So in my last post, I discussed what led me to choose South Korea as my live-abroad destination. Discovering SK was the perfect merging of happenstance and desire … kind of like a love story!
Well, now I want to unpack why I think South Korea and I make such an incredible couple. Because, y’all: I am LOVING it here! From the speedy transit service, to the abundant variety of food to the go-go-go lifestyle that suits my Type A personality, SK and I were made for each other. Here are seven reasons, from the trivial to the tasty …
7. Nobody Bats an Eye at My Being Glued to My Phone — Because They Are, Too!
‘Nuff said. I don’t get judged or finger-wagged at for always being on my cell, because Koreans overwhelmingly live on their smartphones, too (though I was hella surprised to learn that Finns have them beat). Texting and phone games are the biggest draws here. That said, back home, I was often on my phone tending to my blog, The Dallas Diva, and its social media; I don’t have much to manage here in Korea at the moment, but with the launch of this blog, that might change fast!
6. WiFi is EVERYWHERE
Which, obviously, helps with the aforementioned phone obsession. In addition to having available and free WiFi even on the subway, the speeds in Korea are known for being among the fastest in the world, making it that much easier to be sucked into your smartphone.
5. Delights Beckon Down Every Alley
Speaking of those random alleys, Koreas small towns and sprawling cities have a wealth of winding side streets to wander, and I love this. There’s nothing like having no schedule, no place to be and finding a random alley you suddenly want to — and can! — explore. You can find shops and boutiques, cafes, and — of course — stellar places to eat way off the beaten path. Alleys are definitely great places to scope out where locals eat and drink, which is another bonus.
4. Coffeehouse Culture Is Strong
I’m so not a coffee drinker. If absolutely no other hot drink is available, I can enjoy a mocha, latte or mayyyybe a cream-and-sugared-up drip coffee, but the real reason I’ve always liked cafes is for their atmosphere. A gorgeous coffeehouse is a terrific spot to crack open your laptop and while away the hours on Facebook, or blogging. Or a great spot for catching up with friends or meeting a date. A great cafe sets a mood, has a personality, and boy, does SK have a ton that fit the bill. Like the aforementioned karaoke rooms, coffeehouses are eeeeeverywhere, from the cute to the bespoke, and I like how they’re a nice mix of Korean chains and indie brands. Yes, you’ll find Starbucks here and there, but not with the frequency of the U.S. And, besides, I didn’t come here to indulge in things I can get back home! I especially love happening down a random alley and finding a gem of a coffeehouse. Here’re a few photos of some I’ve stumbled upon …
3. It’s Karaoke Heaven
This is pretty much an Asia-wide phenomenon, but SK has karaoke rooms, called noraebangs, almost on every street corner, even in my tiny town. I was introduced recently to coin noraebangs — tiny singing rooms with space enough for only you and three (close) friends that allow you to feed 1,000-won bills (about 85 cents, at the time of this writing) for three songs. They’re stocked with a mic, crazy remote controls with 30 buttons and a large-screen television perfect for viewing all the crazy, super-unrelated videos that play with each song. So much fun, so cheap!
2. It’s a Booze-Friendly Culture
Soju, the nationally beloved brewed spirit of Korea, is available erry-damn-where, it’s cheap, cheap, cheap, and it’s stronger than beer without the filling bubbles. You can easily get your buzz on for less than US $3!! I learned the hard way that you can get downright loopy with equally available/cheap Chinese plum wine. Suffice it to say I woke up the morning after I tried the stuff and discovered a not-insignificant Korean beauty haul I don’t remember buying. Best part about any of these and more boozes? You can drink them in the streets! Open container strolling is A-OK here. There’re food truck-style cocktail vendors, even! Hello, mother country!
1. The Availability and Variety of Food Will Simply Amaze You
And the top reason I’m twins with South Korea? It makes a ton of sense if you’ve ever checked out the Diva blog. I’m a huge foodie, and Korea’s astounding, mouthwatering food and dining culture blows my mind!
From cuisine based on the country’s centuries of food history to more recent innovations such as shaved ice desserts, Korean BBQ and all manner of fried chicken, there’s an incredible breadth to the food here. Plus — and I truly cherish this — there are restaurants everywhere. And I don’t mean like in the States, where it’s a bunch of chains and fast food, but rather mom and pop, neighborhood shops that serve BBQ, soups, roast pork, seafood grilled to order, and more. And I can’t forget all the cuisines from other countries you can indulge in, too — from Bulgarian to American breakfast to Baja Mexican, I’ve seen so many types of international foods here I wonder if I’ll ever get to try it all. But as a huge foodie … you know I’ll try! Wink!