AndromedHa

Korea trip – day 2

Posted on: May 23, 2011

Apparently, me and my boyfriend were too excited about the holiday 😛 We planned to go to bed early, so that we could get up very early (like maybe 6 am) and started exploring early in the morning. In fact, we woke up almost 8 o’clock hahaha… I set my alarm but forgot to change the time zone, so my phone was still in Singapore time 😛

When we got back to the hotel the night before, we noticed that the hotel provided free shuttle to Insadong & Namsan area. Since we planned to go to Namsan, we registered ourselves for the shuttle. So, it worths to check any free services in your hotel since they usually do have something. Fortunately enough, we didn’t miss the shuttle and had about an hour to have breakfast. For the breakfast, we walked around Myeongdong area behind our hotel and found a restaurant that was pretty crowded. Since most of the customers ordered a bowl of porridge, we ordered the same. And yes, it came with kimchi and it was tasty! Learning from previous traveling by ordering too much food, we already decided that we were going to order only one meal item and shared it, except in the case where we were really hungry or the food was really good 😛

 

The brunch: chicken porridge with kimchi; Cool resto display

N SEOUL TOWER at Namsan.
The reason I wanted to go to Namsan because it was recommended by my boyfriend’s friend who we met the day before. She said since it was Cherry Blossom time, it would be a great idea to enjoy the view at Namsan. Moreover, it wasn’t that far from our hotel. During my research about N Seoul Tower,  Korea Toursim website gave a lot of useful information on how to get there by subway and a bit walking up the mountain to get to the cable car station. Since we took free shuttle from the bus, my worry was gone in a blink of my eyes 🙂 It took about 8-10 minutes drive from our hotel in Myeongdong to Namsan. Well, Namsan is only couple blocks North of Myeongdong. In fact, we could see the Tower from our hotel the night before when we window-shopped.

When we arrived at Namsan, the cable car was still closed (they open at 10 am). So, we crossed the street to check out an area by the stairs. Luckily, the stairs led us to a beautiful spot with the cherry trees and many colorful flowers blossoming at that time. Judge for yourself from my pictures below.

   

Namsan Cable Car; Cherry Blossom! VERY PRETTY!

After posing for pictures, we went down back to the cable car station. By that time, there were a bit line up already for the ticket. The round trip ticket was 6300 won. If you want to have a bit of exercise, you can walk up to the tower like many Koreans did when we were there. When we arrived at the top of the mountain, I immediately recognized the cable car and the vending machines like those in the Korean drama 🙂 There was also a booth where you can wear traditional Korea clothes (hanbok) for foreigners. There were a lot of elementary students with their teacher having field trip when we were there.

    

The view from cable car. The cherry blossom was very beautiful. ; The sign near cable car; Elementary students roaming the ‘guard’

N Seoul Tower

Namsan is famous for its Love Locks area. Many couples come here to hang a lock with their names on it and wish that their relationship would last forever. If you forget to bring your own lock, the gift shop nearby sells the locks and heart-shaped tag along with permanent marker that you can buy (well, obviously it is more expensive).

 

  

The famous Namsan Love Locks fence.; They even have locks tree!

The story behind love locks

When doing my research for tourist spots in Seoul, I had an idea to bring a small locks with my & my boyfriend names on it. I planned to hang the lock when we visited Namsan. At the same time, my boyfriend had his own ‘idea’. Long story short, from then on, he was no longer my boyfriend, BUT is now my fiance! 😀


He asked the ‘question’…. and… I said YES!

Another exciting part of visiting Namsan was the Teddy Bear Museum! Bear is obviously a special animal for Koreans. They believe that their ancestor was once a bear. If you don’t want to visit the museum, there is a teddy bear gift shop near the locket area. The ticket for Teddy Bear Museum is 8000 won, but there is a combo of Museum & ticket to the observatory for 12000 won. The observatory is at the top of the tower where you can see Seoul skyline. There are also restaurant at the top, but I guess they’re kinda pricey since they’re fine dining restaurant. Since we had limited time, we decided to visit the teddy bear museum only. The museum itself is on the basement level. There are 2 parts of the museum. Part one is the Korea in the past, i.e. the story of Korean ancestor, Jaeson dynasty, building the Gyeongbok palace, etc. The second part is the present Korea, i.e. the b-boy, Nanta show, the drama culture, etc. The teddy bear plushies were SUPER cute! I wish I had them all in my house (as if they would fit hahaha…).

TIPS (if you want to go to N Seoul Tower): Go there around 3-4 pm. Then you’ll have pretty good natural sunlight to take picture of the surrounding outdoor area (i.e. the sign, the tower from below). Then go to the observatory and/or teddy bear museum (let’s say about 1-2 hours). By the time you finish exploring them, if would be pretty dark outside. Then, go ahead and take another picture of the tower! Why? Because they lit the tower with different color of lights and it’s VERY pretty (and romantic if you visit there with your love one)!

    

Part 1: Korea in the past

  

Part 2: present Korea

We had a bit confusion on how to get down from Namsan to the main road. Luckily, I spotted some people waiting in the area beside the cable car station that looked like an elevator door. We checked it out and it was a some sort of slanted elevator that bring you down to the main road.

 

The slanted elevator to the main road.

JAESON DYNASTY ROYAL TOMB.
The next attraction was Royal Tomb of Jaeson Dynasty. Since it was a UNESCO World Heritage site, we were very interested to see it with our own eyes.The one that we visited was Seolleung and Jeongneung (“Seonjeongneung“). It is located south of Seoul near Seolleung Station. Obviously, it isn’t a favorite place for tourist since there was little sign of the place. So yeah, we got lost and had to walk 3 blocks around to get to the entrance. And yes, I got sunburn so bad 😦 The site itself is actually a park. It is quiet and serene even though it’s surrounded by tall office building and busy street. There are 2 tombs in this site. One tomb is for King Seolleung, 9th King Seongjong and another is for his queen, Queen Sohye.

   

The Royal Tomb.

Random thing: Cute mom & daughter toilet… 

COEX MALL.
So after got lost, we were a bit tired. According to my guide book, the royal tomb was not too far away from COEX Mall. YAY! So, my fiance suggested that we walked to the mall. But BIG mistake 😦 We had to walk 20 blocks away to get to the mall. We almost got lost since we entered from the back of the mall, because there was only small sign of the mall name. COEX mall is a large underground mall with Aquarium as its tourist attraction. However, we didn’t find that the mall was exciting ~ maybe we were tired to get lost twice. So, we just window shopped for a while and decided to go to Itaewon.

A glimpse of COEX Mall

ITAEWON.
Itaewon is an expats area where a lot of foreigners usually hang out and go to the pubs. Before walking down the strip, we stopped at French Baguette cafe near the station exit to feed our hungry stomach. The bread was good, but the cakes were super cute!

      

French Baguette’s cakes and dessert! SUPER CUTE!

With full stomach and recharged energy, we decided to explore the strip of Itaewon. There were a lot of branded stores, like Puma, Adidas, Calvin Klein, etc and also, a lot of small local shops selling T-shirt, hand bags, and souvenirs. We found out that the souvenirs here were cheap. The 3000 won bookmark that we bought from Namsan’s gift shop was only 2000 won here! Bummer…. Too bad, I already got 5 for my co-worker. The strip wasn’t too long, we explored both side of the strip in about one hour. Actually, if you have time, you can explore deeper to some areas with restaurant and probably have a good international meal there (like pasta or ribs).

    

Itaewon area.

  

Shoe repair stand that can be found pretty much in every corner of Seoul; Cute dog

Back to Myeongdong.
Tired, hungry, cranky. My fiance decided that we had to go back to hotel to check out the department store and had dinner around Myeongdong. By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was pretty late (I think it took us about an hour from Itaewon to Myeongdong by subway). Well, we only checked out Lotte Young Plaza and Avenue L. Since the department store closed at 9.30 pm, we decided to walk around Myeongdong strip – again.

Cool department store display! Love it!

  

Another street food; The side-restaurant tent just like in the drama

It was quite hard to find a restaurant that opened late around there. Plus, I really wanted to eat Jajangmyeon (black bean noodle) and couldn’t find it 😦 Finally, we settled to one restaurant since they had Bimbimbap. To our surprise, the restaurant also served baby octopus (Sannakji)- like the one in Andrew Zimmern program! After a little discussion, my fiance decided to order a plate (and I already warned him that I could only eat one tiny piece!). The baby octopus is a delicacy for Koreans. It is served while the octopus tentacles are still wiggling. Then you dip it into sesame oil to minimize the ‘suction effect’ of the tentacles in your mouth and if you prefer, you can dip it to red pepper sauce for flavor. Actually, I tried one tiniest tentacle and immediately chewed it as soon as it went to my mouth. It was actually pretty tasteless. Just for fun and experience! But I will remember this meal for the rest of my live for sure 😛 ! To finish our exciting meal, we ordered a bottle of soju. Its 18.5% alcohol content hit me directly and I admitted that I was a bit drunk. Luckily, our hotel was just a block away hahaha…. That night, we slept like babies due to the effect of soju but we managed to wake up early the next day to meet up with our tour group at Incheon airport.

     

Bimbimbap; Baby octopus tentacles (Sannakji); Soju

Cheers,
M.a.J

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