Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Seoul (Part 1)


Before heading the Seoul, I was really busy with finishing up commissioned works and personal projects I didn't have much time to plan what to do in Korea. The night before I was supposed to leave, I was still working on packing stuff to send to a client the next day but anyway, mid panicking before sleeping...I googled for blogs with itineraries and things to do in seoul. Some blogs that I chanced upon on google, their travel entries on what they did was mainly selfies and outfit of the daysssss which was really a lot. Also I found some that were soooo detailed to the point of which exit to take when exiting a station and which corner to turn to find a restaurant and to that I wonder, wow... this person must really be taking some serious notes wherever she goes. There were also blogs with downloadable pdfs and excel sheets on what to do on a day to day basis, which was all super hardcore. And there were some blogs with just out fits of the days, like "oh check me out under this street". I kid you not, their whole travel entry was just what they wore which I find quite pointless although I must say they really know how to dress up for the right tree and right lane. But some of their photos captured really nice locations and im like "WHERE IS THIS PLACE!" but the only information I have is "wearing xx brand, quote helloitsme for 10% discount, seoul is so nice!!". 

But thats fine I guess. Maybe people travel for different reasons. Some just want to take nice photos, some just want to eat, some shopping, some weirdos sit infront of places for hours to embroider. 

I like to think that when I travel, I collect memories...not data on whats good, whats not good, go here, dont go here. To me travelling is all about exploring different places, chancing upon places and little alleys and finding a random macaroni and cheese shop where they serve different flavoured mac and cheese and where their wifi password is 01234567mnc. But of course there are also very touristy things that we as tourists absolutely must do or must visit, so here I will compile a little bit of everything. Thoughts, words, some recommendations and photos of everything else.  

Singapore --> Seoul 

Passing time, taking turns to humour each other. 

Mr Papito and Ms Jolie. Characters born out of boredom on the plane. Ms Jolie is quite scandalous whilst Mr Papito just likes to work but hes also always very worried about the weather. So here you can see him looking out of the window again, wondering if its going to rain. Ms Jolie on the other hand is just dancing around and in the process, photo bombed this shot. 

Yeouido Park -->  Itaewon --> Bukchon Hanok Village --> Tongin Market --> Insa-dong

I felt a bit displaced the first day. Like everything is foreign and unfamiliar. I also kept thinking about food and making the perfect sushi when I come back home, but more on that next time. 

Yeouido Park 

 I brought my embroidery box along because I wanted to embroider the cherry blossom trees at the park. So excited I tell you. I've not seen cherry blossoms before and imagining a whole park filled with them...arheuhgruairawr, so embroidery worthy. But anyway so here are some images en route to Yeouido
*excited whisper* we're in seoul! * silent squeal* 

(there was a huge moth on the bus that was freaking me out big time but no one seems to care about its flapping presence) 
hello swans, bye swans. 

SO, at this point of time, I was like "wheres the pink" There aint no pink at all in the park. T_T (except we saw a small section of pink so we rushed there thinking maybe thats all thats left but it turned out to be fake trees.) It was such a lovely day, so F and I decided to just plonk our butts down onto the ground and just enjoy being present. Heres my favourite photo of him. 
I'd like to think I take quite nice photos of him haha, but look at the photo he took of me... 
Struggling in the wind
But nevertheless, even though there werent any cherry blossoms left when we arrived, a day in the park with dandelions flying everywhere, with the wind in our hair as we went about like curious excited kids and lying on the ground with the clear sky above...it was a great day, I wouldnt change anything about it. 

Btw koreans dress really well. 

I was checking out their dressing, like wow nice dress...and F would be like wow, nice bike. He likes Korea because people cycle a lot and they have good tastes in bicycles. He would literally walk past them and say "good job koreans!" Haahhahahahah. 


Itaewon is like the expat area of Seoul. On our first day here we were really craving some korean food but somehow all we saw in Itaewon were like Mexican food, Turkish food, Italian food etc etc etc... I was having a kimchi soup kinda craving but in the end we stumbled into some random mac and cheese shop in some random alley, I dont have the address sorry but if you want to find it...just tell yourself you dont want to find it and...you'll end up walking into it. Murphys law. Nah I'm kidding, I've included the address below. 

view from a hill 
random alley we walked into and found this glorious mac and cheese place
I kid you not. This was really nice. If it helps, the shop name is called MAC.N. Address: 
Yongsa-Gu, Itaewon-Dong 118-59 Seoul

But lets move on because its 548pm now and its gonna be dinner time and I want to finish this blogpost because I want to get to the part where we met a Mr Kang but that would probably be in Part 2. Ugh I hate parts, like you watch a nice movie and then BAM, to be continued in part 2. But this trip was quite long and I want to share as much as I can. 
But anyway so we found a korean restaurant here amongst the expat food places whoohoo. Korean bbq~~~ Pork belly and beef ribs. It was our first korean meal in seoul and it was gooooood. We ate till we were full and the entire meal only costed us about 35,000 won, which is about ....USD$35ish. 

Btw, do you know how much meat we can eat? In singapore, whenever we eat steak, we'd go for the 450g house cut steak EACH. And then we're still not full. Can you imagine, in korea where the bbq is so cheap, can you just imagine how much meat we ate? 
Also, completely random but just to add some atmosphere to the pictue...the table next to us consisted of 5 drunk aunties making a lot of noise and asking for round after round after round of soju + beer. I didnt take a picture but happy birthday to you birthday auntie. 

so photo of me because this is my blog.

Bukchon Hanok Village 

Hello kOreAaaAAAAA. Thank you for producing this amazing banana milk. 

We're here in Bukchon! Heres me pensively thinking about what I should eat for lunch. Anyway, before I came here I thought Bukchon was a place for tourist...like they created this village to show tourists how the past was like. Kinda like in a theme park kinda style, but when I was here...its REALLY a village, not the in the sense with the rivers and women bathing in the water and men fishing though. I really like it because over the years, it has integrated with the modern world and though the architecture of these houses remains mostly unchanged, there are new modern parts added and real people actually live in them. I thought they would be like fake actors and actresses in the traditional korean costumes parading around to give the kind of atmosphere, but its really not. Real people live there so there are a lot of signs that say "SHHhhhhh, be quiet" or something like that.

hello plants. Happy photosynthesizing. 
hello flower. Good job being orange. 

Temple on a hill 
ok so, story time!

After walking around Bukchon (its super tiring because you go up hill and down hill and repeat 290128x), we went to a cafe to rest for a bit. Ok, maybe not We, but I went to the cafe to rest for a bit because it was super hot outside and I was tired from walking so much. So I'm at this cafe minding my own business drinking my yuja tea and next to me was this chinese couple holding hands on the table, probably on a company trip because they were talking about how the company should have booked them bigger rooms etc etc etc.

man: the company should have booked us bigger rooms. They're really small dont you think.
woman: yes I agree, but we're travelling with a lot of other people so maybe this is the best they can provide.
*awkward silence whilsts both sip tea*
man: so...how long have you been with the company.
woman: about 2 years now, I started here only after my son was old enough to go to school.
man: you have a son!?
woman: yes i have a son. I have a picture if you want to see him.
man: no way! you look so young!
woman: *laughs and blushes*
man: he must look a lot like your husband. Whats he like?
woman: hes a nice guy. actually I think you know him, hes in the company too.

So...HOLY SHIT. I just overheard a whole affair happening. They were like holding hands and being intimate and all and then BAM! "I have a son." It was super awkward trust me. I stole some glances here and there to see their faces but maybe I read the whole situation wrongly... I tried thinking of alternatives, maybe my mandarin was not so good...but if you can come up with an alternative situation that does not involve cheating, I'll gladly take it.

Tongin Market

I know its completely irrelevant but everything I see this "Tongin" word, I keep thinking of tongues. So this is a market of tongues. Tonguing Market. A market where you tongue a lot.

This is a whole stretch of little stalls that sells food. There were people carrying these black plastic food trays around getting food from each stall, but we tried asking for them but they kept saying "no". So we must have missed something. Also, there were people giving gold coins in exchange for food, like gold coins stringed together with red string...like something you'd see from an ancient asian movie or something. But WHERE DID YOU GET THAT!? What secret world is this!?

So we didnt have the black trays OR the gold coins. But we have some good olfashion korean won that we used to purchase some food on plastic plates and styrofoam boards. Heres what went down. 

You'll see lots of stores selling these kinda food. Whats interesting to me isnt the food, but actually there was an old grandma sleeping inside the shop, just 2m away behind from all the hustle and bustle and from the frying of the oil.
This was really yummy. Tteokbokki its called. However after your 10th tteokbbokki, you'll proabably feel bored.

This, I dont know the official korean name, but its essentially nuts and raisins and dried salmon skin mixed together with honey or some sweet sauce. Yummy for a few mouths, and then bleagh...

Overall, Tongin Market was nice because
-local street food which was sometimes yummy
-solved the mystery of the black plastic plates


hello protesting man! I have no idea what the sign says because its in korean but using basic analytical and observation skills, maybe something to do with dogs and puppies and animal rights...
By the time we reached insadong, we were already SO tired. So was our wifi egg that kept dying too.

We explored the area a bit and went to this mall called Ssamziegil because based on my minimal research, its supposed to be a mall focused on craft and art.  But honestly, I didnt really enjoy it much other than the fact that we didnt have to climb stairs up because it was designed in a way that its just a slope going up and up and up and up until you decide that its a waste of time. But thats just me.

Food street!!
This guy loves his street food a lot. It feels cheap, but if you actually think about it...each snack is about USD$3, after walking down a row you'll probably would have spent like $20 or sth. But maybe thats just us, we eat a lot.

Thanks for reading!

Also before I forget, I remember sourcing around for information on wifi egg or sim card in seoul. If you're asking the same, I'd highly recommend (because a friend living in seoul also recommended) a wifi egg from KT Olleh. On the night before leaving, I went to their website to reserve a device, its about $7 a day but you get unlimited data!! That means you can use it to stream netflix or upload photos or blog or also more importantly google maps your way around. I paid online, and collected the device when we arrived in Seoul. They have a 24hr counter where you can pick the device up no matter what time you land.

Next stop : Jeju Island. 

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