Just came back from Seoul; a much needed holiday from 17th to 23rd October 2019. Took me an entire day to organise all my photos; I must have taken a thousand pictures. While I still do not have the time to sit down and look through them clearly, I have at least gather them from both my phone and camera.
With all these new materials to work on, I thought I should get started as soon as possible while the memory is still fresh. This time, I would like to share them via multiple shorter posts rather than spending days writing on longer posts.
Incheon International Airport
On 17th October 2019, I landed in Incheon International Airport some time around 3 pm. Beautiful airport with free WIFI which does not require any extra logging in. Korea is known for its speedy WIFI and the WIFI certainly did not disappoint.
In no time, Constant Companion RR and I met up, cleared the Customs and left the airport with our luggage. We were advised by the lady at the airport information counter to reach our hotel, it would be more economical for us to take the Seoul Metro, especially since the traveling time would approximately be the same as taking cab. We heeded her advice.
Seoul Metropolitan Subway
After figuring out how to buy our tickets, we boarded the train and headed towards our hotel. I must say I got a bit confused by Seoul Metro at the beginning. In fact, throughout our trip, especially during the first few days, I fumbled and made a lot of mistakes which cost time and money.
One mistake I remember not-so-fondly, was where we found ourselves in one of those underground stations where there were two sets of gantries, each leading down to the platforms to board the trains heading opposite directions. After purchasing our tickets, I led Constant Companion RR through the gantries and walked down to the platform only to find that the train we wanted to board was on the opposite side, so we walked the entire length of the platform, thinking there must be a way for us to go over but there was none.
We went back up to the gantries and realised the only way was to tap out through the gantries and use the ones on the other side to access the correct platform. Of course, the moment we stepped out, our single-use tickets became invalid which means we needed to buy another pair of tickets. Just like that, we wasted at least 15 minutes of our time and some Korean won.
A few days later, we found out that we could have approached the train staff and be granted access through the gantries for wheelchairs. To be fair however, there was no staff around that night when we blundered.
Nothing really much to speak of about our hotel. We stayed in hotel ,”Shilla Stay Mapo”. It is sleek, clean and really close to the metro station. However, I must say there is nothing much going on in its immediate vicinity. The more popular areas are just a few stations away.
The hotel is really no-frills kind of hotel. Even human interaction with the staff was kept at a minimum during our stay. The only staff we constantly saw was those manning the main counter and I found them a little cold. A simple friendly greeting would be nice. Perhaps they were just too busy, always seem to be working on something with their heads down when we walked by, paying us no attention whatsoever.
First meal in Seoul, Korea
We arrived at Dongdaemun Market around 8 pm that night. Ready for our first taste of Seoul exploration and a local dinner, we wandered around the market. We chose a crowded restaurant (crowd is always a good indication when you have no idea about the food of an eatery) and it was a restaurant which serves nothing much chicken soup.
The ambient of the restaurant was very casual and rowdy with groups of people having chicken soup and beer. Choosing what to eat was a breeze since there was only chicken soup. Keeping it simple; after the entire afternoon of trying to figure things out in a foreign country, it is a blessing.
Our meal consisted of one whole chicken, slices of oyster mushrooms (which I never had because Constant Companion RR took them all), vegetables, rice cakes and noodles; all boiling in a pot of light chicken broth.
There were huge bottles of lightly salted soy-based (I think) sauce, readily available on each tables, which is the perfect condiment for everything. It was a pretty good first meal in Seoul.
After Dinner Evening Walk
Longing to stretch our legs after that hearty chicken dinner (as usual, I had a lot of eat because Constant Companion RR eats so little so it is up to me to finish the food), we decided walk to Myeongdong Shopping Street where we know for sure there will be something to see and experience this late in the evening.
Enroute to Myeongdong Shopping Street, we walked through Kwangjang Market. Most of the shops had already closed for the day, leaving only the eateries to serve the dinner crowd.
It provided me with some interesting photography opportunities.
Street Scene on the way to Myeongdong
It was the first night, both Constant Companion RR and I were still trying to get a feel of Seoul and chatting up. I did not spend too much time and effort taking pictures. By this point in time, we decided that Seoul is a great place to explore by foot.
Myeongdong Shopping Street
A little after 10pm, we arrived at Myeongdong. Everything was so loud and bustling with energy. The amount of shoppers was crazy and it felt like it was gradually growing as the night continued.
Constant Companion RR and I walked around a bit and decided Myeongdong Shopping Street was very similar to Taipei’s Xi Men Ding. Just like Xi Men Ding, it is the playground for young shoppers. We did not stay too long this trip, but we did come back at least 3 more times throughout our trip just to get the items we needed.
Calling it a day!
We got back to our hotel around 1130pm. Ended the night with some milk-flavoured soda and ice-cream sandwich while watching some television.