Seoul Backpacking 2011 – Places (Part III)

Annyeonghaseyo..

Ahhhh.. fourth write up and I hope you will not be bored with my writing. I wish I could write better, in a more interesting way but I think this is the best that I can do. To those who are ‘waiting’ for the updates, thank you so much. It means a lot to know that somebody is actually reading my posts. 🙂

Someone actually commented on my recent post and told me that she’s gonna fly to Korea tonight. What’s more, she’s going to Jeju too, not just Seoul and Busan. And she will be in Korea for TEN days! Ahhhhh, Min darling, I envy you so much. If you’re reading this know that I envy you (in a good way – lol) and I hope that you will have the time of your life there. And thanks for ‘stalking’ me. Hehe.

Let’s get on with what I promised in the previous post, shall we?

Apgujeong, Gangnam

Apgujeong is the center of everything high-class in my opinion. And I guess most Koreans share the same thoughts. Apgujeong is not the best place to shop, as prices of goods are slightly higher here. But if you’re a Kpop addict, this place is a must.

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Busy Gangnam area, where Apgujeong is located

Why? Because this is where most celebrities spend their times at, but I’m sad to inform you that I’ve been here twice and not once have I even encountered any celebrities. LOL. Here, you can find most of shops or galleries that belonged to celebrities. I don’t know why they chose to open the shops here, perhaps because it’s more ‘classy’?

I met my sister Oggy in Gangnam and we had a finger-licking good lunch with her foster father (I will write more about this in the next entry on food). After we had filled our bellies till they were about to burst, we started our quest to look for celebrities shops. Walking all the way to Apgujeong is possible but as always, we learned it the hard way. “Near”, “close”, “just 5 minutes walk” mean very different in my dictionary, unlike the locals. 5 or 7 or 10 minutes walk up and down the hill is no joke.

Tired, but I enjoyed the company. Meeting Oggy was fun and she helped A LOT in searching for the places that are in my friend’s itinerary. The first place we found was JYJ Micky Yoochun’s Timeout Gelato outlet. First, you could see lots of Yoochun’s photos (what else?) and also lots of gifts from fans. And the gelato (ice cream)?? SUPER DUPER DELICIOUS!! There were a lot of flavors and I think the one I liked the most was “Snickers”. It REALLY taste like Snickers bar!! LOL

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Full house and people actually had to wait to sit down!

After finishing the gelatos, we head out to seek more outlets. With the help of Oggy’s iPad, we found Shinhwa’s Kyochon fried chicken outlet. We couldn’t get in though since we were not planning on eating there (you need to purchase something in order to sit down and leisurely take photos). The fried chicken was obviously non-halal, but even if it was we were too full to eat anyway.

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KyoChon Fried Chicken from outside. I could only see Dongwan

“Mission Kyochon” failed,okay half-failed, so we continued on with our journey. Oggy had to leave for Incheon so we said our goodbyes after getting off the bus (yes, bus! not subway!). Next up was to meet Saturn, who is living in that area. I was so excited to finally meet the SUPER BOICE and I know lots of Boice in my Twitter timeline wished they had the same opportunity too.

Saturn Onnie picked us up and drove us around Gangnam. She took us to Cafe Manolin that belongs to Goo Hye Sun (or her sister?). It was almost impossible (at least to me) to find the cafe if it was not for Saturn Onnie. Even she was amazed that my friend found out about that cafe when she, who is living very near to it, has no idea who it belongs to. LOL. (I will share info on this Cafe in a speacial post on Cafes).

So yeah, foreign fans do go to the extremes when it comes to digging stuff related to Kpop. I can almost literally imagine what Koreans felt when foreign fans’ knowledge about places in Korea surpass theirs. orz OTL orz

Hongdae

People have been talking a lot about how famous Hongdae area is. How ‘hip and happening’ this place is. So, on Sunday me and Shambie head out early to visit the area. The verdict? Hongdae is a DEAD place. Haha. The fault is 100% on our side.

Never, ever go to Hongdae in early morning (11 am is considered early in this place!) What’s even worse, don’t ever go to Hongdae in early morning, on SUNDAY. The place is as quiet as a cemetery at that time. Shops, galleries and any outlets here are either closed on Sundays or open VERY late.

Hongdae stands for Hongik Daehakkyo (meaning Hongik University). The area is big like any other place, and it’s very much alive especially from midnight onward. It’s supposed to be a place where indie bands and performers do their thing but at night, this place is so noisy with clubs, bars et cetera.

One of my wish is to actually watch people basking during the day, but we came on the wrong day, and the wrong time so I guess Hongdae should be in my itinerary the next time I come to Korea (wonder when that would be).

After taking the wrong exit from Hongdae station, me and Shambie had to walk further to find the one and only place we were interested to in Hongdae, Coffee Prince Cafe. Thanks to one blessed soul, he showed us the way and we managed to find the cafe. Thank you Oppa, whoever you are!

We arrived in front of the cafe slightly before noon and it was still closed and no one seemed to be around. Had we went there a bit later, we would have been able to go into the cafe and imagine Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye in it. LOL. Ahhh, either way were already satisfied. The plan to have brunch in Coffee Prince Cafe had to be cancelled.

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Still closed. But happy enough to find it

So after a little rest and some cam-whoring, we head out to our favorite place (read: Family Mart) to get our tummy filled. Bought myself a Kim Tak Gu bread and Starbucks coffee. We planned to visit the 3D Museum and Cat Cafe, but neither seems to be opened (and TBH we don’t really know where to find them -lmao) so as our ‘theme’ of the trip is FREE and EASY, we went to the nearest subway and went back to Myeongdong. Take a rest in the room for a while and head out for Namsan Tower in the afternoon.

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Kim Tak Gu bread and Starbucks latte

N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)

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N Seoul Tower .. a must..

A trip to Namsan Tower is a must!! There I’ve said it. Perhaps it’s the most rewarding and interesting place Shambie and I had visited all throughout our trip this time. Just make sure you reach the top before or at 3pm.

Reason being, there’s always a traditional martial arts performance at that time and you can experience that with your own eyes. The traditional martial arts show are performed everyday except Monday. Make sure to watch it. I enjoyed it so much!

Going to the tower is rather easy. If you’re staying at Namsan Guest House just walk up the hilly alley until you find the cable car station. We arrived there at around 2pm and the queue was VERRRRRRYYYY long! And then it hit us, it was Sunday so of course, even the locals are out enjoying their weekend. But the wait was totally worth it. We arrived at the top at exactly 3pm and managed to watch the show.

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View from the cable car going up Namsan

There’s a Teddy Bear Museum on top too. We did not go in though, but I thought it’s kind of interesting too. Check out the N Seoul Tower gift shop and you can find some cheap souvenirs to give to your family or friends back home. But not all are low in price. 🙂

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These cute fridge magnets cost 1,000 won for 3 pieces!

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If you look carefully you can find affordable souvenirs

A visit to N Seoul Tower is not complete if you don’t visit the “Love Keys/Padlocks” area. It was featured in some drama or movie and it’s a fun site to watch. I managed to “stole” one key and wrote my ‘love’ hope on it. LOL. Why do people put padlocks here? It’s so that their hearts will be “locked” to each other and that their love will last. Hehe. IDK to what extent this belief is true. The most important thing is what you really feel inside.

Symbol of Love?

Happy on the outside, BURNING on the inside. LOL

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You will find this at the Love Key area

Korean Martial Arts Performance @ N Seoul Tower

{ Food. Coffee Houses. Universities}

– coming soon-

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Seoul Backpacking 2011 – Places

Good day everyone.

I hope my recent post had been of help to those thinking of going to South Korea. Actually there are still a lot more to tell you, but as I only relied on my memory to write, I was bound to leave out a few stuff that I planned to write or tell to the readers.

So my next post(s) will not be really organized, as I will just write what comes to my mind. Plus, writing a day-by-day post doesn’t really fit me because by the third day in Korea, me and my friends already “split” and we went our separate ways. That left me with my BFF, Shambie, and both of us really took our own sweet time in Seoul. LOL. Namsan Guest House was not a GUEST HOUSE to us anymore, it felt like HOME. Hehe.

Namsan 2 Guest House

It’s our HOME for four days in Seoul. And we even lazed around the guest house AFTER we checked out. LOL. The staff are helpful and very friendly, though their English might sound a bit harsh. Kkkk. I think it’s unintentional, since I know I would sound harsh too when I speak in Hangugo (Korean language). So, staff-wise, no problem at all.

The room? Ahhh, too bad I didn’t take any photo of my room (I stayed on the top floor, Twin B room), it’s a room for two. Not that spacious, but big enough for two. The shower’s nice, and there’s a flat screen TV with HUNDREDS of channels to choose from. But most of the time we would be too tired to even watch the TV shows.

There’s a computer for public use in the kitchen, and you can use everything there too. Refrigerator, gas stove, microwave, washing machine et cetera. Breakfast is prepared, around 8 am everyday. Ahjumma will prepare coffee, but you’ll need to toast your bread yourself. Hehe.

WiFi is available too. The speed is not that fast, and sometimes you’ll lose the connection all of a sudden, but speed-wise, surely it’s much faster than Malaysia’s. LOL

Me and my friends left our big luggage at the guest house for the 3 days we went to Busan. The luggage were “kept” just outside the office (which is NOT in a store room or anything) but as we had no choice, we left them there. Thank god, nothing’s missing. 🙂

So, if you ask me which place to stay, Namsan Guest House is totally recommended! Just make sure you choose, Namsan 2, not Namsan 1. The latter is wayyyyyy uphill and I don’t think I can survive climbing up the hilly alley everyday. Kkk

Myeongdong

Perhaps the place where I’ve been to the most! LOL Mainly because it’s just across the guest house and it’s a shopping haven for me. But to be honest, I didn’t shop that much even though I got the chance to. I’m not that into Kpop unlike the first time I was in Korea. Hehe. I guess people do grow up. LMAO

I just love being here, amidst the ocean of people (and couples holding hands – urghh). Most of the time you will be lured with freebies from all the cosmetic shops and in the end you’ll end up buying something. Being in Myeongdong multiple times during this trip, I learned NOT TO MAKE EYE CONTACTS with those promoters. Hahaha. Once, I even grabbed the freebies and walked away. Poor promoter she was dumbstrucked.

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Shopped here A LOT coz I'm CNBLUE-biased!

What to do in Myeongdong? Hrmmmmm… A LOT. Mostly required money (read: shopping) but if you know your way around, you’ll find good deals here. Lots of cosmetic shops like Holika Holika (CNBLUE+Kim Minji), Etude House (Sandara Park), Nature Republic (JYJ), Tony Moly (Song Joongki) are in Myeongdong, so if you missed one, don’t worry. You’ll find other outlets within a few hundred meters.

If you’re a Super Junior and/or Girls Generation fan, be sure to visit SPAO. The price of the garments here are quite reasonable, though the sizes are a bit smaller than Malaysian. Just ahead of SPAO, you’ll find Uniqlo, the brand Big Bang endorsed. It’s a 4 or 5-floor shop, with no escalator, unlike SPAO. Hehe. Both were having sales when I was there. So, my dad now owns a SPAO t-shirt. LOL

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SPAO tee for daddy

You’ll find clothes (blouse,cardigans) at the average price of 10,000 – 15,000 won in Korea. And if you buy well known brands like SPAO or Uniqlo, the price might be doubled (though the satisfaction is indescribable). But my personal favorite in Myeongdong is clothes from Cordi Factory (actually I’m not sure of the name.. but it’s Cordi something..), so sorry I forgot the real and correct name of the outlet.  The price of the clothes here vary, starting from 3,000 won and they are of good quality too.

How to find the shop? First look for SPAO (you won’t miss it), then go into the alley opposite SPAO. There are lots of shops selling bags for 10,000 each on your right, and Cordi Factory is the third or fourth shop on your left. Sorry if  my info is inaccurate, if you ever found this shop, please let me know of the details. I was too engrossed looking at the cheap clothes (and buying them) I forgot to jot down the details. LOL

Namdaemun

Namdaemun

credit: Michael McDonough

I love this place. I know my mom will love it too if she ever comes here. This is where you should be buying all your souvenirs to be brought home (okay, either here or Dongdaemun). Like Myeongdong, Namdaemun Market is HUGE. You can find almost everything here.

There are a number of gates into this market, but the easiest for me to get is from exit 2 of Myeongdong subway. Once you got out from exit 2, you will see Shinsegae shopping complex and cross the street to go to Namdaemun just behind it. Or was it beside? LOL. Either way you won’t miss Namdaemun.

Our sole quest for the day was to look for authentic Korean brooches for our moms and aunts and colleagues back home. So Shambie and I head out to Namdaemun in search of that. But my oh my we underestimated the size of this market so after about two hours we finally found the brooch shops.

And luck was on our side, thankfully, as we met the same seller that we bought the brooch from last year. We met Benny, and I told him I remembered him going to our tour guide’s room in Gangnam selling brooches March last year. He was shocked, but happy that we actually remembered him, so without asking, hello D-I-S-C-O-U-N-T!! Hehehe.

He brought us to his mother’s shop and hers were even more beautiful!! Me and Shambie actually had to stop looking as each new box she showed us, we were like, “O.o.. pretty!! Kyaaa!! So nice!! Omo, the color!! Aaaaa…” We ended up buying more than we did at Benny’s stall. Haishhh, he’s one helluva good businessman I tell you. LOL

Benny speaks good English too. I have his contact number and email, so if you need them, just let me know. Mention my name <Fizzy> from Malaysia, and ask him if he could give you more discounts. Hehehe.

And oh, in Namdaemun we managed to eat Kebab too!! It’s sold by a Muslim. He’s a Pakistani if I’m not mistaken. The small kebab stall is situated outside the market, it’s one of the many stalls near the main road. If you hear Al-Quran recitals then you’re not far from the stall. Again, I can’t give you the exact location of this stall. We found it by luck too, after being ‘lost’ looking for the brooch shops. Hehe. But to finally be eating chicken meat, we were so satisfied. Burpppp.

You can buy “I Love Korea” t-shirts here too. But don’t quickly buy at the first shop you found. Look around first. My friend got it for 10,000 per piece, while others (that I met at the guest house), got 3 pieces of the shirts for the same price.

In my opinion, you need to spend at least one whole day here. There are just so much things to do,look at, and finally buy. I didn’t get a chance to visit here last year, that’s why I made sure Namdaemun is in my itinerary. It should be in  yours too.

-part 2 coming soon-