire to visit – Korea.
So we swung by Soeul city for one delightful week made all the more yummy by the blessing that divine ex Beach St flatmate Wendy (and beau Damian) invited us to stay at their oasis of a home in cruisey well-placed Itaewon.
Plus! We get to catch up with Beach St matriarch Lindy-Hop and the recently-returned-to-her-native-homeland Miss Seijeong – bonus!
As the worlds only ‘international boy band consultant’ and with the current raging K-pop scene in Souel (dominated by slick ninja trained plastic surgerized boy bands) Dara had to get the lowdown on the street as it were.
In fact, she did such a good job at manifesting herself into a K-Pop performance, that upon leaving Seoul she (of course) ended up dancing with a group of choreographed Korean police officers – fulfilling a life-long dream of dancing with Koreans.
As for me, I was pulled by the watery scrubbing ‘temples’ of Korea’s infamous public bath houses (jjimjilbangs) where upon leaving you feel as if not only your physical body but your ‘soul’ had been scraped and scrubbed of all earthly sins.
Our fun favs were Dragon Hill and Spa Lei. These massive public bath houses are social hubs for couples, families and friends that offer a spectrum of possibilities from saunas, sweat lodges, ginseng baths, vicious goodbye-epidermis-body-scrubs to ‘hip baths’ (v-steams for ladies!).
I tried to imagine a group of mature Irish ladies giggling and gossiping whilst scrubbing each others backs (naked) at the local watery meeting spot in Dublin…..nah! Would never happen. The body culture here is so comfortable and matter of fact and hygiene is happening at a level unknown in the west. Inspired by the glistening tight skin and perc bodies of the ‘long living’ women I commit to fastidious skin cleansing and signing off with a cold shower from here on in!
Actually, one of the fascinating things about this place is the plastic surgery culture and the big influx of “Medical tourism”. We all know “Gangnam Style” – but it’s only when you walk the streets of Gangnam that you really get what our friend Psy was talking about. There is a certain “look” of plasticised Korean women (and men too!), that is advertised everywhere as being the perfect face…
We were told that a new nose would cost you $12K in the USA, but only about $3K in Seoul…so come on over!!
Seeing women fresh from surgery was not uncommon…
It wasn’t exactly the most vegetarian-friendly place on earth! In fact, our Korean friend Seijeong had great difficulty in understanding the entire concept! (Much to our amusement)…
Dara managed to convince me to do this…
And we almost didn’t include these pictures, but thought “what the hell!” it’s only a random Korean-corn-double-ended icecream!
Couples dressing is taken to a whole new level.
And so many people look SHATTERED…
Seoul is HIGHLY PREPARED for an underground emergency.
They have taken “Love locks” to a whole new level.
You are always being watched…
Soeul is a place to return to – a week just tantalised the taste buds. So if you are into some sharp dressing, kooky artefacts, authentic ‘soul’ food, getting clean with the natives, medical tourism, bopping to some highly stylised K Pop, cycling by the river or spending time on excellent public transport only to pop up to unknown destinations in this monster of a city – we may see you there…
Seoul how we loved you!