Monday, January 12, 2015

Last of My 7 Days, 8 Nights South Korea Trip 2014; includes Checking Out Sejong Village Food Street!



Checked out of Hotel Manu at about 11.30 am as they could not accommodate our request for late checkout due to full occupancy that day. Thankfully, the lady receptionist was agreeable to help us store our nine-piece luggage until evening!

It's a wet, gloomy day in Seoul once again and the mood was extremely lousy as i had decided to spend some "alone" time without the sisters for a short photo-taking journey in the capital of South Korea! 

We were definitely not in a hurry to get ourselves wet and hoped, with fingers crossed, that the rain would stop with the appearance of the desirable autumn sun. With no clear conclusion on a suitable lunch venue, we opted for a food court located within Lotte Mart. 

My order of bibimbap which didn't taste impressive; i am disappointed but i could only blame myself as even in Singapore, food in food courts just doesn't match up with food from the hawker centres!

Walked in to Lotte Mart again although we had purchased a lot of snacks the day before! At that time, i was honestly worried i would face the same issue that happened in Taiwan; overweight baggage! 

Enthusiastic shoppers using their creativity to squeeze in as much as they could into the box! A few pieces of advice for Lotte Mart shoppers; you can get bigger carton boxes at the snacks sections (don't be shy to ask from the staff replenishing the stock) and use as much tape as you can to secure the box (you wouldn't relish the embarrassment when the box gives way).

Time to check out the Lotte Outlets next to Lotte Mart! I could not resist and eventually bought two bags for myself; even after discount, each was an average of about S$90 and i don't even recognise the brand! Quality seems good though. 

Sisters proceeded with their shopping at Ewha Womans University while i took the subway to Jonggak Station for a immersion experience at Seoul's cultural district; Insadong! For a detailed posting, click here

After checking with the helpful tourist information counter staff who spoke fabulous English, i opted to walk to my next destination; expected to take about 20 minutes! 

Compared to Insa-dong, i found the impromptu walk to be more enlightening as there were quite a number of historical structures! 

If not the incessant rain, i might even sacrifice some time to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace! I did not allocate any time for historical sites in Seoul and as a frank afterthought, i kind of regretted it. 

Guess it was only through walking in a foreign country's ancient sites that one could fully appreciate the culture, their development and the food. Of course i am not looking at many places; maybe just one or two. 

It really took me just twenty minutes to walk from Insadong to the place famed for serving the best ginseng chicken soup in Seoul; Tosokchon! For my review of the samgyetang, click here

I was tempted to spend the rest of my time on top of the three-level cafe but it would be such a waste of precious time! :( Turned out i spent it later on when both sisters were late for our eventual meet-up.

With 2.5 hours left before meeting up with Joyce and Louise, i made the abrupt decision to turn to Sejong Village Food Street which was by the side of the footpath leading to Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 2).

Don't ask me why as i knew i was super stuffed from the ginseng chicken soup in Tosokchon and the last thing i wanted to see was more food! 

At about 300 meters long, you can indeed find many food establishments flanking both sides of the narrow street; the lack of crowd could be a result of the poor weather and that the official dinner time (6pm) was still about thirty minutes away. 

Just to give you a teaser on what to expect; you can find restaurants selling seafood and also Korean fried chicken! Definitely a place worth checking out the next time i visit Seoul! 

Under the backdrop of the hills, i thought this 60-year old street gave a better representation of Korea in its olden days than the cultural district of Insadong.

This was something i proclaimed to try in Seoul and i finally found it on my last day; live octopus! Pity i was all alone with no one to share this unique delicacy! :( 

Saw a park with a historical looking gate and out of curiousity, i could not resist stepping in for another look! Turned out it was known as Sajikdan Altar, a place for rituals with a history (despite being rebuilt at some points) of over 600 years! 

Not wanting to detour back to Gyeongbokgung Station, i attempted to act smart by estimating that walking southwards would bring me to a subway station where i could take the train back to Seoul Station.

Got lost and walked aimlessly for about twenty minutes before i finally caught sight of City Hall station! Hahaha, quite fun actually, especially when the sky was slowly turning dark! Rule of thumb when one is lost; follow the crowd! 

Reached ahead of time at 6.40 pm when the meet up with the sisters was scheduled at 7.30 pm! Not knowing what else to do, i stepped into a quaint little cafe a 30-second walk from Hotel Manu, bought a cup of red date tea and whiled the rest of what's left of my time on playing Candy Crush

Boarded the private shuttle car at 8.00 pm and arrived at Incheon International Airport within an hour! A pity it was already night fall as i could not get a good picture of the world's best airport (Changi is voted second by the way)! 

The shuttle van that brought us to the airport; Kim's Airport Shuttle which cost us ₩80,000, one-way, for up to seven persons. You can contact Mr Kim directly via his email reservation@kimsshuttle.com.


Didn't shop enough for your facial products? Regretted not buying the snail cream in Myeongdong? Not enough face masks?! Fret not, you can find quite a variety in the Shilla-owned shops (operational on a 24-hour cycle) and they could even be cheaper depending on promotions!



Submitted our tax rebates claims (note: get the stamp on the claims before you check in your luggage) and it's time to take the shuttle train to the boarding gate! By the way, there was another 24-hour Shilla duty free shop; word of advice, take the shuttle train first and then spend the rest of your time in the shop which was bigger than the one we visited in the main terminal. 

We were the last few to board SQ603 and as expected, i spent my sleeping time catching up on movies i missed in the last few months! Adieu, Korea! 

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p.s. had an early breakfast; like incredibly early at an ungodly 4.45am! I wasn't disturbed by it since my eyes were still fixated on the screen in front of me. Given the sleep deprived state i was in, i couldn't remember how it tasted. =_=.


For a summary of my South Korea trip (Seoul and Jeju Island) and links for more details to the respective day, click HERE.

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