Someone I have been friends with over the internet mentioned privately that my last post (where C and I went skiing), is one of my posts where I sounded so relatable (because they can tell with the way I wrote down that experience, how whiny I was when things sucked that day). I was told that I have such a positive upbeat attitude writing voice in most of my posts, and it’s weird because I don’t feel like it’s representative of myself 90% of the time. My Twitter account is literally on private setting because of how much I tweet weird random feelings. As Taylor Swift wrote for Reputation, “We think we know someone, but the truth is that we only know the version of them they have chosen to show us.” I’ve never really been an open book, and it already takes a while for me to warm up to people, what more with the internet. And when it’s -12 degrees outside, it’s even harder to warm up. (See what I did there? Haha)
At this age, I already knew myself (and C, of course) pretty well and I knew that any outdoor activity is a guarantee for body ache. So I decided not to put anything in our itinerary for the day aside from dressing up in hanboks and getting our photos taken late in the afternoon. It was a great choice for us, and we spent the entire morning lounging around in the apartment, talking about random things while eating assorted cup noodles (we bought so many interesting noodle flavors that the ahjumma at the convenience store truly believed we were both going to die from it). When we finally decided to get up and have a much more nourishing meal. We boarded a taxi to Myeongdong (for 3,400 won which is cheaper than if we both took the subway yay), and started our search for lunch.
Myeongdong is weirdly peaceful while the sun is still out, far from the Myeongdong I know because I’ve only stepped foot here during nighttime. With less people out to act as barriers from the freezing wind, C and I went and bought earmuffs. We refused to purchase and wear them prior to this trip, because it looks silly, and we both have heads that don’t work well with any head gear of sorts. Hats? Can’t wear them. Helmets? A lot of them are too tight. Bonnets? We’re just making it work because of the cold but it has duly emphasized our rounded faces. But earmuffs? We bought went “why did we not buy this sooner?!”. I’m so sorry, self, for putting you through almost losing your ears to the cold before deciding to do something about it. It was another level of warmth and comfort to have our ears protected from nature, and would highly suggest to anyone heading to cold weather (aesthetic aside).
With the abundance of places to eat in Myeongdong, I knew I needed to trim it down. C wanted nothing to do with any K-Drama shooting locations of sort, but that simply won’t do. Fortunately, I found a way to compromise our wants and found a branch of BHC in Myeongdong. I think I’ve referenced Jun Ji Hyun so much in these travel posts, but in one of her dramas, she ate chicken so much from this place. I knew C being “Chicken Boy” would have a hard time turning down chicken and beer, so we ended up here. Haha! Chicken and beer is also weirdly popular in South Korea in general, and it was something we wanted to do even before we went.
Serving size in Korea is frankly overwhelming. We’ve never gone to a place where we didn’t feel full even when we simply ordered for 2 people. To add to the mystery, most of the Koreans we encountered are petite. The two ladies in the nearby table (photo below), had the exact same order as us and yet, C and I, are – let’s just say it – have bigger waistlines than them. Their food arrived around five minutes before us, and yet they finished everything way before we were even halfway through ours. It was insane. They talked to each other as much as we did, and we don’t know how they could eat that fast and that many. C and I didn’t even finish everything because we were too full.
Once we had lunch, C and I went in search of the cable car going up Namsan Tower. You can actually take the stairs if you’re fit, weather-proof, and, generally outdoorsy. But look at us! We opted to take the scenic, and better route (in my opinion lol). If you head to Namsan Tower, expect that the temperature will feel so much colder because you’re essentially climbing a mountain. I never thought I’d be thankful that they decided not to keep the cable car warm, and we didn’t have to adjust too much once we got up the mountain. This area is the location of quite a huge number of dramas that C can’t really complain about going to another shooting location. I have to say again though, that heading here during winter time gave us the advantage of having tourist spots almost empty. I don’t think it could get any more intimate and romantic than that.
One of the things I want to do in every country we head to with strong historical influences up to this day, is wear their attire. To be honest, I’m not really sure if this is cultural appropriation or if it could be seen as offensive by some, but given the number of hanbok rentals available in Seoul, I would like to believe that they enjoy sharing with us tourists the culture they worked hard to preserve. This rental is located in the basement of Namsan Tower. The good thing about this is that they have a few sets indoors because I was 200% sure I am not going to brave the cold while donning a hanbok. They have different packages available, but I booked the cheapest ones and didn’t even get a photographer (unlike what we did in Bangkok). They do lend you their tripod free of charge, and their amazing female photographer approached us and used my camera to take our photos. They were such nice people!
The female volunteer photographer (lol) then went to usher us outside, because according to her “nice photos outside, come, come”, and we didn’t want to be rude and refuse (since she was doing this for free, and she went outside without her coat on, talk about dedication). We ended up letting her take all the shots she wanted to take (she also directed us on what poses to do), and most of them turned out great. A lot of them also looked straight out of a teeny bopper K-Drama with us doing hearts with our arms, holding hands while looking in each others’ eyes.. and it was amazingly cheesy that C and I are keeping it private. Haha!
After changing back to our own (warm) clothes, we went up the tower’s observation deck. I couldn’t help but be happy that our timing to head to the tower was great (no matter how cold it ended up being). While some people find that having a bird’s eye view of the city gives them the perspective that the world seem smaller. It is in moments like this where I truly find myself in awe at how small I am in this big world, and how much there is I have yet to explore. In all the twinkling lights from down below, there are millions of other people who are living their own lives as the protagonists of their own books.
But even with billions of other people in the world, in our core, we’re all inherently similar with the desire to create a compelling story from the lives we all live. There were thousands of love locks in N Seoul Tower, placed there by couples who plan on staying together forever. I find it such a hopeful tradition, so C and I went and left our own love lock. (Even if they probably would be removing our lock sometime in the future, as I checked the locks and a lot of them are dated 2018 and this tradition has been here for years)
Within the same page where she discusses how we curate our lives online, Taylor Swift continues on to say –
Ultimately, we post photos online to curate what strangers think of us. But then we wake up, look in the mirror at our faces and see the cracks and scars and blemishes, and cringe. We hope someday we’ll meet someone who will see that same morning face and instead see their future, their partner, their forever. Someone who will still choose us even when they see all the sides of the story, all the angles of the kaleidescope that is you.
I’m just glad I found you.
TEESH || PHILIPPINES