November 5, 2017

Surviving Seoul, Korea Part 1

This is a story of how I survived the cold autumn in Seoul alone for 1 week to date LOL. I will be here for 2 weeks so there's another week to go. As I'm writing this, I'm quite happy that I managed to self survive and successfully completing my first week! This trip to Korea was unexpected. It was a result of a Korean exchange programme. So basically I went to Korea to experience the Korean legal system. But I only knew 2 weeks before flying that I'm going to Seoul. So everything was pretty rush.

This is also my first time travelling alone. Like literally alone with no friends or anyone that I know in Seoul. I am staying at Seoul City Centre because my assigned law firm is near here which was a relieve to me as all the shopping are centralised here hehe

But my first day at Seoul was a mixed feeling. Boarding the plane alone itself made my heart heavy haha I know so much drama. Well, that's because I have not stayed away from home before what more 2 weeks with no one in the cold autumn! 

Oh btw, Incheon International airport was one of the prettiest airport I've seen. So many orchids and the interior design were beautiful. It was clean and big. I think it's also because they are hosting the next Olympics- Pyeong Chang Olympics because a lot of reference is made to it and they need to impress tourists I guess.

Anyway, first thing first when I touched down is to get a sim card. There are 2 options: either a wifi device or a sim card. I decided to buy a sim card instead because in case of emergency I need to call my colleagues in Korea and since I would be here for 2 weeks, I thought sim card is my best option. Well, it was rather difficult to find the sim card place so I would guide you if you want to experience Seoul and need a sim card hehe. Firstly, after taking your bags, go to gate 10. If you're like me who got out near gate 3, you have to walk ALL the way to gate 10. At the convenience store, I got the KT sim card and near the sitting area, there is a person to help you to install(which was super convenient!) Love a good service. I don't think other convenience stall have that, but the one at gate 10 does.

Next, the super convenient way to move around in Seoul is via public transportation, whether bus or subway. And if you're travelling by either one, you will need a T money card(it's like a Touch N Go). It costs 4,000 won for the card and then you need to top up. If you topped up more, you can get a refund later minus 500 won for admin fee before you fly back.

Cute T-money card.

Subway was my only mode of transport. So convenient. 

Okay, now that we got the necessary items done, I needed to find my accommodation. Firstly, I don't know how to pack light for 2 weeks. As a girl, if can, I would bring my entire wardrobe. On top of that, it's autumn and the weather is getting colder around 12 degrees in the afternoon and drop to 6 degrees at night. So i needed thick long clothes. How to pack thick clothes lightly??

But I totally regretted it (and I still don't know how to pack light lol) because I took the subway from airport and I was basically rolling my suitcase around. Some stations have nice travelator for bags like this:

While others don't and how could I carry my heavy suitcase upstairs by myself? Luckily there were a few good samaritan men who helped me. But on stations where I had to do it alone, I cursed for bringing such a heavy suitcase!! On top of that, I had to roll my heavy suitcase from the subway to the hotel somemore -.-

Then I checked in to the smallest room in the world lol Hostel Chloe was in a strategic location plus I only booked it 5 days in advance for a quite a good rate on Air Asia Go website. Mind you, hotels in Seoul are expensive. Actually most things here are. I came to realise quickly that Seoul is a rather expensive city.

So for a cheap rate this is what I got to stay in:

See the gap for shower! LOL

There's a kitchen to cook and water dispenser which was great.

 My breakfast everyday was the same thing.

Toasted bread with strawberry jam and hot tea. Every. Single. Day.
I will not eat bread when I go back to Malaysia already haha

The hostel is a 5 minute walk to the nearest subway station so it was very convenient for me to travel to work especially. Actually the room is small but still okay for 1 person to stay in. It was clean and quite cozy to live in lah so to say since I booked it knowing it's like that so I chose to stay at that small room haha (Btw, I can freaking hear couples have sex in the beside room -______- because the walls are that thin!!!)

On the first night, I went to Dongdaemun. I didn't intend to shop for clothes in Korea because I know it's rather expensive and besides, Bangkok has cheaper clothes which is nearer to Malaysia anyway. But I have to say, the quality of their clothes are really good but pricey. Even in those wholesale malls in Dongdaemun, the prices aren't that cheap. Standard is around RM200 per piece. Plus, I have an overweight bag so yeah good thing I didn't do any shopping there.

Some of the shopping places in Dongdaemun:

 There is art hall there and on the sidewalks there are many vendors selling stuffs as well as many food trucks.

 If you want to shop then I suggest Migliore. They have very nice clothes there.

Huge Line Bear for photo taking =)

Yup, that's their opening hours. No kidding.

Street food! I love Korean street food. All are yummy.

The next day is a Sunday, so I went to church. I found out that there's this Myeong Dong cathedral. Since I plan to go Myeong Dong for shopping anyway so I decided to drop by for mass. But little did I know that it was quite far from Myeong Dong station and it's uphill. Goodness! It looks rather big but inside it's quite small and very crowded that people have to stand.

Very architectural church.

After mass ended, it's time to shop hahaha Myeong Dong street is like what it's hyped up to be. So many familiar skincare brands there and you will see many of the same brand shops few doors away from each other only. 

Free gifts were aplenty. Just remember that if you took a free gift from someone outside a shop, it's courtesy to enter in even if you don't buy anything. After buying, they will also include in a few free samples for you =) I went a bit crazy and shopped quite a bit there. In certain shops, if you buy 30,000 won and above, you will be entitled for tax refund. Just remember to bring your passport.

There is also a huge Lotte Department Store but not the Lotte Mart. This department store is like Parkson where you can buy branded stuffs and you can also immediately get a tax refund. People went crazy at the branded department as well as cosmetics. So many tourists there.

Had the famous 32cm ice cream there. It was already cold but couldn't resist hehe

There are many street food as well. You will not go hungry there.

I also went to Namdaemun but there was nothing much that interest me in the market.

You can find all kinds of things there.

Koreans have this obsessions with sausages. It's a popular street food and it's everywhere. I joined the hype but I bought from the store instead.

It's basically sausage fried with dough and coated with sugar. Oklah quite yummy.

The next day is my orientation day. When I woke up the temperature was:

Grabbed a cuppa and braced the chill.

 I went to a few places but the most memorable has to be the Supreme Court of Korea. We managed to enter and sat at the Chief Justice seat for a picture =)

Went to The Spoon at Gangnam at night for dinner.

The food there was generally yummy but it was western food. And beer and soju is a norm there during dinner.

The next day, I went to my assigned law firm. Mine is the most prestigious law firm and the largest one in Korea. They were super hospitable and kind and gave me a room for 2 weeks plus a secretary ='))

Room with a view.

At night I kinda went crazy at Lotte Mart. I went to the one at Seoul Station because that's the biggest. I googled the famous things to buy there and at then started my shopping haha

There's free wifi and if needed there's courier service to ship your goods back haha 

And guess what?I bought way too many that I sure as hell is unable to carry back so I shipped them back home LOL I splurged quite a lot on the courier service =(

Lotte Mart provide boxes to fill your stuffs in for free. Thereafter, proceed to the courier service to ship it. I think this is the first time in my life I bought this much 'grocery' >.<

Tried the iconic Banana Milk that people have been crazy for.

Err well it tasted like banana milk LOLZ!!

My firm was so kind to organise a tour for me at the Gyeongbokgung palace. Initially, I didn't intend to go for a visit there because I thought, it's just another palace and I've been to many in Beijing LOL But since it's a free tour, I don't mind and definitely didn't regret because the weather was superb and since it's autumn, the leaves were yellowish and the scenery was super beautiful! I totally recommend coming to Seoul during autumn because it's such a beautiful season.

There's a free guided tour when you enter. You can follow an English guide who will explain to you about the history of the palace.

Such picturesque view. I'm in love <3

After that, you can visit the National Folk Museum of Korea for free.

Figurines making kimchi haha

Then we went to the cafe for Bibimbap!

After that, it's back to work hahaha

The next day, I attended a seminar. Something nice about it was that there was a motivational session before the start of the seminar and the quote of the day was; Always aspire to be indispensable. Loved it! And the speaker asked us to repeat three times before the talk started! Haha

Once ended, dinner was Korean BBQ.

Korean style-wrap it in a salad and take it all in.

First time seeing this. This drink is meant for you to stay sober so that you won't get a hangover the next day. Don't know how effective is it.

We even sat cross legged on the floor like how a typical Korean would eat their dinner. Then ate and drank like the Koreans and they love to give speeches to 'cheers'. It was such great night! First time experiencing all these. 

#TGIF. Had Chicken and Beer at BHC near Hongik University.
We ordered the normal one and the spicy sauce one. Sooo delish!!

Kloud is quite famous and it's quite light and easy to drink.

The combination of chicken and beer was a great pairing to celebrate the end of the first week.

So I survived my first week in Seoul and looking forward to my 2nd week which is also my last week here! This will definitely be the most memorable trip in my life. Can't wait to share with you again in my next post of my trip to Nami Island and what happened in the 2nd week.

Stay tuned!

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