I have never had the thought of going to South Korea as I am the type who do not know how to appreciate Korean cuisine. Main reason being, there is nothing fantastic about Korean cooking in my opinion as the food are being prepared in the least interesting manner without much variations. Typically, food are being poured onto a hotpot and you just eat it thereafter. There is not much effort put in to whip out a delicacy meal unlike other types of cuisine which I had.
My daughter was having a 4 month overseas study attachment in Busan, South Korea from Sep 2016 to Dec 2016. As I have not seen her for the last 4 months, parents being parents, naturally will have the yearn to see her and at the same time, with the intention to help her bring back some of her barang barang.
So the thought of spending my New Year for 2017 in Seoul, South Korea got stirred up in my mind. Guess this is the most convincing opportunity for me to visit South Korea. 😉
I took a red-eyed flight on Korean Airlines (arrived Incheon Airport around 8.40am) so that I could have the rest of the day free to explore the city.
I stayed at the Ramada Hotel & Suites Seoul Namdaemun which is within walking distance to Seoul Station.
I arranged to meet up my daughter at the Seoul Station and we met up after waiting anxiously for her turn up. Upon seeing here, I gave her the tightest big-bear hug ever. Thereafter, we proceeded to get a quick bite before heading to her airbnb to help her packed her stuff, shift it to our hotel so that she could stay with us.
I had my first meal at a local food court inside Seoul Station and I ordered their Kimchi Ramen which is something familiar to me which I can easily identify with. Their ramen texture tasted really different from the noodle texture back home. The noodles there was so springy and it tasted good. That helps to set my mind at ease to continue exploring other type of Korean food.
In the night, I visited Myeongdong night market (similar to Shihlin night market in Taiwan) and had a good time snacking on their street foods.
I liked their Daifuku the most, it was prepared freshly, literally 现做现卖现吃。The strawberry was so sweet that I couldn’t resist but buy a box back to hotel to satisfy my desire craving.
We started early on Day 2 and decided to spend the entire day at the Paju Premium Outlet.
How to get to the Paju Premium Outlet?
You need to take a train to Hapjeong Subway Station and take the Exit 2 after alighting. Then take Bus 2200 (bus journey about an hour) and get off at the Paju Premium Outlet Back Gate Bus Stop. The outlet is located 600m from the bus stop.
For lunch, I ordered the Curry Katsu with udon bento set and the Tonkatsu Ramen bento set while at the outlet mall so that I can continue shopping to my heart’s content for the rest of the afternoon.
Time passes with a blink of an eye when you are having fun. I arrived back at Seoul Station and had a bowl of Bingsu at a dessert stall inside Seoul Station before walking back to my hotel with the day’s loots.
Koreans simply love fried chickens and there are so many different types of variations which you can find here. Just next to the hotel, there was this small eatery shop called Kkanbu Chicken where they served fried chickens. I decided to try their Kkanbu fried chicken for supper. I must say, their fried chickens are really tasty and finger licking good not to mention their crispy fries that comes along with it. Word of advice, the portion is really big and you need 2 or more helpers to help you with it.
There are 5 Grand Palaces in Seoul, namely : Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace and Changyeongung Palace.
I decided to start Day 3 morning by visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace as it was the main and royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. I managed to catch a glimpse of the beautiful frozen lake view.
Well, the palaces are all about the same just like the 故宫 and 紫禁城 in 北京 (Forbidden City in Beijing). This is one of those checklist item in the travelogue that needs to be checked off.
After the palace visit, I went on to explore other parts of the city, went to SM Town in COEX where the craze for all the K-Pops stuff is and also visited Insadong. Insadong Street is one of the most memorable attractions in Seoul and it represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. It is somewhat similar to old Kyoto in Japan.
There is this shop along the street of Insadong called O’sulloc Tea House (pronounced as “oh so lock”) which is a themed cafe that presents the authentic taste of Korean traditional tea. This tea house specialises in green tea, the cafe also offers a variety of juices, smoothies and ice cream, many of which are made with green tea as the main ingredient.
How to get there?
You can take a train, alight at Anguk Subway Station and use Exit 6 to lead you to the tea house.
I ordered their signature set comprising of a cup of green tea latte, a slice of green tea swissroll cake and a scoop of green tea ice cream. The set don’t come cheap and it cost about $24 (19,000 KRW). Believe me, it is so good that you need to experience it for yourself.
On Day 4, I visited the N Seoul Tower in Namsandong. Took a ropeway up to the tower and visit the observatory. Unfortunately, this morning weather was cloudy and hazy and thus not able to capture a clear view of Seoul city. I had many observatories in the night so this time round, thought it might be good to try a day visit to the tower instead.
While strolling downhill Namsandong, I chanced upon this restaurant specializes in Tonkatsu and ordered a super big portion of the Tonkatsu set lunch that comes with a piece of beef steak hamburger, a piece of pork cutlet and a piece of breaded dory fish fillet. Incidentally, this shop is also featured and recommended by Trip Advisor.
After lunch, I continued exploring Dongdaemum and Gangnam.
In Gangnam, there are also street foods for snacking. I saw this mobile van (快餐车) selling fish cakes dipped in soup, grilled chicken steak and Korean stir-fried rice cakes (Tteokbokki) and people are seen crowding the van to savour the snacks. How could I not be part of it? You bet, and there I am, queueing up for it next. 😁
At the end of another eventful day, I decided to go and have another round of Crispy fried chicken at Kkanbu Chicken again, one for the road before I depart Seoul back home the next day.
Day 5, it is time to pack up and prepare to head back home. As my flight is scheduled to depart at 7.30pm, I do not wish to spend too much time venturing far away. Thus, I decided to spend the rest of my day at Myeongdong since it is within 15 mins walk from my hotel.
There is this stall just beside Myeongdong subway station that sells delicious Manjoo with custard cream filling and you need to eat it warm when it is freshly made. You can’t miss this stall when you are out of the station as you will sight a long queue of people queueing to buy.
After happy belly, I wondered around the street of Myeongdong in the broad day light compared to my night visit on my first night to Seoul. I saw many cosmetics shop with brand names like Holika Holika, Tony Moly, Laneige, It’S Skin, Innisfree, Nature Republic, and many more others just to name a few. At least I am proud to say that I have a fairly good knowledge about ladies’ cosmetics. 😉
Interestingly, while strolling, I came across the Myeongdong Cathedral and know what, I attended the Mass conducted in Korean as it so happens that the Cathedral is holding their late morning Mass.
Decided to go for a late lunch before making my way back to the hotel. I had the Budaejigae (部队火锅) which is like a one dish meal and cooked in a hotpot.
At the hotel, I took the limousine bus directly at the hotel doorstep to Incheon Airport for my flight back home.
In Seoul, it is always advisable to stay in a hotel which the limousine bus stops at as this convenience will save you the hassle of lugging your luggages around.
Well, if you were to ask me what is my thought on visiting South Korea, I would say so far it has been a positive experience and guess what……. I will be travelling to South Korea again this year end for holiday again 😃
This time round, I will be spending my Christmas in Busan and New Year in Seoul. Till then, bye for now and Happy 2017!