Posts Tagged ‘Seoul’

Seoul Take 2

I once again fulfilled my wish to visit South Korea this year.  Just like in April 2008 when I first settled my feet in this wonderful country, I was equally excited in this 2nd trip to Seoul.   There is something in me that feels I belong there =P

This year I stayed in another hotel but still within Jongno area.  Its a business hotel named Doulos Hotel.   This hotel is value for money.  The area is near  Cheongye and Jongno 3-Ga subway station.  In any future travel to Seoul I will readily opt for this hotel than New Seoul Hotel.  The location is great the rooms are just as good as New Seoul plus it has free breakfast buffet.  On top of it all, the hotel is 25 USD cheaper than New Seoul.

Doulos Hotel in Jongno Seoul

Doulos Hotel in Jongno Seoul

September was a good time to visit Seoul, the weather is perfect. The sun is shining but it isn’t hot.   Late afternoon winds will make you wear a light jacket or shawl.  Seoul still sparkles at night just like Hong Kong, you see a lot of people still hanging out.

Back to Jongno from Itaewon - The Green Line

Back to Jongno from Itaewon - The Green Line

Seoul is still as interesting as it was last year, i thought nothing has drastically changed until I took the subway.   I initially thought I am just trying to re-orient my self with the Seoul subway station as I was confused on how to secure tickets.   I learned that 3 months ago, the government has put in place an automated vending for subway tickets.   Close to Hong Kong MTR, only, card deposit for single journey can be refunded at any station through machine.  There are of course reloadable cards which makes sense for the Seoul residents but for tourist like me, the single journey tickets works perfectly fine.

DMZ Museum

DMZ Museum

As I am very interested in the Korean Culture and History,  i took the opportunity to join DMZ tour.  I was interested in taking the Panmunjom tour which actually allows you to get the closest possible contact with North Korea however, this tour requires 10 days reservation notice.  Nevertheless taking the DMZ tour is a great experience.    The first stop is in the DMZ museum where you can watch a short documentary on the history of DMZ which is of course connected to South and North Korean history.  I could not help but shed tears in one shot where the little boy who appears to be naked was crying pointing to his lifeless mother.  The war really created scars on people’s heart.   Across the museum is the entrance to the 3rd infiltration tunnel.  There are 3 other tunnels but these are not open to public for viewing.

Doorasan Observatory...sneak peak to North Korea.

Doorasan Observatory...sneak peak to North Korea.

Second stop of the DMZ tour is the Doorasan Observatory. According to our tourist guide this is the highest point within the DMZ area which makes the place highly coveted by both south and north.  It ended up to be part of South Korea’s area where they can readily check their brothers on the other side.

Awaiting for the unification...

Awaiting for the unification...

Third and the final stop is the Doorasan Train Station.  This station has been reconstructed after it got devastated  during the war in the 50’s.   This station is symbolic of the longing of the South Korean to re-unite with their brothers from the North.   Currently it carries raw materials to Kaesong province of North Korea, the place where  collaboration between North and South Korea happens in terms of productivity.

Authentic Bulgogi

Authentic Bulgogi

hefty side dishes present in all Korean Meal

hefty side dishes present in all Korean Meals

In this trip i had the most native Korean meals.  I tried all the popular dishes prepared authentically.  I had bulgogi (beef strips), bibimbap (mixed beef, rice, vegetables and pepperpaste),  samgyeopsal (pork grilled served with side dishes) and some street food.  It is also first time for me to eat in an authentic Korean restaurant where you eat seated on the floor.

Deoksung-gung - Palace opposite Seoul City Hall

Deoksung-gung - Palace opposite Seoul City Hall

Seoul is such a vast city to wander around.  The city center actually have 5 Palaces, two of which i was  able to visit 2008  and only 1 for this year.   This is the palace nearest to the City Hall called Deoksung-gung.   It never fails to captivate one’s attention as it is nestled in the busy streets of Seoul City Center.  It creates a perfect contrast to the modern city of Seoul.

I know there are still a lot of places to visit in Seoul and South Korea…so I am now starting to dream of my 3rd visit.

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Filled with Seoul

It’s been a day since I arrived from my 5-day vacation from Seoul, South Korea.  My mind is still filled with good things about Seoul.  My curiousity has been answered but I still want to go back…I am going back. 

Somethings that I was able to personally validate are:

  • The 아주마 (ajumas – old women/aunties fondly translated in English)  do have the same distinct look.  The permed hair, color coordinated tops (usually long sleeves) and pants, the seemingly tatooed eye brows and the golf cap.  They are everywhere. Spot the ajuma in this pic:

  • It’s okay to have couple’s outfit and stuff (exactly the same outfit and paired stuff like cellphone accessories, bag etc).  While we were in Seoul Tower, I have noticed a couple wearing the same pants, rubber shoes and shirt — and then I started noticing the other pairs who are coordinated.  When we are waiting for our flight back to Manila, there were at least 12 couples whom I suppose are going on honeymoon in the Philippines wearing couple’s outfit.  They will surely not miss their partner in a big crowd.
  • They are generous with their side dishes, they have a minimum of four and will replenish when requested or if they notice a dish is depleting.  Check this out.

  • They stroll in fashion.  It doesn’t matter if it’s uphill or just a market place.  I have not seen people from my country wearing coat and tie while strolling in a park.  I guess people in Seoul are just too fashionable. 

  • There are indeed very few who can speak English straight, they are eager to help but will end up leaving you, helpless when explaining.

I can still imagine the morning air and bright nights in Seoul. 

Palace in Seoul (서울에 궁)

Today we have visited three palace in Seoul.  It’s amazing that these structures have been well preserved by the Korean Government.  Most of the gates and the palace structures are restored and maintained for the viewing public.

This is the 장경궁 (Changgyeonggung or Changyeong Palace).  

 

On the otherside is the 경복궁 (Gyeongbokgung or Gyeongbok Palace, the last palace of the last korean dynasty.

the last palace of the korean monarchy

I had a little migraine so we had to go back to the hotel.  At 8pm we resumed our addiction to Seoul and visited the Seoul Tower.  We took a cab to the foot of the hill and then ride on their cable car.  The route was relatively shorter than the cable cars in Singapore, it seems that they only have two cars going back and forth with at least 20 passengers in it compared to the maximum of 6 in Singapore.  However Singapore’s has more cars available… the size is smaller though.

Cable car to Namsan Seoul Tower holds at least 20 pax

The scene at the Seoul Tower is magnificent, gives you an overall view of the city.  Since it is Saturday a lot of families and couples were there. 

Seoul Tower view at the foot of the hill

Surprisingly… on our way back to the hotel after having a very late dinner (in fact its almost Sunday April 20) we saw an ongoing shooting for… i have no idea what movie or drama is it but the setting is just at starbucks in joykolon  beside our hotel.   The guy is no less than Jo Hyeon Jae (조현재), the lead male star from the korean drama ‘Only You’

They are seated second row on top of Starbuck were Aligoti restaurant is.  This is the view of the restaurant outside,  after a very late dinner, it’s never to dark to spot a korean star.

shooting spot

I wish whom I saw is Wheesung 🙂