Emma’s Food Diary #2: Oscar’s Taco Shop

food, Travel

Living in Korea and trying to find familiar food that isn’t a burger (yes, sometimes even this burger queen needs a break) or a pizza (love me some pepp and pine) is not the easiest of tasks. However you can always count on the foreigner friendly area of Gwangan to serve up some delicious, non-native scran!

On my most recent jaunt along the Igidae Coastal Walk, my friend and I decided to continue our stroll onwards towards Gwangalli beach. I had heard about a small Mexican restaurant right on the strip opposite the sand and sea that serves up mahoosive burritos, and after walking with only a few pieces of apple in my belly, the prospect of such a thing was too much to resist…

Enter Oscar’s Taco Shop!

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My friend and I approached it from the ending point of Igidae however it is super easy to get to; make your way to Gwangan subway station, exits 3 or 5 and walk directly towards the beach (about ten minutes). Take a right at the GS25 on the corner and then walk for five more mins along the beach front and here it is! Un poco piece of Mexico right in Busan!! It is a fairly small place, it has a couple of tables inside and one outside on the pavement as well as a breakfast bar type of seating arrangement by the kitchen so keep your eyes peeled for the sign above otherwise you may miss it.

The menu is fairly small; it consists of three burritos, two types of tacos and three quesadillas as well as a variety of nachos with different toppings. I went straight in, HAM, and ordered myself the California burrito. It is the most expensive thing on the menu priced at 15,000₩ however each and every bite is worth a million. The tortilla is jam-packed with not only the staple ingredient of rice but a plethora of other foods; avocado, kidney beans, seasoned beef steak, pico de gallo, chips, cheese (ofc!!), salsa and sour cream. It is a beast of a burrito to behold! The chef even commented that not many can rise to the challenge and polish it off but, as previously stated, I only had a third of an apple milling about inside of me and therefore the challenge was taken on and completed!

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Helloooooo baby!!

Also shout out to the chef for his homemade salsa; I had already taken a few bites before he recommended I try it with and his recommendation proved to be golden! His salsa had just the right amount of a spicy kick and fused well with all of the other flavours popping off in the tortilla; overall its flavour was heaps better than any store bought salsa or hot sauce, something you often find to be the case with food created from scratch.

It is also worthwhile mentioning that Oscar’s is veggie and vegan friendly! Needless to say I am not one or the other but I do have many friends who adhere to a more plant based lifestyle. Indeed the friend who came with is pretty much vegan; she was over the moon when I initially told her about the veggie friendly Mexican joint but was even more thrilled upon ordering and trying her very own (veggie) California burrito. If that seems too large for any veggies out there then you can also opt for the no meat tacos or the strictly cheese quesadilla.

So if you are a local or an expat living and working in Busan or if you pop by for a visit, make sure you check out Oscar’s Taco Shop! I will for sure be going there again if ever I need fulfilling sustenance after another hike but to also try the other Mexican classics available on the menu; mainly the beef quesadilla which I have on good authority is delicious and served with a homemade guacamole dip!!

Igidae Coastal Walk! 🍁

hiking, Travel

The Igidae Coastal Walks snakes alongside Igidae park, overlooking the turquoise shimmer of sea that flanks the path to the right. It is a 4.1-kilometre-long stretch of trail, sometimes muddy, other times rocky, an abundance of stairs both up and down as well as a few bridges that jump and bounce as you make your way across them.

Ultimately it is, in a word, wonderful.

I have completed it three times so far and I have already chalked it up as my most regular walking spot in my mind. The walk itself is fairly easy to conquer; yes, I have said there are an abundance of stairs, and while that is very much the case, I find the task of climbing them exceedingly easy given the gorgeous view that stays by my side almost the entire time I walk the path.

The three times I have been and done the trail, I have started by the Oryukdo rocks. Pretty easy place to get to; a lot of buses make their way directly down the road, reaching the skywalk by a short walk. I always hop on the 24 bus, which is about a 20-minute journey without much traffic. The rocks themselves are pretty cool; greyish-black, they stand in the midst of the water, silhouetted against the sky forming a remarkable juxtaposed image of rock and sea.

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Sorry – I’m taking up a lot of this photo but it seems to be the only one I have of Oryukdo!

Between the Oryukdo viewpoint and the beginning of the coastal walk is an information centre, a restroom and a map which highlights the places of interest along the route. I must admit, I cannot exactly pinpoint each location stated on the map and confidently exclaim ‘I’ve been there!’ but given I have at least another year here and the already stated opinion (or fact) that Igidae will be my regular walking haunt, I already know I will visit everything the map has to offer.

Anyway, back to the trail… imagine you are stood in front of the information centre; the Oryukdo rocks are to your left, straight in front is the road, with a small car park coming off it and therefore to the right is the beginning of your walk. There are two options for you; one is a smooth pathway and the other are steps, about twenty or so. Both options lead to the same place; a flattish stretch of land with greenery, water and in the not-so-far distance, stairs leading upwards.

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This body of water is at the top of the first set of stairs – leading up from the road, Oryukdo and Igidae’s information centre

Climb these stairs all the way to the top; to the right is a seated viewpoint and to the left is the continuation of your route. Follow the wind round to the right, up a few more steps and you’ll find yourself at a fork. Take the right side, up along a path lined by trees to either side where you will then reach a clearing with two benches facing the ocean. Everything is pretty straight forward from here on out, stretching from Oryukdo until close to Gwangandaegyo, a sight that remains in your view along the trail.

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Gwangandaegyo! The diamond bridge of Gwangan! A view of your endpoint that is almost always constant along your route

What I love most about Igidae is the scenery. You are literally walking on the edge; stepping along a cusp of woodwork, strategically placed to separate land and sea. Despite being in the middle of winter, plush, green leaves and the first of the buds envelope you; to your left, right and above you, they frame the path ahead of you. Even the branches that stand leafless are pretty; I love the way they look, their gnarly, barren arms reach out over the edge adding more beauty to the path you are upon. Rocky, craggy surfaces stretch out beneath you; reminiscent of Oryukdo, they perfectly clash with the calmness of the sea that their pointy edges cut in to.

Honestly, it is a beautiful view.

The first half of your walk is spent on the wooden structures, stairs and all whilst the second half levels out on to nature’s own surface, more inland but still close enough to the shore to see the ever-nearing Gwangalli beach. Your final stretch sees you cross four short bridges and from there you reach a final stretch of narrow land which takes you to the end of the Igidae Coastal Walk.

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One of the four bridges you encounter towards the end of your route – and also me, jumping for joy!

A road curves off to the left of the trail’s end, going slightly downhill before weaving right. You can follow this road (with the aid of Naver or Kakao maps – although it is pretty damn simple) directly to Gwangalli beach, taking in the expanse of water still on your right hand side, the iconic bridge that stretches across it and also the plethora of street art on offer, highlighting some of Busan’s best and more well known attractions such as the Firework festival that happens annually during autumn.

If you ever find yourself in Busan, make walking along the coast at Igidae a must-do! No matter the season, you can always enjoy the view whilst getting a good amount of exercise in as well.

Emma’s Food Diary #1:

food, Travel

Number one fact about me: I am a foodie. I know, I know, the term ‘foodie’ seems to be thrown around a lot these days but honestly I love food. It gives me life, it shows me happiness, it fulfils my existence in a way I never dreamt possible.

Okay… slightly over the top. But the premise is true. I love food.

And there is nothing I love more than a good, old burger, stacked up high with a side of lovely, golden, crispy chips. On a recent ten day trip back to the UK, I made it my mission to grab as many of my old time faves as possible. Needless to say but I succeeded, and then some… this burger queen devoured SEVEN BURGERS in TEN DAYS! Now I doubt I’ve broken a world record but I am super impressed with my statistic there.

Time for a breakdown of the old classics and a couple of newbies for good measure:

CLASSICS:

FIVE GUYS:

Absolutely destroyed two of these bad boys during my stay as a cheeky five guys is without a doubt my favourite ever burger. I always order the bacon cheeseburger with lettuce, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, gherkins, barbecue sauce and mayo. It is the most glorious combination! The savoury flavour of the patties and bacon combined with the sweet grilled onion and barbecue sauce. Wooooo! I love it 😍

The five guys style chips are an obvious winner too; their salty goodness indulge me so much that I’ve never needed to look the other way and venture to try the Cajun style. Perhaps one day in the future I may divert but for now I’m perfectly happy to cherish salty potato heaven.

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With my one true love!

ALMOST FAMOUS:

Also smashed two beasty burgers from here during my home adventure…

First up: the Awesome HQ at the NQ branch. Let me give you all the deets… double cheeseburger, buttermilk fried chicken, halloumi cheese, coleslaw, peri peri bbq sauce and bacon bacon mayo. Phewwww! Rather a mish mash of ingredients there.

I enjoyed the different challenge the Awesome HQ presented, but as the name implies, two burgers have been combined to make one, meeting together at a plated headquarters, sandwiched between two sides of a bun. I think I would have preferred them separate and perhaps as they should be; a cheeky double cheeseburger with bacon bacon mayo and a fried chicken sandwich with the halloumi, slaw and peri peri bbq sauce.

Next up: the Guy Ritchie at the Great Northern branch. ZERO COMPLAINTS HERE!

The deets again… double cheeseburgecheddar, wonder buttered peppered steak, shoestring onions, pickles, smoky bacon ketchup and chipotle mayo. Gahhhhhh what a combo! Fair few similarities to my regular five guys order so was undoubtedly going to loooove it but that damn peppered steak… ooooft. Took the burger to a whole new level! Took me to a whole new dimension! Loved it!! Will definitely be my Almost Famous go to from now on.

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Almost Famous’s Guy Ritchie!

THYME OUT:

I was introduced to this lovely little place by my mother. She’s a regular and absolutely loves their food and so I joined her on the odd occasion the year before I left for Korea and loved the food too. So a visit there only seemed necessary…

Their menu has changed somewhat since I left. There used to be a burg I’d always go for called the Big Manc, a play on the Maccies Big Mac, but yet so much better! The dearly departed had been replaced with Return of the Manc; another punny name inspired by the absolute 90’s banger by Mark Morrison.

The burger is fairly standard; two cheesy patties, nice thick strips of bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and ketchup in a sweet and shiny brioche bun. Not uniquely show stopping but certainly a damn good burger that checks all the boxes you want checking when needing meaty carby goodness.

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Thyme Out’s Return of the Manc!

NEWBIES:

THE IVY:

A new experience here, no prior knowledge nor expectations but sadly my burger (with a totes original name – ‘The Ivy hamburger’) came with a side of disappointment for it arrived ‘deconstructed’. I’ll never understand this phenomenon… just give me my food completed, constructed, ready to be eaten. The meat and cheese were in the bun but the lettuce, tomato and gherkins were off to the side stabbed together with a large toothpick and in my tired, confused state I didn’t realise it was up to the eater to add the salad they desired so I just ate those before tucking in to the patties.

Sore mistake as the burger was slightly too dry without the salad no matter how much mayo and ketchup I slathered over the bun.

Still the evening wasn’t a complete disappointment… I had some cracking zucchini fries as an entrée along with some super smooth pâté on toast as a starter.

Not to mention being reunited with my family in the flesh for the first time in almost eleven months. That was also rather nice 😜

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The Ivy hamburger!

PECK & YARD:

Last but not least… a finger lickin’ experience in Chorlton. Normally not the one to just go for a chicken burger; I always prefer either a bargain bucket or popcorn chicken on the rare occasion I hit a KFC but this burger spoke to me for a very specific reason.

The burger had all of the expected parts essential to a cracker of a chicken burger however it excelled all others due to it’s Korean elements; a cheeky ‘kimslaw’ (a kimchi coleslaw hybrid) and a ‘hot K-pop mayo’ (literally just mayo mixed with what I assume to be red pepper flakes or 고추가루 to Koreans).

There is no denying Korean fried chicken is currently a worldly favourite; the abundance of crunchiness yet lack of greasiness means you’re on to something special and it has never failed to disappoint me yet. So when I stumbled upon Peck & Yard’s Pow-Pow Stack, with its Korean influences, I had to give it a whirl.

It didn’t disappoint; the chicken was tender on the in, crispy on the out and the slaw and mayo gave the sandwich a lil punch and kick to elevate it on the spice scale.

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Peck & Yard’s Pow-Pow Stack!

AND THERE WE HAVE IT…

Wooooo!! Relieving the memory of those seven beasty boys in eleven days is enough to give me thrills with a side of meat sweats! A lot of people have questioned if that has been enough to finally put me off a cheeky burg and the answer, thankfully, is no. I don’t think anything could ever put me off… I’ve been back in Busan not fourteen days and I’ve already tried and tasted two different, local burger spots! #burgerqueenforlife 🍔👑

Leave a comment if you know of any other meaty treats I MUST try whenever I am next back in Manchester or the UK! Indeed, leave a comment if you know of any beauties in Busan or Korea!! Or just leave a comment if you think I’m bonkers and hopelessly in love with burgers 😅

 

 

 

Christmas in Busan! 🎅🏻🎄

Travel

‘Tis with a heavy heart that I say the festive season is well and truly over. For everyone else anyway…

I have always enjoyed the month of December; seeing the twinkly lights ablaze around my city, decorating the tree at home with the mother’s best ornaments, splurging on cookie dough and Bailey’s hot chocolates at the Christmas markets in town. The joy for me doesn’t end come the evening of the 25th, after unwrapping my presents and gorging on a second helping of the most monumental Christmas dinner. Indeed, it doesn’t even come when the year draws to a close and I’m out and about, either at a bar or a house party screaming ‘Happy New Year!’ with a glass of prosecco in hand. For me, the festive season draws to a close after the first week in January; my birthday is the 7th, therefore meaning Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day and my birthday are all encompassed in to a fourteen day festive period. Therefore my festive season is not yet over; I still have three more days to enjoy the merriment!

Nonetheless, I thought it prudent to share the Christmas celebrations here in Busan and what better way to do so than with a whole load of Christmassy pictures! Mainly of the various decorations I saw whilst strolling the various city centres. I must admit, the pains of being away from home at such a time when family comes first have been firmly present. However Busan’s commitment to colourful, bright illuminations chirped me up quite a lot, reminding me that no matter where you are, there is always room for some festive cheer!

Haeundae Beach

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Seomyeon

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Nampo-dong

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Yangjeong

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And lastly, a picture of me with my Korean family, enjoying a feast on New Years Eve!

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I’ll sign off by saying I hope you all had a wonderfully Merry Christmas and all the best for 2019!

Golden Korea!

Travel

We are well and truly in to the latter half of December; the first frost has been experienced, the wind is bitingly cold and I find myself swaddled in more and more layers each and every day and night. No complaints here though – winter has always been and will always be my favourite season. There is just something so special about this season; maybe it’s the Christmas spirit or the desire to do and see more for the upcoming new year. Or perhaps it is the fact that, given the cold temperature, I can wrap myself up in to a burrito with a blanket and snacks, Netflix blaring on a screen in front of me. No matter the reason, I always feel a sense of overwhelming joy in winter, an admission that would no doubt shake most other people to the core.

Despite my love for winter, however, I find myself daydreaming about golden hour or should I say golden season. Autumn always comes in at an extremely close second place in my eyes; it is the time I start to feel that little chill in the air whilst all around me the leaves start to change. One thing I love to do is strap on my Doc Martens and go for a walk amongst autumn’s prettiest feature. Leaves upon leaves upon leaves; piles and piles lashed with copper, auburn and golden tones. The crunching sound they make when my rubber sole flattens them to the ground; it is music to my ears, a noise so organic, so unique that takes me on a journey of appreciation for the wonderous world I live in.

The autumn season in Korea fulfils my desire to crunch and crisp more so than any other place before. Leaves are in abundance, fallen softly from the copious number of trees (after all 70% of the country is made up of mountains and most of their surfaces are covered in trees with leaf-filled branches). On a trip to Seoul in November, I visited 창경궁 (Changgyeonggung), the second largest palace in the capital and indeed the home to the king’s wife. The palace itself lies within a complex, similar to the one that houses 경복궁 (Gyeongbokgung) but off to one side is a large garden, consumed by walking paths, ponds, and obviously, trees. I was in heaven; all the leaves hadn’t yet fallen and their colours shone brightly with pride, dangling from the gnarly and smooth branches of various types of trees. The rest of them lay on the floor, forming mounds of crunchable fun. I sat within a copse, rolling around, looking like the leaf-obsessed lady I am, pausing only to grab a handful and chuck them up in to the air with a massive smile plastered across my face. It really is the little things that make life enjoyable! You need only look at the picture below to believe my joy at being amongst one of nature’s most simple yet most beautiful characteristics!

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To all my fellow expats, leaf lovers, autumn dreamers, I highly recommend a visit to 창경궁 when the season hits again in 2019. You will not regret seeing such a stunning sight! Furthermore, given the palace’s historical purpose, you will enjoy the trip even more if you are an East Asian history buff, or indeed go if you are interested in traditional Korean architecture, of which the structures within the complex fit the bill completely! Just do not forget to check out the adjoining garden – will only set you back 1,000 KRW and I’m certain it is just as wonderful during the other three seasons. For now, I will leave you with a few snaps I took during my visit… Enjoy!!

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Perspective (2018) #TeamAndromeda

Film, Travel

I know it has been a helluva long time since I posted on here… no special excuse for this, I have been slacking purely based on the recent hectic schedule I have had but I am currently working to correct my laziness so stay tuned for many posts about my recent goings on!

First off… I MADE A FILM! You can watch it below 😊, and if interested, you can read all about my experience making it underneath!

Let me rewind back to September… my friend stumbled across a Facebook post advertising a 72 hour film festival here in Busan. Participants needed to pay only 10,000 won and follow a certain set of guidelines; films had to be 10 minutes or less, had to include a character called either Edward or Edna Appleby, had to include a wine bottle in some way or another and lastly had to use the dialogue “I’ll make him/her an offer that he/she cannot refuse”. Simple enough guidelines to follow and luckily my friend already had a self-love/self-appreciation concept in mind.

Our team initially met on a Thursday evening, at HQ Gwangan, the bar in Gwangalli geared towards the many expats out here, who is also the host of the 72 hour film festival. We discussed and planned, finalising the concept we had and shaping it in to a short film that would follow all of the guidelines we had whilst still maintaining the core message we wanted to portray. Our story would focus on Edna, a young woman consumed by a toxic relationship. We are first introduced to her, downing a bottle of wine in her apartment, frustrated by the lack of communication from her other half. Then she receives a text message, just one short moment of clarity that sends her on a journey of self-discovery.

The next day, Friday, filming began; we used my apartment and the roof of my building initially. As if there were not already enough time constraints (given the allotted time of 72 hours to shoot and edit a short film), we only had 30 minutes or so to film what we needed to film up on the roof. The dark nights start to appear earlier in September and the sun begins to set rapidly so you can only imagine our haste in getting the shots we needed multiple times to ensure smooth cuts in the editing stage. Once night had well and truly set in, we headed to Output in Seomyeon to film a scene involving our lead actress and a male leech. We did have a problem here; not one of us had a male friend available to strap on their acting shoes at such short notice. Nonetheless we managed to secure a reveler in the club with the offer of a few drinks. We briefed our guy, told him his line of dialogue (“I’ll make you an offer that you can’t refuse”) and got to shooting. Sorted. The scenes we needed to bring together the first half of our film were all done, shot numerous times and ready to be uploaded.

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Team Andromeda outside Output! #BTS

We got started with the editing process on the Saturday afternoon, surrounded by a mass of supplies to keep our energy up. It is unbelievable to see the amount of software readily available to amateur filmmakers on the internet these days. My team managed to secure Wondershare Filmora; a seemingly basic editing application which turned out to be fantastic and exactly what we needed. In between editing (and eating), we had to shoot a few daytime scenes; a couple of cuts that would show our main character going about her daily life, eating with friends, browsing shops as well as general shots of the city. In addition, we also needed some shower scenes; a literal presentation of our girl washing away all the toxic that was in her life and embrace her new self-appreciation. All in all, Saturday was a busy day!

We woke up at 4am on the Sunday having made a plan to meet on Gwangalli beach at 4:30am to be able to film our main character doing yoga whilst the sun rises in front of her; the grand finale where she is finally at peace with herself and content with her life. Again, time was not on our side; the sun rises fairly quickly, and we had a variety of angles we wanted to employ to really capture the beauty of the beach and the peace of mind it gives to people. Nevertheless, we were successful, and I must admit, I was (and still am!) super proud of the shots we managed to get! I feel the Zen element we wanted to illustrate was captured, whether that be due to the location or the yoga, either way I love the beach scenes we used in the final cut. We finished our task at the beach, headed home for a couple more hours kip and then got back to editing. Watching and re-watching our completed 7-minute film over and over before heading back to HQ Gwangan to submit it for the showing later that evening.

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Shooting at Gwangalli beach! #BTS

After the screening, we were awarded a bottle of gin as a prize for using the required line of dialogue in the most creative way. Super thrilling! However, I was, and still am, over the moon to finally have my name listed in the credits of a film, no matter how short it is! That reward, in my eyes, is better than any other prize we could have won because I gotta say, my first experience working on a film was incredibly exciting and fulfilling. My team and I are already planning our second film with an aim to continue making short films together as we are a damn good team! 😊

Vibin’ at the Han River! #litlyfinSeoul2

food, Travel

Every single time I have visited Seoul, I have made it a priority to visit the Han River; there is nothing better to me than being close to water, whether that’s the ever-expansive sea or just a small stream I stumble across on a hike. Therefore, without a shadow of a doubt, the Han River is my favourite site in Korea’s capital city. It stretches for miles and miles, is easily accessible and its banks are decked out with convenience stores, bike rental shops, street art and cozy little areas for you to just kick back and relax. During my last visit to Seoul, I wandered over to the Han twice. The first time was a ‘lazy’ Sunday affair; I wanted to walk and walk and walk and the banks of the Han River seemed like the best place for me to do that. I managed to hit well over 20,000 steps that day and found myself in a tunnel absolutely covered in dope street art so I rewarded myself with a Shake Shack burger (#wheninSeoul).

art

Street art for daysssss!

The second time I ventured to the Han River, I was with my cousin, Sophie. Now as stated previously, the Han River stretches on for a loooooong time and is normally easy to get to HOWEVER I write that with my tongue in my cheek. For sure, it is accessible to those who know Seoul like the back of their hand but for me, given it was only my second time there, it can be a struggle. It just so happened that the apartment my cousin and I were staying in was super close to the Han River, yet it was on the northern side whereas I am accustomed to making my way to the water from the Express Bus Terminal which is on the southern side. Therefore, we spent a good hour and thirty minutes walking along the northern stretch of the river in scorching heat praying for the appearance of a Ministop to quench our thirst with water. No such relief came to us and we decided to catch a bus to the Express Bus Terminal to make our lives a little easier considering I was familiar with that route. I would highly recommend doing that to those who venture over to the Han for the first time; it is so easy to get to from that location, pretty much just a straight shot up one road.

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Fish for those compliments!

We arrived at the bus terminal and walked the twenty minutes to the banks of the Han, stopping every now and again to take pictures of the pretty scenery. Now, for the third time this post I am going to state just how long Seoul’s body of water stretches on for; I honestly cannot stress it enough, it is one hell of a long river! A good way to see a fair amount of it and a personal recommendation from me is to rent a bike from one of the many bike stalls you come across. It only costs 3000 won for one hour and 5000 for two! All you need is some form of identification for the person on the till and you’re off! We headed west spending our two hours snapping yet more pictures of the priceless scenery, a contrast of the high-rise skyscrapers on the northern side juxtaposed against the greenery and reflective water, having uncoordinated races between the two of us and fist pumping to EXO’s ‘Power’ (our song of the summer).

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Urban jungle

Our cycling escapade came to an end at Banpo Hangang Park; an area with free admission for people to just chill, eat, drink and watch the sunset or the 200+ lights that create a rainbow fountain spouting from Banpo bridge. This is such a lovely sight; a mesmerising blend of bright colours, splashed through streams of water, lighting up the night sky in a uniquely beautiful way. My cousin and I decided to order some food to the park as an accompaniment to watching the insanely red sun set. Despite both of us currently learning Korean, our proficiency in the language isn’t so great as to be able to order food to an unknown (by us) area hence we asked two lovely Korean girls for help with our mission. They ordered half crispy, half yangnyeom fried chicken for me and a big, steaming bowl of 떡볶이 for my cousin. Both arrived within fifteen minutes of being ordered and cost us under 29,000 won altogether. Perfect! Food and a view! An ultimate Korean experience in my opinion. Made even better by the availability of any beer of your choice at the Ministop just a stones throw away from where we laid our mat and our heads for the evening.

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BHC’s finest!

Have you ever visited the Han River? What are your thoughts on both it and the magnificent rainbow fountain? Let me know your stories in the comment section below!