April 15, 2012

SEOUL Searching

at the Lobby
A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I went on a trip to Seoul, South Korea.  We didn’t really expect much save for the very cold weather.  On my previous travels to other countries I would make strict itineraries so as not to waste time.  But on this one, I wanted to relax and play everything by ear and that is exactly what happened.  The only thing I made sure of, apart from the airplane tickets, was our hotel booking.
my cute hotel room

I chose Doulos Hotel based on the reviews I read on Tripadvisor.com, my go-to travel website.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It is a business hotel so it’s small, but very clean and well maintained.  Its biggest selling point is its price.  Under P4,250.00 or $95 per room per night is a bargain compared to other hotels in the area, plus the airport bus stop is a mere 3 minute walk as well as the subway station.  It also served free continental breakfast so my friends and I who are food fiends were very happy indeed.  Surrounding the hotel were many restaurants and food stalls that are open very late so we were never hungry. 

sunday crowd at Myeongdong
Yummy streetfoods
Our flight arrived early Sunday morning and my goodness it was freezing cold.  We were shaking by the time we arrived at our hotel.  The temperature during our entire stay (5 nights in total) ranged from 1c to 12c so you can imagine the layers of clothes we had to pile on each time we stepped out of Doulos.

With Chiara
We took a leisurely walk from the hotel to Myeongdong, their most popular shopping area.  Famous brands are clustered in that one gigantic spot. Korean beauty houses like Nature Republic, Face shop, Etude and Tony Moly had a store in every corner.  Plus H&M, Forever21, Zara, Uniqlo (the famous Japanese label) and others.  Since it was a Sunday Myeongdong was packed with locals, and along the streets, food stalls and carts selling socks, cellphone covers and every imaginable item were scattered. 

While walking I spotted a sign on the side of a building that said FREE Traditional Costume Experience.  The word FREE had us running inside the building to the Seoul Global Culture &  Tourism Center.  Reservation is a must so we put down our names for a 3:00pm Hanbok (Korea’s traditional costume) experience. 

Hanbok ladies (L to R): me, Hazel Tolentino and Chiara Bautista

Hanbok for borrowing
We returned after a hearty lunch (it’s a good thing Hanbok conceals big stomachs) ready and excited.  
They took us to a closet that had lockers to leave our stuff in while picture taking. There were several Hanbok to choose from plus headwear and shoes.  Hanbok for men and children are also available.  It took us about 20 minutes to finish taking pictures at the 3 picture zones.  One has a backdrop of Gyeongbuk gong (the palace), another looked like a tiny traditional room and the 3rd has mannequins dressed in costumes. 
 If you’re planning to go to Korea I suggest you not miss this.  But do put down your name early and be there at the appointed time as there’s a long line of people wanting to do the same thing.  The best maps are also available at the center so get several.

restaurant facade
After a few more hours of strolling and window shopping we took a cab back to the hotel.  Note that most Koreans do not speak English so it is best to have your hotel desk write down the hotel's name, address and phone number in Korean to show the cab driver. 

Dinner was an adventure.  Walking along one of the side streets near Doulos we chanced upon a restaurant that had a plastic frontage.  There was no sign in english so we just took a chance, and good thing we did because the food was great!  The lady who took our order just had 2 questions: beef or pork.  
Having Korean BBQ with Hazel
Apparently it was a Korean barbecue place and you can order just either of the two.  No chicken here!  We chose beef.  a short while later they placed a big plate full of marinated beef in front of us to cook ourselves.
  They also packed our table with plates of kimchi, vegetables, sauces, soup and a pitcher of cold water.  We stuffed ourselves with what became our favorite food in Korea and went back to the restaurant twice more during our stay.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Ms. Lyn, hoping I will have my own chance of going there. <3