Danielle Koffler, a Tripper living in Seoul, South Korea shares her tips on how to escape the cold on a winter’s day.
I’m a southern California native, making me a total wuss when it comes to winter weather. I moved to Seoul a few months ago, when it was just beginning to get chilly. Now it is the dead of winter and leaving the comforts of my warm apartment can be torturous. If you are in the same boat, or are visiting Korea in the winter, here are some indoor activities you can do on days when it’s too cold to go see the sights.
p1. Defrost at a unique café in Hongdae. Seoul is filled to the brim with coffee shop chains. Instead of buying a warm beverage in one of the run-of-the-mill cafes, visit the Charlie Brown Café or Hello Kitty Café. These charming characters each have their own café devoted to them and are sure to warm you up, especially if you love Hello Kitty as much as I do. If you are an animal lover, take a visit to the Gio Cat Café or the Bau House (a dog café), where you can hang out with some furry friends. And lastly, head over to the Dr. Fish Café if you want to have the dead skin removed from your feet by little fishies after your latte.
2. Go to a norebong (singing room) and sing your heart out with your friends in your own personal room. Karaoke is extremely popular here and it is a great distraction from the uncomfortable temperatures outside. Grab a few buddies and lose a few hours pretending to be rock stars.
3. Do as the Koreans do and go shopping. Shopping seems to almost be a sport in Korea. They do it outdoors all year round. I, on the other hand, prefer to still be able to feel my toes by the end of a shopping spree instead of dealing with the screaming barfies (the pain you feel after your fingers and toes start to thaw out). I suggest wandering around COEX, a massive indoor shopping mall, which will keep you occupied for hours. You can catch a movie, have some lunch, shop, visit the aquarium or the kimchi museum, and most importantly stay warm.
4. Relax and thaw in a Korean spa aka jimjilbang. For under ten bucks you can enjoy saunas, bathing pools, and napping with the locals. If you want to treat yourself, you can spend extra on a massage or a scrub. Jimjilbangs are usually open 24-7, which means you can go in at the end of the day and actually spend the night sleeping on one of the napping mats.
5. Curl up in bed and watch some Korean dramas. Koreans are obsessed with their TV “dramas” and you will be too after you’ve indulged in a few episodes. Don’t be confused by the title of drama, there is plenty of comedy in them. They are corny and addictive. If you are interested, go to www.mysoju.com where they have links to many Korean dramas with English subtitles. I suggest starting out with the extremely popular Secret Garden drama.
Danielle, a Los Angeles native, has been passionate about travel since she went around the world on Semester at Sea in 2006. In the last three years, she has taught English in northeastern Thailand, worked in eco-tourism on an island in Thailand, and backpacked solo around Asia. She is currently teaching English in Seoul, South Korea while planning her future adventures. Keep up with her via her blog, Wake Up and Dance. Check out her Tripping profile and connect with her through Networks like DIWYY.