Travel Diaries

Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / February 18, 2018

A Day In LOTTEWORLD in Seoul, Vegan Diaries Pt. 8 (video)

Welcome back to my new post!

 

How is the weather where you are? Honestly, since I changed countries and therefore weather conditions multiple times in the past month I have been constantly either too cold or too warm. Therefore I genuinely hope you are happy with your temperatures.

To get over the introduction, as you may have noticed I FINALLY visited one of the most raved adventure parks in Korea – Lotte World. Initially, our plan was actually to explore Everland but since it is only February it was not yet open. Like Lotte world was not enough right?

Theme Park In The Hearth Of The City

As you may know Seoul is quite busy and full city compacted into smaller space then it would need. And yet somehow, they managed to squeeze a whole theme park with actually (and not so tiny) rollercoasters in the middle of it. How? I have no idea. But it worked.

Lotte World is located just few minutes away from the Jamsil subway station and is easily accessible. It opens at 9:30 in the morning and we arrived just before that for reasons I will talk about later. About third of the attractions are located inside the huge indoor hall while the rest, and the biggest attractions can be found outside. Inside you can witness a lot of parades and shows on top of multiple theme houses or smaller rides. Plus there is a lot of food.

Outside are the biggest rides – Gyro Drop, Gyro Swing and much more plus my favorite Atlantis. It resembles your typical roller coaster but is damn fast and literally makes you cry. (from the wind of course) Many attractions were opening up later during the day so you can expect to wait quite a bit for those.

And that brings me on the topic of timing.

Early Birds

Imagine going to a theme park in early February and on a Friday when outside temperature drops to negative 7 degrees Celsius. Huge crowds are not really part of your image right? That is where I was wrong. Arriving 20 minutes before the opening time we were greeted by big lines pilling up in front of the closed gates. Why? High school break just started. But also it is just such a popular place.

Since we arrived so early we were lucky enough to go to most of the major rides and even managed to visit some of them multiple times. We reserved some of the attractions on the phone app – Lotte World or took time tickets (allows you to skip the line during a certain time limit you get) which saved us quite some waiting. Keep in mind though that those tickets tend to run out soon and you have to physically visit the ride first to get it.

The lines were bearable during the first half of the day but later it lengthened to around 2 hours of waiting time on average. Not so great right?

Food Problem

Being vegan, and health freak is hard in Korea on its own. Being health conscious vegan in a Korean theme park is almost impossible. How to survive? Pack your own food. I was surprised that I found some reasonable options but I still happily opted for my own packed lunch. Saves you money and stomach ache. But if you are into none of that, you have to dig into those Oreo Churros! They looked and apparently tasted devine!

You can generally find a lot of Korean street food, some classic fastfood and a lot of candy in Lotte World. Unless you have special dietary needs you will enjoy a lots of delicious indulgence. For my fellow vegans, it is a bit harder.

 

What do you thing? Would you visit Seoul for this winter wonderland?

I honestly wish I can go back again soon.

 

See you next weekend!

 

Love,

 

Sara

 

Tip: Avoid water rides in the middle of February

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / February 10, 2018

STREET FOOD THURSDAY, Berlin Pt.3 (video)

Hello!

And wave goodbye to January because the first month of 2018 is officially gone….. in what seems like 5 second.

* Side Note: I just realized I truly repeat the same complaints too much –

not enough time

time speed

lack of food in Korea

my own stupidity

complaining

I apologize.

 

Anyway, it is time to wrap up my Berlin adventure! Took three days in total, three different posts and videos over three weeks. No fairytale magic number power indented. If you have missed my vegan fast food post or the epic donut adventure pig out you better check it, like right now. Or after you finish reading this. Just watch it.

What is the theme of my last post?

My best friend when traveling (or any other time) – STREET FOOD!

And not just any street food.

A true street food gathering.

Street Food Thursday

Being a fan of farmers markets, rows of stalls serving delicious street food the winter weather is unfortunate to prevent me from enjoying most of these things. Berlin turned out to be one snowy and rainy hell for being outside so I didn’t even expect much street wandering. But Berlin is such a great place to try almost anything from all around the world so I tried my best and googled the hell out of my phone to find a decent street food stall, which would satisfy even my vegan stomach. I was more than successful, I managed to find a whole INSIDE street food gathering.

Street Food Thursday was apparently the first major organized street food event in entire Berlin and majority of the internet considers it also the most “exciting” a “must to visit”. Being lucky to spend the whole Thursday in Berlin we obviously couldn’t resist. The market hall selected for this even is located at the edge of Kreuzberg, the famous “hipster” area and just a short journey from our neighbourhood, Friedrichshain. The whole place is super cool, having that nice urban vibe. Once you walk in, you can’t even count the number of street food stalls that rotate each week, so you never know what to expect.

Unfortunately, it also gets crowded really quickly so you have to move fast. The hall is relatively spacious and would be perfect, if there just wasn’t a giant ALDI standing in the corner. Like, why? (for those who don’t know ALDI is your typical discount supermarket, with it’s own ugly building and horrendous sign flashing around – but I do love their cheap stuff).

Vegans Travel Around The World

The variety of the food presented at this event is so huge you would never have time to even remember all the countries represented. Japanese gyoza on the right, Sri lankan curry on the left and there around the corner is Italian cheese heaven. You can get a cold beer and a cake from the next stall. Everything looks too good to pass it by.

As much as you can find loads of meats, cheeses and gourmet cuts, vegetarians and vegans are in no way neglected. Like that would even happen in Germany right? Many stalls serving meat and animal based foods offered generous options for plant eaters. And all looked so good!

Having the advantage of being with friend we tried as much as our stomachs (and wallets) could handle. One of my favorites was definitely the first ERITREAN platter. We had our mouths burned by the incredible spicy Momos, a.k.a. dumplings and even tried a VERY popular Gado Gado. Seriously that line was never ending.

In my traditional style I had to end with a dessert from a BIO (European equivalent of organic) bakery that supplies a vegan chain Goodies. It was there where I first tried the berry scone and finding it here, I had to get it. It is SO SO good!

Just Sit Down…

The only downside of this whole adventure was when you were rushing around the hall trying desperately to find seats… It got so crowded we spend most of our time locating free seats (or even parts of them) like some agents hunting for the criminal. The second time we managed to win one, we didn’t leave both at once to keep it for ourselves. (tip: once you have the seat, DO NOT LEAVE IT!)

Oh, and the prices. In my opinion, the prices were relatively ok given it was such a special event and most of the people are only pop-ups. Cooking everything there right in front of you showed us that the quality was indeed great and I was willing to pay for what I really wanted. I wish I could afford more but even on a budget, you will find a delicious feast.

Overall, if you ever find yourself in Berlin on Thursday I greatly recommend you to visit this event. You get to try a lot of food you might have never seen, enjoy a great atmosphere and maybe even meet some nice people bonding over the foods.

(special thank you to that super nice older couple who didn’t laugh at my German nor was offended by my stupidity)

What do you think?

 

Would you go?

I hope you get to try it.

 

I will see you next week, already back in the freezing Korea.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / February 3, 2018

The Best Vegan Donuts In The World feat. Brammibals Donuts, Berlin Part.2

Welcome back!

How are you doing today? All cuddled up hiding from the harsh winter or are you sweating under the sun?

I am unfortunately still struck with the annoying cold but I am doing my best trying to recover so I am ready for my move back to Korea soon…

Anyway, remember my post from last week where I made myself drool revisiting all the amazing fast food places we visited in Berlin? If not, you should definitely watch it and read it all here. (I am so sorry if you are hungry 🙂

I have previously mentioned I was unable to put all of my Berlin adventures into one post/video so I have decided to split it in three shorter parts… and here is the second one.

Assuming you saw the title of this post you might expect me to be talking about donuts today. A whole post just for donuts? Yes, since they are the best donuts I have ever tried. Non-vegan and vegan counting too, these were approved by my non-vegan friend as well.

Donut Fever

Having lived in New York for some short time I have gotten used to having fresh donuts (or as fresh as Dunkin Donuts gets) almost every morning. I was not a very health conscious child and my love for donuts was endless. I genuinely consider donuts to be one of my biggest weaknesses. Those rounded fluffy deliciousness covered in various glazes can make me run for miles to get them. Or travel to a different country.

In Czech, I often indulged in something called “kobliha”, which is eventually a fluffier donut filled with jam (or chocolate) and covered generously with powdered sugar. You can find it in almost every supermarket and it cost almost nothing. This nostalgic treat of my childhood might remind you of “Berliners” or a type of donuts. I am the type to prefer the traditional holed donuts but this was something I always enjoyed. I missed getting some once I turned vegan, and finding donuts with no animal ingredients became one of my biggest goals.

The problem is, they were nowhere to be found. Donuts as most people know them are just slowly growing in popularity here in Europe and vegan version seemed impossible to spot. And then I hear about this magical place called Brammibals donuts. My amazing friend brought a box with her back to Prague all the way from Berlin and after tasting them, i understood why.

Berlin Nightmare

In summer 2017, me and my best friend travelled to Berlin for the first time. It was supposed to be our European adventure but i had secret agenda in mind – donuts. I was so excited to try Brammibals donuts fresh there on the spot and I planned it for our final day. But what didn’t happen – we arrived to read a sign on the door: “closed due to technical problems”. I am ashamed to admit that I had a true breakdown, I even called the place to ask if they REALLY have no donuts today. They didn’t.

So coming back in January, I made sure I will get my dose. We pre-ordered our donuts and headed there two days before departing. Surprisingly, getting a box of 4 donuts didn’t break our entire bank (only half of it). I couldn’t wait.

Box of four…or eight?

We opted in our pre-order for most of the January specials – Creme Brulee, Hibiscus, Coconut Chokladbollar and our favorite Chocolate Peanut Fudge. Arriving early we picked those fluffy perfections and… ate them all in no time.

The cafe is super cosy with loads of things to offer – sandwiches, merch, the best coffee I have ever tasted and of course, all the donuts you would like. In my life I have eaten LOADS of donuts – some vegan and more non-vegan, but nothing compared to these. i am a fan of fluff, I need my donut to be less dense and heavy and have all the perfect rations. Somehow Brammibals donuts fulfilled all those requirements.

So we ended up ordering more. In total, that day we ate 9 donuts (majority was my work…) and regretted nothing. If we were to pick our favorites, I definitely recommend the Hibiscus Donut, not too sweet but perfectly balanced or for heavier indulgence, the Chocolate Peanut Fudge. Since my amazing friend is a fan of coconut, her heart was won over by the Maple Smoked Coconut.

Anything you will get there will be incredible.

 

So, have I made you buy tickets to Berlin yet? If not, consider it carefully.

It doesn’t matter if you are vegan or not, if donuts make your heart flutter like mine you need to pay a visit to this “first vegan donut shop in Europe” with the best coffee I know. (and about that I too am picky)

 

I hope I will see you next weekend with my last round up of our Berlin adventure. There is certainly a lot to look for!

 

Love,

 

 

Sara

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / January 27, 2018

Vegan Fast Food Heaven – Vöner & YoYo Foodworld, Vegan Berlin Part.1

Hi!

How are you?

I missed writing for a while because there was so much happening to share with you. So much I will have to separate it to 3 different posts/videos.

What is it all about?

It is about my January trip to Berlin.

Berlin has been often called the vegetarian/vegan capital of the world and I couldn’t agree more. It is like a paradise for any kind of foodie, plant eater or not. Besides that, it is a wonderful city with incredible culture and people dressed like Urban Outfitters display. So cool I should rather stay away. But I can’t. So I returned after more then 6 months again.

It took only three days to experience all those things I want to show you and I will start with the biggest indulgence.

Vegan Fast Food

Many people still, even in 2018 believe vegans feed themselves on lettuce. The presumption that plant based diet means restricting yourself so there is nothing left is is sadly so common. I can’t count how often people say: “You poor thing, you can’t eat anything then?” once they learn I am vegan. I am sorry to break it to you but I eat just fine. Sure, I can’t have that McDonald’s Cheeseburger but I can have multiple “burgers” just from that place next door. Not like I would ever actually craved a Cheeseburger, I am not a big burger fan. Sorry, not sorry.

Fast food in general is where the question “what can that vegan eat?” comes out so often, remember I live amongst broke college students, too. Most of popular chains like KFC or PizzaHut are not exactly great for plant based eaters but it is not impossible to order. And yet, why would you try order veggie when it is usually not really worth it and there is a whole world of vegan “fast food” out there? Some clever minds have perfected the art of creating your “unhealthy” indulgences vegetarian/vegan style. Although I am indeed much bigger fan of less copied food but sometimes I want to go all the way.

And where better then in Berlin.

Kebab King – Vöner

Kebab is a big European thing, many countries consider it their “national” drunk food. Stalls can be found on every corner in Prague and even closer together are they stocked in Germany. I have never enjoyed kebab but I do love the wraps, sides, sauces and the smell of warm pitta. While researching where to go in Berlin I stumbled on an article extolling a place called Voner I knew I need to stop by. We were so hungry when we finally arrived at this cute place at hipster Friedrichshain.

We went a bit overboard. Mind us, we are two hibbit-like girls with really crazy stomachs. Yet, we were so excited we ended up ordering not just Vöner Kebab and Dürum Vöner, but also a pile of “Special fries” on top. And somehow we finished it all. Because it was so so good!

Every single bite tasted fresh and rich, the breads were so soft and yummy. You can choose between four sauces to cover your veggies and secret vegan “meat”, we opted for chilli and tahini based. The fries looked magnificent and the vegan “cheese” sauce with caramelized onions was the highlight of that evening. Just a bit too much salt on the fries.

Overall, all was so fresh and tasty I would always return. And the prices are great! Their menu is relatively big and no meat-eater would feel bad there. Way to go!

Pizza Time

My childhood was greatly filled with Italian food and my friends know how much I love my pizza. Korea has unfortunately left me deprived of this epic pie but Berlin was there to make me happy again. The last summer I took you to one of the best vegan pizza places (and non-vegan too) and I was more than satisfied. This time around we opted for one of the classics, one of the original vegan Berlin diners YoYo Foodworld.

Also conveniently placed in Friedrichshain, this retro style place is known for it’s wide range of vegan burgers, kebabs and pizzas. On top of that, everyone loves their prices, the portions are so huge and won’t cost you all your money. I loved the environment and super friendly staff. Ordering vegan Spinach pizza I got a big pie, a bit too thick and soft crust but a kind of staple that won’t disappoint and fills you up well. The sauce I loved a lot and all the other toppings were nice. What my amazing friend ended up ordering, the Shinda Kebap was our all time favorite.

Filled with a generous amount of salads, incredible vegan Tzatziki and seitan “meat” it was definitely one of the most enjoyable meals we had in Berlin. And only for 5 Euro! Definitely worth it.

 

In the end, this is just the start of our vegan Berlin pig out.

Excited for more? Then don’t forget to check out my blog & YouTube next weekend for part 2.

 

Until then, have a great time!

 

Love,

 

 

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / December 24, 2017

FIRST SEMESTER AT UNDERWOOD INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE Q&A (video)

Happy end of 2017!

Time flies so quickly!

Not only is it the end of yet ANOTHER crazy year but also the end of my first semester in Korea.

Despite the assumptions of many, yes – I am staying. Right now for another 3,5 years at least. (unless I get kicked out) However, even in just couple months I did get a big insight into how everything works here both at UIC and in Korea in general. And since so many people have been asking me and emailing me a lot of questions I want to help find the answers.

Question Overload

But for future reference, I am unable to respond to everyone. Doesn’t matter if you email me or tweet me – I want to give everyone proper answers so I will do it like this, when I have time in a post or a video. Feel free to ask but I won’t probably answer right away. I am very sorry but I just can’t. If you end up here, you will understand why.

I will get to the questions and answers pretty quickly (all of the full answers are in my video) but I just want to say I included some of my own. There are things I researched and I tried desperately to find out before coming to UIC and I felt like knowing the answers would be a big benefit. Now I can try and help answering some of those. So shall I start?

Question Time

FIRST WARNING! I am sorry to start this in a negative way but I feel the need to warn every international student planning to apply to UIC. “International” is unfortunately mainly just the name. The real Underwood College is far more different than that. If you are ready to struggle and think you can bear common frustration, go ahead and apply. I love being here but there is a long way to go for this place to be ready to truly embrace international students.

1.Are you a full time student at UIC?

Yes, I am a full time undergraduate student at Underwood International College which is a part of Yonsei University. Unless I get kicked out I will be here studying for 4 years.

2. How are you funding it?

I was lucky enough to receive an admission scholarship from UIC. Everyone is automatically considered for one when applying to UIC and there is no need for separate application. There are many other external scholarship, government scholarship which you can look into. Do your research carefully when applying. UIC then also offers certain scholarships you can apply for from your second semester. When it comes to actual tuition UIC is sadly the most expensive Korean university, traditional Yonsei is cheaper. Other then tuition, I earned some money working and I have my family’s support.

3. What are you majoring in?

I have yet to declare my major officially but my first choice would be Comparative Literature and Culture. I would like to later consider double major or major/minor as well but since you do not have to declare your major until sophomore year there is a lot of time. Just choose carefully the division you want to apply to, that is the one thing you can’t change after coming to UIC.

4. What made you want to study in Korea?

There are several reasons but I honestly applied all over the world. I knew I wanted a good education in English language and was keen to try a new place I have never experienced before. When I found about UIC I was drawn to the idea of small liberal arts college but mainly to the major. It is very specific major, hard to find elsewhere. Despite the cost being high it is still lower compared to many other international universities.

5. What do you plan on doing after you graduate?

I honestly have no clue. Not being that type of a person to have my life lined and decided and I often change my mind. I wish to let my future open. Now I just need to focus on surviving even till the second semester hoping the school won’t kick me out 😉 If I were graduating at this moment I would love to continue to graduate school, just if I could afford it.

6. What is the whole deal about residential college?

Residential college or RC is a policy UIC implemented few years ago. In short all freshman students coming to UIC are required to spent at least one year (2 semesters) living in the dorms at International Campus. UIC chooses your roommate and your house to help you with this “experience”. On top of it all you have to earn at least 12 RC points per semester. You get those by attending certain events, concerts, lectures or special small group events hosted by your Residential Assistant (one of your seniors who get assigned groups of students to help). Your house will also host certain fun events.These are all usually worth from 1 to 2 RC points. The problem is that if you fail to earn 12 points in both semesters you have to live one more semester in the dorms, basically until you have 2 semesters with 12 earned points in each.

7. How did you get this dorm?

I stole it. Bad jokes aside I applied for it. Contrary to the UIC website International Campus offers both double and triple rooms. Double are more expensive and more competitive to get. You will find all info about applying for dorms in your welcoming pocket from UIC so no need to worry about that before you even get accepted.

8. What was your GPA in high school?

Sorry to let you down, but my high school didn’t do GPA. And it really is not that important. Don’t worry about it and just do your best in all you can. Even if you have great GPA but horrible essays and interview you won’t probably get in. Focus on the other things and don’t be stressed if your GPA is not a certain number. (more in the video..)

9. Can I study business at UIC?

Unfortunately, UIC does not offer BUSINESS. Main Yonsei does but it is in Korean. What I think is very similar at UIC though would be Economy. As part of the Underwood division you can choose to major in that.

10. Do you feel like it is worth leaving your friends & family to study in Korea?

Well, yes for me. But for you? Only you can know. Your friends and family will not run away. It will be hard but if you feel like you are ready to go away and it is truly what you want, it will be worth it. Friendships will break but also strengthen with the distance, those who truly care about you will stay in you life if you make a bit of effort. And new friendships are what college life is all about right? If I can find someone who stays beside me anyone can 🙂 (long explanation in the video)

 

Well that was a lot. Please check out the video for more detailed talk. I hope I answered all of the questions in a helpful way and feel free to sent me more. I plan on doing part two of this Q&A very soon.

Here are some helpful links:

https://uic.yonsei.ac.kr/main/default.asp

https://yicrc.yonsei.ac.kr/default.asp?mid=n00

https://oia.yonsei.ac.kr/

Good luck.

AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / November 25, 2017

Where To Go In Songdo – Triple Street Mall Tour (video)

Welcome back!

 

What have you been up to lately?

 

I am still and constantly drowning in studies but I think most of students are. Especially as it gets closer to finals…

This is not what I want to talk about today.

Remember my vegan bakery taste test in Smoothie King? (go check it out if you have not done so yet!)

Well, that took place in the newest addition to the fun places in Songdo.

And I wanted to show it all to you.

Where to shop in Songdo?

I have to confess, I am certainly a shopaholic. At the same time, I kinda hate going to shopping malls. Too many people, noisy annoying music, flashy lights, overall one crazy mess. And I am not even mentioning all the things to throw out your money for. But sometimes you have to go and it can even be a nice day out.

In Korea, it is no different. The stressful part of the experience is even highlighted (more people, more lights, more things) but at the same time, it has so MUCH to offer. Especially looking at the great food courts.

Before Triple Street Mall opened in Spring 2017 there was apparently not that much to do around the Yonsei Campus in Songdo. The nearest mall required you to take a subway to main Incheon and in my opinion, is not even that great. Naturally everyone was excited for this new huge complex, given its also only about a 10 minute walk from our dorms.

Did it fulfill all the expectations?

I think most of them.

Triple Street Labyrinth

The new mall was well worth the hype. It is build as a huge snake-like row of shops with one way outside along it all. It has 3 floors altogether – one underground, the biggest ground/first floor and then the first floor. That one is filled mostly with restaurants and the big cinema complex – Megabox.

The buildings are like a kind of a block, the starting point is the biggest one and virtually the only ground level part where you can enter individual shops from the inside. Here I started of my tour with the korean “Sephora” aka. Olive Young. In my opinion it is like a mix of your most fancy drugstore with some higher end makeup. No other shop (well at least for beauty) is as spread in Korea as Olive Young. In fact, Triple Street has one on each end. I explored the first entrance one, a bit smaller but still filled with everything from skincare to “health” snacks. Prices are usually very reasonable too and they put so many deals out it is hard to resist.

It is not the end of makeup and all beauty. The whole mall provides space to many brands and shops like Etude House, Aritaum, The Body Shop or Celltrion. You can get your haircut here (although it will be costly and I do not trust anyone with my non-asian hair).

Clothes and all the food…

Besides the beautifying market there is so so much clothes to choose from. Since it is Songo, expect some higher priced stores. You have the sports classics like Adidas,  Peak Performance and more or the Europe beloved H&M or Zara. Be aware though that these are so so pricey here! Like Zara is a luxury nowadays. Miss 2$ shirts from the H&M sales rack…

But what I find the most excessive part of Triple Street is all the food part. Most of the underground floor is covered with all kind of restaurants. You can find burgers, japanese food restaurants, Mexican tacos or even Indian meals. Once again though all is much pricier than what you can normally find in Korea (25$ for small pizza?) but I suppose it is much closer to the “original” versions. Well, you can always try my favorite relatively cheap kimbap shop that still feels much more gourmet than you would expect it. The first and second floor have also an abundance of food. The first floor is mostly covered in cafes (expensive Starbucks) and cake shops and the second once again hosts more fancy dining places.

It wouldn’t be Korea without having an arcade on the second floor right next to the Megabox. My personally favorite attraction is also the underground Daiso. You can literally find anything there for almost no money and often even in a decent quality.

So what did you think?

Unless you go and explore yourself you will never see how big of a maze Triple Street is. What is important is to know that there ARE places to go even in Songdo so no more ghost cities please.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / November 11, 2017

Vegan Desserts In Korean Smoothie King (video)

Hello!

How are you?

I have been so busy lately I had almost no time to make proper videos and articles.

Wait, no the blame goes to my hand. I actually have plans on what to film and try but somehow I can’t do it one handed… hopefully I will only stay like this for little while longer.

Anyway, this week I wanted to show you something I have been wanting to try for a while now.

Should we start?

Smoothies In Korea

I remember back in the days I still used to live only between horses and school I rarely had enough time to sit down and get some meal during the day. (not a good way to live at all) I was also too exhausted (and lazy) to pack more meals for the lunch time. The only thing that saved me was a newly opened healthy deli, salad and smoothie shop right at the bus station I used to wait everyday. I then ended up mostly drinking my lunches on the go. The thing is, even in Prague were smoothies pretty pricey. Especially once you get used to making them at home. In Korea, it’s even worse.

I am just glad that they are here. Indeed not as much as in Europe but Korean people also like their dose of “liquid health”. Well, they are often not as healthy as it may seem but that is another point to talk about. One of the chains I have met the most here is Smoothie King. Relatively old company founded in US has spread all across the world, even to Korea. It seems to be one of the most go to options for smoothies back in the US as well as here. And we have one in Songdo’s Triple Street Mall.

But knowing the prices, why would I go there?

For vegan dessert.

Vegan bakery in a fast food chain?

Yes, it is true. During one of my mindless walks through the Triple Street Mall my eye has caught a big VEGAN sign. In Korea this word is so rare to hear and seems like the last thing you can expect to be on a regular poster. It obviously got my full attention and I learned that Smoothie King has this “event” during which they sell two (full two options!! 😉 vegan desserts – a muffin and a crumble. I was suspicious but I had to try.

And here is how this adventure went.

It was not the worst.

Taste Test

I had NO expectations at all having eaten way too many “vegan” takes on regular food presented by regular food chains. I ordered both the Carrot Walnut Muffin and the Blueberry Crumble, plus me and my roomie both threw in a smoothie to wash it down.

Since the shop was empty we got our food pretty soon. Visually there was nothing super pleasing about the food and I could see the dryness from miles away. Starting with the crumble my initial thought was – dry as a dessert. Both of the foods had surprisingly similar flavor – a big bunch of fall themed spices (cinnamon, cloves,…) and in my opinion it was the classic “we have to make it packed with artificial flavor since it’s vegan”.

Later though as we kept reaching the warm center (they warm it all up for you) my taste buds were more and more satisfied. I found some whole juicy (defrosted) blueberries and I genuinely enjoyed the crumble top part (there is no way you can ruin it). The muffin was the less preferred by me (my roommate like it more). Similar spices, even drier (and crumblier) with no carrot in sight. I have to compliment at least the adequate amount of walnuts and we did find a carrot string or two at the end.

Smoothies were not perfect either. Ordering Peach Slice I wanted a blend of peach and strawberry but somehow the strawberry flavor never reached my cup. The same with the Coconut Surprise – here it was just banana and no coconut.

Verdict?

Overall, I may be a lot critical but here in Korea, I am just glad for what is here. I appreciate that they are trying although vegans are scarce here. Honestly,  were it not so pricey (Crumble – 4000 won, Muffin – 3 100 won, small smoothie 3900 won) I would go again. Smoothies are still a good dose of tasty fruit and sometimes I get sad and want a cake and can’t go to Seoul all the time.

 

Would you try any of it?

 

Have a nice day.

 

Love,

Sara

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Blog, My Korean Diaries / November 4, 2017

A Day In Songdo Central Park, Incheon (video)

Welcome back!

 

How are you doing?

Before I even start I have to apologize.

I have shot this video shortly after my arrival and it certainly is not perfect. I will eventually do a part 2 (maybe at night?) but since I am still injured, this is all I have for now.

But I promise it’s not that bad!

Instead I will finally tell you more about Songdo, where I currently live.

What to do in Songdo?

I have often heard Songdo being called a “ghost city”. Well, it is definitely not true but on that topic I will elaborate some other day. Located on a new “created” island as a futuristic part of the second biggest city in Korea, Incheon, it certainly has a lot to offer. It may have been built within the last decade virtually from scratch, but coming here you may not even notice.

While it is definitely not as busy, full and vibrant as for example the center of Incheon it still has a lot to offer. One of it’s main prides, which attracts people coming even from Seoul, is the main Central Park. Located near the seashore amongst the tall new and modern skyscrapers, there is a relatively huge park that is a beautiful break from all those busy streets.

It is also almost at all times packed with people doing whatever they like. Families with their kids, ahjummas doing their “active walk”  or young couples on their dates (there is a lot of them..). Covering almost 10% of all Songdo are it can accommodate to all.

Oh and PSY filmed parts of his Gangnam Style video here.

Sounds even better?

I decided to visit the Central Park early in October, on one particularly sunny Saturday. Probably too sunny. It is very easy to get to the heart of this park, all you need to do is travel to the Central Park station, second last station on the blue Incheon line. Or you can also walk there from Yonsei campus, it takes only about 30 min.

Arts And Boats

There is the thing about Central Park, it not only has a canal of fresh seawater renewing itself every 24 hours and other natural beauties, it is filled with art sculptures and activities. The minute you exit the subway you can visit the Tri-Bowl, a truly futuristic metallic architectural wonder, three weird round buildings in water. Sounds great!

Walking around the Central park you get to enjoy various sights, cafes, sculptures and just overall the architecture of the park itself. You can relax and forget for a minute you are indeed in the center of an International Business District. Being quite large it takes a while to walk the whole way around which mainly mimics the canal direction. You get several points where you can cross via a big or small bridge to shorten the way. At one side you get to see a Central Park Hotel, which is designed entirely like an old Korean palace! Looks so awesome!

There are also many of my favorite workout playgrounds (just for the elder..) as the typical playgrounds for children. You can sit down at a cafe and enjoy the day or (what I personally NEED to try) rent a boat or tiny canoe and go have fun floating around the canal. This is even more magical at night.

At the very end (or beginning) of the canal is located the biggest cafe, restaurant as well as the rental shop. (not sure if I understood it correctly but scenes from the drama Goblin were shot there 😉 For my taste the food and drinks looked a bit too overpriced but people seemed pleased so I am not discouraging from resting there a bit.

I also loved all the cute dogs. And even the cute doggy couples.

The End?

I had a great fun, got a sunburn and sweated a lot.

The outtake on this is that Songdo Central Park truly is magical and worth traveling to even from Seoul, just not at 1pm on a super hot and sunny day.

 

Would you go?

 

I hope so.

 

See you next week.

 

Love,

 

Sara

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Blog, Travel Diaries, Videos / October 21, 2017

4th Vegan Festival In Seoul (video)

Happy Sunday!

 

How are you there?

I know my fellow university students are just reaching their critical points of desperation as the Mid-term exam week continues…

Good luck everyone!

And if you are not currently having to deal with the proximity of failing an exam enjoy your near Halloween!

I myself, being as handy as I am, have prevented myself from enjoying almost anything these days since I kid of broke my arm…

and the right one.

But that is not important to this post.

What is important is, that I managed to visit the 4th Vegan Festival In Seoul!

Vegans In Korea

First of all, I would like to applaud all the vegans living long term in Korea! Great job everyone!

Why?

It is really hard. But not impossible.

As you may have read in my Street Food post I mentioned that I had to revise my “vegan standards” and that is sadly true. Being vegan, even vegetarian, in Korea is truly a challenge so I live now by the rule of doing my best. Also there doesn’t seem to be that many of us.

Or are there?

Before attending the festival I have met only a few people who actively avoid certain animal products and those would be generally my fellow international students. The concept of vegetarianism and veganism is not very well known around Korea so I was surprised by the amount of people I met today.

And not just people attending the event. I was taken aback (happily) by how many vegan restaurants and little shops have emerged in Seoul over the last decade. And most of them are really popular! You may have seen my trip to Plant (go watch it now if you have not) and that is just the top of this new amazing list of vegan places I need to visit.

I was happy to find ethical cosmetics, fashion and even my favorite vegan leather brand Matt&Natt.

Let’s get to the food though shall we?

Vegan Food Baby

With my amazing friend, who helped me in this handicapped situation a lot today, we decided to arrive just in time for the beginning. Despite multiple stalls just getting ready to open we knew we made the right decision.

Later, it was impossible to avoid any long line.

We walked around everything to mark are go-to spots and I immediately had to buy something. Finding the Huggers stall, a new INCREDIBLY LOOKING vegan restaurant emerging in Itaweon, they certainly had a lot to offer. I could’t resist and bought a S’Mores Cake (sounds epic right?) which made my breakfast extremely delicious. It was so good!My friend opted for their burger which was also definitely worth the wait! I now plan on visiting the actual restaurant soon so I will show you much more.

After we explored more we opted for lunch (just about 30 min later… :D) and I decided to try Sweet Potato Veggie Wrap and it was truly delicious. Whole-wheat tortilla, mashed sweet potatoes, raw veggies and my favorite pickled cabbage. I am obsessed with this purple stuff <3

Just after finishing that I had to get a second lunch of course and I was amazed by the RAW Kelp Noodles with Cashew Cream from a packed raw food stall. That has to be my favorite food of the day! So tasty and cream and perfect for actually hot and sunny day!

And my friend? She waited her line to get a Vegan Hot Dog! I have to admit it looked (and tasted) crazy good but I personally am not the biggest fan of fake “meat”…. sorry hot dog.

Like I was not full enough I had to end “lunch” this with Black Sesame Cheesecake. Raw cheesecakes being my nemesis, I wondered if it will be the same. It was not, but it was tasty. Made out of tofu and cashew mix and actually baked it had much firmer and drier texture than your regular raw cake. Not that it was bad, especially as I love black sesame desserts. It was just new.

This Is Not The End

People would think I can’t stuff my belly more but I was unable to stop with all the food around me. I honestly tried to target the stall with no permanent shop to visit later so I had to avoid very popular Jack’s Bean Falafel (I will go there soon..) or Korean Loving Hut. Instead I returned to the wrap stall (that pickled cabbage <3) and bought their Brown Rice Kimbab. I love kimbab and can get it without a bigger problem but this one looked so good! And it wasn’t even expensive. I know I said I eat a lot but I decided to only try a piece and then took it home for the next day. Just kidding I ate it that evening.. oops.

Instead of the Kimbab we bought ourselves weirdly (poop-like) looking Oat Milk Soft Serve. Since I am quite spoiled when it comes to vegan ice cream (thank you Prague..) I was hesitant whether or not it will be good. And it was!
I was so surprised how light, creamy and smooth the soft serve was! And with oat milk? Wow!

If you can ever taste it you won’t regret even as a non-vegan.

After taking last few pictures, we happily (and stuffed) left the Seoul Innovation Park and walked towards the subway to enter sleepy food coma. It was hard.

I can’t tell you how happy I was stocking up on some delicious goods – the best almond butter is now sitting on my shelf – and spending some quality time surrounded by all the stuff I love and sometimes miss.

Even in Korea, even if it’s more challenging, there is no reason for anyone to be the sad vegan. Things are changing and it is all getting more accessible than ever before.

 

So what do you think?

Would you attend the next festival?

I am already writing it down into my diary.

 

Love,

 

Sara

 

P.S. I truly apologize for the bad quality and lack of footage for my video but I am now in the critical week of healing my hand and I was unable to properly hold a camera nor film everything I wanted. I promise my videos will get better very soon. Thank you <3

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Blog, My Korean Diaries, Videos / October 1, 2017

Yonsei vs. Korea University, YonKo 2017 by an international student

Hello!

How have you been doing?

Last week I attended the amazing Yonsei vs. Korea University games and I couldn’t help but film and write about it. It was so much fun!

I can’t wait till next year’s games take place again.

But first let me introduce to you one of the main things I experienced.

The rivalry.

YonKo or KoYon?

 

Everyone seems to be well aware of the battle between Yonsei and Korea University as old as the schools themselves. Although for most foreign students it is a kind of a mystery. Both being prestigious institutions with great students on their side (Yonsei is still better, obviously), the battle is intense and never-ending, culminating each year with the September YonKo games. As an international freshman, I could never truly appreciate the clash between the two universities, described to me often as the Oxbridge fight, nor did I have the chance to watch the YonKo Games myself. I was quite interested in witnessing the competition for the first time and was happy to get a chance to meet the actual Korea University students to see how great or not they are. I was also a bit scared.

Songs over Sports

I would like to firstly give a round of applause to every student who attended the Games. Arriving at the big Jamsil stadium for the Friday Baseball game, I was taken aback by the sea of blue t-shirts, caps, temporary tattoos and even hair. How could I have thought I would be the only one sacrificing my hair color for my school? On both sides, I saw excited students from all over the world representing their university color. I would be lying if I said I was not happy seeing so many international students singing the Yonsei anthem and noticing less foreigners on the Korea side. Particularly entertaining to me was the lack of attention paid to the actual players (sorry guys) as everyone was too emerged in singing with the incredible Akaraka group. I would have never imagined anyone to have such stamina in the heat.

Language Barrier

I should now probably explain why I was a bit scared. After finishing the sports part of the YonKo Games, students of both universities united and went celebrating together like they do every year. However, it was the first time I attended and I lack both in Korean and in social skills. I knew my fellow UIC students were more than comfortable with English, but how would the Korea University students react to my bad “anyonghaseo”? And how would their attitude be since Yonsei managed to demolish their team?

I needn’t have worried.

The Aftermath

The evening commenced with the “Train Event” and after the subsequent barbeque we sat down with our sister department from Korea University. Despite my friends and I being obvious foreigners and not very proficient in the Korean language none of the students refrained from our table and went to their limits to try and engage us in the conversation. Speaking literally with our hands and legs, we shared our experience and laughed together at the Korea University tragedy. Throughout the entire night, I met many of our rivals and almost none had trouble speaking to us in a way we could understand. We all tried our best, had a lot of fun together, and I still consider it the best Korean learning experience so far. I would be lying if I said I did not come across few individuals, who were more reserved and left us fairly early, but the majority of the Korea University students didn’t mind our language barrier and they for sure didn’t mind us being from Yonsei.


Friends Over Rivals

So where was the rivalry?

It was in the occasional funny remarks, sarcastic comments aimed at no one in particular and at the continuous friendly competition in the little games. I have noticed during the train event when the slightly upsetting songs mocking Korea University students were singing no one seemed to be too distressed by it and some even joined to admit this year’s defeat. It is not like we were not called “chickens” couple times (not that it makes it in any way a good practice).

Overall, despite the occasional offensive comments, I have never experienced a more open and generous bonding event between what are supposed to be deadly rivals. Even though there were older students, the sports players themselves and even freshman who – like me – were unable to fully join the conversations in the event, I can say I will remember this night as one big and funny celebration, where no one had to feel left out. Not only have we won, but also ate a lot, got drunk and met new friends – all of that with little to no conflicts or stress and even the language or background diversity couldn’t prevent that. Indeed, we are all becoming more and more global, and this could be seen even in the “traditional” battle of Yonsei vs. Korea.

 

 

What do you think?

 

Would you like to see it yourself?

I hope you liked this post and I will see you next week!

 

Love,

 

Sara

P.S. you can never imagine how good your language skills are until you start drinking.

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