Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Seoul, Korea: Photo Diary

We arrived in Incheon around 11 pm local time.  Taking the airport express (from Incheon to the city area) takes about an hour. We got a T-pass (rechargable card) for convenience.

 Good thing our accommodation was just a few steps away from the train station. No fuss hostel, the bed is a bit stiff, but it's good enough for a good night sleep after a long trip.  The people were very accommodating and helpful.

For super late dinner that night, we were not picky and decided to hit Mc Donalds which is just a few blocks away.  Everyone got bulgogi burger but didn't taste the difference from the usual.  Too bad i was not able to try Lotteria, their local fastfood chain.

As soon as we got up, we're in search for breakfast.  HT hubbie was so excited and decided to go for an adventure as early as 10 am.  We went in to a local eatery owned by an old couple which were very accommodating and was able to understand a bit of mandarin.  Thanks to mom, who speaks mandarin, saved our lives! (LOL).  I wanted kimchi ramen but as soon as the lady owner heard me said that, she got ecstatic and brought me this big bowl of kimchi jigae (kimchi/veggie stew).  Thanks to the wide spread of banchan - a spread of side dishes which creates balance in every taste of the dish - my tastebuds kept intact.  It was a nice meal to start the day.

We walked around passing this rebuilt stream.  Locals even hang out here for a dip.

The colorful art (lower left) is showcased in a train station.

Insadong is the place to buy souvenirs!  Masks, metal chopsticks (HT couple were cheapos on not buying a set..sigh), artsy fans, ice cream man, coffee shops/cafe..you name it, they have it.

HT hubbie (lower middle) doing the Korean pose while having coffee break.

Check out that white-hairy thing in the middle (above)- it's kkul tarea - made of honey and malt.  The vendors were so friendly that it's difficult to miss them.  And how they made it stringy and hairy...it's magic! 
Add volume to hear how funny they were.
Gyeongbokgung Palace - there are 5 royal palaces in Seoul itself.  We decided to see only 1 of them due to our limited time.  It was huge!!! It was nice to walk around and watching the changing of royal guard ceremony was a once in a lifetime experience.  It was cool!  (make sure to check the schedule of the changing of royal guards ceremony)

Tosokchon -  was our lunch/dinner place choice.  It was smart printing out the korean name of this place, so we got directed quickly by the local. This place is famous for its chicken ginseng soup aka samgyetang.  The soup was thick and nice.  The chicken was tender and i wasn't expecting to much from it but man, it was delicious!  The chicken was stuffed with some sort of sticky rice.  HT hubbie pulled out the ginseng out of the chicken (tsk tsk playing with food).  We ordered roasted chicken as well but being Filipinos, we didn't like how healthy it looked like (not oily at all :D).  As usual, we got huge bowls of kimchi and veggies.

how to get there: Gyeongbokgung station - use Exit 3, go straight and you'll see popeye's and GS25 convenience store, the first block on your left is where tosokchon is.  Recommended by HT couple! :)

"Jun Pyo proposed his love to Jan Di" in Namsam Seoul Tower.  If you don't know them, i don't know them either haha.  I quoted this from my sister who's addicted to korean tv series.  It was a hit tv series called 'Boys over Flowers'.  Don't ask me about the title. 

And it didn't only happen in tv series, but locals really go up to this (it's a hike up even if you take the bus) peak, profess their love, write love poems and use padlocks to seal their love.  *cheesy*  I even saw a guy giving a bracelet to a lady who was in tears.  Aww...

My sister went to the Teddy bear museum also located in this area, while HT couple with groovy dad and cool mom got their glasses of beer. 

We were lucky to be at MyeongDong on Saturday night and it was so lively!  The bb creams shops are scattered everywhere.  While my sister shopped for all the creams she could find, her hungry-trotting sister hunts for food.  There are quite a number of street food that I wanted to try such as dried cuttlefish, sweet potato fries but my tummy gave up (all I can do was to look sniff).  So I only had the chance to try tteokbokki - rice cake with eggs braised in gochujang - a condiment made from glutinous rice, red chillis and soybean paste (wikipedia).   The texture is a bit weird at first bite, and dipping it in the sauce really gives its taste. 

HT couple will be back to Seoul for street food hunt..and nothing else!

The Royal tomb of Joseon dynasty - it was a pity that the tomb is difficult to see from afar.  And getting closer to it, you can only see the back view as there are barriers.  There were a few lines of history of the tombs.

The relatives or people who are connected to the said royalties still pays tribute to their ancestors by performing some rituals until this day.

Beef short ribs and pork short ribs  (galbi) were our last meal before we left Seoul.  Korea is known for their streaky meat so we made sure that we get our own share before we bid goodbye.  The beef ribs were good, the pork meat was ok.  In bbq places in Korea, we were always given a dip (see top right) consists of salt mixed with pepper and some soybean paste with chili sauce.  When the meat is ready to be eaten, you dip it in the sauce, place it in a leaf or lettuce, add some veggie from the banchan, wrap to secure it, and put everything in your mouth no matter how choking it can be.  You're not supposed to bite delicately! :)

We got this in restaurant Wangbijib. I had (again) the name of this place in korean with me, therefore it was easy to ask around.  Koreans are truly friendly.  They always tried helping us finding our way.  A local even walk with us, using his GPS to this restaurant.  Nice, isn't it?

Lastly, the request from my sister, is to stop by at Hello Kitty Cafe!  It took us half an hour to find it, whew!  The locals are not familiar with it as well.  I have to guess and look for someone who looks like she would know who Hello Kitty is.  I even brought out my artistic side by drawing a cat and HT hubbie meowing so they understand what we're looking for. 

Finally, we got there.  The place was pink!  Everything is decorated with hello kitty ribbons except it was not too clean.  It's like a fastfood chain that requests diners to clean before they go. The pastries and drinks were ok (i had green tea with frozen yogurt).  It was not cheap (the cake costs the same as a pork rib meal).  But to a fan like my sister, every cent and every second was worth it.
pat on HT wife's shoulder for planning this trip.

1.) the metro station of Seoul is pretty good.  Use it as much as you can when finding for places. 
2.) Jot down directions with landmarks : Get down at this station, then go to exit 3, then walk 500 m, if you see GS 25 convenience store, turn left.
3.) Those specific places like restaurants, etc, print out a picture or have their names in korean with you, then it's easier to get help from the locals.


  1. This is such an ultra super useful post :) thank u

    1. Thanks! Are you going to Korea soon? :)

  2. this is so cool! hope to visit Korea soon :D

    1. Make a target date, and for sure, it will happen!

  3. Another great post! Thanks for sharing Loraine. Love HT hubbie's cute pose and yours at the end (are you trying to do as Wong Fei Hung?). Myeong Dong looks so much fun and the food makes me salivate now. :D

    1. Thanks Ratna! Do i look like a jack-of-all-trade hero? :) Myeong Dong is so much fun especially Saturday night. Everyone was just smiling, laughing, having fun, shopping and eating! :)

  4. The food looks so yummy!!! I love the Korean pose too... The winner was the video, that Korean guys is so funny with the wwaaahh... hahahah :) Really nice post!