I obviously took my time to write about my Korea trip. It’s been more than 2 months since my vacation. The cause of this post’s delay is, well, let’s just say I’ve been consumed with other things. *coughHaikyuucough*
Speaking of Haikyuu–okay, hold on; here comes the massive pouring of regret. *clutches face* Apparently, Korea is (lowkey?) obsessed with Haikyuu. There were so many gashapons dedicated to the franchise. But guess what? The clueless me in December took them for granted and didn’t get a single merchandise. I literally took a look at the Haikyuu gashapons, smiled, and just walked away. I didn’t think I would fall head over heels for it come January! In my defense, before flying to Korea, I was more enamored with Yuri!!! on Ice (for obvious reasons because it’s figure skating ok). And I had watched only a few episodes so I didn’t really care much. I mean really, volleyball??? But look who’s laughing ((crying)) now. My friends know how regretful I am. (In hindsight, my obsession with Prince of Tennis started out the same way. Lol tennis??? WELL.)
Putting Haikyuu aside, another reason for this post’s delay is that I’ve also been watching/following other series like Kuroko no Basuke. Yes I know these animes’ popularity have hit the roof long ago but they’ve been on my to-watch list. And it’s not just about watching; there’s also the whole experience of reading mangas, looking at fanworks, and the like. Soooo. Yeah. Other than the inner fujoshi in me resurfacing, I also have work and grad school… and life basically. Quarter-life crisis and everything in between. The whole shebang.
I’ve rambled too much about my absence. Moving on to this post’s actual content!
The main reason why I flew to Korea is because of Nell. They always held concerts on December 24th and it was no different in 2016. I didn’t have a concert ticket before going to Korea (again–I never learn, do I?) but this time I was more confident because they weren’t sold out. I don’t think I can stand camping in below zero temperature, lol. Anyway, I wasn’t alone because I went with Dana!
Traveling around Seoul is easy. I’d say there’s no need for you to get a Wi-Fi egg because Seoul establishments are pretty generous with their Internet, but you have to be prepared with your subway app and your itinerary. You get your T-money (card) in the airport and you can use them in any sort of transportation. Most things in Seoul have English translations, whether they’re signs or machines for T-money top-up. Areas receiving high volume of tourists like Myeongdong have multi-lingual personnel too! The main languages being Korean, English, Japanese, and Mandarin.
Since I arrived first, I went around Edae (Ewha Womans University). Our hostel was super near!
The weather was cold, as expected. The average was zero degrees and below. Some days, mornings or afternoons would be warmer but a coat was still necessary, especially when you’re still out at night. In general I had to layer on three thermals (UNIQLO Heattech clothing: camisole + long-sleeved innerwear + long-sleeved outerwear), a warm sweater, and a wool coat. For bottoms, I don’t normally bring jeans abroad–heck I don’t wear them a lot here in the Philippines either, so I relied on Heattech clothing again–tights, leggings, and innerwear shorts. And dresses or skirts, of course.
Shopping for clothes and shoes in Edae > other places. They’re cheaper there. The same top or skirt on sale you can get in Hongdae or Myeongdong for 10000-15000 KRW, you can get in Edae for 5000-10000 KRW. Plus, it’s not as crowded in Edae. Win!
Dana suggested we try out Brotherhood Kitchen in Gangnam. One word: sumptuous. 10/10 would recommend! They had happy hour lunch bundles on weekdays when we went there–unfortunately we weren’t able to avail of it because we went on a Saturday. 🙁
Apgujeong Rodeo Drive, where K-pop Gangnamdols were situated. We went there to visit JYP Ent (DAY6!) and Cube Ent (BTOB!). For some reason, we weren’t successful with the latter. 😐 We circumnavigated the whole area but we didn’t see Cube Ent nor the cafe. Did they move somewhere else? Merp.
Later in the afternoon, we finally went to Jamsil for the concert, Christmas in Nell’s Room 2016. It was cold. Thank you, Korea, for outdoor heaters.
Me, a sucker for Nell.
There were still tickets for the 7:00PM concert. (They also had an 11:59PM schedule.) Though it was the farthest area, we were down with it. Less hassle in commuting back to the hostel since the subway would still be operating.
*cue internal mindless screaming* Watching their concert was surreeeaaaaaaal. The lights and sounds, everything! Super worth it.
Someone also proposed to his girlfriend in the concert. #goals si Kuya.
We dropped by Hongdae the next day for a while.
We also went to Garosu-gil’s LINE Cafe. I don’t have much photos of Garosu-gil because we met up with my long-time overseas friends, Ali, Koko, and Vee, all of whom I met online because of EXO. We just ate, chilled, and shopped around.
Come to think of it, I met most of my online friends through EXO, haha. Even if the ~intense feels~ for the boys are gone, I remain friends with the people I met. ♥ Thanks EXO.
(Okay, if we’re being honest, I still adore Jongin, haha.)
The next day we went to Nami Island! It’s as picturesque as you can see in the photos.
I vaguely remember Liza Soberano (whispers Kuroki Meisa’s long lost sister) posting on her Instagram about her trip to Korea and Nami Island back in October. Turns out it was for the movie My Ex and Why’s.
After Nami Island, we were supposed to go to Dongwoo’s family’s restaurant for dinner but we couldn’t handle the cold. IT WAS FREEZING. So we just went back to the hostel. 🙁
Next day, Dongdaemun Design Plaza aka DDP!
SM Ent’s SUM pop-up store inside DDP. This was where I bought Super Junior merchandise for my colleague.
Organic and earth-friendly things for babies! Totally thought of my colleague who just gave birth to her baby son in October.
They also had a gashapon shop somewhere inside. Yes, they had Haikyuu, hush. I’M STILL HURTING.
LINE Cafe in Myeongdong.
The streets of Myeongdong always make me feel nostalgic. It never fails to bring me back to my first trip to Korea in 2011.
Despite having been to Myeongdong countless times, it was my first time to step foot inside Myeongdong Cathedral. The mass wasn’t too different from the ones here–except for the language, of course.
Oh, another different thing: during communion, the priest asked each person in queue (me included) if he/she was Catholic. Maybe there were non-Catholics who attended mass, too?
LED roses in front of the church.
Gwanghamun Square where statues of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and King Sejong are located.
During this time, there were still protests, albeit quietly. Their purpose was for the impeachment of incumbent president Park Geun-Hye. Tents were lined up on the sides. It’s a crazy story why the nation wants her out.
The Story of King Sejong Exhibition Hall, an exhibit about South Korea’s birth of hangeul, as well as the country’s history of artillery and military tactics. Admiral Yi Sun-Shin was also one of the highlights of the exhibit.
If you read about Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, he’s incredibly badass.
~obligatory touristy pic~
(Thank you, Dana!)
View of Gyeongbokgung Palace from Gwanghamun Square. We didn’t enter anymore since we’ve both been inside before.
We walked to Bukchon Hanok Village after and visited one of the areas for sightseeing, the Changdeokgung Palace.
The village is a residential area, despite it being a tourist attraction. There were signs up that reminded people to be not too noisy.
View of Namsan Tower from above.
Walked to Insadong and visited Ssamzie-gil, where it’s famous for ramps connecting one floor to the other.
Yonsei University. The hike was uphill, lol. Didn’t take much pictures because it was pretty tiring!
The view inside Namsan Tower.
Funny story: we thought there weren’t buses going to Namsan on that day because the bus number wasn’t listed in Seoul Station. We went to Myeongdong instead and it was listed that the bus was in the garage. We were about to give up, thinking that the buses weren’t in operation, but there was a sign that said that the buses alighting just wouldn’t be as frequent (? if I recall correctly; we had to decipher the sign since it was in Korean).
To my surprise, Namsan had newer attractions! They added newer places and establishments to explore beside the tower.
Aaaand finally, last day…
My last day in Seoul comprised of last-minute shopping and spending New Year’s Eve in Hongdae. I wanted to go to Jongno-gu for the bell-ringing (Bosingak Belfry) but had to hold back because there would be too many people. Hongdae is, indeed, a place for partying. New Year’s Eve is definitely a time for clubbing in Hongdae. However, we, the #TitasofManila, just went back to the hostel after some fireworks. Very exciting NYE, lol.
(We did plan on going to a Gayo Daejun, but we didn’t push through since we weren’t actively seeking for tickets. Ah well. Having watched Nell was enough for us!)
That’s all for my ~travelogue~ in South Korea. Until the next adventure!