The Winter Olympics was a great excuse to make my first ever trip to South Korea. I was intrigued to see a country that has developed at lightening speed over the past few decades into an economic powerhouse and the home of K Pop.
I was incredibly excited about the coffee culture, they have over 17,000 cafes including a racoon cafe, an owl cafe and a sheep cafe! I am a bit of a coffee snob and care more about the actual cup of coffee rather than the gimmicky animal surroundings so after some intense googling, I set my sights on Fritz Coffee. I’ve been back in Hong Kong a month and I still dream about that cafe. It served quite possibly, the best espresso I’ve ever had – there was no bitterness and it was so smooth. The pastries were as light as air, I’m pretty confident there were no calories in them. It also made me realise, I’m getting old – having struck so high with Fritz, I wasn’t willing to deviate so went there every morning for coffee and breakfast.
I have an unhealthy fascination with North Korea (I’ve read pretty much every book going on the subject) so the DMZ was an essential part of my trip. We went on a tour which included meeting a defector from North Korea. She didn’t speak English and it felt like a propaganda exercise focused on reiterating how great South Korea is and how terrible the north is! To be honest, the whole trip is very biased but I totally understand why it is structured that way. However, I had a wonderful time and loved the opportunity to peer over the border with North Korea and listen to the propaganda music. My favourite part was the JSA as we got to meet South Korean soldiers (they have the best skin ever – a testament to Korean skincare) and learn more about the history of the JSA and how it currently functions.
The Winter Olympics were held in Pyeongchang which is one and a half hours from Seoul by train. We were fortunate to stay with the most wonderful couple at Secret Pension who drove us to and from the train station multiple times a day as well as giving us gifts and food. I absolutely loved watching the events at the Olympics, the atmosphere was fantastic and I learned about sports I never knew existed (freestyle skiing was completely new to me). Unfortunately the infrastructure was less than to be desired – the catering was woeful and they ran out of beer at 10am! We also went to Gangneung, a seaside town which had an espresso and jazz festival by the beach, an awesome micro brewery and an overwhelming amount of cafes.
Korea takes skincare very seriously, it is recommended that you follow a 10 step programme if you want perfect skin. Now that I’m getting older, I figured that they must be on to something and it is probably in my interests to fight off the wrinkles before too many form. I was inspired by the soldiers at the DMZ, I’ve literally never seen skin so clear and smooth in my whole life (see image below). I went on a shopping spree and heavily invested, I could only figure out 9 of the steps so I really hope the final step isn’t critical:
- Oil cleanser
- Foam Cleanser
- Eye Cream
- Sun block
- Face Mask