SEOUL SEARCHING: MY SOUTH KOREA SOLO BACKPACKING DAY 3

Day three, my last full day in Seoul, I wanted to go and see Nami Island but I thought and that it would eat up a lot time; I’d rather spend it roaming around the city. I wanted to maximize the time that I have left exploring and experience the vibrant city life of the Seoulites.

It was cloudy that day so on my way out of the hotel I asked Bong, the cool owner of the hotel about the weather. I asked if he think that it would rain hard that day and I was really surprised when he replied that it would rain at all! I found it hard to believe that the heavens would not pour out, because the clouds were really thick and I couldn’t even see a single ray of light from the Sun. On the other hand the wind was blowing hard that one would think that there is some sort of typhoon or weather disturbance if it was in thePhilippines. So I decided to bring an umbrella because I didn’t want my camera to get wet if it were to rain.

My first destination that day was a Jimjjilbang or a Korean spa.  I thought  that it would be perfect to soak up at the spa since the weather was cold and I could definitely use a little warmth. This particular spa was recommended by Bong because of its good standard unlike regular spas around.  But on second thought I would have wanted to check a regular looking Jimjjilbang to see how regular folks enjoy the spa.

Anyways, I stayed in the spa for about three to four hours enjoying the warm pool and heated flooring where you could comfortably lie down and take leisurely naps.  There’s also a restaurant where you could order food and eat Korean style sitting on the floor. I ordered a red bean sauced noodle which was really not that tasty, I don’t know if it was just because of the restaurant or the dish was really meant to taste that way. I actually needed to force my self to leave the spa because it felt like as if I was checked in on a really good hotel that I didn’t want to leave. LOL!

As I step out of the building I saw a tourist  information booth, I was planning to walk from where I was to the Nandaemun gate, it looked really near on the map but the information officer insist that it’s about an hour if I walk. It started drizzling so I decided to give in and take the subway.

I thought that I had enough heat on my body after soaking in the spa that I dared to lessen the layers of my clothes, but the wind was really strong making me shiver as I walk to the subway leaving me with no choice but to put more clothes on.

Upon exiting Hoehyeon station I navigated my way with my map going to the famous gate.  I had to pass through the Nandaemun market area which reminded me that it was lunch time already, It’s time to munch, munch munch! It’s a good thing that there are a lot of choices in the Nandaemun market but it also posed as challenge for me on what should I eat! I tried everything that I can -meaning anything that I think I can swallow-  well most of he street food in Korea are very “normal” except for those silk worm cocoons that I would not even dare come near.

There were several food stalls and shops offering a variety that are quite familiar to my eyes (mainly because of research) so without any hesitation –but a lot of challenge- I ordered a pan fried onion spring cake which was KW3,000 a piece. After finishing my fried cake I went next door and bought a bunch of Mandus in different flavors. The store keepers kept on talking to me on a language that was somewhat familiar to my ear until I heard a line “ni zhongua ren?” I replied with the best mandarin I could come up with “wo? zhongua ren? bu shi!” LOL!!! Apparently the staff at the Mandu stall were mainland Chinese working as an immigrant.

After trying to converse with the Mandu stall staff with my broken Putonghua I moved on and searched for something heavier to fill my hunger.I walked around the market area to find a good buy. I braved walking inside the plastic covered stalls and find out what was there that I could try. I was really hesitant because I didn’t know what they are selling at all and the only thing that I know what kind of food is that is written on their sign is Kimbap!

I walked in and tried to observe what they serve, the lady served a meal to one customer and then to another then I figured out that it that is Sojebi! I thought that it was a good buy for just KW4,000 you get a bowl of Sojebi plus some Kimbap! Yey!

It was a good meal replenishing my body heat and filled my stomach real good, plus the Kimbap that was really made in very simple way was really tasty and good! With a full stomach I marched to my main destination in the area, none other than the Nandaemun Gate.

I walked back to the main road from the market area, and yes I love walking inSeoul. Their sidewalks are well paved (though sometimes puddles come up in some areas when it rains) and are really conducive to walking.

My heart got excited and beat faster with every step that I take on my way to the Nandaemun, because with every step each store that unveils before my eyes turns out to be a camera store! It was like camera heaven I could stare all I want at different cameras from different eras in all of its shapes, sizes, colors, format!!! okay okay I’m kinda rambling here already…. But my point is I will repeat… it was like camera heaven….

From the shops I could see the gate already and I started thinking on how should I shoot it, but suddenly I realized, I didn’t bring my tripod!!! awwww geez! well I guess I really had to do a selfie shot to remember the moment.

I had to take photos from several angles but the over cast sky was really a challenge thankfully I was able to get a decent shot. It took a while but yeah I am satisfied with the frames that I was able to capture…. though my ideal shot actually is a night shot with trails of light coming from cars from a high vantage point. However, I was not able to bring my tripod for long exposure and where on earth will I get access to a high floor or roof top? So I ditched the plan.

The Nandaemun area is really interesting with lots of food and shopping choices, this area is also full of historic and cultural places that you just won’t get enough staring at. As I explore the area I found a post office in one of the buildings, it reminded me that some friends asked me for post card exchange.

I walked up the doors of the post office and inquired where I can get post cards that I can send to friends and I was directed to a counter. As soon as I got my turn I asked for a post card and the guy was handing me over this blank white card with some line on it (where I guess you write the address). I was kinda shocked and confused at the same time, I clarified that what I am looking for is a post card with a photo of a Korean landmark and he said… nope we ain’t have any of those…. hahaha of course those weren’t his exact words…. he’s not from the block you know! hahaha….

The Chill Factor

The temperature continued to plummet and the wind got stronger, I could barely feel my hands already and my body was shivering bad! I tried smoking hoping to get warmer but nah! It doesn’t work at all! I kept on putting my hands inside my pockets for some relief but no…. it’s not really a solution, it made me think now that I should have just went back to the market area and bought some cheap gloves! geez!

The temperature was really starting to be more intolerable I just had to seek warmth from anywhere, I was asking my self is this how I am going to die? Of cold? LoL!!! I saw a coffee shop that looked pretty nice, so I came in and ordered coffee to help warm up and I asked for it to be extra hot. After charging my camera’s battery and my phone, I went off and continued my journey…. with a cup of really hot coffee to keep me warm.

My next stop was the Cheonggyecheon Stream.I really wanted to walk going there since it was just like a couple of stations away from where I was. So I consulted my map and started walking to a certain direction. After a few minutes I noticed that the landmarks that I was seeing weren’t on the path that I should be taking on the map. I stopped and looked at my map but my brain seems not to function properly! I can’t figure out what I did or read wrong! T_T

After walking a bit more I finally saw a distinct landmark the Seoul Station. I looked at my map again and I figured out that I was walking at the opposite direction all along!!! How crazy is that!? The sun has set, the wind made the temperature unbearable and I had to walk double the distance from where I intended to start so I decided to take the subway at that point.

From the Seoul Station I got off at the City Hall station. From there you can walk for a few minutes and you’ll see a famous landmark that can cause some debate over friends if it is a Christmas tree or a just a huge shell! hahaha!

I walked passed the Shell/Tree sculpture and thought that it would be good to get a photo of it, but there were people taking videos of them selves. I waited for them to finish their stuff but the language and the voice that I over hear from their conversation seem too familiar! When they were done, I walked up to them and asked if they were shooting for a show but to my surprise it was Giselle Sanchez! We chatted a bit about our own trips inSeouland apparently she was there for a concert with Parokya ni Edgar. Giselle is such a nice and beautiful person and her husband, Emil with their friend were super nice too! I had to bid goodbye after our little chat so I could explore the stream and I was kinda disturbing them in their shoot… hahaha… well that was really fun… so thanks for the chat Giselle!

So there I go, off to explore the stream which is about over a mile long so yeah I didn’t walked all through it but what I saw was what I was expecting it to be. I could have stayed longer if the weather was more forgiving, I mean cool is okay but ice cold is a nayer. The stream is really romantic that it could really be a good place to walk along with your special someone, anyways I don’t have any plans of being more cheesy here so lets move forward! hahaha!

Just a stone throw away from the stream’s entrance is the Gwanghwamun Plaza where the monuments of  Admiral Yi Sun-sin and King Sejong probably two of the most famous heroes of Korea. The monuments really fits its location as if it welcomes everyone who are going to the the Gyeongbokgung Palace. I took several pictures to my hearts content and then decided to go back to my hotel. Yep I was ready to call it a day, my feet were tired and would welcome any form of rest, but I was thinking that I should not rest much because I’d only feel the pain more on my feet.

On my way back to my hotel I remembered a couchsurfing friend said that she lives near where my hotel is, so I pulled out my phone and sent her messages through facebook. One thing that I really like aboutKoreais that there are wifi connections available almost everywhere enabling me to send messages even if I was deep under the ground in a moving subway train!

It took me after less than 30 minutes to get back to my area and I was still waiting for my friend’s reply so I decided to hangout near the shops and eat a bit at the food stalls around the area. There were lots of people going around shopping and meeting friends. I really am glad that I hang around that area and see how people go about at least a part of their day with couples eating and people socializing. It felt great! It was like I was a part of the system.

I was finished with my little snack  which was about KW3,000 not bad at all, it tasted really good and it seem like they have something special on it even though it was just deep fried. My friend finally replied unfortunately she was away with her friends, oh well I guess I’d have to go back to Korea once more so I could meet her…. and yeah you guessed it right it’s my last night in Seoul already and this trip is about to end.

This post is part of my four day backpacking trip to Seoul, South Korea series

Seoul Backpacking Guide

Part 1: Arrival, Coffee Prince and Seoul N Tower

Part 2: The Palaces and Coffee Shop Experience

Part 3: The Jimjjilbang Experience and Nandaemun

Part 4: The Epilouge: Going Home

South Korea Trip Preparations

How to Apply For A Korean Visa

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ian dela pena

iandelapena, the person behind the blog brownmantrips is a yuppie living in the metropolis who believes there is always something good to see everywhere in the world. This is his depository of travel memories for his not so good and maybe soon to fail memory, thus the travelogues in this blog.

7 Comments

  1. IAAAAAAAAAAAN! Same with you i always seem to reach for a stick whenever i’m in Asia, also i remember going to the Jim jjil bang in Lasena at Makati when i went there i had a weird near death experience, haha! I wish i can go to Korea soon as well. Maybe i’ll bump into Ethel Booba in Japan 😛

    • grabe it was soooo cold…. even the guy from canada told me…. its cold in my country but the here the cold gets into the bones! OK… ill wait for your korea and japan posts…. but hopely if you have a stop over here makita naman sana kita! hmp! hahahaha =D

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