Kickin' It in Korea: Daejeon {Part I}

Annyeong haseyo! (hello in Korean)

I've been meaning to blog about my trip to South Korea for a very long time but life has been hectic these past few months. I just started working as well so that means I probably won't have time to blog except on weekends. Bummer! Anyway, I was in Korea from early to end of September 2012. It was towards the end of summer and around the same time 'Oppa Gangnam Style' was released so you can imagine people's reactions when I told them I was going there. "Oh! Gangnam Style!" "I hope you get to meet PSY!" It's amazing how Korea has become synonymous with that song.

We spent most of our time in Daejeon not in Seoul but it was a very interesting stay nevertheless. Daejeon (pronounced as day-jon or tay-jon) is the 5th largest city in South Korea. It is a science and technology research city and I learned that Korea is highly advanced in scientific research. Forget about 3D televisions, they're working on 4D televisions right now. Samsung is a Korean brand and I'm sure you know how people are going crazy over the Galaxy SIII and Galaxy Note. I think 99% of Koreans buy only local products because they know they've got some of the best technology in the world right now. On top of that, they're very patriotic.

Around Jungang-ro district (clockwise from left): Flight of stairs to the subway train station ; Lacoste boutique ; Sung Sim Dang - Daejeon's oldest and most popular bakery ; vegetarian bibimbap

Prior to this trip the only things that came to mind when I think of Korea were K-Pop, Korean television series and Korean fashion. K-Pop and Korean shows have a super massive fan base in Malaysia. I have no idea when it happened! Malaysians used to be crazy about Bollywood but now it's all about the Koreans. And... I think I get it now. The Korean entertainment industry is like the East Asian version of the Bollywood industry. Korean fashion designs are also very tasteful and creative which explains the proliferation of Korean boutiques in Malaysia.

Sung Sim Dang bakery in the Jungang-ro district of Daejeon: This is where I bought walnut cream cheese bread for the first time and it was so good! I found the recipe for it here.

Koreans love colours: And they love sneakers. Hence the popularity of colourful sneakers there. Even the girls wore them all the time not just with jeans and sporty attire. They actually made it work with everything.

I don't have many Korean friends apart from the ones I met when I was in high school in New Zealand so I really enjoyed observing the Korean people when I was there and I think they enjoyed observing me too! Well, in Daejeon that is. It's because there aren't many Muslims there and the few that are there are Muslims guys who are studying engineering or biotechnology or something really scientific and impressive. 

I did meet a couple of Muslim sisters who were students there but there's just so few of them, especially the ones who wore hijab, so I think the Daejeonites (mainly the older generation) thought I looked really strange with a headscarf on and they stared all the time. I thought it was funny not offensive so I would smile at them and they'd smile back and try to converse with me which usually didn't work out because they don't really speak English except for the younger Koreans. Trying to communicate with people over there was challenging but it was an experience! 

I have so much to share with you guys. Wait for Part II okay? Have a great weekend! 


blog-tips-kurus said…
so interesting!! :)
kkokko said…
These photos are amazing!

I have never been to Daejeon and It was so nice to see the city from your beautiful photos.

Wow~ these breads look so yummy!!! :)
Candice said…
Korea is so cool. They really seem at the forefront of everything really. I love the cuteness in fashion, accessories, packaging :)
Looking forward to a p2!
Haneen Ibrahim said…
Wow! your so lucky, I dream of visiting Korea, so happy you spent a good time there, but have you managed to meet actually Korean Muslims or only students from other countries?
Hi Sha,

Was it easy to get halal food where you stayed? Ahh am always worried about these kinda thing especially when I can't read in their language! Hahaha
Gary said…
Hi Shahirah,
I think we are all waiting for a clip of you dancing 'Gangham Style'! Have a good week.
zt said…
i had the same experience too when i visited Seoul last May. I get stares all the time esp when commuting in their efficient subways until at some time i felt uncomfortable.
But I love their fashion sense and cafe cultures. I love the way they pair sneakers in their fashion. I tried wearing red sneakers in Japan and ended up being the only one wearing sneakers among thousands of Japanese ^^"
I wish I could eat halal and delicious bread and pastries over there too..
Nieya Asni said…
aaaww all the photos you shared are so amazing =) May I know did you stay in the hotel or the guesthouse? =)
Unknown said…
Hi Sha,

Glad you like Daejeon. I too have the same communication problem with he Daejeonites but overall everyone is happy to help some lost strangers :)

Btw, i'm currently in Daejeon and I just love Korea