Since living in Korea would pretty much become my everyday life and not a vacation, I will be shifting my attention to my regular blog that you can find here (along with some extra information about how I came to apply at HUFS).
The main reason I started this blog was because my old blog over at web-log.nl was extremely frustrating to post to, but now that I have a blog at Wordpress, there's no real need to keep working with two blogs. So, from now on, please visit my Wordpress blog for Seoul travel tips, anecdotes about daily life in South Korea and other travel shenanigans.
Or: The first half of the trip that cemented my love
28/12/2013 - 05/01/2014
As most of you probably know, I came back from my second trip to Korea about a week ago. It wasn't a huge trip (I only visited Seoul, and only for 19 days at that) but it did so much more good than I'd ever expected, and it strengthened my resolve to really try to build a life there.
I wish I could blog 'like I used to' - with dozens of pictures and pages upon pages of text, but I'm afraid the years have made me lazy, so instead of chronicling my entire trip, I'll tell you about some personal highlights, and show you only the more interesting of the pictures I've made. I did keep a miniscule diary though, so I'll try to at least follow that. Check out this same post on my personal blog for some embedded links and larger pictures.
To begin at the beginning though, some interesting things actually happened before I even arrived in Korea - wearing my Hongik University jacket and carrying my giant and slightly less giant suitcase on the station at Venlo, waiting for my train to Düsseldorf (yup, flying from Germany was about €150 cheaper than flying from my own country, so I had to get on a 30 minute plane trip from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam before I could go to Seoul. Talk about your 'ecological footprint'), some Asian looking guy actually stopped me and asked if this was the right train to go to München Gladbach. I assured him it was, and found out he only talked to me because of the Hongik patch on my arm. We spent the rest of the train trip talking about Korea and each other, which made the trip a lot less boring than it would've been if I had to sit next to the smelly drunk that was sitting two seats over. Then, when I finally got on the plane to Seoul in Amsterdam, I sat next to some majorly uninterested Koreans, but it turned out not all the seats were taken so the stewardess told me I could sit at another place with more leg room. Of course I immediately took her up on the offer, and I was surprised to learn that the seat came with an especially talkative neighbour - again! It was cool to talk to some Koreans before actually arriving already, and this guy made the whole 12 hours of traveling feel a lot shorter too. Of course I still felt and looked like shit when I finally arrived at the best airport in the world, but that didn't matter since I was going to meet my girlfriend for the first time in almost a year. Obviously my mind was racing and my heart was pounding while I was waiting for Gahui to arrive, but when she finally did it was like I had only been gone for a week. While our last meeting in Europe was nothing short of extremely embarrassing, this time it felt as natural as getting back on a bike after weeks of not using it. Okay, so that comparison sounds a little disrespectful, but you know what I mean.
The first thing we did, of course, was going home, showering, and getting some food inside of me. I got seriously confused on the plane ride there - having had some weird European lunch by the time it was about 4AM in the Netherlands - so I could really use some non-airplane-food. Gahui was so nice as to cook for me, which was of course THE BEST.
I probably shouldn't say this, but I was kind of surprised by Gahui's level of cooking. She cooked for me once in Europe, and what she made (Bulgogi, if I remember correctly) wasn't exactly something to get excited about.. So imagine my surprise when she whipped out several 5 star dishes over the course of the 3 weeks I was there! Apparently Dutch ingredients really aren't sufficient when it comes to making Korean food, because back in her own country her cooking is definitely something to reckon with!
The second day was a little interesting.. I'd found out that the monthly Comic World in SETEC (that I've written about in my Seoul Travel Tips post) would have its last day today, and I wouldn't be able to visit next month's, so we ended up visiting a nerd Valhalla on the very first full day I was in the country. Gahui wasn't overjoyed, of course, but she mostly let me do my thing and I think she even enjoyed the many costumed guests. She even bought a small cute bookmark for herself, while I (as expected?) loaded a little bit more into my backpack.
I ended up buying a super charming art book about cats, whose artists were friendly enough to sign it for me on the inside. I also bought two League Of Legends bookmarks, because even though I don't play or even like LoL, I love this chick's design and she was pretty much the only character I could even recognize out of all the obscure anime personas there. Of course there was also a lot of fanart of popular anime, but I have to admit I don't really follow much of it anymore, and the anime that I do like is usually not popular enough to get lots of fanart, so in that sense it was quite easy not to buy too much. I also got the cutest little card holder with The Amazing Spider-Man on it, that I affixed inside my wallet so I could put my T-Money card into it (the card you use to pay on the subway).
Anyway, as for the convention itself, of course all the marvelous costumes were the most interesting, and here's some more pictures!
[Every single one of these is a guy. Can you believe those legs!?]
[Yes, that is an Optimus Prime cosplay. Yes, that is awesome.]
[Don't ask. I don't have any answers for you.]
[This guy is such a badass]
Day Three and Four
After that, New Year was already on the doorstep. I purposely came at the end of December because for Gahui it's important to 'get things into order' at the start of the new year, so part of the reason I came was to have a serious talk about our plans for the future. I won't be sharing those with you of course though, so instead I'll tell you about the other thing we did before midnight on the 31st, which was visiting the restaurant where Gahui worked part-time. It was a small place on Hongdae street, with only 4 tables and a pretty small kitchen. It had a very friendly atmosphere though, and more importantly: the food was AMAZING. Gahui's boss had studied cooking in Japan, and had opened a Japanese restaurant in Seoul. The Kimchi Tonkassu I had there the first time was so great that I ended up coming back twice - something I generally didn't want to do because of the limited amount of meals I could have during my short stay. The owner was super friendly, and it was fun to see the place where my girlfriend worked. I offered her boss some cups from Holland (you know the ones, with tulips and windmills) and they are now proudly displayed next to culturally much more interesting trinkets from countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba and France.
New Years itself though..man...I almost don't want to talk about it. Actually, I'll be happy if I don't get reminded of it ever again after I finish typing this. Well, perhaps it wasn't that bad, but it was easily the worst New Years ever. Of course this was mostly due to my own and Gahui's lack of organizational skills though; we had neglected to book tickets to an event a few weeks or even days in advance (because I was still thinking there were obviously going to be massive firework parties everywhere since this is Asia and all) so all the tickets now cost over €50 and many venues were sold out. Believing the rumors from two years ago, when everyone in my hostel was talking about the 'awesome New Years parties' and 'massive firework shows', we set out asking basically everyone we could find for something to do, but all sources came up dry.
Turns out Korea isn't China, and they don't give a rats ass about the 'solar New Year'. There's no one out on the streets partying, so all the partying my hostelmates must've done would've been in clubs or something I suppose, and the only public event is the Ringing of the Bosingak, which we already visited two years ago and weren't all too impressed with. Instead, we decided to go into a bar, maybe watch a countdown on TV, and have some beers. Now, in the Netherlands, New Years is kind of a family/friends thing - everyone gets together at a party, goes outside together to shoot off overpriced fireworks, get drunk, shoot off some more fireworks using increasingly unsafe methods, go by the neighbours to show them that you totally do think about them at least once a year and end up spending more time on the toilet than in your bed that night. In Korea, it seems, it's just business as usual. When we got to the bar (we couldn't even find one with a TV), there were some people happily chatting, and the beer they served wasn't too bad..but when the last ten seconds before midnight arrived, and I started counting down..by myself..loudly..no one even joined in, and I almost felt stupid shouting 'Happy Newyear!' since no one seemed to even care. So...yeah..next year I think we'll just book something...ANYTHING.
[I did manage to bring some Glühwein and Oliebollen with me from the Netherlands though, so it wasn't a complete loss]
On the first day of the new year, we slept like pigs. The past days, we both had to wake up around 7 every morning because Gahui had to go to work, and although I always crept back into bed it just wasn't the same as a nice 8 hour continuous rest, so we were both grateful for the day off this shitty New Year had brought. Sleeping for a long time was kind of encouraged by Gahui's home by the way, since it was built so close to other buildings that the large windows didn't even need any blinds to not let any sunlight in. I guess that's one of the perks (?) of living in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, huh? Other than that by the way her home was really wonderful. It had exactly the kind of atmosphere that fit Gahui's personality, and it was cute and tidy. While other people's rooms often feel like something you can't disturb or you feel out of place in, I felt totally at ease here and felt like this was as much my place as it was hers. ... Except with more cleaning.
Anyway, after getting up lazily and probably not having a proper breakfast (we kept being too lazy to make decent morning chow, so we usually ended up having a big lunch outside instead) we set off to Kyobo Bookstore to get some books for me to study Korean with. I've tried several books so far, but all of them have either been moving too fast or starting off with useless stuff, so I wanted to be able to compare publications and find out for myself the ones I'd like to use. In the end, I ended up with the Kyobo published "Fun! Fun! Korean!", which not only has a stupid title but was also one of the most expensive books in the collection. But I liked it, goddamnit. I also picked up an extra work book from Talk to me in Korean.com (I was going to get the Fun! Fun! Workbook!, but it was ridiculously overpriced too) and a book full of cool Korean proverbs, many of which are about dogs and/or killing people. Later we managed to find a workbook that kids use to practice writing their 한글 - something that I need desperately because I always get in trouble when I need to write 3 or 4 characters in one syllable but didn't expect it. Unfortunately, there were only two books to choose from: a pink one with cute cupcakes on it, and a blue one with FUCKING DOLPHINS. Now, I actually kinda hate Dolphins. Not the actual creatures, but I hate to have them on things. Why? I don't know. Probably some sort of trauma from my grade school days where everyone and everything had a goddamn dolphin on it. I ended up picking the dolphins anyway though because the cover was just so darn inspiring and positive.
"Hey! Enjoy free time with us. Are you ready to go? Yes, let's enjoy~ I' am very happy to see you. Let's play together, my friend!"
If that doesn't make you want to study, nothing will.
Of the next day, I only have one picture, but I look kinda cool in it so I'm gonna post it anyway. We visited Times Square (not the real one, the Chinese rip-off one) in search for some good deals on clothing for Gahui, but couldn't find more than a pair of socks. The thing I remember best from that afternoon was some hilarious kid that was 'hiding' in the clothing racks. I was browsing the men's wear, knowing full well that I'd never be able to squeeze myself into those tiny Korean baby sizes, when I suddenly saw two tiny little baby shoes sticking out of the rack. When I rustled the clothes a little, the shoes started giggling, so I suddenly yanked them aside and said '안녕!' in my most child friendly voice. I guess reading it like this you'd think the kid would've had a heart attack but actually he started laughing and running around weirdly, which was fun to see. I don't know what it is about Korean kids, but they're just so much cuter and more fun than white kids. Maybe because Korea doesn't have as many creepy old dudes touching and killing kids, their parents didn't tell them to treat strangers like shit for every day of their lives? Either way, I don't think even teaching will make me dislike these kids. Anyway, after hanging around in Times Square for a while, we went to the upper floor to watch Ender's Game (yes, that was of course the real reason we went all the way to Yeongdeungpo) in delicious 4D. From my last visit, I knew that 4D could even make an Underworld movie enjoyable, so I had high hopes for the movie to at least be cool. As you can read in my review though, everything but the 4D effects disappointed, and even those couldn't really save the movie because it wasn't in 3D in the first place so it felt a little bit awkward. I was glad that I could drag Gahui to see it though, and even happier when it turned out she actually enjoyed it. I'd told her about Ender's Game before and recommended her to read it since it's not very Sci-Fi'y. I'd expected the movie to turn her off from it since it's definitely very Sci-fi, but it actually made her interested in reading the book - especially after I told her in detail everything that sucked about the movie and was way, way better in the books. Unfortunately I couldn't get her to actually pick the book up while I was there though, so I have a sinking feeling that we might never be able to talk about the story of Andrew Wiggin together.. Oh yeah, so here's that picture in Times Square in which I look kinda cool:
[To be fair though, most men would look kinda cool when they're this close to a giant beer]
I remember that the day didn't really pick up after the movie, since we couldn't decide where we wanted to eat, searched for a place for hours, couldn't find anything we liked enough, and ended up eating a burger and fries in Lotteria...such is life on the road.
And on the Seventh Day, the Lord created Richard's special strain of Korean Cold, and he saw that it was Good. A trip to Korea without catching a serious, probably mutated, cold is like a trip to Japan without buying pornography, so of course I ended up with another one of my trademarked Korean Colds. It hit at the end of day six and continued until about a week after I came home, but luckily the worst was on this one day. Gahui had to work all day, so I didn't bother her with my sickness, and I had the whole apartment to myself to steam the shit out of it and make the air as humid as a 찜질방. The whole day I did nothing but follow internet tips and tricks about how to get rid of colds - steaming, taking vitamin C by the truckload, drinking supposedly medicinal Korean tea, drinking even more tea, taking hot showers and drinking pretty much all of Gahui's special honey lemon tea. In the evening, when she came home, Gahui helped me by creating some insanely spicy kimchi jim which is also supposed to scare the cold out of you. And it had better, because the next few days were the days where we'd meet our friends from the IWO project, Chanok and Norma. I'd been looking forward to meeting them a lot, and cruel fate had decided that these next two days were actually the last days either of them would be in Seoul for the foreseeable future, so I had to man up and quite literally suck it up.
The next day, I was surprisingly feeling a whole lot better. I'm not one of those people who immediately starts believing in internet tips just because they worked once, but I felt like I probably did well in locking myself up all day in a boiling hot apartment, drinking about two buckets of tea. Feeling not-all-that-bad was a good thing, because it meant I could go meet my Mexican señorita Norma in a good mood. Unfortunately, Gahui had to work so she couldn't come with us, but she'd be free the next day to have lunch and hang out. I met Norma during my volunteer project for IWO in 2011, and she's one of the people I had the best 'click' with. The others were Martina, Daniel, Chanok and, obviously, Gahui. I still miss those guys a lot, and I remember the hilarious times we had together fondly, so I'm glad we could meet even if it was only for a while. Norma studies in Daejeon nowadays, which is a pretty hefty bus ride away from Seoul, so it had been a while since she'd seen the myriad of stores here. Being a bigger kpop addict than most, we spent most of our day running around finding local stores that sold anything from CD's to DVD's, calendars, posters, mugs, t-shirts and anything else imaginable. I pointed her and her friend who came with us to my favorite money wasting store (the Bookoff in Sinchon) and was happy to see she ended up buying so many CD's that she left a giant hole in the ₩2200 section.
[Hey, at the price of €1,80 per CD, who can blame her?]
After splurging there (I picked up a single ₩2200 Japanese CD and praised myself for my restraint) we went to the restaurant where Gahui was working for another probably amazing lunch which I unfortunately couldn't taste at all, and made our way to Myeondong for even more kpop shopping.
It was pretty interesting to see how she and her friends knew exactly how to hit the places they wanted to visit as if they had their own internal GPS, and how wonderful it must be to be a female kpop fan in Seoul. While SNSD was at the height of their popularity in their homeland when I last visited, I quickly noticed no one really cares much about them anymore, with IU and T-Ara receiving much more attention than before. The real deal this time though were the guy groups like TVXQ, Super Junior and especially EXO. If I was an EXO fan, I would've gone crazy. There was so much EXO stuff on sale I wouldn't be surprised if you could get an EXO advent calendar. There was still some SNSD stuff to be found, but it felt more like an after thought for tourists than something Koreans really cared about.
[Being in Myeondong totally feels like being in a movie. The buildings are so tall, there's so many people and everyone's screaming at you to come in..maybe for Americans it's like a daily occurrence but for someone from Europe it's pretty amazing.]
[We also paid our close friend 스테파니 황 a visit]
Before I went home to have dinner with Gahui, we even visit the café that a member of TVXQ (or was it JYJ? Ex-member of TVXQ? I can't do this well..) had opened in Myeondong, called J Holic. It was a nice and, surprisingly, affordable place, and I had the best tea I ever had there, so it was definitely not a waste. The next day I'd meet Norma again, and Chanok would also join us, so I went home with a happy feeling.
Unfortunately, that happy feeling was short lived, as me and Gahui fell into kind of a fight the next morning when we woke up. I don't really remember what it was about, but we almost decided not to even go. Instead, we just arrived late like we usually do and kiiiiind of ruined the atmosphere for everyone. Sorry guys. Chanok and Norma were probably expecting to hear the happy stories about our days together so far like I've told them here, but unfortunately all that came out of us that afternoon were uncomfortable silences and forced jokes. I felt kinda bad, and I'm sure Gahui did too, since this was our last chance to see Chanok and Norma, and we had really wanted to enjoy the day. We still did, of course, but just..slightly less, I guess. We met in City Hall, I think, and passed the fancy gate there where guards in traditional clothing and fake beards are ridiculed by tourists taking pictures with them because, like their British colleagues, they're not allowed to move or say a thing, even when someone is pretending to hug them in front of a camera.
We had a delicious lunch that I unfortunately couldn't enjoy again because I still couldn't taste anything, and went over to a café to get out of the cold. It was good to catch up with Chanok, who has big plans of doing volunteer work in France for more than 6 months and is studying French by herself much like I'm trying to study Korean, and talk some more to Norma about her studies in Korea and what to expect should I be so lucky as to get the scholarship I'm applying for next month.
After Norma left though, things got a little awkward since me and Gahui were still on bad terms and Chanok was just sitting there in the middle trying to deal with the awkward silences. Once again, sorry Chanok, it was not your fault! We talked for a while longer until Chanok had to go home too to pack her bags to move to her home town the next day.
On the way back, me and Gahui obviously had something to deal with, but since I don't remember exactly what it was I also can't explain well how what we did next solved it. We walked into a random art gallery that we ran into while looking for the subway, and inside was an exhibition called 'My Dear Pear', by 조정욱. The paintings there, about...cute pears... each had thought provoking titles or emotional stories attached to them, and reading those I think both of us realized we shouldn't be fighting when we could only see eachother for such a short while. Gahui almost teared up as she translated some of the stories for me, and by the time we made it halfway through the exhibit there was nothing left of the foul mood we had been in before. The pears were just too damn cute.
[I can't believe this Pear head looks so much less like an "I'm gonna beat you up" Pear on this girl than it does on me...]
My report of my days in Seoul will continue in the next post because I don't want to make the page take like a million hours to load, so I'll put a link to that here.
Websites with travel tips about Seoul, capital of South Korea, are a dime a dozen. The city is a huge tourist hotspot, and many tourists don't even make it outside of its all-encompassing territory, so it's no wonder you can find thousands of websites telling you what to do there after about a second on Google. What you will quickly find though, is that most of these websites recommend the same 10-15 things, and after checking about 10 of them, you'd start to wonder if Seoul really has as much to offer as those traveling websites are telling you.
Have no fear though, since I'm here to share with you the things that those websites don't. You won't catch me talking about palaces or markets for too long, and neither will I tell you to 'try the bibimbap' or 'eat kimchi'. Because I know you're not retarded and you already know these things. So let's go a little deeper than the average traveling site, go a little bit off of the beaten path and have a good time experiencing a more 'casual' Korea, shall we?
Seoul has its own Comiket called Comic World, which is hosted once a month in SETEC, in the Gangnam district of the city. If you're into anime at all, it's definitely worth a visit. Being a copy of Comiket, it's less of a convention and more of a giant fan-market, but in spite of the lack of activities you'll easily be able to spend a day there browsing all the awesome fanmade goods and gawking at the beautiful costumes and their often equally beautiful wearers. If you're into guys kissing other guys, then you're especially in luck, since it seems Seoul is bustling with repressed fujoshi who can't wait to get their monthly dose of Loki kissing Thor or Spock kissing Captain Kirk (from the 2009 reboot, of course, not Shatner). As a result, I'd say about 70% of everything there is aimed at girls, with more than a dozen circles concentrating solely on some obscure football anime or drawing pictures of Batman making out with Iron Man. Aside from that smut though, there's a lot of gems to be found, and most of the sellers will be very surprised and honored to see a foreigner show an interest in their work. It seems this convention is not well known among foreigners yet, so you'll still get those precious '아...외국인다' comments that they think you can't understand.
Looking for electronics? Don't. While I totally understand the thought that Samsung, LG or even Japanese brand stuff 'Should be cheaper here', it really, really isn't. Why? I have absolutely no idea. My girlfriend and I once theorized that perhaps it's because Koreans think laptops, mobile phones and other electronics are so important that they don't mind paying disproportionate amounts of money for them. Almost everything in Korea is cheaper than it is in Europe (and, thus, cheaper than in the US), but electronics are a sad exception. A Galaxy S4 will set you back about 6-700,000 won, which is about €450 (slightly more than the current price in the Netherlands). I'm not saying you shouldn't visit Yongsan or the always awesome Techno Mart, but don't expect to find an amazing deal there.
I know, you don't have to hide it, many people looking for 'Seoul travel tips' online are actually Kpop fans looking to find good places to buy their plastic crack. Well, I've got ya covered! While everyone knows about the CD stores in the Myeondong underground and on the streets of that shopping Mecca, did you know that you can get your precious EXO, SNSD, TVXQ and other good-sounding abbreviations CDs at a mere quarter of the price AND find some old out of print singles of your favorite idols at a second hand CD store like the Bookoff in Sinchon?
Their selection is mostly Japanese, but it includes enough Korean CDs to keep you busy for a while and make your wallet cry in shame. While their products are technically used, every single CD and DVD I've bought there was in pristine condition, and some new releases that were still costing ₩23,000 at Hot Tracks were available for a much more attractive ₩7,000 at this place.
There's a reason you'll be able to find any number of websites and blog talking about 'which food you must try while in Korea'; Korea is the land of amazing food and on top of that the stuff is also unbelievably cheap. Why sit around at home and cook for yourself when you can go out and have a professionally prepared meal starting at half the price of your ingredients? There's plenty of 'must try' lists for you out there, so I'm not going to bore you with another one. Instead, I'm going to give you two single ROCK SOLID recommendations.
The first is 닭잡는파로 (I won't try to translate it, because Google comes up with 'Faro Kill A Chicken' and I'm pretty sure that's not exactly right!), located in Sinchon, and it's basically the most awesome place I've ate at in all the time I've been in Korea. And I ate out almost every day for like 4 months! Prices are reasonable, service is great and the food is simply divine. If you love meat, you owe this place a visit! Unlike other restaurants that ship you off with one mediocre sauce to dip your meat in, this place gives you four (with free refills of course) and unlike other places where the meat is usually kind of bland (and will have you reaching for that one sauce pretty quickly), the meat here is perfectly marinated and prepared. But don't take my word for it, nor my crappy pictures, check out thesetwo Korean blogs where you can even watch a gif of some girl eating there for whatever reason. Silly Koreans.
The second restaurant that I want to tell you about is 더 후라이팬 (The Frypan). It's a franchise, so there's more than one of them, but I only experienced the one in Sangsu. Before you start complaining about me only recommending 'non-traditional/non-Korean food', let me tell you this: There's about a million amazing places to eat in every street of Seoul. Throw a rock and you're bound to hit a restaurant that serves Kimchi Chigae, Bibimbap, Jaeyuktopbap, Bulgogi, Samgyupsal, etc. I can't recommend any of them because there's so many high quality ones, and most of the ones that aren't remarkably bad are about as good as the others. Fried chicken though, now there's something you should definitely have when you're in Korea and that I can make a recommendation for. There's plenty of fried chicken restaurants as well, and many of them are awesome, but The Frypan is especially so. When I was there this time, I had the '잭 치킨' (Jack Chicken) which had a marinade based on Jack Daniels Whiskey. Yes, you can have whiskey-flavored fried chicken in Korea. Isn't this place wonderful? Check out the pictures at this Korean foodie's blog, and definitely drop by when you have a chance.
Shopping Tip 2
An absolute must on any tourist's shopping list should be cute socks. They cost less than a pack of gum and are available in hundreds of intriguing designs, most of which violate international copyright laws without even batting an eye. Hongdae used to be a good area to shop for these essential Korean goods, but this year I noticed you'll pay at least twice as much for only a fraction of the selection there, so if you're serious about cute socks, head over to the district where everything cute naturally gathers: Ewha. One pair of socks will cost you 1,000 won (don't be fooled by those 'SALE ₩1,500' signs in other districts), there's dozens of little stands and shops to buy them at and while you're treating your feet, you can also treat your eyes looking at all the cute girls (or their cute boyfriends, if you're into that sort of thing) shopping in the cutest place in Seoul.
And while we're on the subject of cute things: Korea is the capital of cuteness. Stores like Kosney , Kyobo or Artbox sell the most amazing stationary, pens, notebooks and anything else you can imagine that will make you d'awww harder than pictures of cute cats on the internet. And it's okay to splurge a little on these kinds of things because hey, you're going to be using them like every day, right?
Everyone knows about the free museum near Gyeonbokgung Palace, but everyone who's been there can tell you about how boring it is. King Sejong's Story, underneath Gwanghwamun Square, is slightly more interesting (and also free) but right around the corner there's some museums that are are much worthy of your hard-pressed time. Pay a visit to the Seoul Museum of History, or the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History instead, and you won't be disappointed. Not only will you be able to see some of those fascinating rocks that they have in the National Palace Museum, but you can also learn more about the rise, fall and rebuilding of Seoul, more recent history, and enjoy lots of interactive exhibitions.
As for the number one must visit museum though: visit the War Memorial of Korea. It is not only a memorial for the millions who died in the wars fought over Korea, but also an absolutely huge museum where you can learn fascinating things about those wars. If you can only visit one museum before you leave, make sure it's this one. It will leave you breathless and awed. And if, after all of that, you still don't feel humbled enough, walk by Seodeamun Prison in Dongnimmun - an internment camp where the Japanese 're-educated' Korean intellectuals and freedom fighters during their occupation.
Visiting all four of these musea will assure you will never think of the Japanese happily ever again (or at least until you see another Ghibli film), and is sure to make a lasting impression. Best of all, all of them (except for Seodaemun, that one costs a whopping 3,000 won) are free to enter and enjoy, so you have no excuses this time!
Kpop Tip 2
Instead of spending 4-12,000 won on a poorly printed bootleg '12 cut poster set' like a Taiwanese tourist, consider taking a look at a second hand bookstore - for 2,000 won you could own a fashion magazine with dozens of high quality pictures of your favorite idols. Magazines like Elle, Ceci, Vogue or W Korea go for about €30 on ebay after shipping, but this used book store on the way to Sinchon from Hongdae sells them at 2,000 won (or €1,40) a pop. And better yet, you get to browse through every single one of them before buying so you can see exactly if what you want is in there.
I ended up with about 8 of them, and at a price of 16,000 won I think I got all that I wanted and more.
Although it might seem daunting, it's usually better to walk into a really 'Korean looking' place for lunch than going for the obvious foreigner friendly franchise restaurants or modern establishments. While you might have a little more difficulty ordering, you'll find that the prices are about half of what you'd pay elsewhere (for one lunch (which is a full meal in Korea), my average spending is about 5,000 won) and you'll be fuller than full because of the Korean sized portions you'll be served. It's always a good idea to write down some foods you know you'll like (or absolutely won't like), or better yet learn to read what's on the menu. The 아줌마 will be impressed by your Korean and will treat you extra nicely. If all else fails, just point at some pictures that are bound to be on the walls.
Nerd Tip 2
Hongdae is not a particularly amazing place for a nerd to hang out (it's too hip and full of people who enjoy going clubbing) but there's two stores hidden there that will be of interest for the foreign nerd.
The first is Young Jin Book Store - an artbook store that sells American, Korean and Japanese art books at amazing prices (well, if you're used to European prices that is). Most books are priced even lower than USD = KRW conversion, which is insane, and their selection is respectable. You'll find it by going out of Exit 9 of the Hongdae subway station, taking a left into the main street and taking a second left at the first opportunity, passing the Burger King. The store is about a hundred meters into the street. With its big blue sign, you probably won't miss it. It does seem to close at seemingly random times though, so if you can't find it, it might be because they closed the shutters.
The second store is actually hidden, and I only found it because I was bored and saw some anime pictures pasted up over some stairs going down under street level. It's called Book Sae Tong and it's a pretty large manga and artbook store. It's just slightly further down the road of YJ Books, so you should be able to find it. Look for a weird looking glass construction on the left side of the street. Inside you'll find a huge selection of Korean language manga, and original Korean manhwa. They have a very small American comic book selection, but their art book selection is slightly better. Prices are much higher than at YJ Books though, so only go here for the manga. I managed to find this amazing gem while browsing around there this time:
Feeling Like A Rich Guy Tip
For our last tip, I have something that I didn't know about until my girlfriend told me: Horse betting is legal in Korea and you can totally go there and pretend to be a rich guy! Entry costs only 1,000 won and bets can be made starting at 100 won (yes, that is the price of literally nothing I can think of) up to 100,000 won. Horse races are exciting and the feeling of sitting in the bleachers with hundreds of other people (mostly 아저씨s) who bet money as well makes you feel like you're at that point in the movie where everything is riding on that one horse crossing the finishing line in a super close photo-finish. I'd never bet on anything before in my life, so this was a totally interesting experience for me.
So there you have it; the few useful things I've learned during my time in Seoul that can be of use to the occasional traveler. I'm sure there's plenty of other useful tips to be had, so if you have any don't be afraid to share.
It has definitely been waaay too long since I've updated this blog. The reason for that is quite simple: it's a lot of work photoshopping the dozens of pictures I want to include. Since that's such a huge task I've really been dreading it, so I've been ignoring it even when I did have lots of time to do it. So, since I don't want to continue making one post every 2 months, I've decided I'll just upload most of the pictures unphotoshopped. Only the ones that I especially like or can especially use some shopping will be changed beforehand. Hopefully that will allow me to increase my posting speed a little. I've also included some informative links for anyone who'd like to learn some more about the best country in Europe (after Germany).
Well then now, without further ado, time for the blogpost about our time in the Netherlands!
For me, our time in my country was like a dream. When I realized I would really spend my life with a Korean girl, I expected she would one day visit my home, meet my family and learn about my history. I never expected that day would come this soon though. So, every time I saw her walking around our living room, sitting on our couch, petting our cat or sleeping in my bed, I was happier than I could've ever imagined. I tried my best to be a good tour guide to her as we traveled, although in the end we did end up traveling less than we did in Italy. We both needed some rest and having the house practically to ourselves (my parents were on vacation and all my brother needs is a PC and you won't hear from him until it's time to eat) lend itself well for that. Even so, we still managed to visit Den Bosch, famous of being the birthplace of the painter Hiëronymus Bosch; took a bike tour to Drimmelen; visited my family; went on a safari in the Beekse Bergen; spent a few days in Amsterdam, and saw lots of other things. Writing in my notebook at the time I wrote: "There's still so much left to show her though, with on top of my list Den Haag, my highschool, and Madurodam. We'll be back in two weeks for my grandmother's 80th birthday party, so I hope we'll have time to do more. For now, it's off to the Czech Republic on an 11 hour trip!" And Gahui added: "가희 짱!"
I should note that I'm writing all of the following based on memory since I didn't write much down. So some of the details might be foggy =p
When we first arrived, I knew there was one day of 'kermis' left in my town, and I really wanted to show this (as far as I know) typical Dutch event to Gahui, so we quickly set out the next afternoon to catch the excitement of blinking lights, tooth rotting candy and money slurping games. The best way to describe kermis is as a mobile theme park, I guess, complete with rides, food stands and games where you can win toys and plushies and stuff. It's something kids look forward to a lot, and usually parents give them some money to spend on the attractions there. They don't have stuff like this in Korea, so I was glad I could introduce Gahui to it. I'm not sure if we actually rode anything, but I am pretty confident that I've probably thrown some money away by trying my luck at one of those grabbing machines.
[Delicious suikerspinnen the size of your arm - who can resist them?]
[One of the most popular attractions for kids, and one I never dared to go on since I fell down in it once when I was young. Basically it's like a 'fun house' I think? With quickly rotating disks you have to walk on, bobbing bridges and spinning beams and stuff.]
The pictures I cherish the most from our entire trip are the ones I made right here at home. As I already said it was almost surreal that she was actually here, going through my drawers, laughing at my ecchi figures, complaining about my huge pile of SNSD merchandise.. It was wonderful to have her here, in my world, after spending 6 months in hers last year. Even the moments where we didn't do anything special, like just hanging around watching tv until it was too late to actually go out and do something, lying around on the bed because it was too cold to get up, looking at my old picture books or cooking dinner, all those moments I would never trade for anything else.
[Our cat, Shanti (it's a long story, but basically: blame the animal shelter) usually isn't a big fan of strangers and this was true for Gahui too. Here you can see her cautiously petting her while she's sleeping. I'm not going to make a racist joke about the nutritional habits of Asians though, mind you.]
[Because I wanted to give Gahui a present after not seeing her for all this time, and because I wanted that present to be pants-on-head-retardedly-amazing, I created a book containing of a selection of text messages I had sent her since we met all that time ago in Wando, South Korea. Nicole generously helped me with the design and by creating the cover image, and the end result was (in my opinion) something to be proud of. Luckily Gahui thought so too so all the work wasn't in vain.]
[While rummaging through every nook and cranny of my room, Gahui found some relics from my Gothic days and after some convincing allowed me to play dress up with her. The result was...shall we say...frightening..]
[Probably not a very interesting photo for you guys, especially not after the horrors you just saw, but a meaningful one nonetheless. I think the times Gahui was cooking were the only times the bar stools opposite the kitchen counter had ever been used; I really loved watching her do her thing. And no, it wasn't just because I was too lazy to cook myself =p]
[This is my cousin Remko. He'd been asking questions about Korea since I got back from there, and especially about my girlfriend whose name he couldn't pronounce. Of course when I actually showed up with her, he was surprisingly quiet ㅋㅋㅋ. Still, she kicked his ass in table tennis (or maybe she didn't and I just imagined she did because of stereo types) and we had fun talking in broken English.]
[One day when we were leaving (to the Efteling, I believe) we decided to make kimbap to take with us instead of the boring Dutch eierkoeken and krentebollen. We had bought some 김 and other necessities before, and while the end result wasn't exactly like how it would taste in Korea, it wasn't all that bad. We decided to leave some for my brother, Michiel, and while I didn't really expect him to actually taste it (he's more of a 'wat de boer niet kent, vreet 'ie niet' (what the farmer doesn't know, he doesn't eat - it's a Dutch proverb) kind of guy) when we called him later in the day to let him know at what time we'd be home, he told me how he had gagged and almost thrown up eating 'that crap'. I can't wait until he comes to visit me in Korea!]
[Pro gamer at work! I tried to get her into playing some Xbox games with me, but wasn't all that successful. She did love Catherine though, except that she freaked out hard at the puzzling bits "AHH! NO! RICHARD HELP ME! BALLI BALLI!" and got bored at the Stray Sheep bits. I think she appreciated the overarching story though. Surprisingly, she didn't like Viva Pinata much even though I thought the cute little animals would totally woo her. All in all a failed attempt. I suppose we should just stick to Starcraft.]
[Something that was a bit more successful though, was playing Levensweg (Game of Life in English, I think?) with my family. The game was in Dutch, of course, but we all pitched in with the translation and explanation of the rules. It was loads of fun seeing Gahui accrue a shitload of wealth while losing most of it in the end-game, while I worked myself up from a bum with a 40,000 euro debt (kinda like in real life!?) to the millionaire at the end. It was great to see my family doing their best to talk and have fun with my girlfriend, and I think it's a great memory for everyone.]
The first place we visited was Den Bosch, capital of the province I live in and medieval fortified city. It's famous for being the home of the painter Jheronimus Bosch, its many waterways, and its defensive structures that are still around today. I had never actually visited any of the places I took Gahui to in Den Bosch, since I'd never been a tourist in my own country before. It was surprisingly awesome to not go to a city simply to shop, but to actually look at the culture and history it has to offer. It's something I would love to do a lot more, but it feels strange doing it by myself..so if anyone's reading this and is thinking "By golly I wouldn't mind tourin' that!" leave a message =p As a result of being a tourist in my own country for the first time ever, I was a rather poor tour guide, but on the other hand I could actually speak to anyone whenever I wanted so that kind of balanced things out a bit. I also noticed it's really fun to pretend you're a foreigner by only talking in English and then suddenly switching to Dutch. Something I noticed wasn't in the pictures but was really cool is that we took a boat ride through the famous canals of the city, remnants from centuries ago, often threatened with disappearing forever but every time being saved at the last moment. The tour guide was really informative, making me translate my head off trying to keep up.
[An image instantly recognizable by any Dutchman: waiting on the train. We decided to use the train quite a lot to travel because that would mean avoiding parking fees and we got discounts because of our Eurail passes, but in true Dutch style pretty much every train we took was late at least 5 minutes...not a great first impression there, NS.]
[The Sint Jans Cathedraal is one of the most famous cathedrals in the Netherlands and I was happy we could go inside to take a look. Gahui had almost recovered from her overchurchuration so it was the perfect time for it, too.]
[Being my favorite Dutch painter (though I should admit I know absolutely nothing about painters, nor am I all that interested in them) it was great to be able to visit the Hieronymus Bosch Art Center in Den Bosch. It was a small bummer that almost all of the art were replicas, but at least that meant we could touch them and the audio tour was quite interesting. The best thing was that they made a bunch of his freaky characters in 3D though, and some of them were even strewn around the city! Looking at Den Bosch from a non-tourist view you would probably not even notice the weird statues placed here and there along the waterfront, so it was cool to be a witness to that.]
[Near the end of the day we decided to just walk along the defensive wall for a while, since we couldn't spare any money to go shopping. We found some interesting places, and the view was simply amazing.]
[I remember I was trying to take a good looking picture of this war memorial and Gahui jumped in front of it just when I had the correct settings. I assumed she'd step out of frame after a couple of shots, but she didn't =p That's how I ended up with this wonderful picture.]
[And of course you cannot visit Den Bosch without gorging yourself on a Bossche Bol, a local delicacy. Much like most traditional Dutch food and treats, Gahui wasn't a big fan of it because there was too much cream and cinnamon taste xD]
A little later I wanted to introduce my girlfriend to the Dutchest thing in existence: bicycles. Foreigners always make a huge fuss about how many bikes there are in the Netherlands (Apparently 99,1% of our population owns one or more bikes) and Gahui had said she wanted to go on a bike tour (going as far as to make me suggest we could get one of those trailers you could hook behind your bike that's kinda like a bike-caravan) so I thought 'why not?' We own 5 bikes actually, in a family of 4, so she could easily choose one she liked...or so I thought... Turns out our beautiful Dutch bikes aren't well tailored to the more petite Koreans, leading to the painful display of Gahui, a panic-stricken look in her eyes, speeding through the street in front of our house on my (not very tall, might I add) mother's bike unable to reach the pedals properly and as a result swaggering around like a drunk man at carnaval. Before we finally found a bike small enough for her (my aunt's) we had spent hours calling and visiting people in search of it, so half our day was already gone before we even set out. When we finally did though, not all was well either, because Gahui hadn't ridden a bike in years so she wasn't quite used to it. Especially the stopping was cause for concern as she nearly drove into a tree while avoiding a car and panicly caught on to my jacket as she had to stop for a red light. We did some training and after a while she was getting better, but it was quite worrying. On the way back she did a lot better though, and I enjoyed taking pictures of her in our polder scenery.
[I love this picture so much. Gahui had to do about 6 passes before we got it, but the result is wonderful.]
[We were lucky that the weather was quite good that day, and we made our way to Drimmelen - a town not far from my home town. It's a nice place with a marina, lots of nature and known as the gateway to the famous national park the Biesbosch.]
[This picture of a rabid beaver was taken at the Biesbosch Visitors Center, where I was hoping to arrange a tour through the Biesbosch. It's a beautiful place that I (and hundreds of other kids who went to school anywhere near here) have visited many times and I wanted to share it with Gahui. Unfortunately we had arrived way too late to catch one of the tour boats (because of the whole bike incident) and renting a boat would be an expensive undertaking, so we decided we'd just see this day as a 'bike trip' and pretended that's what we'd planned all along.]
Before dragging Gahui with me to a bunch of World War 2 stuff in Germany, I tried to do the same here in the Netherlands. World War 2 interests me greatly and although not much took place in my country when compared to the rest of Europe, it's still interesting to visit places of historical importance such as the place I'll show you some pictures of next: Kamp Vught. Kamp Vught was a model camp, so it wasn't as bad as most of the camps you read about or see in documentaries. Not that many people died there and working conditions were a lot better than in the other camps. Still, it was quite impressive to see a place like this exists so near the place where I live. I hope Gahui found it interesting too, though I'm sure she went along with it more for my piece of mind than out of her own curiosity. Thank you honey ;]
[It's okay to make pictures like these nowadays right? It's not a faux-pas right? Right!?]
[Near the camp is the fussiladeplaats, the execution site. A monument to all those who died there was erected and is still visited periodically by the Queen.]
On to a much more cheerful outing a few days later: our visit to the Efteling!
As the pride of Brabant (the province where I live) a visit to the greatest theme park of the Netherlands couldn't be skipped of course, so we sucked up the price of admission (kindly lowered for us by my aunt who had purchased a discounted ticket for us and Maarten who works there and made use of his employee discount) and headed out into this land of fairy tales. The weather was great all day, and because we visited during the fall it wasn't busy at all; we could ride every attraction we wanted to, even the new ones, and could even ride some of them twice. As someone who grew up near this park, I've visited almost as many times as I've been to the Biesbosch, which is why it will always hold a special place in my heart. Sure, the rides are not as amazing as in Euro Disney, the rollercoasters not as extreme as Six Flags, and it doesn't have the licenses Warner Brothers Movie World has, but it's completely based on the stories of the brothers Grimm and other traditional fairy tales and the art of Anton Pieck and as such has such a wonderful atmosphere you can't help but fall in love with it. And fall in love we did! I will spare you the romantic stories of holding hands while flying through the magic land of faeries, looking eachother in the eye as we walked through a fairy tale forest and kissing while a giant water ballet unfolded in front of our eyes. I'll spare you the stories of hands crushed and ears ringing after intense rollercoaster rides too. I will however say that my visit to the Efteling with the one I love is one of the most wonderful things I've ever done.
[Every Dutch person with half a childhood has a picture like this in their scrapbook: the entrance to the Efteling in its full glory. I remember being so surprised at the amount of cars in the parking lot; usually it's crammed full on all sides, but today not even half of one side was filled. It promised to be a fine, fine day indeed.]
[This is me at the entrance of The Flying Dutchman. Because..you know..I'm Dutch..]
[And just to prove I wasn't kidding, this was one of the only places that had a waiting time of over 5 minutes.]
[The Flying Dutchman is a relatively new attraction so it's quite popular still. Basically it's a roller coaster with some added twists, as you can see here.]
[Another classic shot, taken outside the Spookslot (Haunted castle). I had talked this attraction up a lot to Gahui (as I do with many things, because I love my country, damnit!) saying it won a bunch of awards and even featured in a music video of a famous singer, which in the end led to her being extremely disappointed with the actual thing....sorry hun..]
[There's also a Land Van Laaf, which is like a fairy tale world inside a fairy tale themepark. It makes more sense when you're there. Anyway, the buildings there show off the Pieck style wonderfully.]
[Gahui at the Vogel Rok, another rollercoaster with a twist. The twist is that it's FUCKING AWESOME.] [We rode it twice =p]
[Posing in front of Villa Volta, the haunted house that can't stop spinning until a person with a pure heart enters. Of course, being based in the Netherlands, this will never happen. I tried to trick Gahui into this ride by purposely being vague about what the actual deal was, but my acting skills were so poor that by the time she sat down on the benches she definitely had an idea that something was fishy.]
[You're never too old to tickle a baby's giant feet. Or...you know..fist it in the mouth..]
[This was the first time Gahui discovered the magic of Dutch 'wall food'.]
[But in the end we decided on something that hit a little closer to home.] [Wow that thing looks really disgusting but I swear the noodles were delicious!]
[I really like this picture, taken outside of the Fata Morgana. Actually, seeing this picture now makes me wish we could do this again someday. It was such a wonderful day ;_;]
[Gahui was really adamant that we should ride the classic steam carrousel, so of course we did! It was almost completely empty as usual, but a nice little romantic and nostalgic ride.]
[You're also never too old to feed and/or hug an old lady, even if she is made of plastic.]
[When I was younger I could never play these awesome games where you shoot a sensor with a gun and then something happens because you had to put money into it and my dad is a giant cheapskate, but HAHA I FINALLY DID IT!]
[The fairy tale forest has been a part of the Efteling since it was founded, and me and my family have had many happy memories there. I'm super grateful that I could create memories with Gahui there as well.]
[And in the end we even met the princess!]
Another well known theme(?) park in Brabant is the Beekse Bergen: an open range safari park where many wild animals walk around freely and you drive your car through them. Kind of like Jurassic Park only without the gates. And the dinosaurs.. Gahui was really interested by this because in Korea a park like this is completely unheard of, probably due to lack of space. I must've made dozens of pictures of all the animals we saw running around near our car, blocking the road or hiding behind a tree. We had a great time there as Gahui loves animals, and there was plenty to do to fill an entire day. Even after a full day of walking and driving we were so happy we could die.
[Gahui had no trouble walking right up to some lions..]
[Or meerkats, her favorite animal.]
[This park, too, was so empty that we could easily put down my camera to take this shot without worrying about someone taking it. I remember there was a lion in a cage directly opposite of where we were standing that was making an insane sound like a monkey with a stomach ache..]
Speaking of insane, look at these friggin' fish!
[It was pretty cool how you could basically just walk up to some animals and slap them around if you wanted to. It was also a good way to take cool pictures.]
["Don't feed the baboons." Good thing I didn't translate the sign for Gahui or I would've missed lunch.]
[Alright, stop me if you heard this one. A monkey walks in to a doctor's office...]
A different place that isn't actually a theme park but might as well be that we visited was the Zaanse Schans. And its theme was MUH HERITAGE. The Zaanse Schans is basically an area where all stereotypes about the Netherlands are gathered in a small idyllic little town, surrounded by windmills, tulips, cheese and clogs. When I first read about its existence I was kind of offended, but having been there I can only say I frickin' love it. It's so cute and cuddly and yet still manages to display the Dutch culture somewhat seriously. It was also full of Chinese guys.
[We got super lucky with the weather again. Even though fall was setting in, the sun was out and temperatures were quite doable, something that isn't all that common in the Netherlands. I suppose we would've hated this place if the weather was bad, but as it was, it was a beautiful traditional village (people actually live here! Imagine 500 Chinese people walking through your garden every weekend..) that represented Dutch countryside living very well.]
[Oh yeah, now that I see this picture I'm reminded of this; at the Zaanse Schans there's also the old Verkade fabriek where they used to make Holland's most famous cookies and chocolate. Inside was a museum of Dutch culture and CANDY. The museum was kinda boring but the candy factory was pretty cool.]
[The Zaanse Schans has an example of every Dutch stereotype available; this one being the wooden shoe artisan. Apparently a guy was making wooden shoes there LIVE all day, be we wandered in too late to actually see him at work. It was cool to see the walls covered with overpriced clogs (they were seriously 25-65% more expensive than in a regular store) and clog-related merchandise (you'd be surprised!) and to show Gahui the traditional Dutch dress though.]
[Here, too, it wasn't all that busy (the magic of fall, ladies and gentlemen!) and after all the Chinese people left we took some selca's to remind us of that day.]
[There were also several mills there that were actually functional. You had to buy a separate ticket to get admission, and it wasn't really worth it, but it was quite interesting to see how a real mill worked. One of the people working there explained to Gahui in terrible English all kinds of boring stuff about our history with windmills, so at least we both learned something..]
[This door...what the hell is the deal with this door!?]
[Can you believe we actually had to wait in line to take a picture with this clog for longer than we had to wait in line for Vogel Rok at the Efteling? Bananas.]
[I really like this picture. A Korean Girl in Holland.]
Considering Gahui really wanted to visit the Zaanse Schans (it was in her Korean tour book about Europe after all!) and of course we couldn't skip Amsterdam on our trip, we decided to get a hotel there and stay for a few days. I think we stayed for two days and one night, visiting the Zaanse Schans first, then moving to Amsterdam to stay at the hotel and tackling Amsterdam the next day, leaving late in the evening. There were a few things in Amsterdam I wanted to do (besides the thing I usually go there for: buying comics) which included showing Gahui the Red Light District (of course), dragging her to a comic store (whoops I guess old habits die hard) and visiting the Anne Frank house. I'd never been to the house of Anne Frank before, and had always thought that was kind of a shame considering my interest in World War 2 history. Having visited it though, I gotta say it's not as impressive as school text books would make you believe. The 'room' she and her family were hiding in was surprisingly big, almost an entire house by itself, and the living conditions seemed so much better than what I had imagined in my head as a young boy when I first read about this achterhuis. I thought she was living in a closet, eating nothing but grass or something.. But I suppose that's my own imagination's fault. Something I did have a pretty good picture of was the Red Light District, the main reason most foreigners even bother to visit the Netherlands. I'd been there on a school trip once, walked around with a friend for kicks before and more recently showed a foreign friend from 4chan around there because he was afraid to go by himself. However, my visits had always been during the day, and goddamn is the Red Light District different at night. It was packed full of people (some of them passing out on the street, chocking in their own vomit, and doing other classy things) and there were so many more red lights than I remembered. When the sun's down the whores dance in the moonlight, I guess. I think Gahui was impressed, though I wouldn't know if she was impressed in a good way =p She actually wanted to visit the Sex Museum too, so we did. We also, and this is definitely a first in many, many ways, paid a euro to see one of those 'live sex shows' together. You put a euro into the slot, window blinds roll up, and you can watch some dude fucking some chick. I was surprised at how completely unerotic it was, not only because of the entire idea of it, but probably also because the guy was banging on the glass while fucking the chick because some other guy had forgotten to close the door behind him. Man...what an experience...
[We started our day with a delicious Dutch treat: pannekoeken! Although I guess pancakes aren't all that Dutch? They are considered a traditional dish though so I'm not really sure what's up with that. Anyway, we had some pancakes, the guy who made them was super gay, they were friggin' delicious and also friggin' expensive.]
[Amsterdam's the only city in the Netherlands that I know of that has open air public toilets. Fuck yeah muh heritage!]
[We couldn't take pictures inside Anne Frank's house, but here's Gahui keeping Anne dry at her memorial statue. The weather that day was quite bad, I remember, and my umbrella kept being broken by the wind. As an added extra I didn't know how to get a ticket for Gahui on the tram so we just freerode it all the time and we got caught and had to pay two €50 fines...I Am sterdam...]
[Such an innocent girl in such a wretched hive of scum and villainy..]
[The Sex Museum was actually pretty cool and not juvenile at all. I thought it would be all LOL PENISSES but actually it had some really interesting information about sex through the ages and in other countries, and..yeah..a mechanized potloodventer.]
After our visit to Amsterdam, we left on a long, long train ride to the Czech Republic to visit our friend Martina. I'll talk about that in the next post, so tune in next...week? month? season? Who knows!?
I've decided to leave our second visit to the Netherlands for later, so the story is kind of chronological. Also, I'm really, really tired after typing all of this. Peace!