My holiday period in Korea was quite short because I only extended my stay for 3 days after the exhibition ended on 13 May 2016.
I moved directly to Ibis Ambassador Hotel in Myeongdong right after the expo ended on May 13 afternoon. After approximately 1.5 hours spent inside a subway train, we finally reached Seoul. It was quite an amazing experience trying to find the hotel, because we got the wrong ibformation about thw subway exit. We were told to go to Exit 10 or 9 (I don’t remember exactly) in Myeongdong station and then we would find the Ibis Hotel nearby.
We did find the Ibis Hotel nearby, not a long walk from the exit, but it was Ibis Styles Ambassador and NOT Ibis Ambassador. It was a totally different hotel and the right hotel was in a totally different direction from that Ibis Styles. Thus, our long walk began. We were also carrying lots of baggages from the expo, mind you. Each luggage was approximately 20-30 kg and we were carrying them all the way from Ilsan, riding the subways, going up and down the stairs, while desperately searching for elevators or escalators to ease our burden. Then after we reached Myeongdong area, we found out that we got off at the wrong exit and needed to walk all the way accross the crowded Myeongdong area while dragging our luggages. That was quite an exercise. However, after we went around for a bit (naturally, we got lost trying to find the hotel) and asked around for a bit, we finally managed to find our hotel. The right hotel this time.
After we finally checked in and got to our room, we went around Myeongdong for shopping and also dinner. Once we finished dinner, since it was still early, we decided to go on a shopping spree to Namdaemun. However, we couldn’t find the market that we were looking for, so we decided to just go ahead and went to Dongdaemun area instead, where we shopped till our hearts content before going back to the hotel.
The next day was a K-Pop filled trip all around Seoul, started from Apgujeong Rodeo station and ended in Hongdae. I will talk more about this day in another post.
15 May 2016 was Sunday so I went for a Sunday Mass in the cathedral nearby. I just needed to walk accross the Myeongdong street (deserted in the morning) and then I would directly find the cathedral. I was lucky to find a Church with an English Mass, unlike my previous stay in Busan where I spent 4 months going to masses in Korean which I didn’t understand at all.
After the mass was finished, me and some of my friends went to Bukcheon Hanok Village. The houses were beautifully ancient and traditional, but still very much lived in. The ambience in the neighborhood was also very nice and peaceful. We didn’t explore all of the area because of the time though (and also because of the very steep road).
Next on the list was Insa-dong. I really like this area because it was unique and still quite traditional but also artistic and modern with its many art galleries. There, I went and bought myself a box of Korean traditional sweets known as the Dragon Beard from one of the stalls.
I have been trying to get this sweets again since the last time I left Busan after my semester was up. So I didn’t waste my chance and bought a box for a souvenir. Unfortunately, it couldn’t stay soft and chewy after a day so when I opened the sweets up after I went back to Surabaya, it was as hard as a rock. Well, at least I got to buy one after five years.
After Insa-dong, I initially planned on going to the Gyeonghui Palace (behind Deoksu Palace) and also the museum beside it. However, it was already too late in the afternoon to explore the big palace, so I set up a meeting with my friend whom I met during my stay in Busan. We were going to meet in Garosu-gil, near her place. So I separated from the others in the group because they went back to the hotel (because it started raining and they didn’t bring any umbrella) and headed off to Shinsa station. It was raining quite heavily once I reached Shinsa station, and so I started walking by myself towards our meeting point. Since it was still very early from our appointed time, I went and visited the Line Friends store that I found during my walk. It was a cute store befitting the concept from Line. The Brown stuffed toy at the front of the store was extremely cute.
When I was in that store, my friend told me that she couldn’t meet me after all, because her boss told her to go to work. So, having nothing to do, I walked around under the rain by myself all along Garosu-gil. Since I didn’t want to go back the same way to Shinsa station, I decided to just go ahead and try to find the next station. So I walked and walked and walked until I reached Apgujeong station. Then I went back to the hotel to regroup and form a plan of things to visit at night.
After I went back to the hotel, my friend actually wanted to go to Insa-dong and the Line Friends Store as well, so we ended up just re-visiting my walk from the afternoon. Only this time, there was someone else who could take pictures of me. So, I managed to take a picture together with Sally and Brown.
When I went back to Insa-dong together with my friend, my umbrella actually broke. It was the second umbrella that I had to throw away in Korea because of the strong wind. I ended up making an unplanned purchase of a new umbrella. Unlike last time, though, I didn’t forget to bring the umbrella with me this time. And then we planned on going to the Han River, but the rain was pretty heavy so we didn’t go through with our plan and went back to the hotel instead. That was something I deeply regret.
The next day was just a preparation and travel to the airport for me. My flight wasn’t until 3.15 in the afternoon, but better be safe and came to the airport as early as possible than be late. There was some kind of a parade there though and I got my last glimpse of Korean culture before I went back to Surabaya.