14 March 2012

My Seoulful Journey: Part I

Hey guys, what's up?

It's been a long 3 weeks since I've posted anything up here, well anything proper. While I was MIA I was exploring the streets of Seoul, basking away in their culture and shopping. It was quite a different experience and I can tell you this will be a long entry so read on if you like. If you want daily entries of our adventure, check out xxshinra's blog, they will be up soon :)

It was a tedious journey flying to Seoul. We booked our flights early through AirAsia X, the only problem I had was the fact the flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur was 7 hours, we had a 7 hour transit in Malaysia and then from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul was another 6.5 hours. Practically wasted an entire day doing nothing and flying. Next time, I will definitely buy a direct flight rather than sitting around and wait. It was agonizing! *I checked out their site and NOW they decide to have connecting flights from Melbourne to Seoul with 3-4 hour transits rather than making us purchase separate flights...FUUU*

We arrived in Seoul at around 9:45PM local time and tried to get through Immigration and Customs as quickly as possible since we had a driver waiting for us to drive us to our hotel, which was an hour away. We arrived at our hotel only to find out that they had double-booked our room and upgraded us into a two bedroom studio apartment with no extra costs! Once we got settled in we took pictures and ran around like a bunch of headless chooks, we were so excited to have such a big space! Best start to our vacation already! I shall review the hotel in another post :)

Our awesome hotel room.
 Click to enlarge!

Our hotel location was actually pretty good, we were situated about a 5 minute walk away from two subway stations and a 10 minute walk from Myeongdong shopping district so it was easily accessible and easy to get around to travel to other areas in Seoul! Anyways, on our first day we tried to get familiar with our area or at least take a leisurely stroll, as we were tired from all the flying we didn't want to end up doing anything excessive, but we were easily tempted to shop lol there were a few rows of beauty shops, fashion and even market carts. But because there were so many of the same beauty stores like; Tony Moly, The Face Shop, MISSHA, Étude House, Holika Holika, Nature Republic in nearly every corner that we easily got lost. But all you have to remember is to trace your steps and no problem! Lucky for me, I'm good with directions =P

Just outside Myeongdong shopping district!

In all honestly, I didn't do any researched on their culture and way of life. Seriously, I thought it would be very similar to Japan but boy was I wrong. It was definitely a big cultural shock. The people of Seoul seem very cold and rude. They're the kind of people who want to get things done their way, well something like that. If they want to get into a certain shop, they will make way for themselves even if it means to shove you out of the way. They don't apologize for knocking into you and it was kind of shocking to see that the younger people rarely pay respects to their elders; like offering a seat to the elderly. I had only seen that twice during my three week stay. But the longer I stayed, I got used to all of it. Somewhat annoying, yes, but it was the way they lived over there so there's really nothing to it but to blend in.

The next day I ended making a meet up with my long-time online Filipino friend, Anne! I've been her friend since the Myspace days and since then we've progressed onto Cyworld, Facebook, Twitter and now Kakaotalk! I've known her online-wise since around 2005, she was the one that helped teach me the Korean language and we'd have a lot of conversations in regards to our favourite idols etc, we just clicked :) So it was finally nice to finally meet her in person and the funny thing was, over the years we'd always say that we'll go to Korea to meet and hang out and that's exactly what we did ^___^

With a palace guard.
Gyeongbok Palace Entrance

She ended up taking us to Gyeongbok Palace (경복궁), where I assume they did some filming for the popular historical drama "The Moon that embraces the Sun" (해를품은달) and Sinheung (신흥) where the closest Lioele store was in Seoul and taught us briefly how to use the subway system in Seoul.

Towards the King's throne!
Beautiful weather, great company and a froze lake!
Gyeongbok Palace was grand and beautiful! Anywhere I would walk happened to take my breath away, the building structures of this large scale palace is something worth visiting, the sites and buildings will definitely not disappoint ^^ Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes because it is very large, very expected of a palace.

Anne and me <3
This was at the Gyeongbok-gung Museum. Cool huh?

We decided to stop by Sinheung to check out the Lioele store, sadly I didn't buy anything since everything would have been accessible online for the exact same price, so I was a little disappointed. But Make sure to walk around in the underground market arcade. It's vast and it seemed to have gone on endlessly, we stopped after everything seemed to have gotten really repetitive. The girls scored some mufflers for very cheap, buy two for 10,000KRW (roughly $8AUD) WHAT A BARGAIN! They were thick and very good quality :)

The rest of the week consisted of visiting shopping districts around Seoul and resting. We went to places like Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Shopping, COEX Mall, Lotte Department Store and of course our lovely Myeongdong district.

Namdaemun Market
Umbrella store in Namdaemun

Unfortunately we didn't get to explore Namdaemun very well, most of the places we walked pass were home wares and elderly clothing. We were a little disappointed in terms of shopping and expected a bit more towards the younger generation because my book had described that we could spend all day and night there, but we didn't stay for more than an hour =\ Disappointed with shopping we made our way straight to Dongdaemun. I had heard that this was definitely the place for shopping and they were right! We spent forever just exploring each and every level of Doota! and Migliore. We didn't bother haggling and did quite a bit of shopping damage, stocking up on knitwear. It was so worth it because they were no more than 35,000KRW (roughly $30AUD) for cute and great quality knitwear! So if you ever visit in the winter, make sure to stock up!! You will not regret ^^

Namdaemun Market
Our knitwear collection!

Lotte Department store was a bit of a shocker. Seriously, you must be insanely rich to shop there I believe. It's like Chadstone, David Jones and Myers. We just walked around and majority of the items there were at least above $100AUD. It just hurt to see all the prices LOL

Entrance to COEX from the subway!

COEX Mall was definitely a big let down. We expected it to be a massive complex mall but instead we got lost and only found that there was only ONE level of shopping which happened to be connected to two other separate malls and a business convention centre. It's worth a visit but I wouldn't really recommend it. We did find a nice pasta place which lifted our moods immediately ^-^

Nomnomnom pasta!

Anyways, that should be enough for Part I of my Seoulful journey, I will make sure to update about the rest ASAP =P In the meantime, enjoy my pick and share of images of my first week :)

Song Joong Ki cardboard outside Tony Moly

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