Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Korya! I Seoul You!

I love Seoul!

I did not expect to like the city.  I was there 20 years ago with my Mom and it was just OK for me.  I was not adventurous back then.  I thought the food was too bland and I just went around the area of Lotte Hotel World where we were staying. I went to Lotte World Adventure which was nearby.  It is an indoor theme park.  I enjoyed the light, sound and water show, though.

When I came home from this trip I was so happy!  I could not understand why.  I go to trips every month but this latest adventure of mine really made me so ecstatic to the point that I want to go back to Seoul next week!

Let me count the ways why I am in love with Seoul.

Originally, it was just a layover trip for Doc BF and Dra. Cristina who were on their way to the US via Asiana Airlines.

They asked me to join them in Seoul.  I could not commit yet back then because I knew Ate was planning a trip to Tokyo and I wanted to go with them.

Odinah, Cristina's sister, also wanted to go to Seoul.

Pinky and BFF Tina also had plans.  They were booked for June 15 but they had to rebook and joined Cristina et al.

We had a get together at Pinky's house last June 12 and they were already planning their itinerary.

"I want to go with you to Korea!"

Right there and then I checked out the visa requirements and for a cheap airline ticket! I found one but did not book yet.  I figured,  I can just do it at home.

But when I got home, the fare almost tripled in price. It was too expensive but I still submitted all the requirements for a visa the next day. Hoping against hope that I would find a super discounted fare.

I was sad because I thought I lost my chance.  Tricia neighbor even  treated the Junkies at Korea Garden to make me happy.

Friday morning, I was talking to my Ate on the phone.  I do not know why I suddenly decided to check the app of Jeju air. I could not believe my eyes! It was on sale at that particular moment! $60 + $50 plus taxes and fees!!!

I booked my flight! Ate said I had to purchase baggage going home because it is crazy not to have a baggage allowance going home and not buy anything. Yikes, it was $40 for 15 kg.! Almost as expensive as my return ticket.  My carry-on allowance was useless.  I am not a light traveler. I brought the barest minimum stuff, shorts and t-shirts and the weight of the luggage was 6.9 kg upon leaving Manila.

It was a crazy weekend for me. Lots of errands and business matters to attend to.  Whenever I leave for a trip, I make sure there are no loose ends so I do not have to worry.

I only had 5 days to research my itinerary and eatinerary!  I went a day early.  My traveling companions arrived the next day.

Sia was the only one who could go with me because Babe is a bit on the heavy side.

I took the midnight flight of Jeju Air out of Manila.  It is like Cebu Pacific but lots of Korean passengers.  The AC was not too cold though, I had to fan myself the entire trip.

As soon as I arrived at the airport I took a photo.

But not a selfie because Pinky is the selfie expert.

I went through immigration and then got out of the terminal to buy the Airport Limousine Bus ticket.

EEEKKK!!!  Vending machine!

I love vending machines but not as complicated as the one in the airport.  It took me quite a while to figure it out, the queue behind me was getting longer and longer.  Finally, I got my ticket.

I waited for bus 6701 leaving at 5:22 am for Koreana Hotel.

The bus was spacious but again, it was not cold.

The bus dropped me off outside Koreana Hotel.

Too early to check in so I asked them if they have an early check in fee.  Of course, they do.

I was willing to pay the extra $50 so I can rest and go around the city with renewed energy later on.

The room is 30 sqm. with 2 beds and a divan.

There was just one little problem.  The AC was centralized and the temperature was 24 degrees!

I am a 16-18 dergrees person.  That is my usual setting at home.  I tried to take a nap for an hour and a half and was perspiring when I woke up.

Looking out the window I saw some buildings across.

New Kukje Hotel.

I immediately checked Agoda for the rate.  Yes! I can afford it.  I was just supposed to sleep with Pinky and BFF Tina but I could not handle the temperature of the room.  I know I am the one with the problem because if you let Mona sleep in that room and she would even use a comforter.

Before I started my eatinery, I crossed the street and checked out the room of the hotel.  I made sure that the temperature of the hotel could be adjusted.

YES! 18 degrees!

I went down and booked my room via Agoda.  I just got the standard double.

I was a happy camper when I started my food journey.

The Seoul Metro was my mode of transportation.

After several flights of stairs and station transfers....

I found Shake Shack!

I am mighty proud of myself because it was a bit difficult to find it.  Even my friend who has been living in Seoul for a while now said she has not been to Shake Shack yet because it is far from where they live.

A big congratulatory pat on my back, please.

Smoke Shack Burger, Cheese Fries and Strawberry Milk shake.

The burger patty is made with Angus beef. The sandwich has Cherry peppers and cheese.

It was a lucky day because the line was not too long plus I was able to get a table.

Milkshake!!!! I loved it!

I ate all the fries and the burger.

Back to the subway, next destination was the underground Goto mall.

I looked around and bought PD little flower vases as small as a 5 peso coin.

Next destination was Lotte Mart located outside the Seoul Station.

Whenever I go to supermarkets abroad, I am always on the look out for the Oreo cereals that my niece Gilly and nephew, Nicky love.  I found it!

I bought 2 boxes but suddenly had big problem.  How am I going to bring home 2 big boxes of cereals?

I figured I will find a way.  I brought a small duffel bag but it was not that big.

Evening itinerary was Myeong-dong.  My neighbor, Mia, said I would love the street food.

The whole street was lined with food vendors one after another! I love Myeong-dong!

32 cm. soft serve ice cream

Hahahaha Camote q???

Giant chestnuts and boiled white corn

Pomegranate Juice

Twigim, their version of shrimp tempura

Grilled giant scallops with butter

Mochi covered strawberry

Bread with egg


Korean Fried Chicken

Honey Pancakes

Waffled filled with ice cream

Sausage and rice cakes

Grilled lobster with cheese

Tornado potatoes with sausage

Octopus tentacles

Beef Bulgogi

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fried crablets


Their version of Yakitori

It was time to head back to the hotel.  I could not eat everything because there was no space in my stomach!  I had to rush to the hotel because the trains were up to 10 pm only?  I am not sure, I did not check.

The hotel room was still too warm for me.  Ate said they asked for an electric fan when they went to Seoul last year because the heater was on!

NGEK! Remind me not to travel during the cold season.

So, I called room service to ask for a fan.

When I woke up the next day, Doc BF, Dra. Cristina and Odinah were already in the lobby!

They could not check in yet to their room so they stayed in mine.  They were able to freshen up and nap for a little while.

Deoksugung Palace

I am not a "sightseeing" kind of traveler but the rest of my party was.

There was a changing of the guards ceremony going on when suddenly Cristina said, "Lia! Look at all those people coming out from the alley.  They are all eating waffles!"

I could not concetrate anymore.  My neck was getting longer and longer trying to figure out where the waffles were coming from!

After the photo ops outside the palace, we looked for the waffle store.  We found it!!!!

I did not eat waffles but got the Belgin Milk soft serve ice cream instead.

The reason why I went to Korea is because Cristina said if I join them in Seoul, she will treat me to an ice cream cone!

No choice! I had to go to Seoul!

This is the reason why!

So good!  It was like the Hokkaido milk ice cream in Japan but sweeter.

Then we had lunch at the nearby Mom and Pop type of Korean restaurant.

Spicy Pork BBQ, Beef Bulgogi and very spicy octopus tentacles.

We went back to the Belgian store after lunch.  I ordered the Strawberry Snow!

Look how happy I was!

I started to sip from the straw....

Nothing was coming out...

I sipped harder and harder and still all I could drink was air!

I thought to lift the straw a bit but then it tasted like milk and ice!

It was not going well... then Cristina suggested I mix the strawberry in the bottom of the glass.

Slowly... little by little...

I could taste the sweet fresh strawberry!


Hahahahahaha The chronicle of the straberry snow was very funny.

Our next destination was Nandaemun Market.  We just rode a bus to get there.

It is like divi.

Mostly wholesale products.  Stationery, clothing, house wares, luggage, bag, etc.

I bought a new carry on luggage so I can use it for the Oreo cereals.

We tried several street food.  I liked the freshly squeezed Mandarin orange juice.

Korean pancakes, their version of piyaya.

Korean Taffy!!!

I took a video how it is made.

Korean Shaved Ice dessert!

With Mangoes

With Fresh Blueberries!

After our merienda, they went back to the hotel for a much needed rest while I went around the area.

I really, really love ice cream!

Strawberry ice cream from a truck vendor.

I was looking for Daiso when I accidentally found Big Guy's Lobster!!!!

For $25 you can either order a whole lobster or Lobster Roll.  I opted to order the latter because I do not want to pick the meat from the shell.

It came with clam chowder, fries and coleslaw.

I enjoyed the meal so much!

Our meeting place was at the Lotte Food Hall.  I looked at all the food counters.  I was so full already but I had to eat the Godiva ice cream for Shey!

I was not even done looking around the supermarket when my companions arrived.  We went around Myeondong but we did not eat dinner yet.

While waiting for Pinky and BFF Tina,  I checked into my new hotel,

I was upgraded to a bigger room, a corner room, with 2 beds, 2 windows, a vanity area and a work desk.

Then the last of the Korya group arrived!

It was very late already and we looked for a restaurant still open at that hour.  We found one near our hotel.

I finally got to try Kimchi in Korea!

Bulgogi Stew was like sukiyaki.




It was past midnight when we went back to our respective hotels.

I had a very restful sleep because the temperature in the room was 18 degrees.

Alarm clock at 6:30 in the morning!  I had breakfast at the nearby Mc Donalds.  Boring! Then went to their hotel.

It was going to be a day of sighseeing!

Destination was Nami Island!

We took a train to get to the ITX station.

Then rode the ITX, it is the equivalent of the bullet train but not as fast, though.  I was given a seat in the reserved section of the train.

It only had 12 seats and again.... I do not understand why the AC was not very cold.  I had to tie a lampin around my neck so it absorbs the sweat.

After 50 minutes, we arrived at the Gapyeong Station.

We waited for the bus to take us to the port of Nami Island.

Lunch was at Kko Kko Dakgalbi.

It was a cross between chicken afritada and pochero but spicy!

Kimchi again...

First ice cream of the day was Tangerine flavored.

It was a very hot afternoon when we started our sightseeing tour.

We rode the ferry which took 7 minutes to take us to Nami Island.

It was the location of the K Telenovela Winter Sonata and other K drama.

You would love the place if you are a fan.

I do not know anything about it but was glad to be with the Korya group.

We hired an electric car to take us around the small island.

The famous Metasequioa Lane!  Photo Ops galore!!!

Dra. Cristina and Doc BF


Pinky and BFF Tina

Then I asked them to take my picture.

Hahahaha They made me laugh so hard because they said I have to stand a bit taller!  I could only make my neck longer.

I told them we have to look for the little snowmen on top of the table.

They were not snowmen but a sculpture which symbolized The First Kiss of the Winter Sonata couple.

A quick snack and drink at the Snowman Cafe.

We walked back to the pier to ride the ferry back to the mainland.

After Nami, we took the shuttle bus to Le Petite France, another shooting location of the K Drama,  My love from the stars (?) among other shows.

I remember Butch telling me that he bought an ice cream cone there and the ice cream toppled over even before he had a chance to eat it.

I found the store!

There are little cottages all around.

A peek inside one of the cottages...

It was almost sunset and we headed back to their hotel to rest and freshen up.

We walked to Myeong-dong to eat dinner.

Galbi Tang

Ummm? It was like pork ribs sinigang with pickled vegetables and a very spicy broth.

Hahahahaha I should have eaten it with patis.

Then they went pasalubong shopping at Lemon Mart.  It is a small Korean grocery.

Last day in Seoul for me.  We had breakfast at Dunkin Donuts!

OMG! I love Dunkin Donuts!  I want to go back just to eat donuts everyday!

I got the cheeseroll, egg tart and honey dipped twisted donut and cherry juice.

I could not wait for them anymore so I started eating breakfast!

The waffle store was right beside it.  I asked them to buy me Nutella waffle.

Would you believe I lost 7 lbs?!?!? Even if I ate and ate all the bad stuff, it was because of all the walking and walking in Japan and Korea.

They were going to Hanok Bukchon Village.  They wanted me to go with them but I had to go to Homeplus to buy Jing's eco bag.

Another reason for losing weight.... the steep stairs of the train stations.

Some do not have escalators and the elevator was far and only for disabled people.  After going down 4 or 5 flight of stairs, you have to go up the same flight of stairs going home!

My gluteus maximus got an extreme work out. Yay for me!

They rented costumes in the village.

Cristina eventually bought one.

I asked Doc BF what was the costume for, he said maybe while Cristina is watching her K drama tele novela she would wear it!

HAHA! Funny Doc.

They said it was a dream come true for them.  It was once in their bucket list. Now it is off the list.

For me.... the dream come true was.....

Chocolate and Candy aisle!

My kind of world!

I would not exchange it for anything!  Even for a chance to wear a hanbok costume.

My last meal before leaving Seoul.... I went to the restaurant just behind my hotel.

I ordered the grilled ribs with garlic smothered in honey.

The rest of the Korya group joined me later on.

My despedida sort of.

I waited for the Airport Limousine Bus to take me to Incheon Airport.

Chicken and Beer before boarding the plane.

But I did not order beer, just orange soda.

Would I go back to Seoul again???

Yes! Yes! Yes!!!

Why? I really do not know why?

One of the reasons I suppose is the company.  The Korya group was such a hoot and a half!

Another reason perhaps is because I was not able to eat everything I wanted to eat!  Still lots and lots and lots to try in Myeong-dong and in the city.

Up to now I still cannot understand why I was so happy when I came home.

I thought I was the only one who felt that way.  I am mistaken.  Pinky also felt the same way.

Thank you so much Doc BF, Dra. Cristina, Odinah, Pinky and BFF Tina for making this trip one of the most memorable and happiest ever!

I left my heart in Seoul!

Korya! I love you!!!


I took me a while to write this post because I had to sift through several hundreds of photos.