Hi everyone, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve updated this blog because I was busy preparing for my Korea trip and pre-wedding photoshoot. Since everything is still fresh in my head, I shall resume writing the Aust trip posts after finishing the Korea post.
It is the 3rd time I’ve been in Korea and the first 2 times were with tour agencies so this time I was pretty nervous and excited. Nervous because of the communication barrier which I am going to face there. My Korean vocab is probably limited to the few phrases and words which I’ve always heard in Korean dramas and I can only read Korean words (no single clue on what they mean though). Well, fortunately for me since I know both English & Mandarin, communication seriously wasn’t a big issue especially for tourist attractions because most staff have been trained to be able to speak Mandarin. More often than not when you try to ask some questions, the first response you will get from them is “Do you speak Mandarin?”. Sorry for English only speakers because their command of English is pretty weak.
Okay enough with the intro. Let’s start with the trip proper. Upon reaching the airport, we went to collect our wifi egg. I’ve already reserved it long before the trip from KT/Olleh so all I had to do was to print the confirmation and head to their counter for collection. The telco counters are located outside the arrival gate on the right. All companies are next to each other. The collection process was smooth and one thing to note is that you have to use your credit card to pay a deposit KRW200,000 before you are able to get your hands on the egg. All instructions and password of the egg is inside the pouch which they will pass to you. As I rented it online, I was only charged for data/day and rental fee was waived. So in total of 10 days rental, I only had to pay for KRW50,000 on the last day when I returned the egg to them in the airport.
After which we were ready to depart for our hotel, Casaville Residences. The reason for choosing them? Because it was free (hahaha) the photoshoot package had given us 3 nights stay for free. The room is quite spacious and fret not if you will like to whip up supper in the middle of the night because they have stove and dishes there for you to use. We liked the place (not just because it was free) but more of the fact that it was situated in a very strategic location, Sinchon. Only one stop to Ehwa Women’s University and Hongdae. (If you would like to know more, can visit here)
As we were famished, we had our first meal at Lotteria which was right beside the hotel. I know, not a place that would be on the top of the list because it is fast food. We did not have a choice because we were at mercy of our growling tummies. Ordering food was a challenge as the staff wasn’t fluent in either English or Mandarin so hand language to the rescue! Bad choice because we did not manage to try out the popular mozarella burgers *sigh* The burger is relatively big and a interesting point is that their fizzy drinks are REALLY fizzy. No joke. Overall, we preferred the beef burger to the chicken because the latter was really dry and I had a hard time swallowing it with the fizzy cola. The mozarella sticks were amazing though.
Once we finished our lunch, we travelled to our first destination of the trip.. *drumroll* Yeouido Park!! We were so lucky to be in Seoul right when it was the peak blooming period of cherry blossoms. Look at those beautiful pink flowers!
However as it was the last day of the Yeouido Spring Flower Festival, the number of people there was crazy. It was practically impossible to take a selfie without being photobombed. Everywhere we walked, there were people holding their selfie sticks spamming the capture button. But still, it was a great experience to walk down these rows of pink trees.
After which we went for gown fitting for our pre-wedding photoshoot. At night we decided to travel to Hongdae as recommended by the pre-wedding photoshoot staff. We actually planned Insadong for that day but it made more sense for us to change to Hongdae instead because it is just one stop away from Sinchon.
Fish cakes & Chicken Galbi
Once we exited from the metro, we came across their street food which is frequently seen in Korean dramas. Street food in Korea became a major thing for us during the entire trip because who can resist these sticks of piping hot goodness in the cold?! In addition they are really cheap. A skewer of fish cake typically cost around KRW1000. For that price, you are entitled to yummy fishcake, a cup of soup and warmth from the stall (sounds stupid here but it’s really a bonus when it is 15 degrees and you are constantly attacked by winds that just can’t stop blowing away).
We continued to walk down Hongdae which was starting to get more crowded with university students. There were clusters of students along the streets dancing and singing. For some reason while watching them, I started to get goosebumps because I could really feel their sincerity and passion for performing. If you are someone who would love to witness this, do come on weekends.
Besides street performers and buskers, there were many eateries along the streets which gave us a headache on what to have for dinner. In the end, we unknowingly chose a pub (the signboard was in Korean) and realised only when the waiter barred underaged students from entering.
Spicy Beef Bulgogi Ddukbokki
Highly recommend this. It was really good even though it was too spicy for us. Even though I was tearing away while eating this, I couldn’t control my hands from picking it up and placing them into my mouth. What a pity as I cannot recall the name of the place. All I can recall is that the exterior was that of a traditional korean house similar to the restaurant beside it. In addition, they had a sign at the right side of the door that writes “We have English menu” in cute illustrations. Hopefully if you are thinking of trying this outlet, you’ll be able to find it with these (bad) tips.
After dinner, we continued to walk down the streets to do some shopping. Hongdae has its fair share of retail outlets comprising of tiny ones (similar to that of Bugis street) and huge brands such as Bershka & SPAO.
We saw this on the streets and decided to try because we remembered we tried something like this in one of the night markets during our Taiwan trip and it was so delicious. This is pretty good as well though I sincerely feel that it would taste so much better without the bbq sauce.
Shortly after eating, we left Hongdae because it was getting too cold. That marks the end of our day 1 in Korea. For those who are interested to visit the above mentioned places, details are below.
Directions: Metro Line 9, National Assembly station
(Note: When taking this line, make sure that you are not boarding an express train because we did not notice we boarded one and in the end the train did not stop at National Assembly station so we wasted quite a bit of time)
- Hongdae (Hongik University Street)
Directions: Metro Line 2, Hongik University station, Exit 8 or 9
Note. I will write on my prewedding photoshoot in Korea on a separate post in more detail.