My first arrival to Incheon and Seoul was precisely five years ago, and here I am writing another post about Seoul after my first trip report back then – titled ‘Seoul: Shopping Spree Wonderland’. Five years ago, Seoul was not as popular as what it has become presently, where everybody now has talked about the city following the rising popularity of Korean TV drama, TV shows and actors or actresses.
The traffic of my ‘Seoul, Shopping Spree Wonderland’ post has contributed a lot for this blog’s stats activity. There used to be dozens of readers visiting this blog as they might have probably-and-randomly found that article on Google upon searching Korean tour, Seoul tour or something like that. And yes, most of those readers were dominated by young teenagers who just popped a comment saying I wish I could go there or Can you recommend me any place to stay in Seoul and what to visit as I plan to go there next month, and many other prospective comments.
I must say that I was thankful to be able to re-visit one of the most renowned Asia’s capital city, Seoul. Clearly, two weeks ago (it’s another winter time) I was assigned for a business travel to Seoul to meet the owner of my company who held an event with the most rising soccer player in Asia, Park Ji Sung. Without thinking twice I agreed to fly with a very last minute preparation.
On 9 December 2014, my plane touched down safely at Incheon International Airport. I wasn’t traveling alone, as I had several media participants that I invited to come along with me to Seoul. The cabin crew informed us the temperature dropped to negative five degrees celcius which wasn’t that different than my first arrival there back in 2009. I told my media friends to always be prepared with gloves and their coats as the temperature might have lowered every hour. Proven, the temperature dropped until negative eleven.
The picture above was myself upon arriving from a 6 hour 30 minutes flight from Kuala Lumpur. Got over shadowed but still happy with the picture. After we were done with immigration and custom clearance, we headed straight away to Myeong-Dong area to drop our luggage at SkyPark Hotel where we would stay for 2 nights. The journey took for about an hour and we checked in at around 11.00 am local time. My journalist colleagues had been asking what we would do then for the first free and easy morning. I said, their half day city tour had been planned and I would be their travel guide as I still remembered some areas and public transportation to get to those places.
I managed to plan a short tour around Namsan area (Seoul Tower), Gyeongbokgung, Namdaemun market, Myeong-Dong market. The main reason I took them to Seoul Tower was to show them the famous love locks. Meanwhile, for Gyeongbokgung is a must-visit palace although we were a bit upset to know the palace was close for public on Tuesday.
Seoul always gets me on , why? I think this city has so many things to offer. The city is very vibrant and friendly. Seoul has the best nightlife ambiance in Asia. The lighting, the hype, the spirit of the locals are somewhat you will never find anywhere. If I may compare, Shibuya area in Tokyo is indeed busier and surrounded by more advanced technology than the rest of Seoul Central Business District area. However, one thing for sure, the energy of Myeong-Dong area in Seoul, especially at night is something you will never forget, as your eyes will be pampered with the presence of hundreds even thousands of beauty, ornaments, souvenirs, jewelery stores and foods stalls selling unique foods. When you are there, you will see how this area succeeds to steal every woman’s attention to give up what’s next to-do-on their tour list, as they will instantly change their minds only to shop or at least merely stopping for a thorough-observation (the paradox of window shopping) at those unimaginably cute things they might see over there.
If 5 years ago, my friend who heard I was going to Seoul they would just text me and say “Have a Nice Trip”, now the girls would rather text to ask for something to bring from South Korea. At least, I received more than 10 messages asking different things that precisely could not be accommodated. These nail paints were the only thing I could think of, Skin Food store located in front of my hotel, they had special sale of 1.500 Won (IDR 16.500,-) each. To save time I would just take every color on a bucket and brought them to the cashier desk.
Just to elaborate the cosmetic craze is this exceptional corner at my hotel (SkyPark 1 Myeong Dong). The business corner which is equipped with free use of nail paint and dressing table that are perfect for ladies.
Aside to shopping, you can also find plenty foods stalls that sell cheap foods (mostly skewers just like in other Asian cities). The average price of street foods in Myeong Dong or Namdaemun cost around KRW 1,000 – KRW 5,000 (IDR 13.000,- – IDR 60.000,-) per piece. Do not worry on the foods sizes, the serve is quiet fulfilling.
Teokbokki (Rice cake with Traditional Korean sauce). When I first saw this food 5 years ago, I thought this one was made of squid or fish, but after trying then I realise this one just a rice cake with sumptuous sweet-sour sauce.
Snail? Yes, Koreans eat snails. Snail is believed to provide great nutrition for them such as for skins and protein in-takes. No wonder that snail is mostly used as the basic essence for *again* most of skin and beauty products.
After strolling around Seoul for two days, one of my old friend who turned out to be a local, called me and knew I was in Seoul. After short conversation, we ended up agreed to meet up and he said wanted to take me to a famous Korean BBQ place in Myeong-Dong called ‘Wumioke’.
Upon my first day, we actually had a lunch at a local restaurant located on the ground floor of Namsan cable car embarkation, which to me is a bit expensive. However, my friend said that Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul mostly has similar average price in which there is an unwritten rules of minimum order for some certain type of meats such as: Syamgupsal (pork belly), pork ribs, sirloin, tenderloin etc. And believe me the tastes are apparently the same or even at some point is better at Korean BBQ restaurants in Jakarta. The average price of a set of syamgupsal may cost KRW 15.000,- – KRW 22.000,- (depends on how many set you ordered), while the beef ones are more expensive around KRW 22.000,- – KRW 25.000,- per set. Clearly, the price is including various side dishes and free drinks for everyone except rice.
A little corner of the restaurant. Wumioke has been visited by so many people around the globe. As to keep the memory, the restaurant owner keep each of foreign visitor through photographs taken while eating at the restaurant and displayed them on the wall.
To conclude this post, I would definitely encourage all of you to visit South Korea! For those first timer, spending more days in Seoul is highly recommended as this city is the center of main attraction of what South Korea has to offer. Here you can explore all that become your travel interests, you can get everything you want starts from shopping, getting closer with nature, experience the excitement of Seoul’s nightlife, until tasting the authentic delicacies. I have been here for two times and always willing to come back. So I’ll see you guys next time in South Korea, or in Myeong Dong maybe? 🙂
Oh last but not least, the proven of Park Ji Sung is right here..