I have always looked forward to travelling out of the country whenever it is possible and as of the moment, South Korea has been my most frequented travel destination for the past two years because I just love this country so much!
Whenever I travel, I make it a point to try new things so during my fourth visit to Seoul last November 2016, my friend and stayed at Hotel Maui which is one subway station away from Dongdaemun. Continue reading “Hotel Maui in Seoul”→
On my first trip to Seoul, I booked my accommodation at Zaza Backpackers. I have a friend who is a loyal client of them. She gave positive feedback about them and she always stay here whenever she goes to Seoul. Since I am a solo traveler on a budget, her feedback made me feel at ease even if it was also my first time to stay in a dorm room. Continue reading “Zaza Backpackers Hostel in Seoul”→
Kimchi is undeniably a staple in Korean cuisine because no meal is complete without it as it is one of the main side dish which identifies the uniqueness of Korean food among others. It was not love at first bite for me years ago when I got curious by how it tasted through the various Korean television dramas I have watched, but I have grown to love kimchi through the years. For me, eating my favorite gogi mandu (dumpling) and kimbap (seaweed rice roll) taste better with kimchi.
I will call it luck that our autumn trip last November was scheduled just in time with not only one but two important cultural events for Koreans especially Seoulites. We were able to attend the Seoul Lantern Festival 2015 on its first night on November 6 and the 2nd Seoul Kimchi Festival on its second day on November 7.
At Gwanghwamun Square, there was a kimchi-making exhibit which also displays all the various ingredients for different types of kimchi as well as clay jars of different sizes that can get as tall as a grown man that I even had to ask our guide twice just to make sure I heard it correctly. I just cannot imagine how many kilos of kimchi they can keep in such a huge jar!
It was my second time in Seoul and my first time touring my friends in my happy place, the country which I would always want to go back to…South Korea. We were very fortunate that our travel dates coincided with the 2015 Seoul Lantern Festival so I took this as an opportunity to introduce to them one of the many colorful festivities which characterizes Korean culture.
The Seoul Lantern Festival started in 2009 for the Visit Korea Year and since then, it has been one of the major events in the city. Last year, the theme was “Shining World Heritage of Seoul.” The theme for this year’s festival is “Illuminated Seoul Tour,” which features Seoul’s main tourist attractions such as Bukchon Hanok Village, Gwangjang Market and Jongmyo Shrine. Approximately 600 lanterns are on display along the stream which spans about 1.2 kilometers from Cheonggye Plaza to Supyogyo Bridge.
I was very glad that my friends are very open to my suggested itinerary so despite being tired from our almost 5-hour bus trip from Busan and despite the rainy weather, we still headed to the venue at Cheonggyecheon Stream to witness the event on its first night on November 6, 2015.
It was also my first time to see Cheonggyecheon Stream at night and if only it was not raining at that time and freezing cold, I would have loved to sit by the stream to just relax and enjoy the view of the beautifully crafted lanterns.
After successfully touring the entertainment agencies of Cube, JYP, FNC, SM and YG as well as Jong Hyun’s Dessert Cafe, I decided to push my luck more and end my K-Pop fangirling day by having dinner at Hwang’s Eel Restaurant which is owned by the father of CNBLUE’s drummer Kang Min Hyuk. It was dark and quite late so I got lost a bit because I passed by it without even realizing. I was about to quit and just go back to our hostel in Myeongdong but as I traced my way from where I started, I found it! Yehey!
I did my research about the restaurant but not about Min Hyuk’s father. As I approached the restaurant, an ahjussi (middle-aged Korean man) greeted me. He looked familiar so before I entered the restaurant, I greeted him and asked him if he is Min Hyuk’s father and he said yes! I introduced myself in Korean and told him I am a big fan of CNBLUE and I bowed 90 degrees instinctively as I said that haha! ^_^
The restaurant is small but homey and colorful because of the various sticky notes posted by international and local fans of CNBLUE who went here. I think 80 people would be too much for this place so perhaps it can accommodate 50 to 60 people at most.
Mr. Kang led me to my table and a lady approached me and gave me the English menu. I asked her in Korean what is the best dish and she pointed the pork skirtmeat on the menu, so that’s what I ordered. I will be more adventurous and try their signature eel dish next time.
In Manila, some Korean restaurants will have their staff cook the meat for their clients but most restaurants I’ve been to including this restaurant, you will have to cook the meat for yourself. I was served the side dishes first then the meat.
I was trying to take a picture with my monopod so I can update my friends in Manila but I dropped my phone on the table causing some heads to turn towards me, I was so embarrassed! Then the two ahjussis who were on the table next to me, offered to take my picture. One of them asked me where I came from and if I went to Seoul alone. I told him I am from Philippines, it is my first time in Seoul, and I traveled alone. He was so surprised when I said that, probably thinking I was brave to do that. He even told me Filipinas are beautiful and he kept repeating that to me and of course I thanked him for the compliment! As we were talking, his friend who I thought was taking my picture, took a video of me instead! These ajussis were so funny so I had a great time while having a meal. After that, I overheard their conversation and their topic switched to CNBLUE, ajussi fanboys in the making haha! ^_^
After a hearty meal, I posted a note for CNBLUE and placed it in the very corner near the table where I was seated. I will make sure to check on it when I come back this November or April next year.
It was almost 10 p.m. when I paid my bill. I was hoping to greet Min Hyuk’s father again before I leave. Thankfully he was there to receive my payment. I gave him a simple gift and asked him if we can take a picture together. I was not expecting he would agree because he might be busy, but he said yes! We took two photos together. Yehey! We said our good byes and he even asked me where I was staying. He gave me directions which subway entrance to take, probably worried because it was late and I might not make it to the last train. Min Hyuk’s father is really nice!
The underground shops were closing and some of the trains ceased operation so I had to change my route, which I was not prepared. It was not as easy as the previous tours I had during the day, but I still made it back to our hostel elated by how my day went so well overall.
Address: 5-2 Yeongdeungpodong 3(sam)-ga Yeongdeupo-gu, Seoul, South Korea 서울 영등포구 영등포동3가 5-2
Here is the step-by-step guide on how I made it to Hwang Eel Restaurant (minus the getting lost part):
1) From Yeoundeungpo Station Line 1 영등포, come out of Exit 5. You can also come out of Exit 1 which is the nearest to Hwang’s Eel Restaurant (see step 4) but I am not sure if it’s of the same station. I only saw it when I went home because that’s where Mr. Kang instructed me to go.
2) Walk over the main street where you will see Shinsegae. Cross the street and stay on your right side.
3) You should pass by a blue street sign (Yeongjung-ro 4 gil 옝중로 4 길) and a drug store which has a red LED sign 약.
4) Walk until you reach Yeongjung-ro 10 gil 옝중로 10 길 which is near subway entrance/exit 1, Times Square is on the opposite street. Turn right.
5) Congratulations, you made it to Hwang Eel Restaurant. Hope you will enjoy your meal as much as I did! ^_^
Psy’s song “Gangnam Style” had been a worldwide hit but this is not the reason why I went to Gangnam. Of course, Gangnam is known for its upscale fashion and it is a shopping haven for the trendsetters. World-famous brand labels line up the streets of Apgujeong-dong which will make the fashionistas’ heartbeat faster.
That is a different story for a K-Pop fan like me. The huge yet cute and colorful statues (also called Gangnamdol) which represent K-Pop idol groups from different entertainment agencies along the K-Star Road are more interesting to look at! You will easily find this road upon exiting the subway. Be sure to drop by and take lots of picture with your favorite K-Pop group’s Gangnamdol before you resume your long walk towards the entertainment agencies of Cube, JYP, FNC and SM along Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong.
Address: Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea.
Directions: Bundang Line Apgujeong Rodeo Station Exit 2.
Operating Hours: Daily, 24/7.
You may visit the following links for more details:
Medical Tourism is being actively promoted to encourage foreigners to get their medical treatment in South Korea which includes cosmetic surgery and skin care, medical screening, traditional Korean medicine, wellness and other medical services.
A month ago, I posted about Visit Medical Korea New Members Event. I followed them on Facebook, shared the contest’s details on my SNS accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+) and signed up for membership. I was not really expecting anything but after a few days, I received an email that I won the special prize JYJ autographed CD! I replied immediately and waited for the package to be sent to me. Waiting is such an agony especially when you are excited, right? Last Saturday I finally received it! Yehey!!!
There is something about going out of the city that is refreshing. I somehow enjoyed the long subway ride from Seoul to Gapyeong as I observed how my surroundings changed from buildings to landscape. I saw colorful flowers starting to cover the mountainside and I got excited about how Nami Island, one of the many famous tourist spots in South Korea, would look like during early spring. After a brief tour in Petite France, I headed for Nami Island through the Gapyeong City Tour Bus (note that you should keep your ticket with you during your city tour because you will have to present it to the driver every time you ride the bus). From the bus stop, you will have to walk about five minutes to reach the ticket office where you will pay for the entry visa worth ₩8000 (inclusive of the discounted entrance fee for foreigners and the round trip ferry ride).
My interest about Korean drama has piqued my curiosity about Korean culture and history which in turn have a major influence in their architecture too. They featured their grand palaces and traditional villages in their historical dramas and even in modern-day TV drama, they continue to feature Hanok which are Korean traditional style houses.
After taking a walk around the expansive Gwanghwamun Square and exploring the majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace, I walked towards Bukchon Hanok Village. Since it is situated in the middle of Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung palace, most of the families of high-ranking officials used to live here during the Joseon Dynasty. This village remains a residential area where majority of the remaining Hanok can be found.
As a Korean drama fan, I wanted to see the film locations of my favorite Korean dramas and I was fortunate to have come across Bukchon Traditional Culture Center while I was looking for these locations. This center was a former residence of the Min family who was in charge of finance during the late part of Joseon Dynasty. It was converted and reopened in 2002 as a place which offers information and exhibit to share and experience Korean traditional culture.