Monday, 13 May 2013

When in Seoul...

a traditional parade. @Korean Folk Village which is partly a themed park

...The subway will be your best friend. It will take you smoothly from Incheon Airport to the city (AREX, W3,900),  it will lead you to the scenic spots without getting stuck in the traffic and will bring you back to your hotel unscratched. Yes, Seoul has road congestion, in fact, its government offers incentives or discounts to those who do carpooling. This is also to lessen carbon emission. There are noise reduction walls installed in some residential areas as well to mitigate heavy roars. Their subways are buried down to 6th level under but amazingly it's no dead spot zone. Tickets can be bought in a vendo (with English texts) about W1,700 minimum fare with a returnable deposit of W500 up to you to claim on a separate machine. The interchanges are confusing a bit at the start, long walks, convenience stores present, fun stops.

show inside the Folk Village

cool leaves changing colors inside the Village

...It gets snowing heavily during winter so the best time would be Autumn or Spring unless one of your main objectives of visiting is skiing. Fall or Autumn has some chill and biting a little bit yet still the sun comes out naturally. Not yet time to bring out those fur coats nor stroll out in tees, couple of layers or a simple jacket would keep warm. Better keep those toes hidden too. It is of course the best time to see trees changing hues and it is all over the place. There's no dull and non-photogenic angle because the vivid colors around just bring all things to life, make you recall of the tele-novela scenes of Johnny and Jenny. There maybe some occasional rains but it's mostly fine weather.

more colors and hues @Namsangol

...Pick-out stays within the city center. The ranges vary from budget to splurge and all in proximity to a train station and 24/7 stands. We did choose Sunshine Guesthouse on a little alley from the main road (Family Mart close to the alley corner), few steps away from Jong-no 3 Sam Ga station and spent about a $100bucks for a 5-night stay. The guesthouse rate includes a decent breakfast. It's dining/family area is pretty much complete with useful stuff - toaster, microwave, TV, mini sofa, 2 PCs with internet, hot/cold water dispenser, utensils, piano, guitar, mini billiards/mini table tennis. Bread, butter, honey and brewing coffee on the house everyday. With a great location is a great and comfortable advantage. Restaurants are nearby, Insadong is a block close and not to mention the palaces are stones throw away.

Top - Changdeokgung; Bottom - Deoksugung at night

...Palaces will turn you back in time and have a better grasp of the Korean history. It's fascinating to learn that these jewels are situated inside the city. The closest to where we stayed is Jongmyo Shrine, about 15 minutes of walk, the oldest and most authentic of the Confucian royal shrines to have been preserved, is dedicated to the memorial services for the deceased kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dysnasty. From there, an Integrated Ticket of Palaces can be bought for only W10,000 valid within one month from purchase so there's no need to hurry to complete everything in one day. The tix already covers the rest of the other 4 Grand Palaces - Gyeongbokgung, the main and largest palace; Changdeokgung, also referred as East palace the most favored palace of many Joseon princes and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period; Changgyeonggung, originally the Summer Palace of the Goryeo Emperor, and Deoksugung, is a walled compound of palaces with buildings that are varying in construction, with some in Western Style where the National Museum of Art can be found and a forested garden. English tour guides are available in certain schedules at every palaces.

cuddly bears at the Teddy Bear Museum on top of N Tower

At the grounds of the elevated N Tower.
This is one and the same group of towers that in Macau, Tokyo, Canada and Germany

...Get fascinated with fascinating archi's like the ones in Namsangol Hanok village, N Tower, Korean Folk Village and theme parks like Lotte World, Olympic City and COEX. These sites can be accessed via subway plus either some walks or quick bus rides. Hanok village is an area of preserved traditional Korean houses with a wide cross-section of Joseon-era citizenry and activities, from royalty to commoners. There is also a section in the village where a huge constructed high-tech capsule sits housing all relevant Korean artifacts symbolizing or representing each era or time to keep alive and away from wear and tear for the future generation to see. N Tower on the other hand, with a peeking view from the village is an elevated area where an observatory awaits with a 360 degrees view of the city and an entertaining Teddy Bear museum.

KFC! I loved their wraps! No bap...

...Never end a day without a Korean burst in your palate. I have never eaten Kimchi here because it looks like mashed rotten cabbage in puke-like red sauce but I did in Korea without hesitation. It looked and tasted differently and fresh. It is one of the basic side dishes they serve everytime you order Pork bbq or those fried seafoods coated in egg. These two were our main choices almost the whole time. The pork bbq usually would come with lettuce wraps, bean paste, steamed rice and sliced garlic. We've had some fiery authentic Jampong, a humongous serving of chicken stew in glass noodles, a few street food, some cold noodles, bulgogi and Korean popsicles and ice cream always to cap it all. Though of course, our very Filipino taste buds still searched for something familiar so we've had KFC, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts and Paris Baguette in between. There are cooking tours/show as well being offered which we were not able to join but highly recommended when in Seoul.

Korean bbq set. Tofu soup and side dishes are fantastic

Top: overwheliming but tasty chicken stew with potatoes in a bed of glass noodles
Mid: egg-coated fried seafood. one of our faves
Bottom: authentic Jampong. bloody hot to the core!

...Invade Insadong and other shopping districts. Aside from good forex, the long stretch of Insadong is filled with anything Korea - food, clothing, souvenir pieces and beauty products. Shops like Face Shop, Misha and Innisfree are the local's front-liners for all kinds of facial and beauty regimens at jaw-dropping prices plus promotional bargains. Other finds like cameras, bags and accessories are eye-pleasers at Nandaemum Market. There's also Yongsan electronic market for all other electronic needs. I'm not much of a shopper so I quite have limited information on this.

way up to N tower grounds.
an electric bus dropped us off on a bus charging station before this ascend

...Most of all, just be cool and don't push too hard on your itinerary and compromise real fun. So what if you were not able to complete the Five Grand Palaces or not able to join the locals grab some beers on a make-shift bar on the street because it closes by midnight or failed to get into a Hanbok or the traditional Korean clothing? The experience itself of being surrounded with surprisingly pleasant locals is a wonderful moment and realization of a simpler and nothing fancy k-pop land.

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About Dee

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I was born and raised attune with nature, grew up from the countryside and a strong believer in endless possibilities. I am drawn to adrenaline rush and was never a girly kind but I dig chick flix and plays some music. I started this site during a 6-month distressing/long sojourning away from the corporate world. I gathered all the travels I went and translated them into words. I am not fond of sharing details of my trip and thought looking at the photos I've effort-fully taken was enough. Yet to my amazement reading through it flashes back more wonderful memories like a gush of throwback Thursdays. This is also a good venue to practice writing and to connect. So, thank you for stumbling upon my corner. Sorry I can't update regularly but I hope you'd visit again as my journey continues, find some useful information here and most of all be inspired to go on adventures your own. See you on the road!