Hello! This is the second part of the first day of my 5-day trip. Try saying that five times really, really fast.
I’ll start with where I leave off in my story-telling. After our short and quite tiring trip to Changgyeonggung Palace, we went back near our hostel and scouted for a good place to eat. Surprisingly, our walk back Sungkyungkwan area seemed shorter. We’re either really hungry that we decided to walk fast or we’re just a bit more familiar with the place.
My mother said she couldn’t eat too much and bought donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts. There are tons, LIKE TONS, of Dunkin Donuts in Seoul and the one near our place is three stories high. I guess it’s really popular in Korea? But nothing can beat Starbucks where the line extend to the streets! There sure are a lot of coffee shops in Korea. There’s one in almost every corner.
For our first meal, we chose this one dining place where we can grill beef and pork. Yep, our first meal’s samgyeopsal, and we were surprised that we spent more in the Philippines when we ate samgyeopsal. Maybe because we’re in Korea, or maybe because we’re really hungry, that’s why I enjoyed our samgyeopsal meal in Seoul by greater lengths. It was so good! We also ordered rice and were surprised that the rice looked different.
When you come to Korea, make sure to try their rice! I don’t know what rice it is but it’s so good! And for some reason, their service water was amazingly good, too. (Yes, you can go ahead and count the number of times I’ve said ‘good.’) Even before we ordered, they were already delivering side dishes! So when you eat in Korea and you don’t eat that much, make sure not to order too much because they’ll give you heaps of side dishes anyway.
After lunch, mommy and ate went back to the dorm while my father I looked for international calling cards. Roaming isn’t available in Korea (Hindi rin uso ang SIM card!), and my parents need to check on their business everyday. We passed so many convenience stores before we came across one Family Mart that sells the precious cards. We walked quite far but it’s okay! I got some time to explore the stores near Hyewa Station!
Korea is a shopping heaven, okay. I was (and still am) broke when we went to Korea and wasn’t able to do much shopping. But that didn’t stop me from ogling at the shoes lined in the streets. It’s not that expensive, too. Many pairs of flats and heels are worth W10,000 while most are just a bit more expensive. But still, you can’t help but pick one or two or three (or more) that suit your taste. The clothes are just amazing, too. The price ranges from W10,000-W30,000 and these aren’t in a shopping district! (W1,000 = 40PHP)
My heart also dropped a little when I saw this poster of Homin! Hey, I’d been waiting to take a photo with their standees ever since we landed. But they didn’t have any standee outside. /sob
When my father and I went back to the hostel, we saw my mother and sister sleeping quite peacefully. No amount of prodding could wake them up, and I started counting the precious time I spent doing nothing. I
was am a brat, I know. We barely had sleep, of course they were. Not everyone’s an energy bunny like me. Haha. I knew I should probably slept, too, but I was too afraid to oversleep.
Also, here’s a view from our room:
What is that Hello Kitty thingy doing there? Well, there was Helloy Kitty cafe was nearby. Heehee. I didn’t even know there’s a Hello Kitty cafe in Korea. So of course, we suddenly included that in our itinerary. Heh. Well, we didn’t really have an itinerary. I had a dummy itinerary but we ended up not following it all. Turned out we couldn’t move as fast I hoped. Haha.
When the sleepyheads finally woke up, I told them authoritatively (hehehe) that we could go to Insadong if they like. I checked at the map and it wasn’t that far. Besides, my sister mentioned that there’s somewhere we could fit Hanbok for only W4,000, and I searched online and only came up with Insadong for that activity.
I asked the hostel staff (not the good-looking one huhu this one’s an ajusshi) the way to Insadong and it turned out that it was just a couple of blocks away to Changgyeonggung Palace. He said it would only take us 15-20 minutes. LOLOLOL. Guess how many minutes it took us. Koreans and their crazy walking skills.
We walked long and far but it was worth it! Also, I think we were getting used to it by then.
Anyway, we passed by amazing sights! Everywhere you look, there’s just something to be admired. Maybe it’s because everything’s so clean and orderly? Or maybe because there’s a plant even outside buildings and pretty much anywhere. (Obviously, I won’t run out of praises). We also had to ask for directions quite a lot. We were only following a map after all, and we were newbies, okay.
Good thing the locals were really nice. That’s what’s amazing about them. They look serious but once you approach them, they offer a smile. Even when you don’t speak the same language, they make a way for you to understand them. They don’t turn you away when you ask for help. Not once did someone wave us away or turn a cold shoulder. So thank you for making it such a nice trip. 🙂
On our way to Insadong, we passed by Changdeokgung Palace! If you’ve been watching Rooftop Prince, it’s the one where Park Ha brought LeeGak and company on episode 2, and where they got arrested. Heh. It was so pretty outside! But since it was already closed, we didn’t enter. We also planned not to go back since we’re already planning on visiting another palace on another day.
Night comes quite late in Seoul. Well, later than in the Philippines anyway. So yes, when we arrived in Insadong, it was was already dark, and it was already aroung 8PM. So either the ajusshi in the hostel’s a really fast walker (most probably) or he got the time right. Ha.
I love Insadong! It’s the traditional market in Korea where they sell items that are most ideal for souvenirs. A lot of handmade and authentic traditional pieces are sold in Insadong but they were also commercial brands such as Face Shop, Etude House, Missha, and Nature Republic. Yes, these four cosmetic brands can be found in every street corner. No joke.
My sister also spotted the Miss Lee Cafe the YongSeo couple once dined in! I completely missed it and couldn’t even remember it. Ha. But it looked expensive so we didn’t even dare enter.
We looked for the Tourist Information Center because that’s where we could fit hanbok. We found it but it was already closed! They close at 6PM. It’s one of the saddest things ever. Ha! We decided to just tour around Insadong to not make our trip so worthless. There were so many things to see and so many things I wanted to buy. I did end up buying a lot, though. A satchel, two notebooks, a bookmark, two pairs of earrings, and a pair of socks. Heh. Only our first night and I went shopping already. But I couldn’t help it okay. Everything’s too cute and it brought out the impulsive shopper in me.
That night wouldn’t be complete without taking a photo with my boys, of course! I got a bit annoyed, though. When I was taking a photo with the YunHo-standee, two high school students walked by and said, “DongBangShinGi saranghe!” Then when I was done with my photo-op, my mother said the two girls approached the standee and fake-slapped YunHo. WHYYYYYY. I’ll just try to forget that memory. I don’t want to remember that there’s someone in the world who hates leader-sshi.
At this point, I was also so cold. I’m from a tropical country and I didn’t know how to handle that type of cold. My mediocre spring clothes weren’t prepared to handle that type of cold. I could barely walk and all I wanted was to eat dinner, go home, and sleep. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Nobody told me spring could be that cold.
But we couldn’t even find a place to eat! The stores were starting to close and most of the ones we passed were filled with people drinking. And I guess we just didn’t like that kind of atmosphere at that time? Because of our search for a restaurant, we reached the end of the street! At that point, we no longer know where we were. Ha! And we were hungry and we saw stalls selling streetfood. Well, you know what happens next. We bought odeng again since my mother hadn’t tried it yet.
I also bought the round candy called bbopki that seems to be made of sugar and sugar alone. Each candy has a shape on it and the trick is to eat the candy but leaving the shape untouched. I got a star so I tried hard not to ruin it. But with one bite from my father, the candy fell apart. Ha! Anyway, the ajusshi selling the candy didn’t teach me that. I just saw it online. I think DBSK ate it in one variety show? I don’t know. I know I just saw it somewhere.
And we still hadn’t eaten dinner.
When we saw KFC and an ad of their coffee outside, we immediately stepped in. EVERYTHING WAS PRICEY. I almost wanted to step out. They also didn’t have rice! By then, I realized that I had no more appetite and my only desire was to go home. I only drank coke, took a bite on the chicken and called it dinner. I like the chicken, though, and I now regret not eating more.
Getting home proved to be a challenge that night. We decided to just take a cab because we could no longer walk back. Insadong was a long street and the way from Insandong to our hostel was quite far, too. But getting a cab was harder! The cabs wouldn’t stop for anyone at all. I almost cried because I was so, so, so cold. Good thing a police officer approached us and flagged down a takshi (heh) for us. If it weren’t for him, we probably would never have gotten home. Surprisingly, we didn’t pay that much for the cab! And I love how the taxi driver didn’t ask for an additional charge or tip, unlike most taxi drivers I encounter, uhm, here.
It was a long and tiring day but I still couldn’t go to sleep once we got home. I was in charge of making an itinerary and that’s what I did right after getting home. I was happily abusing the wifi with no password protection. Haha. I miss that internet.