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Monday, August 6, 2012

Day 5 - Romantic Seoul

Unfortunately for me, I woke up feeling like I've been ran over by a truck on our 5th day on Kimchi Land.  Lungs were congested, body were aching, running a little fever too.  Got these from a Korean Pharmacy at the airport.  They basically sells everything Korean only.  No panadol/clarinase/strepsils. :p  I just need to point to my throat, coughed a little, and put a hand over my forehead and voila!  The pharmacist gave me these! Hahahaha... No needs for words.  Lols...  The med was not too bad.  It clears up the congestion by time we touched down in Seoul.
We departed Jeju (a.k.a. The Island of A Thousand Gods) on the first flight out and arrived back in Seoul at 9:30am. Took a train ride for approximately 45 minutes, changing Line once or twice, before arriving at Chungmuro Station.  Found our little hotel almost immediately, dropped our luggages and out we went again for our second breakfast at Paris Baguette around the corner as it was still too early for check in.  It was literally a corner shop.  Perfect for people watching!
Since we got back from South Korea, I've always thought that they have the most awesome pastries.    Really, not too bad.  A little on the pricey side, but it was good.  But since I just got back from Laos last week, these were nothing compared to what we had in Laos.  Will leave that to another travelogue once I am done with this.  I know I know, I will work harder! :p   I was supposed to finish this in July, and it is already August and I am still stuck on Day 5... tsk! tsk! 
While enjoying coffee and pastries, we ran thru the our planned suggested itinerary before deciding on what to do for the day.  In the end, we decided to do these:

1) Namsangol Hanok Village (directly behind where we were)
2) Back to hotel to check in & freshen up a little
3) Hop onto Seoul public bus
4) Namsan Dongaseu for lunch
5) N Seoul Tower
Namsangol Hanok Village, smacked right in the middle of tall modern buildings, is a restoration of five traditional Korean houses from Joseon Dynasty.  It is a pretty awesome park to visit.  Reason being, it's FREE!  No entrance fees required. :)  Quite a huge place though which requires easily an hour or two to complete.  The Time Capsule Plaza is also located in this park.
The beauty of travelling in Spring is, other than the awesome weather, you get to see colours everywhere.  Pretty flowers blooming gloriously everywhere you turn your head...  what a pretty sight!
Don't know what flower are these but they are surely pleasing to the eyes.  Buttercup? 
Another genre.  Pretty white blooms.  :)
At one section inside the park, there are man dressed in traditional Korean attire, showing tourists how Koreans from a long time ago weaved baskets for their everyday use.
 I thought the weaved egg holders were rather unique.  Never seen anything like these before.
Besides school children of all ages, working adults smartly dressed in tie and suit were picnicking everywhere; under canopy of blooming trees, by the streams and etc.  Mats were all laid out nicely, bentos were brought out to share among each other... how I wished we can do the same here in Malaysia!  Our weather is just simply too hot to do anything outdoor!
Though free, the park is very well maintained.  It was super clean and everything is in good condition and order.  :)
Every traditional Korean houses will have these Kimchi jars grouped together in one corner of the house and this corner have to be kept clean all time.  Sort of like a spiritual thing of sort.    It is here where Kimchi will be left to ferment.  Though visited Korea, I still haven't really acquire the tastebuds for Kimchi.  Don't hate it, don't love it either.  Definitely not my favourite.
Since we have plenty of time and nothing much really planned out, we lazed around more than we sightseeing actually.  Well, it was in fact pretty hard to resist.  As I've said, the weather were simply too beautiful.  It felt so good just sitting around, enjoying everything it has to offer while doing exactly nothing.  Deep huh? Ermm... one thing for sure is, the wood is really nice and smooth and seasoned. :p  But then again, I was feeling rather shitty from the cold I've caught in Jeju, easily exhausted.  That explains the sitting more than the walking. :p  
Having nothing much to do, we decided to do tourist' stuff - trying on the hanbok for a small fees.  It's nice to fool around sometimes doing things we would not do.  But then again, I know I would.  Let's rephrase, It's nice to fool around sometimes doing things 'some people' would not do under normal circumstance.  Ermm.., I meant the husband. I was caught by surprised when he actually bought a coupon for himself.  Lols... Probably just to entertained me.  Hahahaha....
I thought we will look quite handsome as Koreans too... not just as Malaysian :p hahahahahaha.... 
I think I look cuter.  Hahahahahaha  *thick skin to the max*.
We explored every nooks and corners of the village - walkways, corridors, gardens.... before walking back to the hotel to check in, rest a little & freshen up and head out again.  
Where we stayed was really strategic.  It was a small little family run bed & breakfast thingy called the IPS Lounge Hostel which was situated right behind Astoria Hotel.  Subway station and bus stops were just less than 30m away.  Though communication may be an issue in Korea for some, everywhere are very tourist friendly.  Bus stop have information board like this to show bus routes.  It is in fact really hard to get lost.  We supposed to hop onto the Yellow Bus No.2 (a hop on/off bus) but what the heck.  We hopped onto this one instead!  Lols....
The reason for taking a bus is just for the fun of it!  Not entirely sure what to do, we just follow the locals - tap our cash card when we hopped on *beep*, and tap it once again when we hop off *beep*!  Lols... Can't remember how much were the fares though.  The problem with blogging about it only after 3 mths. :p  bad bad bad....

So basically, the bus we hopped on, will go in circle.  So if you are not sure, just go round and round and you will still come back to the same place... hahahahaha....
Under normal circumstances or normal itinerary, if you are hopping onto the bus, one should visit N Seoul Tower (Mt Namsan) first before coming down for lunch.  But, because I was sick and hungry and crappy, we passed the tower and dropped off at Animation Center instead (which was the stop after Mt Namsan) and hunted down this famous 'Namsan Dongaseu'.  :) 
Namsan Dongaseu has been a specialty of Mt Namsan for a long time, frequented by taxi drivers who spread the word making it a popular area known for Dongaseu.  

It is actually hand made from scratch pork cutlets served with rice, vege and japanese curry.  I think it is yummy.  'Think' cause:
1) Was appetite-less.
2) Sore throat.
3) Nose blocked.
4) Fever.

Hahahahahahaha.... But the beer was good though.  Refreshing yet tasteless.  Yeah, I think I am confused.  I sounded confused.  Hahahahaha....

According to reviews, the prices and tastes are similar, so you will not go wrong with any restaurant that you choose situated in this alley.  The price range between W5000 and W6000.

Drop off at 'Animation Center' (after Mt Namsan), walk across the overpass located to the right (when you are facing the center's entrance).  Once across the road, walk up the slope about 100m to reach the alley lined with Dongaseu restaurants.
After our late lunch, since we were already there, we decided to head for N Seoul Tower up in Mt Namsan for sunset (hopefully).  There are three ways of heading up Mt Namsan.
1) By bus.
2) By cable car.
3) Hike.

And believe you me, at my health state at that time, we actually chose Option 3! *wow* yeah, I know! I must have gone mad.
It was crazy.  What we have in mind was just a short stroll.  But in actual fact, it was 262m high mountain.  And so, we just keep walking up and up and up the neverending long stretch of stairs!
It feels like a nightmare you can never wake from.  Lols... At the end of a long flight of stairs, there's another long flight of stairs.  Lols...  It just goes on and on...!
At one point I wished there is a helicopter of something that can lift me off wherever I was.  Hahahaha...  Really, not sure how much more to go upwards if we were to continue on, not sure how far down to go too if we were to choose to give up and the sky was getting dark.... hahahaha...
The husband when he thought he has arrived at the top but was being greeted by another long stretch of stairs!  Hahahaha...  
Despite of the exhausting hike, we were greeted by lots of lovely sights too.  Pretty flowers like these were everywhere...  
and these...  
and these... colours, colours, colours were everywhere.... I bet it will be super beautiful too in autumn!  
Petals of Cherry Blossoms in a stream nearby....
A bird digging for worms.... 
Symmetrical butterfly on a step...
The very last Cherry Blossom trees that were still in full bloom that we chanced upon while hiking up...  saved me the trouble to go all the way back to Incheon for some fresh flowers to be pressed dried!
 And the view.... it was PRICELESS...
 We spent quite a good while enjoying the view.... all golden from the setting sun. :)
Will I do it all over again?  Heck YES!  But this time round, I would do it slightly different.  Walking down instead of hiking up.  Still get to enjoy all the beauty it has to offer!  hehehe... Smarter a bit d...  It wasn't my fault... it was the 'Namsan's Dongaseu'. :(  I was just hungry!
 Oh yeah, they even poo poo bags stands like this here set up along the way for our furry friends...
And blind man's trail too... how thoughtful.  We saw many blind people exercising on their own along this stretch.  In Malaysia, our blind man's trail will lead them to lamp post, drains & etc.  Don't believe me?  Try following one in town... I did!  Thank God I have sight!  
And finally, we arrived UP at our destination, the N Seoul Tower.  Lols... We didn't go up to the top of the tower though.  At this point, I was feeling from shitty to super shitty.  Super cold too.  we just explored around the base and saw these thousands of locks.
Koreans are romantist!  Piano, pianist. So, romantic, romantist!  Locking a padlock with their names before throwing away the key signifies locking their love together forever and ever...hehehehe... There were really plenty of padlocks there.  Thousands and thousands.  No, we did not do that.  Cause I was wondering, if there is no more love and yet still locked together and can't find the key to unlock since we threw away the keys, oh my... it will be so miserable isn't it? :p  hahahaha.... I think weird sometimes.  Ignore me. :p

Instead, we did this.  Actually more like I fabricated it.   Yeah, that is Eiffel Tower of Paris.  I googled this picture to show you what I have in mind actually.  
But instead, this is the best I got without a tripod, explaining to a random tourists in my croaking voice in English what I wanted.  Sigh....   Nevertheless, better than none.  This is beautiful in it's own way.  We both have so much fun posing for this shot!  We met the same tourist again days later in a restaurant.  What a coincident!
Though the hoo haa of Mt Namsan is N Seoul Tower, I somehow find this distance electrical/ telecommunication tower more interesting.  Romantic even. :)  The sight was really pretty.

We were both quite proud of ourselves really.  Many of our friends have visited Seoul.  But how many claim that they have hiked up Mt Namsan?  Or witness the beauty we witnessed?

We stayed on the top till our hearts content before calling it a day.  I gotten so cold that evening despite of soaking myself in a tub of hot water and bundling up in sweaters.  Luckily I found some fever medicine in the pile of meds I dumped into our luggage while packing (which I usually don't).  Took a med, slept off dinner and by midnight, the fever has subsided and I was good to go again the next day!  :) Yippee!  More to come!  Stay tuned.