Wanna know why blogging is so awesome? Because it brings people together.
To illustrate, the other day, I was just chillin’ at Cafe Harunohee, when this non-Korean girl walked in. Naturally, I was curious as to how she had found the cafe, and I had a sneaky feeling that maybe she had found it through this blog. And then when I overheard her ask the barista for a soy latte, I knew I had to say something and introduce myself! :) Sure enough, she was a vegan visiting Korea for a week, and had come to the cafe after reading about its current vegan-friendliness on this blog! I bet she wasn’t expecting to find me (the writer) at the cafe. lol.
So Caitlin (that’s her name) and I soon realized that we have so much in common- she’s American, but currently lives in England (I’ve lived in both places), we’re both vegan (obviously, there’s a lot to talk about there), and we both love to travel (she’s currently on a trip around the world: Taiwan, Korea, Japan, New York, Costa Rica….)! So cool, right?
Since she was traveling alone, I was happy to suggest some good vegan places to eat (Loving Hut Buffet!), and we also exchanged contact info so that we could meet up again.
So on Tuesday, we got together and ended up checking out the GwangJang Market, which is in the middle of Dongdaemun. Surprisingly, I’ve been living in Seoul for 4 years now, but only recently heard about this street-food market central. I think street-food is one of the best ways to really experience a new country and culture, so I figured this would be a cool cultural experience for both of us. :) And thankfully, when I suggested it to Caitlin, she was totally on-board!
Since it’s an ‘open’ market, it was really cold, but there was still a ton of people (especially ajushi’s) huddled together around various stalls, enjoying their greasy street food with some soj’ after a hard day’s work.
Caitlin had never had bibimbab before, so after a good look-around the different stalls, we picked this bibimbab vendor with plenty of veggies and banchans on display. After explaining to the ajuma that we’re both vegan, she assembled two vegan bibimbabs for us. We would’ve gotten some hot broth with our bibimbab, but the broth had animals in them, so she gave us some bo-ri-cha instead (roasted barley tea). The air was so cold on Tuesday night that our hands were freezing, but the benches were covered with electric heat-pads, so our butts were toasty warm!
Unfortunately, our vegan outing was not without some disappointment. We bought one of the bindae ddeoks, thinking that it would be vegan, but after one bite, we both looked at each other and reached for a napkin to spit it out…. there was pork in it! :( I felt terrible cuz I totally should’ve asked the ajuma whether it was vegan or not, but I absentmindedly forgot, and based on past experience I just assumed that there wouldn’t be any meat in it. :( So that was a big fail.
Here’s a cart selling various nuts and snacks~ Gwangjang Market is packed with all kinds of random things. I love exploring and getting lost in the clutter. It’s also just across the stream from the Bangsan Baking Market so it’s just a great place to spend an afternoon.
Directions to GwangJang Market (taken from this blog):
“Exit 12 Jongno-3-ga Station. Exit the station and walk for a few mins until you reach a road. The market will be directly across it. Once inside, walk past the first few street food stalls you see – you’ll know when you hit the good stuff!”
After touring the GwangJang Market, we braved the cold and walked along the CheonGyeCheon stream where the Seoul Lantern Festival is currently taking place. Even though I saw it last year I didn’t mind checking it out again, especially since it would be cool for Caitlin to see it.
By the time we reached the end, my fingers were too frozen to take anymore photos! I can’t believe how cold it is already. If it’s this cold and it’s only November, I’m afraid for how much colder it’s gonna get. It’s time to bust out my fake Ugg shoes and winter hats.
I had an awesome time and I hope that Caitlin had a good experience too. Caitlin has already left Korea now and gone to Japan, her next destination, but I look forward to our paths crossing again. It was totally cool to meet her through this blog and to hear about her vegan life in London (sounds amazing!). Infact, she’s also a fellow blogger, so I’m sure it will be easier for us to stay in touch. Oh, the power of blogging!!!