June was my 11th month in Korea, and I was starting to panic that I was almost out of time, and while I has a pretty intimate knowledge of most of the good bars and restaurants in my area, I still hadn’t seen a lot of the amazing cultural stuff Korea is justifiably proud of. So, Jess and I decided to walk the Seoul Wall. This turned out to be one of the most challenging things of my life, partly because we had no idea where the walk ended, it was in a Military Zone (don’t forget ID if you want to do this walk) and there was a time limit we were fast approaching (as I needed several rest breaks, given that I find getting out of bed every morning exercise enough). I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but I think it was worth it!
As it was an area protected by the military, we had to give our details, show ID, and we were constantly watched by strange guards dressed like hikers with walkie-talkies and weapons… We also saw a guy up in a watch tower with a sniper rifle. We had to wear these numbers to show we were authorised to be on the trail. Also, it made us feel like we were in a marathon or something. It certainly felt like it physically.
There was also another pub crawl. I think we kept this one rather classy!
I finally tried Citrus Soju, which was incredibly drinkable (as opposed to normal soju which tastes like vodka).
We spent a lot of time in Insadong, which is the ‘cultural’ area in Seoul. We painted cups, drank delicious tea in ‘traditional’ tea houses and found a few cool vegan restaurants and cafes. I’m not vegan, or even vegetarian, but Jess is, and it was actually fun to hunt down the rare beast that is vegan cuisine in Korea. Below you can see vegan Mac n’ Cheese, and vegan mozzarella on the salad. It was actually delicious, and if this was on offer everywhere, I might even consider converting!
Afterwards we went to The Secret Garden, a hidden palace garden used by the Korean Emperors of Old. You need to book this tour in advance (go in the morning and book for the afternoon). It’s attached to the Changdeokgung Palace near Insadong. Many of the paths are unpaved, so I don’t recommend going during or soon after rain.
To round out our cultural month of June, we visited the Seoul National Cemetery. This is where the service men (and women?) are buried, and considering the bloody wars Korea has been embroiled in, there are a lot of graves here. I think the caretakers do a great job of keeping it well maintained and welcoming to all people who want to pay their respects.
We also found another vegan restaurant ‘nearby’.. It only took us about an hour to get there. I’ll pretty much eat any savoury thing that’s been deep-fried, but the fake mushroom schnitzel was especially good.
Of course, one of the highlights of June was the massive Pride Parade that finished off the month. I love celebrating Pride in any country, but it was heart-wrenching to see it so big, so successful and so joyful in spite of the terrible hatred spewing forth from the Christian protesters. We all had a great day, and finished it off by beating the Seoul Escape Room! What an epic conclusion to an epic month!