Thursday, November 27, 2014

Travel | Seoul 28 Oct - 2 Nov 2014 | Day 1 Arrival

Went on a trip to Seoul last month, and would like to share excerpts from the experience. Was rather impromptu as the arrangements were made just a month prior to the trip. The conversation with my friend went like this:

Friend: Have you been to Seoul yet?
Me: Haven't.
Friend: Want to join me for a trip in October?
Me: Ok!

Both of us wanted direct flights, so we got ourselves Asiana tickets. Departing from SG at 11pm, and arrived at Seoul the next morning, 635am.

Onboard Asiana to Seoul, passengers had an option to choose western or Korean meal. Korean meal meant I got a beef bibimbap. The minced beef is actually served separated in a tiny round container inside the bigger one. So if you don't take beef, just don't mix it in.

Between western and Korean option, I'd say choose the latter. It was the better choice. Unless you're adverse to vegetable, kimchi and gochujang.

beef bibimbap
bibimbap after mixing
Having that much rice around midnight, was a first for me after so many years. The gochujang in the toothpaste-like tube, was actually quite spicy so you might not want to squeeze too much of it...

During the flight, most of Asiana stewardess speaks very little English. Before the plane lands, one gets the opportunity to donate loose change (or any amount) via UNICEF-Asiana "Change for Good" initiative, with Lee Byung-Hyun as one of the spokesperson.

From Incheon Airport, we purchased the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) train tickets to Seoul. It takes only 43 minutes from Incheon Airport to Seoul. Tickets are priced at 6900(~SGD9) per adult for single trip. After payment, one gets 2 things. A paper receipt and the ticket which looks like an ezlink-kind of card. The time of departure, train compartment number and seat number are printed on the paper receipt. Tickets may be checked inside the train, so keep it close.

At Seoul Station, we got ourselves a T-Money card. However, I think the ahjumma at the convenience store gave us a very touristy one which cost 500 more. There are coupons inside which one could use, but looking back at it, I forgot to use it for N Seoul Tower. There goes the 10% discount. Am not a good consumer.

Topped up the card with 10,000₩ as we need it to take the subway to Dongdaemun History and Cultural Park stop. Too early to check-in to the hotel, but we could leave our bags at the hotel luggage storage first.

T-Money Citypass @ 3000

outside of Seoul Station @8:32am

If we had known better, I'd suggest to take a cab from Seoul Station to wherever your hotel is. In Seoul, the static/slow path on the escalator is the left-side, while the right-side is where office workers will rush up and down. There were many stairs to tackle as well. Not only one had to heave the luggages when going down the steps, it also involved some going up. I think my right arm might have been pulled an inch longer on the first morning in Seoul...

Wowed by the variety of cafes around Seoul Station, however we resisted temptations as there was an agenda for breakfast. First mission, was to find Tosokchon (토속촌) for samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup).

After hotel stop-over, we  went back to the subway and took the train to Gyeongbokgung Station. As Tosokchon doesn't open till 10am and since it was still early, we wanted to explore the Gyeongbokgung Palace first. Alas, Gyeongbokgung Palace is actually closed on every Tuesdays. No prize for guessing which day we arrived.

near Gyeongbokgung Palace, empty as it was closed

probably at the wrong side of the Palace

Next, we spent quite a bit of time to locate Tosokchon, and had to ask for directions every now and then.

nice scenary while searching for the restaurant

Related links: Tosokchon


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