Friday, November 14, 2014

A Trip to 서울 Seoul, South Korea (Part 2) ♥ + Experience and Tips

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image credit: Ivonna @ TheHottestKpop

So here we are in the 2nd and final part of my trip to South Korea. I still have Day 4-Day7 left to talk about, but I think in the last few days we didn't do much exploring. After finished recapping all the places I went to in South Korea, at the end of this post I will conclude my feelings about the trip, what I liked and disliked, and maybe some helpful tips that I experienced. Without further introduction, let's get started with Day 4.

*oh, and this second part will be much (much) longer than the first one.

Day 4 (4 일) Wednesday. October 22, 2014
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We have planned from the previous day that that we will visit JYP Entertaintment and CUBE Entertainment this day, because it will be our last day staying in the Gangnam Area. My friend already printed a direction to go to these two places, so we just have to follow it. For those of you who wanted the complete direction, you can check it out here. It's actually accurate, but we went through a different road, so at the end I figured it out using my trusted GPS. Basically we had to get off the Apgujeong Rodeo subway station and walk for a bit (like 15-20 mins, maybe? I forgot.), and finally reached Cheongdam/Apgujeong area (which is very high-class neighborhood) where JYP Entertainment is located. Oh, and Apgujeong Rodeo is full of high-end brand stores like Burberry, Prada, and all those brands that we couldn't afford. 힝~


Back to JYP Entertainment. We spent like about 10 minutes taking selcas in front of JYP, shamelessly sitting on the porch of Dunkin Donuts (it's directly opposite JYP). We were sitting there in hope to see any artists. We even suspected a guy wearing a cap as an artist ㅋㅋㅋ We're that delusional. After some time, we moved on looking for CUBE Entertainment building which is very close to JYP. But unfortunately the road is very crowded with traffic, so we couldn't took any selca in front of it. However, we went to CUBE Cafe, which is basically a heaven for CUBE artists' fans. They have all the albums of CUBE artists autographed, along with merchandises and stuffs. We ordered drinks (and I ordered CUBE-ade for the sake of the moment), and chill out while taking selcas where we can. There's even a park at the back of the place with CUBE artists drawn in comic style on the walls. Very cute indeed. *Oh, and they kept playing BEAST's newest song 12:30 at that time. I was so hyped, because I love that song. ㅎㅎㅎㅎ I think we listened to it about 5 times while we're there.

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After finished there, we planned on going to 남산타워 N Seoul Tower, located in Myeongdong. We were really excited to go there, but we never expected to HIKE to get there (?!). I followed the directions on Visit Korea website to get to the cable car. Oh my God, at that moment I seriously missed my car. And each time a car pass by, I just want to ask the driver to please take me to Namsan Tower's cable car ㅠㅠ But at the end we made it, and asked around where the cable car place is. Turns out we need to walk (again) for a bit. I was extremely hungry at that time, and actually sweat in the pretty cold weather. When we arrived at the cable car station, of course we bought the round trip ticket. Who wants to walk down from Namsan Tower after that hike ?! From that point on, it was all very pleasant though, we got a really good view of Seoul from the cable car as well.

Upon reaching, the first thing we did was eating the twisted potato thingy; to at least fill our stomach a little. And then of course, we have to take a picture with the popular love locks. And then we took selcas like everywhere else around the Namsan Tower. On the staircase, in front of a gazebo, and in front of the N Seoul Tower sign. However, we couldn't get a proper selca of ourselves in front of the real Namsan Tower. There's a photographer that can do it for you, but it's like super expensive for one piece of photo. We went inside the souvenir stores, and I got myself a set of beautiful postcards of illustrated Seoul and Namsan Tower. I planned to frame those postcards to hang in my bedroom :))) After done looking around, we went back to Myeongdongthankfully the walk wasn't as bad as the first one going upto find something to eat. We settled in a restaurant and ordered 라볶이 Rabokki (Ramyeon + Tteokbokki) and a plate of 만두 Mandu (dumplings). Such delicious foods after that workout though.


Then we decided to visit some place nearby, and we chose 동대문 Dongdaemun, which is famous for the shopping. But since I don't know much about Dongdaemun, we ended up going to random places that says 'shopping' in it, but turns out differently from what we expected. Then we get inside this place called Migliore that sells all kinds of clothing. However, the prices are actually pretty expensive; because we can actually negotiate the price with the owner. The place was so crowded and cramped, and my energy was so low due to the Namsan hike. And to my eyes, all the stores look the same and sell similar things. After some time, we gave up on shopping, and decided to find 청계천 Cheonggyecheon Stream, which is very near to Dongdaemun. Well, we did a very stupid mistake and spent useless subway money to find this stream. It's very stupid so I won't explain it here, because it's quite embarrassing. To make long story short, we found the stream and decided to sit on the stairs. But since it's not dark yet, the lights are not on and we just get to enjoy the cool breeze. Basically we sit there just to rest our feet.

We were dead tired, so we decided to head back to the station near our hotel (at Seolleung station) and find dinner there. There are quite a lot of restaurants around the hotel, and finally decided to have a takeout at 바로 치킨 Baro Chicken. It was right about dinner time, and the place is full with people. Lots of people are enjoying their chicken with beer (the popular 치맥 Chicken+Maekju (beer)). We ordered the marinated one (양념 치킨) and bought drinks at the nearby mart. It was heavenly when we finally got inside our hotel room and changed into comfortable clothing. And it's Chicken Party while watching Korean TV shows. The chicken was so good, btw. I missed you, Baro Chicken ;( *The fourth day is super tiring, but I think it's still a good day in the end.

Day 5 (5 일) Thursday. October 23, 2014
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The 5th day is the day we moved to our hotel in 명동 Myeongdong, it's called Hotel Skypark III, and the place is perfect if you want to go shopping all night in Myeongdong. In the morning we asked our hotel to call us a cab to take us to Myeongdong. There's a bit of complication because the GPS took us to Hotel Skypark I instead of III; and I have to use my crazy-Korean-speaking skill with the driver (who's old and speaks no English). I searched the hotel with my Naver map and told him the hotel's phone number. After he called the hotel, everything was settled and we arrived safely. The hotel is a lot more modern than our previous one, but the TV channels are not as complete :( But this one has a bathtub, and we can finally relieve our feet in a hot bath.

When we're done settling our baggage in the room, we head out to the station and went to 이대 Ewha Women's University. And so far I think Ewha is THE place for shopping, especially for girls. Don't go to Dongdaemun, just go to Ewha. There are tons of cosmetic stores, all the brands you want to find, lots of clothing stores as welland many sells at cheap prices. My favorite store has got to be Artbox though, which sells all the cutest stuffs like stationary,etc. A bit like Classroom in Indonesia, but waayy cuter. We tried buying some cosmetics and several clothes here as well. We had lunch here too, but I kind of forgot the name of what we ate. Something that looked like curry. It was an underground restaurant, and some artists went to eat here too.


Our next destination is 홍대 Hongik University, another popular place for youngsters because it's near a University. We really have no idea where to go in Hongdae, because there are stores everywherebut some are pretty similar to what we saw in Ewha. And then we decided to visit the Trick Eye Museum, located in the area and we finally found it with the help of Hongdae map. If you didn't know already, the Trick Eye Museum is where you can take pictures with paintings that will look 3D in your photos. In the same building, there's also a Love Museumthat we didn't get into. When we're done going through the museum, we walked around the area and bought this really cute waffles on a stick (as shown in the previous image). There are many kinds and toppings for it, and the waffle itself is already so delicious. While we're at Hongdae, we also planned to visit STYLENANDA Flagship Store, because their biggest store is in here. It was quite a long walk because Hongdae area is hugee, but of course we made itthus the selca in front of the store above. However, we were pretty intimidated, because the people who visited the store are all fashionistas. Our main goal was to take a look at 3CE (3 Concept Eyes), which is STYLENANDA's line of cosmetics. I was so hyped up to try purchasing one or two items, but the price is really expensive for such a small packaging. The STYLENANDA's clothing are pretty expensive as well. So we just took advantage of the free STYLENANDA photobooth; and used it twice. It's free anyway ;p

I don't really remember what we did after that though. I think we came back to the hotel to put away our huge shopping bags, and then went to eat at Myeongdong (?). If I'm not mistaken, we went into this restaurant at the 3rd floor and ordered 비빔 냉면 Bibim-naengmyeon (spicy cold noodles). The waitress warned us it's going to be spicy, and we said it's okay. BUT when we finally ate it, it's not okay at all hahaha. It was super spicy, and the cold broth is not helping at all. However, people who enjoy spicy foods will say it's the charm of eating spicy stuffs. I really enjoy it anyway, it felt refreshing. After dinner we did walk a bit more around Myeongdong and finally got back to the hotel. Thinking about how we're going to fit all of our shopping in our luggage bag...

Day 6 (6 일) Friday. October 24, 2014

In the morning, we visited 남대문 시장 Namdaemun Market, which is located very closely to Myeongdong (it's only 1 stop by subway, but we found out we could actually walk there for like 5-10 minutes from Myeongdong). I guess we went there too early, so most of the owners are still preparing their stalls. Since we're quite hungry, we set off to find foodand there are many small alleys filled with small-sized local restaurants. We wanted to try eating 자장면 Jajangmyeon (black-bean noodles) and 탕수육 Tangsuyuk (sweet and sour pork), but the Chinese restaurant wasn't open yet at the time ;'( So we settled in a quite spacious restaurant, and ordered a plate of 김치 볶음밥 Kimchi Bokkeumbap (kimchi fried rice); that's super delicious btw. I don't know if it's because we're always hungry or not, but all the random restaurants we go into serves delicious foods. We walked around a bit more and purchased some stuffs, and decided to go visit the biggest station: 서울역 Seoul Station.

Seoul Station is only 1 stop away by subway from Hoehyeon station (where Namdaeumn Market is), so it's pretty close by. We walked for a bit and finally reached the grand station which is crowded with people. And there are so many male soldiers who are fulfilling their military service there, for what reason I don't know. It looks pretty similar to an airport with the high ceiling and people with luggage. Mostly because Seoul Station is not only a subway station, but also a station for KTX (Korean Train Express). Next to the station, there's also Lotte Department Store along with Lotte Mart, in which we take a look around for a while. In the late afternoon, we decided to return to Myeongdong and explore it a bit more.

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Upon arriving in Myeongdong, we wanted to chill out and chose a dessert cafe called 설빙 Seolbing: Korean Dessert Cafe. They serve many kinds of shaved ice and also 인절미토스트 Injeolmi Toast that we ordered. As you can see my picture above, it's like toasted bread but there are sticky rice cake in between the breads. The one we ordered is topped with honey and ice-cream. So delicious but extremely messy to eat ㅋㅋㅋ. Andd we also discovered Softree, which is a very popular ice-ceram place that sells soft ice-cream made from organic milk. You can choose various kinds of delicious toppings, and we chose liquid honey :3

Of course we then did some more shopping in Myeongdong, and we discovered a long line in front of MCM, with a bunch of bodyguards. Only later we found out that some EXO members were there for an event (!!!). However, we did get a glimpse of some Korean artists over at 신세계백화점 Shinsegae Department Store, that we passed by when we visited Namdaemun Market in the morning. There's an event called Vogue Fashion Night Out there, and a group of photographers were surrounding a photobooth spot for the guests. And we spotted 김형준 Kim Hyung-Joon from SS501, and also 고준희 Go Jun-Hee (actress/model). We saw some more people, but didn't recognize them. Even though we had to stand faraway, and was only able to see their heads, it was very fascinating to come across Korean celebrity even without plans.


For dinner we ate at 유가네 닭갈비 Yoogane Dalk-galbi, it's quite similar to what we ate on our first day at Nami Island. It was a very popular restaurant, and we found two of them in Myeongdong area. We ordered 2 portions of the dalk-galbi (marinated chicken), and it was cooked with vegetables. Delicious meal to wrap up the night. Finally, we head back to the hotel, and fill up our luggage bags to return home the next day. So sad to leave ;"((

Day 7 (7 일) Saturday. October 25, 2014

We didn't do much because since early morning we got ready and directly head to 인천국제공항 Incheon International Airport, because our flight to Denpasar was at 11:05AM. We checked out from the hotel at around 8:30AM (if I remember correctly), and even so we're still quite short of time. We even forgot to take our tax refund !! :'(( But we still had time to have lunch and fulfilled our goal to eat 자장면 Jajangmyeon, at the airport foodcourt. It was really good. And the in-flight lunch was really good too, we ordered the 불고기 Bulgogi, and they even prepared a pack of 김치 kimchi to eat with the rice. We transferred from Denpasar (and the walk from arrival to departure terminal is crazy long in that airport), and finally on the way to our home.


So as I said in Part 1, I'm going to share my experience about this trip and several tips for those of you who also want to visit South Korea.

My Experience & Tips 

My experience: Lots of walking can be tiring, especially if you're going back by subway, you have to find a station first; and after the exit you still have to walk more before you reach the destination.
Tip: If you have a low budget, subway is your friend. Because most of the places I went to cost the same, whether it's far or close by. Most places costs 1650 won/person. But, before going to South Korea, prepare yourself with apps like Jihachul (iOS | Android) because it helps keep track how many stops you have to go to reach your destination, or where to change lines. And if you walk around a lot, also download 네이버 지도 Naver Map app (iOS | Android), because it will help you find the closest station near you. You will also know which exit to take, because getting out the wrong exit can mean more walk. Purchasing the ticket is very easy, because the machine is also available in English; and the tickets are also refundable, it will return 500 won in exchange for your ticket. The station itself can be confusing, so you can familiarize yourself with it before you go there by searching the internet.

However, if you're not worried about budget, you can just ride the taxi, which can take you anywhere comfortably, although there might be traffic. But keep in mind that you have to plan where you want to go beforehand. Write down the address/telephone number of your destinationwould be much better written in Hangeul, because they really depend on the GPS. In places with a lot of tourists like Myeongdong, there are also International Taxis with English speaking drivers.
My experience: The foods in all kinds of restaurants are very delicious, but most of the time they serve really big portions of food. And there are some things that thankfully I already found out before I was there.
Tip: Since it's only the two of us, and we couldn't eat much, we always order only one kind of food when we're at a restaurant. So we always share our food. However, if you're going in a bigger group of people, you can order more kinds and eat together.

Some things that I read online before I went there are:
1. Most of the restaurants have mineral water for free, and it's self-service so you have to get them yourself.
2. Spoon and chopsticks are usually already placed somewhere around the table; whether it's in a box on the table, or inside a drawer on the side of the table.
3. In most restaurants, you don't call the waiter for bill; you take your order receipt and directly pay at the cashier.
My experience: Several times we're quite lost and wanted to know the direction to go somewhere. There are several ways you can find it out.
Tip: 1. If you're in a place that's commonly visited by tourists, the easiest way is to find the Tourist Center. Like when we're at Dongdaemun and struggled to find Cheonggyecheon Stream, we asked the center and explained the way. Their English are also very good, so nothing to worry about.
2. Again, in tourist areas, there's a possibility of Tourist Police around. We discovered them at Namdaemun Market and also in Myeongdong. They usually stand in the center of the area, and are available in multiple languages: English, Mandarin, Japanese. They are very familiar with the area; and so when I asked the Tourist Police at Namdaemun market where I could find a Chinese Restaurant, he quickly explained the directions.
3. What about if it's not a common place for tourist? From what I did, I usually depend a lot on my Naver Map app, but it's not always dependable. So I used the survival phrases asking: 이거 어디에요? I-geo eo-di-e-yo? Where's this? whilst pointing at an address or something. I think we did this once when we're looking for a 삼겹살 samgyeopsal restaurant to a very kind ajusshi ♥

My experience: In places like Dongdaemun and several underground shopping center, you have to bargain or you'll spend tons of money for something that actually worth less.
Tip: If you still want to shop in those areas, familiarize yourself with how to say an amount of money in Korean, for example 만원 man-won is for 10,000 won, 이만오천원 i-man-o-cheon-won is for 25,000 won, etc. If you feel the price is too high, you can say discount-juseyo and mostly they will understand. You can also say 너무 비싸요 neomu-bissayo, which means 'It's too expensive'. Sometimes the seller will ask you then how much do you want, and that's where your Korean number skills comes handy. If you're lucky, they might give it to you in the price that you want. But we experienced getting cursed and told to get out by the seller because of the price we wanted ㅋㅋㅋ

On the other hand, if you want to play it safe, you can just go to places where you don't have to bargain/places with fixed price. And there are many places that displayed products that are on sale in front of their store. We like to look at the ones with ₩10,000 or ₩5,000 sign on the clothes.
My experience: Again, since it's just the two of us, we have to take selcas if we want to take a picture together; because I don't know the phrase to ask another person to help us take a picture...
Tip: A really simple tip for this is to bring a 셀카봉 Selcabong! Or it's widely called tongsis in Indonesia. If you don't have a selca stick, there are tons of stores that sell them in South Korea. So don't worry. And you don't have to feel embarrassed, because even older couples also take selcas with selcabong in Seoul.
My experience: We were so thankful for our second hotel, Skypark III, which was located right in front of Myeondong Subway Station Exit 9. It was the best decision of our trip.
Tip: This might not be that important if you're going to travel around Seoul by taxi, but it's extremely helpful if you're traveling by subway. So my suggestion if you want to come to South Korea is pick a hotel with a strategic place. Agoda provides information about the closest station, and how far you have to walk from that station; as well as the map so you can see the detail. However, hotels with strategic place can possibly cost higher. So in the end it's up to your choice ;))
My experience: During our 7-day trip, the Korean that I studied by myself from the internet and watching K-dramas became extremely useful. Even though my grammar wasn't perfect, at least the people I'm talking to understand what I'm trying to say. (And I guess I always talk informally to everyone, despite their age).
Tip: Not everyone in Korea speaks fluent English. And being able to read Hangeul is also pretty useful, especially when using Naver Map app, which is written in Hangeul. I would suggest knowing a little bit of Korean, or you can bring a travel dictionary with youthat consists of essential travel phrases. But if you're only going to places like Myeongdong, you don't have to worry because they're used to having tourists around.

I guess that is all I can say for now. I might actually planned to write more things, but forgot along the way. So I might edit and add some more if my memories come back. But if you have questions about my trip, feel free to write in the comments below. I'll do my best to answer, and I hope it'll be helpful for those of you who want to visit South Korea ;)) Overall, it was an extremely fun getaway, even though we were exhausted. But now thinking back, I still can't move on from that amazing trip. Really want to come back to South Korea again. 다시 돌아가고 싶다~.

안녕~!


by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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