Dear1, Dear2 and Baby1 went on a 1 week trip to Seoul, Korea last week over the National Day holidays. We flew on Sunday, and was supposed to return on the following Sunday for our 7 days free and easy trip, but came back earlier on the Friday overnight flight as Baby1 caught the cold bug there. I shall split our Korea experience over the next few posts, so let’s talk about the sights that we have visited there.
There’s a reason why Lotte World gained numerous awards – it’s really cool!! Big, or I would say, so EXTREMELY big is the interior once you enter. You can’t even see the far end of the building. There are hot air balloons cruising overhead, there’s a huge ice skating rink right in the middle below (though this is not part of Lotte World), there’s lots of kids and families, lots of attractions, and a huge stage on the other far side – all seen when you enter. And we have not even went outside for the outdoor park, and inside the various holes for more attractions, and upstairs where there are more rides and even the Folk Museum outside. Lotte World is simply fun!!
However, do note the limitations for the Passport ticket. This supposedly include all attractions, but excludes Game Attractions and rides which indicates that children under certain age needs to pay.
Gyeongbokgung Palace, Insa Dong and Dongdaemun
On Wednesday, we took subway Line 3 to the palace, and after the 1 hour English guided tour which starts at 11am, it was a short walk to Insa Dong. The palace is huge – really like the mock up we saw at the Folk Museum the day before, except for its real stone paths and sand walks. And no jokes about the stairs, it’s really steep. Insa Dong was lively, and we walked the way to Dongdaemun in the hope of getting some lunch along the way. Surely there must be food from all the shops I see ahead? We walked until our legs nearly gave way before we finally found a Korean food eatery. Luckily for us, Dongdaemun was just round the corner after we finished our meal.
Dongdaemun is a market, a wholesale market from what we gather. Shops and shops that sell clothes to metal poles to buttons to plastics, all in various shapes and sizes. The Cheonggyecheon Stream runs up here too, so we took the stairs down and strolled along the stream like the other local Koreans. There was a grateful breeze down here where you can hardly hear all the noise and bustle upstairs.
Baseball Match @ Jamsil Sports Complex
We took a cab from our hotel to the stadium. It was the Doosan Bears (home ground) versus some other team. Dear1 says that watching a baseball match is what a Korean packaged tour will never bring you to, so here we were. We spotted 2 Ang Mos buying tickets, and went up to inquire on the ticketing. First, you need to determine which team you are supporting, cos that determines which side you sit. Then you point to the grid and say which seat you want. Paid, and bingo we went searching for the entrance in the huge complex. Before going in, the Koreans will buy a pair of cheering ballons (1000 won each for the reused ones sold illegally outside, 2000 won each for the authentic new ones sold in the stores) and a box meal for the 3 hour match.
The game was exciting, more so becos of the mood and atmosphere. We left at 4 of 9 rounds, and the game ended only at about 11pm while we watched it live in the hotel room. Keke.
Namsangol Hanok Village and Namsan Park
Next morning, we took a subway to the village. Unfortunately on this day, the rain came back again (the typhoon was still looming on Monday when we reached Korea, and cleared the next 2 days after). Hence a brief tour of the village and we were off to Namsan Park on Bus 2. First time taking a Korean public bus, we were very nervous, but off course you’ll just alight when everyone alights on this tour bus. After alighting, what next? Just follow everyone uphill!! It was a steep uphill climb and we reach the bottom of the Observatory very soon.
The Observatory was just very ‘observatory’. The only familiar landmark we spotted was the Hanok Village which we came from earlier. Then we went to the Teddy Museum. Surprisingly, this museum is very cute indeed with all the animated teddy bears dressed like real people in the familiar palace!
Before we descended the park, we made sure that we leave a ‘love lock’ locked there too, just like the Koreans. :)
From the same bus station, we took Bus 5. This bus stops at Namdaemun (2 stops) and ends at Myeongdong. Ermm… “What if we miss the Namdaemum stop, cos there are 2 stops listed?” Dear1 asked. “Then we’ll just go right to Myeongdong”, I replied. True enough, the first Namdaemum stop doesn’t look quite like a market we want to go, so we alighted at the next one where some teens got off. This market is quite unlike Dongdaemun; it’s more like the Shilin Night market where there are rows and rows of shops selling clothes and local produce and street food. Interesting!!
From the market, we took a 1 stop MRT to Myeongdong (we learnt our lesson from Dongdaemun, no more walking please). This market is totally mind-blowing. Soooooooo many people, and its extend is soooooooo very huge. Chinatown in KL, and even Mong Kok seems small compared to this. Definitely a must visit if you are in Seoul!!
On Friday, Baby1 started to feel feverish, and so we packed our bags for the night flight home. On this day, we hang around in COEX Mall for the Baby Fair and Aquarium. Though it requires registration and a 5000 won entrance, the Baby Fair was very impressive judging from the crowd already there at 11am. The Aquarium was more disappointing for its 17000 won entrance fee – it’s small and stuffy, though the interesting use of daily household items as tanks for the fishes makes this aquarium different from the rest we’ve seen.
Though a short trip, it was really interesting and eye opening for us. I shall talk about the other aspects of the trip again.