Kalihi Girl Meets Seoul

I’ve never been to Paris, but my experience in Seoul leads me to argue that the South Korean metropolis is one of the most “romantic” places I’ve ever been. Romantic in the sense that it’s a city you will fall in love with, even if you don’t intend to. Kalihi Girl Meets Seoul

Here are some things to keep in mind if you are planning to visit Seoul:

1. Be mindful of yellow dust/sand

Seoul and other parts of Korea occasionally receive waves of particles blown across from Chinese and Mongolian deserts, potentially bringing along with it bacteria and industrial pollutants. High concentrations of the particles in the air can cause respiratory illnesses. When the particle level are around <400, the air quality is considered unhealthy and the elderly and young children are encouraged to stay indoors. Luckily, while Josh and I were there the air quality remained at less than 160 micrograms. We regularly checked the convenient robot @yellowdust on Twitter to view real-time updates of the air quality whenever we were out and about. We also wore masks on the first day just to be safe.

2. People aren’t “trying” to be rude

Compared to growing up in the Aloha State, my initial impression of most — not all — of the people I met in Seoul, came off as rude or cold. No friendly smiles on the street combined with a lot of pushing in subways or pacing behind you sans any verbal “excuse me.” But then I realized that this is just the way it is here. People need to get to places and the “seemingly” impatient character is considered “normal” and not rude at all. If you think someone is trying to get past you, there’s a silent agreement between people here to simply move aside. I also liked the two-lane escalator etiquette (similar to Japan and London). In Seoul, you have the option of staying to your right side of the escalator and for those who simply cannot wait, they walk through the left side of the escalator.

3. Do try to speak the language

I had the hardest time trying to say “anyong haseyo” (hello) and “kamsamnida” (thank you). During the entire trip I kept stumbling on my words but I noticed that the people I tried to greet, appreciated that I was “trying” my best. Even if you say it wrong, the thought is really what counts. Or maybe it was because I bowed incessantly at the same time?

4. Make a plan but don’t be afraid to ditch it

This was a whirlwind trip that Josh and I booked a week before flying out. We had no planned itinerary and just tried to see as much of Seoul that we could in five days. By our third day, we were exhausted. That’s when we decided to do away with the touristy plans and do what we really wanted: eat and lift. With the help of our friend Janell, we were able to fit in a quick training session at a gym near the Hansung University station and take care of our bodies after abusing it with the jet lag and lack of sleep. We also centered the rest of our trip around eating a lot of street food. I found a newfound obsession with deokbokki (mochi rice covered in a hot sauce) and Josh ate whatever seafood he could get his hands on. We also made coffee stops at numerous cafes to rest our tired feet and enjoy the free wifi with our coffee. We also noticed that many cafes offered “sets” so you could order a pastry, bulgogi burrito or dessert and it comes a drink.


Our hotel was located in Myeong Dong, located exactly one stop away from Seoul Station. We took the Airex express rail from Incheon Airport straight to Seoul Station and took a short taxi ride to our hotel. Getting situated in South Korea was extremely stress-free and cheap. All the information for the Airex can be found after you receive your bags from baggage claim and head towards the subway area located in Incheon Airport.


The 7-11 stores here carried yummy kimbap but supplies run low near the end of the day.


Our friend Janell, originally from Hawaii, has been teaching english in Korea since 2013.

Janell took us to Bau House, a dog cafe in Hongdae. If you buy a drink, you get to stay as long as you want and play with dogs. I’ve also heard of cat cafes and a sheep cafe in town — if that’s what you’re into.

Stay tuned for more photos and my top 4 “must-see” sights in Seoul.