It was too late to see the 2 PM guard changing ceremony at Deoksugung Palace so I thought of going back to the hotel. I was already inside the Angguk metro station when I realized that Bukchon Hanok Village was near there. So, there I went.
It was quite a walk but there were interesting shops along the way. There were several restaurants too but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to eat, so I skipped lunch.Continue reading The Hanok Village→
Using the connecting door from the Changgeyonggung Palace, I bought the ticket to enter the Changdeokgung Palace (KRW 3000). There’s a separate ticket to see the Secret Garden but it wasn’t the time for the tour with English guide. So, I skipped it and directly went to the palace.
This morning, the sun was shining brightly. A perfect day to spend outside. I decided to see the palace that people said was beautiful to see in the morning, the Changgyeonggung Palace.
I took metro to Hyehwa station. It was a short distance from the metro station. At first I was not sure about the way to the palace. It was a residential area with cute shops such as this one:Continue reading The Morning Palace→
From the tomb park, it’s a 5 minutes walk to the hostel. I took my bags from the hostel, there’s nobody at the reception area. The young man that welcomed me when I first arrived there, the hostel caretaker, was on his way out throwing garbage when he saw me dragging my luggage down the stairs to the street. He helped me with the luggage and wished me a happy journey….thank you ^_^.
It was around 11.30 AM and the market and its extension on the pedestrian was still busy. I took bus no 50, paid 1200 won and headed to the Singyeongju ktx station. The bus was not full; there were a lot of empty seats.
Near the station, while I was using my camera to take video, an old lady who got on the bus at the market too, said something to me. I thought she was showing me the beautiful views. It turned out that she was asking me to press the stop button. I realized this when I saw her walking difficultly to the seat in front of her to press the button. ouch…sorry grandma…Next time in Korea, I had to make sure that I could understand daily conversation.
It was 12 PM when I finished exchanging the ticket reservation with the printed ticket at the ticket locket. The station was new and spacious but there were only 1 ramyeon restaurant, 1 coffeeshop and Lotteria. I went to Lotteria because I wanted to eat chicken. Too bad that the chicken set menu was for family size. So I just bought 4 pcs chicken wings for 4100 won.
I was given a queueing device and was told to wait for 5 minutes. when the device beeped, I went to the cashier again to get my chicken wings.The chicken meat was tender and juicy. yummy.Around 12.50 PM, I went to the waiting area and looked around the few shops there and bought some snacks to eat on the train. I sat on the chairs in front of the arrival board and ate one of the snacks-sweet potato sticks.At 13.04, there’s announcement that the train was coming. Passengers for 13.14 KTX to Seoul was told to go to the platform. There were only 4 platforms at the station. The train from Busan to Seoul was on platform 4. Passengers took an escalator to go up to the platform. The wind was chilly up there. Luckily, near the platform for cart no 7, there’s an enclosed waiting area with glass walls and doors. I went there and waited for the train to arrive.
It took about 2 hours from Singyeongju to Seoul. Arrived at Seoul Station, I went straight to the metro station.For my last 4 nights in Korea, I stayed at Hill House Hotel. This was the hotel direction that I found from one of the people who reviewed the hotel at Trip Advisor:
From Heohyeon station, take exit 1 and walk till you have Woori Bank HQ on your right, go up that street and walk all the way up, you will pass a few BBQ shops on your right, a Japanese restaurant on your left, a GS25 convenience store and you will need to take a left and walk about 10m and you will reach the hotel. It’s quite a hike up and we were often breathless at the lobby, but it was good.
Well, after traveling to lots of places, I still managed to get lost even with when I had the direction. This time was no different. When I stepped outside the metro station, on the street level, I was disoriented. The road was wide and there were tall offices buildings. I walked up and down, even crossed the street back and forth looking for Woori Bank HQ. When I finally found the building, again, I was confused, where was the road that I support to take? The direction said that I had to go all the way up. So I walked to the end of the street, turned right and found that it was a hike. I walked up to the tunnel where there’s no pedestrian and looked at the Namsan Tower. Okay….I was lost….there wasn’t any tower mentioned in the direction.
I walked back down to the direction of Woori Bank and found a small street on my left. I turned there and again found that the road went up and down. Finally, I saw the sign of the hotel. I went inside and asked the concierge, was that the Hill House Hotel. He looked at me with a confused look and I think he pitied the way I looked then, so out of breath…kekekekeke…. He said that it was the Hill Hotel and said that Hill House Hotel was across the street.
I thanked him and laughed at my silliness because the hotel sign clearly said Hill Hotel (written in English, not in Korean alphabet). When I arrived at the correct hotel, I was a little upset seeing that there were more stairs up to the lobby level. At least, I was finally at the right place. Phew.
The hotel room was nice. The bed was spacious and the bath tub was clean.It was around 6 PM and I decided that it’s too early to call it a night – despite the unexpected exercise that I had that afternoon. So I washed up and went out to enjoy the night.
It was cold and the night was just started. Again, I laughed at my silliness when I realized that if I understood the direction to the hotel at the first time, it was just a short walk to the metro station.
That night, I went to see Dongdaemun, the famous fashion market. It’s nice to see the Dogdaemun gate, something that looked so ancient in the ultra modern surrounding.
My first mission that night was looking for dinner. I went inside one of the shopping complex and straight to the food court level. I ate tteok mandu gug (KRW 5,000), it’s a soup with rice cake cuts and several dumplings. The bowl was huge and served with several types of kimchi. I took my time finishing my dinner. There wasn’t a lot of people eating at the food court that evening.It was almost 8 PM when I finally finished the huge bowl of soup. I was tired but at least I wasn’t hungry anymore. kekekeke. I spend my time walking around, watching interesting stores.I went inside 3 shopping complex buildings, from the oldest to the poshest one, where they sold Korean designers clothes. One thing that I learnt that night, you need stamina to shop. When I was tired, nothing looked interesting and the desire to shop around dropped to the lowest level until it was almost non-existent.
I decided to go back to the hotel and took a rest. It was around 10 PM. The streets and shops in Dongdaemun area were still full of people.
This morning I woke up at 7.40 AM. I still wanted to sleep but then I remembered that gate near the hostel that was burned down and rebuilt recently – I wanted to take picture of it before leaving Seoul.
At 9 AM, I was eating breakfast…alone…strange…where’s everybody? I saw a lot of luggage at the reception yesterday.
Breakfast was served in the Kitchen, on the same floor as my room. The kitchen was small but charming. There’s a washing machine too (behind the grey curtain with white tree print).
Breakfast menu were toasts with jam or peanut butter or hazelnut chocolate and cereal with milk and orange juice. I had toast with chocolate and peanut butter and 2 glasses of orange juice. Guests were encouraged to wash the dishes they used.
I checked-out from the hotel around 9.30 AM and then took pictures of the gate. It’s more beautiful at night when the lights were on. It’s surprising to see historical site in the middle of modern city.
The lady wearing brown coat in the picture above was checking on her make up while waiting for the green light.
When I walked to metro station, an elderly couple asked me for the direction of Gwanghamun. He showed the map and it’s a straight line from the gate where I took the picture above.
Near the City Hall metro exit 7, I saw the statue of Admiral Lee Sun Shin that guard the Gwanghamun a little far away. I wanted to take picture of it but there was a construction site hindering the view. Too bad.
I went to the station, bought a single journey ticket and went to the platform. A train came, I went into it and then realized that the City Hall station code was 201. The train that came went to station with code number 259 and I was supposed to go to station # 214 (Gangbyeon) – which was on the opposite direction. I went out again and waited on the correct lane. Thanks God the train wasn’t moved yet. Phew. Another close call.
At the Gangbyeon station, I went to exit 4 then went outside the station, crossed the street, went to the left and enter the Dongseoul bus terminal building. I found the information about how to get there and how to bought the ticket from visit Seoul website.
Inside the terminal, I went looking for toilet….kekeke….I always looking for it first. Then I went to the ticket booth. There are several ticket booth on both sides of the entrance. Every booth sell ticket to everywhere. I queued behind a soldier (military service is mandatory for South Korean male, aged between 18 – 35 years old).
At the ticket booth, I showed Sokcho written in Hangul and then paid the ticket – KRW 17,800 to the lady. She printed the ticket and showed me the departure time.
The bus was scheduled to leave at 11.29 AM from platform 4 or 5. It was 11.08 AM. I went to the lane and showed the ticked to the officer standing in front of a bus and he gave me back the ticket. I guessed it’s not the correct bus.
There was a time information in front of the bus – it looks like a digital clock. It showed 11.25. I guessed that sign showed the bus departure time. There is also information of the destination – on the bus front window – written only in Hangul.
Looking at the platform information, where “Sokcho” is written in A-B-C alphabet and in Hangul), I guessed the bus to Sokcho is always parked on platform 4 or 5. So all you have to do is to check the departure time printed on the ticket with the one showed on the bus front window.
There were time, so I went inside the terminal building again. I took pictures of the terminal and bought chocolate wafer for snack.
It was a bit unnerving trying to buy things when you only know a word or two of the local language….but I was hungry so I forced my self to speak ^_^. Months before I came to Korea, I learned how to read Hangul and the name of the food and the numbers. It’s enough to help me buy snacks. All I have to do was chose the things that I wanted to buy and then asked for the price by saying “Eol-ma-na-yo?” which means, “How much?” and after that I only have to decipher the price. I found out that most of the vendors in Korea know how to say the price in English ^_^ . Some are also able to speak Chinese.
I was considering buying Kimbap (it was sold wrapped in aluminium foil) or other snacks. I wanted to taste the local snacks at the bus stop on the toll road to Sokcho and eating Kimbap would make me full so I chose the chocolate wafer.
The bus came around 5 minutes before departure time. I put the baggage inside the bus trunk, showed my ticket to the officer waiting at the bus door and then went inside the bus looking for my seat number. The seat number was printed on the ticket. Mine was no 4. on the aisle side on 2nd row.
The bus was roomy. There are only 3 seats on each row. Each seat has its own seat belt and the seat can be reclined and has a foot rest. There’s a TV at the front, near the driver seat.
The bus was almost full and it departed on time.
I was looking forward for a comfortable ride to Sokcho. Sockho, here I come!