Monthly Archives: December 2013

Mandu at Myeong-dong

3 Nov 2013

From N Tower, we went back to Myeong-dong Cathedral. When we arrived there, the 6 PM mass was not finished yet. The cathedral has a lot of Sunday mass. Near 7 PM, people were queuing in front of the cathedral’s entrance. WOW. It’s the first time I saw such an orderly entrance to a mass.

The 7 PM mass was for youth. They use songs with sign language. The mass was in Korean but it’s easy to follow because the Catholic Church has a standard mass order that is the same everywhere.

The mass was finished in about 1 hour. At the end of the mas, the choir sang the song with sign language in front of the altar.

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Myungje told me to get a blessing from the priest, I did that and then we went to eat ramen with mandu at a restaurant near the Cathedral.

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The restaurant usually full. Myungje said she usually had to wait to get a table but that night we got a table right away. At some restaurants, as in this one, after taking the order, the waiter will ask for the payment right away. The ramen portion was very big. I couldn’t finished it but myungje didn’t have trouble finishing hers. The mandu was also very delicious. kekeke.

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After we finished eating the mandu, Myungje took me to the hotel and we said goodbye. We promised to meet again later before I went back to my hometown.

At the Suitcasers Hotel, I got a big room with a queen size bed and a single bed. The bathroom had a claw foot bathtub. Nice. The room was on the 4th floor and Thank’s God there’s an elevator. The hotel employee took my bag and showed me the room and the kitchen. He explained the hotel rule in a very good English. Breakfast is served on the 4th floor kitchen. There’s a free wifi and a big TV inside the room but I don’t know how to turn on the TV channel. Anyway, it’s late. I took a shower and it was the end of day 1 in Korea.

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Hiking to N Tower

3 Nov 2013

From Hangang, we went to Namsan hill, to see the N tower, the tallest tower in Seoul. Myungje said that the hike will be too much if we take a bus, that’s why it’s better to take her car.

The road to the hill was pretty with colorful trees on each side of the road.

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There was a bit queue to enter the park. We got a parking space near the monument of a patriotic hero who cut his finger.

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It was a looooooooong hike from the parking lot to the tower…kekekeke. During the hike, we encouraged each other with the thought of having a hot chocolate and hot coffee.

At the entrance, the beginning of the hike to N Tower, the park employee created heart-shapes on the side walk with the falling leaves from the trees. A lot of people use them to take pictures. Nice and romantic ^_^.

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When we arrived at the top of the hill, there was a bus stop near the tower…kekeke…it was clearly  easier to take the bus …kekeke.

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The tower is a romantic place for couple. There are many padlocks around the tower area left by couple who hoped to be together forever.

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There were the tower employees who were cleaning up the lovers’ handwriting on the wall and on the art decorations around the tower. From the layers of paint on the wall, it looked like the wall was painted over every month but at the end of the month, it was full again with all the handwriting ^_^.

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After enjoying a cup of chocolate and coffee, we went back to Myeong-dong cathedral to attend the 7 PM mass. When we were walking down the hill from N tower to the parking lot, Myungje’s shoelaces came off. She said, it’s a sign that someone was missing her. kekeke. I told her, in my hometown, it was when your eyelashes came off that means someone is missing you. Myungje said, a lot of people must have been missing her because two of her eyelashes came off in the morning the day before…kekeke….We walked again and just a few meters later her shoe laces came off again. We laughed at that. Myungje said, all of those people who were missing her, why didn’t they just came and met her…kekeke.

Afternoon Walk at Hangang

3 Nov 2013

Using Myungje’s car, we went to Hangang park and took a walk. It was awesome to see so many people exercising along the river. There were places with outdoor fitness equipment. It’s a good place to have picnic and play with dogs, kids and friends.

Myungje said she’s amazed with the Jajangmyeon or fried chicken delivery service who can find the customer who ordered it on the riverbank. I told her that she should try ordering so she would know how they can find the customer, maybe they use GPS location to find the customer. kekeke.

Hangang is a very wide and long river. There are several bridges crossing the river. Myungje said sometime when she does her weekend run, she saw people trying to suicide by jumping from the bridge and some policeman will try to stop the person from jumping. Scary…..but that afternoon…..we didn’t see any bridge jumper….only the beautiful flowers and exercising people around the river.

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Lost in Myeong-dong

3 Nov 2013

Before I went to Korea, I contacted Myungje, my friend and we agreed to meet in Seoul. We were supposed to meet at Myeong-dong cathedral for 12 PM mass, but it was already around 11.40 PM when I arrived at the hotel. So she suggested that we meet at Lotte Young Plaza. It was on the same direction to the cathedral.

The girl at the hotel reception gave me the direction. I also had a printed direction from Google map that I prepared before I left for Korea but I was still confused, especially at the intersections with more than 4 directions to go. I even use the “Visit Korea 3.0” apps from KTO and use the GPS but the direction that the apps gave me was a bit off. The plaza should be close by but the apps showed that it was 5 km away. Next, I use the GPS and “Maps with Me” apps, it showed the way right away and it showed me that I took the wrong direction at the intersection.

Using the apps, I walked to the right direction, it showed that the plaza was across the street. So I use underground crosswalk and arrived at the main area of Myeong-dong shopping district. I looked around and the plaza was there…across the street ….bwahahaha….Next time, I have to remember to keep my eyes on the road too instead of fixing them on the apps display. I laughed at my hopeless map reading skill and crossed the street again and finally met Myungje who was waiting at the plaza entrance.

It’s good to see her again after 3 years. She asked what I wanted to eat for lunch. I said Bibimbab. She told me that a nice bibimbab restaurant is across the street ….bwahahaha…crossing the street again.

Myungje said she’s not familiar with the area. She used to play there when she was younger but not lately. So, she opened the map with GPS on her smart phone. kekeke.

When we arrived, the restaurant was closed. We went to another restaurant. It was in a small alley. The restaurant is small but full with customer. We sat on a table on 2nd floor with other customers.

Myungje ordered the food and a drink – i forgot the name of the drink. Cold water is free in Korean restaurant. The bibimbab was delicious. It was served in hot earthen ware pot – called dolsot.

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The food was kept warm. It took a while to finish them.

From there we decided to go back to Myungje’s place to get her car. We got lost in Myeong-dong shopping district…kekeke….Myungje had to ask for direction.

We took a cab to her place in Gangnam area, it was only about 5 minutes drive from Myeong-dong.

We took a short walk and then we stopped by at a cafe near Myungje’s place to eat dessert. A red bean ice called patbingsu. It’s sweet and yummy. We sat in front of the cafe, enjoying the sun and the sight.

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Welcome to Korea

3 November 2013

I took the night flight from home to Korea. The flight duration was about 6.5 hours. On the plane, I sat on window seat and the seat next to me was empty. I forgot to pack tooth brush, tooth paste and skin cream on my cabin bag. Next time I have to remember it. Luckily, there are several toothbrush set inside the plane’s lavatory.

I spent most of the time during the flight to sleep. The service from Garuda Indonesia was great. When we boarded the plane, there were pillow and blanket on each seat. During the flight, we got a night pack (eye cover and a pair of socks), two glasses of juice, a bottle of mineral water and breakfast.

I woke up at around 4 AM and saw the sunrise….amazing….

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Due to heavy rain, the take off was delayed for 30 minutes thus, the arrival at Incheon was also 30 minutes late. The arrival schedule was 8.30 AM but it was around 9 AM when we arrived at Incheon.

The passengers took a shuttle train from the gate to arrival area. The shuttle door won’t open until the passengers inside the shuttle took of from the other side door.

At the immigration, they took out fore fingers prints from each hand and face photo. From there, I went to take my baggage and then I went to Olleh outlet in front of the arrival area exit door.

There are several outlets, I went to the one without queue and the officer said that they didn’t have data sim card. Then I went to another outlet, they also didn’t have data sim card. I said that it’s okay, I only need to make phone calls but when I took out my Galaxy Note II, they said that they didn’t have micro sim card…ugh…

The officer then told me to buy a sim card at the book store in front of the outlet. I went there, but the lady at the book store told me to go to another store downstairs. She gave me a map but I was hopeless with maps. So I went downstairs to the train terminal and found the store on the map from the book store lady by accident….hahaha…

I bought a sim card there for KRW 33k and got 1Gb data and 70 min call time.

Then I went to a convenient store to buy t-money card but they didn’t sell it. So I went to the train ticket vending machine. Thanks God there’s English menu on the machine. I bought the ticket to Seoul station for KRW 4550 – there’s 500 won deposit which can be returned at the destination station.

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The train to Seoul Station was rather empty that morning.  It was clean and well maintained. Each cart has big windows so for almost 1 hour, we can see various views along the way. Sometimes we saw the sea on each side, sometimes the train went underground and the first view of Seoul and Han River was breathtaking.

Arrived at Seoul Station, I walked to Metro line 1. At the exit gate from the AREX (Airport Express) train, there were machine where we inserted the single journey card and the machine would give the 500 Won deposit fee.

The metro station is outside the Seoul station, it was located at the other side of the station – about 300 m walk from the Arex area to the Metro station. The wind was cold but refreshing. Unlike the more modern Arex and Seoul station which have escalators, the metro station line 1-4 were older and most of the stairs to and from the train platform are brick stairs. There are escalators from the street level to the ticketing level but not to the train platform, so it’s quite an exercise to lift the luggage and bags.

Arrived at the metro station, I was considering buying t-money card from the vending machine but there were only daily pass and Seoul pass card. You can buy the regular card at convenient store but I decided to buy a single journey ticket from the machine again. It was only 1 station from Seoul station to City hall on metro line 1. The ticket is KRW 1150 + 500 won deposit.

On the train platform, as usual, there are two sides for each direction. Each metro station has a number beside their name. If you know the number, it was easier to figure it out which lane that you have to use. In Singapore, the direction was shown by the name of the last station on each side of the lane but here in Seoul, it shows the next station.

Probably due to lack of sleep – I only slept for 5 hours on the plane, at first I waited on one lane but something bothered me. So I forced my brain to work harder and realized I was waiting on the wrong lane and quickly moved to the right one. Phew.

Arrived at city hall station, I followed the direction given by the hotel. It was nearer to use exit 7 but the hotel told us to use exit 5 because there’a an escalator there. Outside on the street level, there was a big park in front of Seoul Plaza hotel and there was a big stage with tents at the side line of the park. There was a blood donation tent and a next to it was the free course for those who want to learn about giving a CPR. There were a lot teenagers attending that event.

The direction to the hotel given at the confirmation email was very good. I just followed it and I arrived safely at the hotel. It was around 11.40 AM. The check in time was 2 PM. so I just left my luggage and went searching for Myungje, my friend.