Seoul Delightful Pt III: Day 1 – Itaewon, Namdaemun, Myeongdong & Namsan Park

Pt I: Prologue
Pt II: SIN – KUL – ICN
Pt III: Day 1 – Itaewon, Namdaemun, Myeongdong & Namsan Park
Pt IV: Day 2 – DMZ Tour
Pt V: Day 3 – Seoul Museum of History & Lotte World
Pt VI: Day 4 – Gwanghwamun, Cheonggyecheon & Bukchon
Pt VII: Day 5 – Insadong & Dongdaemun
Pt VIII: ICN – KUL – SIN
Pt IX: Epilogue

Took some more shots of planes after arriving at ICN:-

Sky Wings Asia of Cambodia

Garuda Indonesia

Vietnam Airlines

AirAsia X used the satellite terminal (only Asiana and Korean Air used the main one) and we would need to take the skytrain to the main terminal.

Inside the skytrain

What awaited us at the immigration were the long lines. Apparently morning is peak hour for plane arrivals at ICN.

Got told off for taking this photo

Since we hadn’t eaten since the previous evening, we got breakfast before traveling to our accommodation in Seoul.

Breakfast from Paris Baguette

We also purchased T-money (2500 KRW each for the card and additional 10000 KRW for stored value), Seoul’s version of EZ-Link card, from one of the 7-Elevens at the arrival hall.

One of the strange things that I discovered about ICN: there’s a cinema in the airport train station!

Strange place to locate a cinema but what do I know?

We would be taking the AREX commuter service to Gongdeok where we transferred to Itaewon on Seoul Metro Line 6. The total cost would be 3850 KRW.

Olympic medalist Park Tae-Hwan promoting One Pass

It was still quite cold and I was glad that the seats inside the trains were heated.

13 degrees Celcius

Cousins and sis: Happy to be in Korea!

Transferring at Gongdeok

Following the instructions by the owner of the Airbnb property, I called the phone number when we arrived at Itaewon station (around 1.5 hours after departing ICN). Mr Im met us at the station’s Exit D and brought us to our accommodation.

The location of the house is pretty convenient with the metro station less than five minutes’ walk away and there are several restaurants and a supermarket along the way.

Entrance

The owners were still cleaning up the place when we arrived but they finished shortly after and left after giving some instructions.

The house have three bedrooms and they are named Room A, B and C.

Room A

Room A is self-contained with its own kitchen and toilet and can be rented on its own.

Room A Kitchen

Rooms B & C are rented out together and they came with a living room.

Living Room

Room B (my cousins’ room)

Room C

The location of the washroom and kitchen was a little weird though and they could only accessed through Room C.

Kitchen and Washroom of Room B and C

Although the house didn’t seem as big as I initially thought, it was a comfortable place to stay for a few days. The owners provided us with towels, shower gels and shampoos for our use and the kitchen was equipped with kitchen utensils as well. There were also two washing machines for us to do our laundry. The rental of the place cost us around S$180 per night, which was very reasonable in my opinion.

After settling down, we decided to go out for lunch. It was a typical Korean eating place just round the corner from our accommodation and we just picked our dishes based on pictures and the limited English words on the menu.

First meal in Korea

Happy diners

It was the first time my cousins tasted authentic Korean food and it was a good sign that they didn’t complain. I thought that it was pretty decent meal at 45,000 KRW or approximately S$50.

We would only get going after our post-lunch nap and the first place that we visited was Namdaemun market. Our choice mode of transport was the very efficient Seoul Metro and getting to Hoehyeon station required a change of lines at Samgakji.

Samgakji Station

Namdaemun market was a bustling place with many shops and shoppers but nothing really caught our fancy.

Namdaemun market

I thought that we should at least take a photograph of the structure which the market was named after but unfortunately it was still under restoration after the arson in 2008.

Under restoration

I was given advice that we could take the Namsan cable car from near Namdaemun to N Seoul Tower, located at the top of Namsan. Since we were in the vicinity, we decided to take a uphill walk and pay it a visit.

N Seoul Tower in the horizon

Looking back at Namdaemun/Myeongdong area

There’s a lift at the foot of Namsan Park for those who didn’t want to walk to the cable car station like us.

Waiting for the lift

There was a huge queue for the cable cars and the tickets (8000 KRW per person) to them at the lower cable car station but the wait was no longer than twenty minutes in total.

Taken from the lower cable car station

How would the cars get out?

Inside the cable car

Couldn’t recall exactly how long the cable car took but I was quite sure that it was no more than fifteen minutes.

A riot of colors

Oops I couldn’t see the tower

N Seoul Tower

Entrance to the observatory

In the end we didn’t pay to go to the top of the tower and were contended to take photographs around it.

The ladies posing

Green, Yellow, Orange and Red – Fall’s awesome colors

The girls found a new friend – Haechi.

Namsan offered pretty great view of Seoul’s urban sprawl.

To the south – Han River in the background

N Seoul Tower is also the place in Seoul where couples place their love padlocks.

Love padlocks

Tree of love padlocks

Couple seeking inspiration

Friendly bear reminding couples not to throw the keys down the hill

They could throw the keys into the bin instead

Some couple prefer to profess their love on the cone

The couples who put their love padlocks here are not limited to Korean ones.

Left behind by Singaporean tourists

By the time we left Namsan, sun was already setting in the horizon.

Sunset

Made a pitstop at a 7-Eleven and tried the famous banana milk recommended on a travel program on TV.

Yummy

It was still a little early for dinner so we first took a walk around Myeongdong, Seoul’s premier shopping area. Along the way my mom and sis picked up some skin care products (cheap compared to Singapore’s prices).

Streets of Myeongdong

Ads

Black and white

Snail cream for sale

Uniqlo

Kpop memorabilia

Fan girl with her idol

Probably the most famous Korean now

Krispy Kreme

Korean police uses Advante

Fried potato – yummy!

Bak kwa in Seoul

When it was dinner time, we popped into a restaurant which sold Andong jjimdak (Andong-style chicken). We ordered two different types; one original version and one with seafood.

Andong jjimdak

Kimchi – always served in any self-respecting Korean restaurant

Original

With seafood

The food was alright but the seafood wasn’t the freshest. The portion was too big as well and the six of us were not able to finish them.

Someone was very excited about her purchase when we got back to our accommodation.

All laid out

Happy girl

This concluded our long first day in Seoul.

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