I enjoy combining journal entries with sketches - it works wonderfully as a way to keep both little notes and memories in a more visually appealing way. So when we went to Seoul for four days a while ago, I decided to draw diary entries for each day, documenting anything from food to sightseeing, events, and shopping.
Especially since I like the idea of travel sketchbooks, but rarely find the time while actually traveling to just sit down and sketch landscapes or buildings, this is a nice alternative.
I went with a simple chronological order (I'm boring like that), so we start with the heartbreaking departure from our cat Hedwig and leaving Jeju Island for Seoul.
Seoul-Jeju is actually the world's busiest air route which you can definitely feel - especially around weekends! The route to the airport is always very busy and the parking spaces are packed, so if you plan to hop from Seoul to Jeju, keep that in mind. We're seasoned Jeju-Seoul travelers so we've got a secret parking space close to the airport. ;)
After a quick lunch (rice noodles! Yay!) with a friend at the Gimpo Airport in Seoul, we took the subway to Incheon where we always stay with my husband's family. Seoul and Incheon are practically touching, but the hour-and-a-half-long subway trip is always THE time to catch up on long-unanswered messages, emails and the like.
The rest of the day was spent babysitting our little nephews, going to the art store, grocery shopping and LOTS of cooking. Seriously, visiting family is such a food overkill. Not that I'm complaining!
As a vegan (though not the only person with specific food preferences in the family) I'm happy that Korean traditional cuisine is so full of vegetable side-dishes and grains that it's easy to find options without needing to prepare 'extra' food on the side. Also, my mother-in-law is a wonderful cook and loves teaching me her recipes, so cooking is fun here. (No horror stories in the vein of Korean dramas with their evil mother-in-laws to tell haha.)
On day 2, we spent the morning at the house - guess what, eating a lot, again. When with the in-laws, we usually eat Korean food in the morning, so a full menu from rice to soup and kimchi. This day, we took it slow with just some fruit and a ton of rice cakes, plus my obligatory coffee.
In recent years, the fine dust pollution in Incheon and Seoul has gotten very severe, so you'll probably need face masks if you're there for a while. Especially after coming from Jeju, the difference in the air quality is noticeable.
I spent the afternoon in Seoul, Gangnam, on the 'Garosugil' road - a street lined with all the beauty brands and boutiques you could want (and more than you could ever afford, probably). The perfect spot for a miniature K-Beauty blogger meet-up with Sarah from Ohmyglossblog and Katherine 'skinfullofseoul'. Both, btw, the perfect shopping guides and enablers in chief for makeup purchases. After being on a beauty no-buy since autumn last year, I went a bit shopping-crazy!
Later that afternoon we were invited to a wedding - you can read all about my Korean wedding experience and some tips for wedding guest etiquette here.
That didn't take more than four hours, so we had time for meeting friends afterward before taking the express bus for a looong ride back to Incheon
After running around all day long on Saturday, Sunday was very relaxed. Guess what, mostly just eating and drawing. We may have been in Seoul, but not exactly on a vacation, and I had art commissions to sketch and files to edit en masse. Being self-employed definitely has its flexibility perks!
The one big downside to staying at my in-laws is that their home is probably the only one in all of Seoul/Incheon without wifi. So to get even more of a vacation feeling, I went to work at a pretty little cafe nearby.
We also went to a restaurant with the whole family - so really, food everywhere on that day.
Caught up (more or less) with work, Monday was more relaxed. More Korean food, more sketching, and then a meeting with a client for an illustration series. It's rare for me to work with Korean companies, so that project, while still under wraps, is very exciting!
After the successful meeting, we noticed that due to the Academy Awards, several Oscar-winning movies were back in Korean cinemas, so we took the chance to finally see 'Arrival'.
Korean cinemas are quite cheap and I'd love to go more, but with us living far away from the city on Jeju, we often miss out on movies with short running times.
Also, if you've ever been to a cinema in Korea - everyone just runs out as soon as the credits start running! Is that normal in a lot of countries around the world? I'm always flustered because I'm used to sitting through the credits.
The evening was family time again, hanging out with the nephews and playing Korean monopoly (the easy, kids version) while blogging with borrowed wifi, while sketching, while cooking. Multi-tasking is key.
Then, like a living cliche, my mother-in-law, husband and I watched Korean dramas while eating sweet potatoes until late at night. This is when I started drawing those fashion illustration stickers, too.