The First Time in Seoul

Saturday, January 7, 2017



We shall not cease from exploration
The end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- 20th century poetry (Eliot ; “Little Gidding”)





First times usually leave the biggest marks in our lives and it's with those moments that we get to grow and discover new things about ourselves. I can still remember the first time I entered school, I was a cry baby back then. I wouldn't let my mom go out of my sight nor will I let her go out of the school grounds. We all know that you don't take your parents to the classrooms unless there's an event, so my pre-school teacher told me that I should let go of my mom and that I'll see her later at lunch. Of course, as a four year old girl who barely knew any woman other than my family members, I do not like the thought of it. Guess what I did?

I had bitten my teacher's ankle. Yes, I did. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I still have a picture of that scene in my preschool album. I promise to share it with you guys on my snapchat or instagram stories sometime soon. Don't worry, I didn't get expelled. I actually managed to be the class valedictorian on Graduation Day. *winks*  Truly, there's always a first time for everything may it be good or bad, and that is what makes life so exciting, right?



They say that to wake for the first time in a new place can be like another birth and I couldn't agree more. Though I have seen South Korea countless of times in movies and korean dramas, it's still a reliving experience to finally be able to breathe the same air as Song Joong Ki and Lee Min Ho.


It was an unplanned trip and truly an unexpected one. The only plan was to visit Singapore on October and spend the halloween there, yet we keep on seeing ads on a social media platform about that one of a kind autumn in Seoul. The wanderlust in me and my mom suddenly urge us to check if there were still available flights and hotel accommodation. Usually the air fares are expensive during the fall foliage season in Korea, so we were really doubtful that we can go. Then again, faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust did us good. The fare was on our budget and there were still available hotels in Myeongdong. We really wanted to stay in Myeongdong since it's one of the major tourist spot in Seoul, and I heard that it was a make-up haven too.


Unlike Japan's train-subway system, Seoul's subway system is not that friendly. If you saw my mom's first photo on her instagram acount, 'ready to get lost in Seoul', we literally are lost a few hours after that post. As much as I wished I did a research for this trip, October was a hectic month for a university student like me, so there's really no way I can study their transportation critically that time. At least 1/3 of our time was spent getting back and forth, walking, searching, and getting lost in the city. Though it ate much of our time and slashed half of our itinerary, it was one of the best days of my 2016.

 We arrived at the Incheon International Airport at 12:35 in the afternoon, korean time. From there, we rode a shuttle bus to Myeongdong station. There are a lot of shuttle services outside the airport, but do take note that it's not free. You can buy a ticket near the bus bay (it's where the shuttles are parked too, so no worries). You can also ride the subway train or a taxi, whichever you prefer. We just opted for a bus ride since we have a lot of luggages and no one wants to drag those in the subway station and get lost in complication. Also, I think that it's quite complicated to reach our destination via subway line, you know, transfers and all. The only downside of the shuttle service is that you will be welcomed by Seoul traffic right after you exit the expressway. 


We manage to reach Myeongdong by 3 pm and standing outside the largest Uniqlo store in Korea is the start of our misadventures and Seoul-searching....


It took us an hour to find our hotel which is just two minutes away from the largest Uniqlo store. Myeongdong is huge, and every alley looks the same as the other one we passed by. There's Tony Moly, Nature Republic, Banila Co, Etude House e v e r y w h e r e . Literally everywhere. Since it'll be getting dark soon, we just dropped off our luggages in the hotel and head to Deoksugung Palace Stone Wall Road right away. Based on our research, it's just a 15-20 minute walk from Myeongdong, yet we decided to just hit the subway so we can be there before the moon pops out.


DEOKSUGUNG PALACE & ITS STONE WALL ROAD
It's right outside the City Hall Station, Exit 2.








The National Museum of Art





Surrounded by modern architecture is the Deoksugung Palace, one of the Five Grand Palaces that were built during the Joseon Dynasty. Situated in the heart of Seoul's City Hall area, Deoksugung which means the palace of longevity and virtue, is most popular during autumn season, since the trees along the wall road little by little change their color from green to yellow to orange to red and these colors blend beautifully with the Palace. When it's the peak of the foliage season, you'll see the yellow leaves cover the road and lovers strolling along the street. Deoksugung Wall Road is said to be Korea's first successful attempt in creating an urban space where people can enjoy the beauty of nature and its historic acclaim. It was also said that the materials used to built this beautiful walls were all eco-friendly. Inside the walls are a compound of palace with which the royal family during the Joseon Era lived. The National Museum of Art is also inside the Deoksugung walls. If you noticed, the palace is surrounded by Western architecture like the Seokjojeon which houses the National Museum of Art. We didn't get to explore more about the museum and the other palaces because it was already closed. 

More info: The admission fee for Deoksugung Palace is just 1000 korean won for adults (19 and above) and 500 for teenagers (18 below). The palace is closed during Mondays and is open Tuesdays-Sundays from 8:00 am -9:00 pm. In addition to all of these, you shouldn't miss the Changing of the Guards ceremony which is re-enacted every day except mondays at the gates. You will be able to see the soldiers dress up just like how it was during the Joseon Period! Amazing, right?

After exploring much of the historical palace, we walked our way to Myeongdong. Can you believe it? We rode the subway for 18 minutes to reach the place and just took us 20 minutes to walk to Myeongdong. 

DONGDAEMUN HISTORY AND CULTURE PARK CENTER

Our second day was meant for exploring the modern metropolis  Myeongdong & Dongdaemun. So here's a few of my takes on the famous Dongdaemun Plaza.

















We didn't took much photos since this day is supposed to be a shopping day! Though, if you're following me on snapchat, I did post a lot of videos of the place here. Dongdaemun is actually home to a lot of big shopping malls in Seoul, and is said to be one of the cheapest places to do the thing. Majority of the shopping outlets open late at night until early morning. Outside the big outlets are small retail shops too. Dongdaemun is literally the shopping haven.

I was literally amazed by Dongdaemun Design Plaza's architecture. The idea behind it is that their goal is to make DDP the center for all things design, exhibits, art, and the like. As you can see, it is divided into three buildings all connected by a curve of fractions. For me, the best time to go here is in the afternoon til' late night so that you could see this bed of led lights lit up. It sure is beautiful, right? In front of the plaza are Migliore and DoTA; an entirety of building full of shopping outlets.


Since it's autumn season, the fashion outlets all have the latest trenchcoats, sweaters, and all the other fall collections. Korean fashion is truly mesmerizing and astonishing alike. If I may add, however, Hong Kong is a lot more cheaper in terms of clothing and accesories shopping that's why I didn't bought too much. But if you really do have a budget, I suggest that you roam around the different malls before buying something. Chances are there are shops that sells the exact item in a much cheaper price. Good luck!

More of my South Korea Trip here:








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