Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Gogung Bibimbap @ Myeongdong 明洞 명동, Seoul 서울 - Korea Trip Day 1


So this is it. Our dream came true. Our first backpacking trip in our favourite country, Korea 대한민국.

We were able to meet amazing people and experience amazing things during this trip which was still very surreal to me.  I secretly wish that the trip never have to end.

We took the Airasia X flight and landed at Incheon International Airport after six hours. The moment we touched down, the excitement that I had been containing since the planning of this trip burst like a water balloon.

The beautiful suburbs near the airport.

From the plane side window which was 1000 ft above, I caught a glimpse of the city across the river which looks like the merging of crowded identical square boxes.

The city was planned and built well, I thought.

Incheon International Airport:

We started looking for the Airport Railway sign. There are two types: the express train which only stops at Seoul Station and the all-stop train which stops at every station. We opted for the all-stop train because it was much more cheaper than the former.

At the airport railway station. Starting to sweat like mad because it was summer and I still had my thick sweater on. It's the only sweater that I had brought. Just in case the nights here get really cold. And also for our few domestic flights within Korea.

Everyone around us started speaking the foreign language that we are so familiar with. 한국어!

Get your free T-money card at Korea Tourism Organisation. It can be used at all subway and railway stations. The only downside is that it can't be used for Busan Metro.

Day 1: Myeongdong, Seoul 명동, 서울
How to get there from Incheon International Airport:
Take the Airport Railway to Seoul Station. From Seoul Station transfer to Line 4 and exit at Myeongdong Station. The entire journey from the airport to Myeongdong took us more than an hour. A lot of walking is needed.

Tips: Download 'Subway Korea' app by Broong, Inc. It is free and you can use it to find the nearest station for transfer which is very important because Seoul subway can be quite complex even for locals.

Myeongdong is an ideal place to stay in Seoul because it is conveniently located in the centre of the city and is near to many tourist attractions. Plus you can go sightseeing in the morning/afternoon and go shopping in Myeongdong itself at night.

Accommodation: Zaza Backpackers Hostel
How to get there:
Take exit 3 at Myeongdong Station. Turn left immediately at the exit. Walk towards Pacific Hotel. Take the left path at the Y-junction and walk straight for 60m. Turn right after DUBU restaurant with white exterior. Zaza Backpackers is on your right.

Room rate: Double room 360,000 won for 6 nights (7th night is free)

We registered at Zaza Backpackers and were led to another building called Myeongdong Global House. Myeongdong Global House is actually one of the many hostel buildings owned by Zaza Backpackers.

Towering above our hostel is the famous N Seoul Tower aka Namsan Tower. The cable car station is only a walking distance away.

There's a common area in the hostel where you can get free drinks and hot water. Microwave is also available for light cooking but do note that the common area is locked after 12am.

Laundry service is 5000 won per big bag of clothes.

So basically everything was satisfactory good except for the water heater which was faulty sometimes. Was quite annoyed when that happened. But we still enjoyed our stay at Zaza.

Heading straight to Myeongdong after putting our luggage in the room. 

Quickly took out the camera and snapped some photos with Korean buildings and streets as background. Every shot was picture perfect.

Myeongdong underground shopping centre.

To go to Myeongdong, just take the escalator down from Exit 3 and walk towards Exit 5 or Exit 6.

We knew immediately that Myeongdong is a place that caters for tourists, especially China tourists, when we first stepped into Myeongdong. 

There's always a shop assistant who can speak fluent Chinese standing at the shopfront of every cosmetic or fashion store. 

The number of tourists from China in Myeongdong is also overwhelming. Since Myeongdong is a crowded place, you can easily bump into a tourist from China every second, if not minute. And they are not hard to notice either since they usually talk rather loudly.

The abundance of Ching Chong almost made us feel like we were walking on the streets of Beijing or Shanghai. Almost. There were still quite a number of young Koreans in Myeongdong enhancing the presence of Kimchi nation.

I was later told by local Koreans that those shop assistants who speak fluent Chinese are usually immigrants from China but of Korean ethnic (鲜族). That explains why they are fluent in both Chinese and Korean.

Will blog about my shopping hauls and more food in Myeongdong in separate posts. There are so many nice food that you should try here. Thinking about Korean food makes me salivate.

Ddeokbokki which needs no introduction. It's the first thing we ate in Myeongdong, or Korea.

Most snacks in Myeongdong costs about 3000 won including this ddeokbokki.

This guy selling Ddeokbokki also speaks fluent Chinese. Few days later I bought ddeokbokki from another stall owned by a Korean Ajumma (located next to Natural Republic near Myeongdong entrance) and the sauce is much more spicier and thicker than this stall.

Bacon wrapped sausages. 3000 won. Hubby's favourite but to me they are just sausages.

Jajangmyeon. Also needs no introduction. Famous food in Korea as you often see it in Korean dramas.

Jajangmyeon for 3000 won as well.

Had dinner at this famous bibimbap restaurant called Gogung. Couldn't find it initially but accidentally bumped into it shortly after we gave up. Haha.

We found this restaurant with pure luck but one thing for sure do not follow the directions given by some tourism website or blogs. The directions were out of date as I was pretty sure the restaurant has been relocated before.

However, the restaurant is not difficult to notice if you explore further up from Myeongdong station. It's next to a tall building in the centre of Myeongdong.

Makgeolli also known as Korean rice wine.

Side dishes with salad. The Kimchi here is so good.

We ordered this 2 person set but regretted it afterwards because we couldn't finish everything.

Huge seafood pancake as starter but it was too huge for the two of us to finish it.

Highly nutritious Bibimbap. There are many high quality ingredients inside this steel bowl that I couldn't even name.

Mix everything together and you have your delicious bibimbap ready. You can add more gochujang if you prefer more spiciness.

Overall the food was quite delicious but slightly on the pricey side. If you are tight on budget, you can definitely find similar Bibimbap with simpler ingredients and cheaper price in other restaurants.

That's all for today's post.


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