Things to Do in Seoul: Go Sit in the Dentist’s Chair!

You probably have read how I had GONE FOR EYEBROW TATTOO IN SEOUL, how I had GOTTEN MY HAIR DONE IN SEOUL, and also checked out SOME OF THE STUFF I BUY WHEN IN SEOUL, and also WHAT I EAT WHEN IN SEOUL

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The truth is Seoul is an interesting place with lots to see, to eat and to do. I feel rather sad for the peeps who have only seen Seoul through group tours. It’s really not the same, and I don’t think you really get to experience what Seoul is all about through group tours.

I had been to Seoul eleven times, and most of these were pretty long trips. And I had gone on tour packages twice, so I should know. Heck, you don’t even get to eat nice Korean food when on tour packages, you know?!

No no no no no, definitely not the same thing.

 

So do yourself a favour and see Seoul on a free and easy trip, if you can. Or if really unsure and unfamiliar, take a short tour package and extend another three days or something to roam around Seoul on your own.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a tourist. What I advocate for myself is not to JUST be a tourist, but to be a traveler as well.

 

And I love love love this quote,

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve never believed that an overseas trip is only about taking a photo at the entrance of places of interest. And I’ve never believed that we get to have a real taste of another country if all we do is to visit touristy places and interact with people who serve tourists. And the people you talk most to are your fellow mates on the tour package, from the same country as you.

Then again, different folks, different strokes *shrugs*

 

Oh anyway, again…. I digressed *hits own wrist*

Am blogging to share one more thing that you can consider doing when you’re in Seoul next. I know of many peeps who find themselves returning to Seoul trip after trip, year after year. Since you’ve already gotten the usual touristy bits over and done with, why not try stuff that’s a little different, and perhaps a little more local?

 

During my last trip, I visited the dentist!

Did you know that VISITING THE DENTIST IS AMONGST THE TOP 10 FEARS PEOPLE HAVE? In fact, it’s right up there amongst the top three, alongside public speaking and heights.

I know of people (and me guilty too!) who dread dental visits and would not go for regular check-up… only to regret whenever the big fat hairy toothache strikes.

 

But but but, fear aside, I’ve also noticed how sparkling white and bright Korean celebs’ teeth are! It’s almost strange considering how infamously much the Koreans smoke and drink coffee! Did you know that 44% OF THE ADULT MALES IN KOREA SMOKE?

So I’ve always thought they must have a pretty booming dental business, hee! And I know that the celebs visit not only the beauty and hair salons often, they also visit the dentists very regularly.

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I have always been very, very, very self-conscious about how yellow my teeth are. In fact, I’d even gone for teeth whitening (which cost me over a thousand bucks!) some years back with barely any improvements. It’s also made me very reluctant to part with big money to try another or other teeth whitening techniques.

Teeth whitening procedures ain’t cheap in Singapore, each session typically costs $800-$1000+, although I’ve heard of dental clinics that include the home-care kit/tray (which otherwise costs $400-500).

 

Fashion and lifestyle blogger Moonberry blogged about her teeth whitening experience HERE,

Business and lifestyle blogger Grace Tan also share her teeth whitening experience HERE. Both Moonberry and Grace had included the clinic rates and fees, so you can have a rough idea how much these things cost in Singapore.

Young lifestyle student-blogger Joey Ong was also sponsored one teeth whitening session very recently and you can read about it HERE, and in her blog, she’d included a $188 promo. Yea, I know, incredibly cheap. You could go find out more, maybe they’re hoping that people would sign up for a second session or buy the home-care kit or something. Not sure. But it sure appears that Joey had a fairly pleasant experience there.

Other than the incredible offer on Joey’s blog, I guess it’s safe to say that teeth whitening procedures ain’t cheap here. Perhaps that’s why this MyFatPocket blogger Jessie Ting had gone to Bangkok to get hers done. Read more about it HERE.

 

So now, back to my experience in Seoul…

I had done some googling, and found lots of expats sharing online, all exclaiming about how affordable dental care is in Korea, and most also raved about the as-pleasant-as-dental-visits-can-get experience, hehe!

I contacted three dental clinics (that have someone who can speak English) from THE ANGLO INFO SITE IN SEOUL, and eventually decided on LIVE DENTAL CLINIC in Gangnam.

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Live Dental Clinic also has a WEBSITE. I’ve no idea why it’s called Bom Dental, but anyway, it’s all in Korean. So hehe, check out and contact them via FACEBOOK instead.

When I was in Seoul in May/June last year, Live Dental Clinic had an English-speaking staff to manage its enquiries. It was Karen who had attended to us. She replied to our email very promptly, and provided information clearly and even offered details that she thought might be useful to us.

The email enquiries quickly progressed to text messages and phone calls since we were on the move most of the time. Again, she was very responsive, clear and very helpful. Especially with the rates and what those rates included. Very, very clear.

 

I had enquired about teeth whitening for E and myself. She had told us that it’s 300,000KRW for each session, and some people may require two sessions. The interval between sessions should be a minimum of three days.

If we had needed or wanted the home-care kit, that would be 400,000KRW.

What I liked was how I could commit to just one session first, which was a rather affordable 300,000KRW. If i liked the results, then I could go back for a second session, or just buy the home-care kit. So E and I confirmed an appointment.

 

Off we went!

The nearest subway station to Live Dental Clinic is Hanti station (yellow line).

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Come up via Exit 2.

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It’s about 5-10 minutes walk. For us, Karen kindly met us to take us to the clinic. I suppose when it’s your turn, you can choose to ask for detailed directions, or ask your ‘Karen’ to meet you at the station, hehe!

 

I’ll share a map at the end of the post, but I’ll also share here some pics that the clinic has uploaded on their Facebook page on how to get there.

You will see Lotte Department Store when you come up from Exit 2, just walk alongside Lotte (facing Lotte, walk towards your right) until you hit the end of the building. Then turn left and keep walking.

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We’re here, we’re here!

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First impressions….

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Live Dental Clinic has three resident dentists, I believe. And they also have what looked like a small army of highly efficient assistants.

Gotta say it’s quite different from the dental clinics that I had been in Singapore. This one feels more ‘premium and luxurious’…

 

The reception area is very spacious! And there’re like magazines, newspapers and even beverages! Nice!

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For our first visit, we didn’t linger long in the reception area as we were whisked inside after Karen helped us fill in the forms.

 

Here, the inside.

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Quite nice hor?

The not-so-scary dentist’s chair, hee!

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Hehe, there’s free wifi too. But I didn’t fuss myself with that since the dentist’s chair ain’t exactly the most comfortable nor suitable place to be surfing the world wide web.

There’s a screen where the dentist can show you x-ray of your teeth to explain stuff to you. Like showing you where your cavities are, or where filling has fallen off, or whatever.

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Surprisingly, despite the initial fear of communication since I don’t speak Korean, everything went on fine. The dentist can understand English, and he speak a little English.

Other than a dental assistant who is very friendly and smiley, Karen was also on hand to help translate what the dentist said, and also to convey what I wanted to say to the dentist.

 

Now, remember was there for cleaning, and also teeth whitening?

The dentist checked my teeth and said that I might not see big improvement after the whitening procedure as the natural colour of my teeth is greyish. I asked about what if I went back for two sessions. He said it would still be unlikely for me to get sparkling white pearlies. He’s pretty certain there won’t be that much brightening effect. *sad face*

So I decided to skip the teeth whitening, and just do the cleaning. The cleaning’s only 60,000KRW!! *surprised*

 

It was a fab experience, not scary, not painful.

And oh, I also got onlay for my cavities. An onlay is something in between a filling and a crowning. I remember googling there and then for onlay prices in Singapore, and that it’s about half the price to do it in Seoul. (Sorry, I forgot the exact amount.)

So it’s a no-brainer and I did it.

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Ya, they even provided sweet polka-dotted blankies for me! Just in case you’re cold, but more coz I was wearing a dress.

And oh, hee, I stole a photo of E having her teeth checked, cleaned and scaled!

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Other than the washroom which is outside the clinic, they actually set up a small powder room inside the clinic for us gals to freshen up after seeing the dentist!

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The Koreans think of everything!

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The onlay required a follow-up trip coz making the mould took time. So we went back again for a second visit a few days later.

This time around, I made sure I had coffee, hehe!

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Mind you, it’s not just about the affordable prices. The experience was also pleasant coz the dentist who had attended to me had a nice, firm touch. He was also not hurried and took time to explain things, and waited patiently whilst Karen translated stuff to me. Karen was great too, as she made sure repeatedly that I understood what’s going on. She even explained each step of what the dentist was doing.

All in, it was a fab experience. So pleasant and affordable that I’m even thinking to go visit the dentist every time I’m in Seou, bwahwahwah!

Go on, go try it!

 

Live Dental Clinic
시그마빌딩 5층, 강남
936-16 Daechi-dong,
Sigma Building, 5 Floor,
Gnagnam-ku

Hours:
(Mon to Fri) 9:30am ~ 6:30pm
(Tue to Thu) 9:30am ~ 8:30pm
(Sat and Sun) 9:30am ~ 2:00pm

Phone 02-552-2279
Email bomdental@naver.com

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Travel in Seoul & Beyond… with T-Money!

I don’t know if there’re really many many many Singaporeans traveling to Seoul all the time, or if it’s a case of I’ve (too!) many friends who love Seoul and are always heading there. There’s always someone I know In Seoul, or gonna be traveling to Seoul soooooon!

 

One young friend was just there the week two weekends ago, and one has been there for a month and still counting!

Hee, she happens to be a very dear dongsaeng of mine. Actually she’s the youngest of the circle of friends we have, and we refer to her as wuri maknae. ‘Wuri‘ means ‘our‘, and ‘maknae‘ refers to the youngest one.

 

This one!

Taken of us in the subway when we were in Seoul back in 2013. Hehe, couldn’t find a more recent pic of us in the subway other than this.

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I often marvel at how the oldest in the group can get along so well with the maknae of the group. The age gap is HUGE! In fact, I’m sooooo… much older than wuri maknae that I can practically be her mother!

 

And… one dear colleague is there now too. Check out her auto-responder email that brings out the green monsters in all of us!

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So funny, right?! I love my colleagues, you know! What an incredible bunch of funnies with a whole truckload full of smarts, bwahwahwah!

 

Anyway, I’m gonna blog about T-Money!

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T-Money to Koreans is like what Ez Link cards are to Singaporeans. Yup, these are stored value cards that you can use on the subway, buses, some taxies and even to pay for purchases at selected retailers.

The boring ones look like this, and you can buy them (2,500 KRW) at one of those vending machines in the subway stations.

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Compared to buying single journey fares each time, it’s a lot more convenient to use the stored value cards. Besides, there’s a 100 KRW discount for each trip that you take using the T-Money. Transfers from subway to bus, from bus to subway, from bus to bus within a 30-minute timeframe are also free.

 

There’s another type of T-Money cards that cater to short-term travelers in Seoul, and they are called Seoul City Passes. I understand that these are only available for sale at Incheon Airport.

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Seoul City Pass Plus is a T-Money card with with all the usual T-Money features, and it also comes with discount coupons at participating retailers and other establishments like tourist attractions. There’s no Seoul City Tour Bus rides on this card, just discounts.

Then there is the Seoul City Pass, which allows you 20 rides per day on buses and trains, as well as unlimited rides on the Seoul City Tour Bus. There are 1, 2 & 3-day versions.

 

So why am I blogging about something so simple that all of you would know? Hehe, coz I think quite a number of first-timers to Seoul do not know that there’re also T-Money cellphone charms!

 

I know of peeps who love love love Rilakuma!

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And hello, Hello Kitty!

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They would release different designs at different times, based on what is popular and what is hot. I’ve even seen Angry Bird charms in the past when that game was all the rage.

These are available only at convenience stores, usually on display right behind the cashier at the counter. Depending on the design, these usually go for 5,000-8,000 KRW. That’s just to buy the charm.

There’s zero value in these T-Money cellphone charms, so you will have to top up the value. You can do charge or recharge at the convenience stores or you can use the machines at the subway stations.

 

So, what character cellphone charm do I use? Here’s a clue, haha!

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Yup yup, mine’s a Mickey!

I have both the white and the black.

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Since we’re talking about T-Money and subway, let me just share something kindda random. My most recent trip to Seoul was last May/June.

This photo was a reflection of ourselves when we were waiting for a train at the subway platform. I remember this was after shopping at Lotte Mart at Seoul Station, hee!

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You know how the women and girls in Korean dramas always get piggyback-rides?

 

So it’s real, it’s real, it’s real..!!

 

That night at the subway station, we saw a guy piggyback his girlfriend up a loooooong flight of steps!!

And believe, you, me… Steps and stairs ain’t no joke in Seoul! There’re lots and lots of them, and they’re usually seemingly endless!

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So, now you know! If you’re reading that way and wish to check out or buy the cellphone charm T-Money, check out the convenience stores!

And oh, different chains and stores carry different stocks, so have fun checking them out!

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Image Credits: transferwise.com, keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Do You Instagram?

Lots and lots of people Instagram. Do you?

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Yes, yes, I know that INSTAGRAM IS THE FASTEST GROWING SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK. But for some reason, despite the app being on my homescreen, I just hardly ever check it. Yup, I’ve an account with very few followers, and I also don’t follow many people.

 

I TWEET (A TEENY WEENY BIT) BETTER THAN I TAKE IG PHOTOS!

Even though Facebook growth is kindda stagnant, it is still the largest in terms of user base. But but but, my go-to social media app is really the one that people are slowly moving away from, yup, Twitter.

 

What’s it with me anyway?

Why do I nearly always like the least popular things? And mind you, that’s even when I know perfectly well or can predict accurately which is the ones that are gonna fly. I just somehow have an unexplainable affinity for the ‘underdogs’, the least favoured ones *shrugs*

 

I like Twitter for its brevity. I don’t really follow friends on Twitter, not many of my friends are there anyway. But I love the ease of use, the brevity of it all. And I love how it doesn’t play God like Facebook does. It delivers ALL the tweets of the Twitter accounts I choose to follow.

Another fab feature Twitter has its list function. Check mine out!

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I like how neat, fast and short Twitter is.

With the list function, I can call up any of them (I group them by category and interest), and can catch up on the latest news or gossip very very quickly, especially on the go. And if I see any that I’m interested in, then I click in.

 

PICKING BONES WITH INSTAGRAM

Anyway, this post is about Instagram, haha!

Guess I’m just a lot more textual than visual, therefore the appeal of Twitter is more stronger than Instagram. Especially after a while, Instagram feeds seem to be an endless parade of fashion, food, glam gals, fashion, food, glam gals.

總覺得有些虛榮有些空洞。
手機滑滑一下很快就看膩了。

 

Two of the pet peeves I have about Instagram are that I can’t click on links in the Instagram post, and that I can’t zoom in.

 

Resharing is also troublesome. I’ll be the first to admit that I dislike stuff that are overly complicated or lay-lay-chay-chay.

 

DO YOU REGRAM?

But but but, things improved A LITTLE after I found this app called REGRAM 7.

Actually there’re many similar regram apps, it’s just that this was the first that I’d downloaded and tried, so I stuck with it since it worked decently enough for me.

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With the Regram app, you can actually zoom into the image! Ya, just pinch and stretch as you would with images on your mobile devices. Easy-peasy.

That’s not all! You can also regram easily. The app allows you to credit the original uploader and also allows you to add whatever comments or tag whoever you want.

 

Check this Instagram post that I’ve regrammed.

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HAHA, I INSTAWEATHER!

Since I’m already yakking away about Instagram, I might as well ‘bare all’ and share with you two other things. Or maybe everyone is already using these, haha!

I also have two other Insta apps that I usually only use when I’m overseas.

Me really likey the Instaweather app!

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Here, check out some of the skins.

I like how you can actually ‘freeze’ that moment in time and ‘record’ the temperature and other details.

Fab for peeps like us who live in the tropics and hardly experience any variation in season and temperature, ya?

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I INSTAPLACE TOO!

Heard of the Instaplace app? It’s also a pretty neat app to have when you’re on hols or traveling!

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Here’s a sample of what you can do.

There’re lots more, so do download and play if you don’t already have this.

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For both Instaweather and Instaplace apps, you can either take photos in-app, or you can always take the photos first and then import into the apps to apply the skin over.

Do note that for the latter, you might wanna leave some white space around the border, or the top or bottom for where you want the Instaweather or Instaplace text to go onto.

Okies, I’m done with all the Insta business! Hope it’s useful.

 

Meanwhile, you can also go read MY POST ON FACEBOOK.

 

In Love with… Ganjang Gejang (Soy Crabs)

Despite my rather long ‘history’ of visiting Korea and all, I didn’t have my first taste of this Korean specialty, Ganjang Gejang (raw crabs marinated in soy sauce) until last year.

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You might have read HERE how it was an unimaginably amazing meeting for me and crab that summer evening in Seoul.

Truth be told, I’d never thought that love at first sight could be this heart-stoppingly dramatic. So dramatic that I literally swore at first bite.

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These four words escaped my lips at my first taste of ganjang gejang.

OH MY EFFING GOD.

And mind you, I ain’t one to swear normally. It had tasted that goooooood to me. Nothing prepared me for how richly flavourful the dish was!

Anyway, I had first heard about this from one of Shinhwa Broadcast episodes, and I knew that I had to try it. Then later, I also saw the dish popping up again and again as a popular banchan in another Korean variety show, Barefoot Friends.

 

WHAT IS GANJANG GEJANG (간장게장)?

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Ganjang refers to soy sauce, Ge is crab and Jang is, well, sauce. Yup, it is just that, a dish made by marinating raw crabs in soy sauce.

It is a traditional Korean dish that is very popular and much loved. Apparently really very local and its taste so rich and some even say too rich (pungent perhaps?) that even the Koreans are divided. Guess it’s a bit of a love and hate; those who love it really love it, and those who don’t, won’t even lick it.

My Korean friend told me some Koreans find it too raw, if there’s such a thing. And some think it’s too fishy.

 

This dish is basically salted and fermented. The sauce is made of soy sauce, chili pepper, ginger, dried kelp, onion and garlic. The sauce kindda layers on top of the raw crab, and it’s usually salty. Coz the crabs are raw, some people may find it too ‘slimy’ to stomach.

Ganjang gejang is quite complicated to prepare, since it first has to be salted with the special ganjang for about six hours in a earthenware crock. Basically the process involves salting it for an hour, then removing the sauce, reheating it, and salting it by pouring the sauce over it again, waiting, reheating and this is repeated several times.

It is important to get the marinade just right. If it’s not made right, it can be too salty. But if it’s not strong enough, the crabs will not ferment ‘properly’. If not fermented properly, the crabs will smell and even taste weird.

 

HOW TO EAT GANJANG GEJANG?

Just roll up your sleeves and dig in! I’m serious! No utensils or cutlery needed, best eaten with your bare hands!

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To most peeps who love ganjang gejang, the highlight of the meal is mixing rice into the crab shell!

Just scoop rice into the crab shell and mix it all up, sauce and roe and all! You can just eat it like that, or you can scoop some of the mixed rice and wrap with seaweed (kim). Yumz either way!

The Koreans refer to ganjang gejang as ‘rice thief‘ (飯的小偷). Hehe, you’ll understand this when you find yourself with a gleaming empty bowl like this!

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MY MAIDEN GANJANG GEJANG EXPERIENCE!

I had gone to one of the most popular ganjang gejang restaurants at the GANJANG GEJANG ALLEY @ SINSA DONG.

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It’s one of the first few restaurants right at the beginning of the alley, very easy to find. Or, you can also refer to (A) in the map below.

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Ya, the Masan one.

Here’s the big bright signboard. You can’t miss the (gaudy!) artificial flowers ‘plamted’ outside, hehe!

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It’s open 24-hours. And it’s all floor seating, so ya, you gotta take off your shoes.

Here, the menu.

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Zzang! Flipping open the menu!

If you can’t speak Korean, but can speak either Japanese or Mandarin, then you won’t have any trouble ordering your food.

Basically, the big portion is 75,000KRW and the small portion is 50,000KRW. The small one’s good for two people, and that was what we had ordered.

Even if you can’t speak any of the three languages, you shouldn’t have any problem either, since there’re pictures of the dishes in the menu. Or just point to whatever you want to have at someone else’s tables, hee!

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Ordered, and ready to eat!

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Side dishes (banchan) first!

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And the heavenly fooooood!

Peeps, meet Ganjang Gejang!!

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And I’d thought I’d be fine back home without it… you know, just looking forward to my reunion with Ganjang Gejang during my next trip to Seoul…

 

Until my friends decided to go to Seoul and eat Ganjang Gejang. One of them had texted us this earlier this evening.

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That’s not all! These ‘evil people‘ had already uploaded pictures lor lor lor!

Here’s one from the sugar-free one!

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And this was shared by Little Twin Stars!

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哇哇哇!勾起俺千千萬萬的思念啊!
好想念那極其遙遠的醬油蟹醬!

 

The gals had gone to PRO SOY CRAB, supposedly one of the best in this business. It’s in a tall swanky building, also in the Ganjang Gejang Alley vicinity. Check out (G) in the map below.

You can also click HERE to read more about PRO soy crab.

 

After dinner, you can take a nice walk along the uber trendy Garosugil, which is full of chic Seoulites. Lots of hip cafes for you to people-watch.

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I think celebrities hang out there too. I remember running into Jay Park there once.

Hehe, that was what we did evening after Ganjang Gejang. Walked back to the subway station to get to Garosugil. Saw this Choovely (Choo + Lovely) father-and-daughter lightbox at Sinsa subway station last year!

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GANJANG GEJANG
Take subway line 3 to Sinsa Station and go out exit 4. Walk straight for about 20 meters and take a right. Walk for about 80 meters and you should see the beginning of Ganjang Gejang Alley.

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map credit: VISITSEOUL.net