An unfortunate note before I begin this post: I have had to rewrite this a couple of times since WordPress has been pretty wonky the last couple of days. It kept logging me out while I was writing this post!
I honestly have been meaning to write about my trip to Seoul, South Korea the moment I got back.. but procrastination happened and here we are! If you are subscribed to my Youtube channel, you’d know that I have even already started uploading my Singapore travel vlogs and my Korea vlogs were uploaded within consecutive days months ago. I wish I have the will to do the same with the rest of my travel posts. Let’s see. 🙂
We started our second day in Seoul by heading to Nami Island. It was such a feat to be waking up at 5 AM after the eventful night we had, and before we knew it, we were walking to the subway to take a couple of trains to Nami Island.
A lot of people say that the trains are difficult to navigate. But I believe that if you’ve tried the public transportation in a couple of other Asian countries (such as Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, etc), it would be easier to find your way. The stations also had their English names displayed which is useful.
I’m not entirely sure whether I have mentioned it in previous posts, but the difference between Seoul and the other subway systems I mentioned above, was the absence of escalators in most stations. I have found the secret to why most Koreans are skinny!!!
Wait, did I just say that the trains in Korea were easy to use? I would have to correct myself that it was mostly a breeze to use, but Murphy’s Law is always there to muck things up for you. As it turns out, there were a couple of trains headed for Gapyeong. Both Sean and Jill had already been to Seoul prior to our trip, and we were using parts of Sean’s old itinerary. She’s great at this – we literally had a shared sheet with detailed instructions in getting to places (photos of landmarks included) as well as costs. So when we boarded the train and it turned out to have reserved seating which we did not have tickets for, we were confused. Sean immediately exclaimed we were on the wrong train and in a moment of confusion (and panic), we scrambled to get off. An announcement that the train was departing was already blasting through the train speakers when I got off first, then Tin. The beeping had Sean jumping off the train door while it started to close. Jill brought up the rear of our group, and we were all yelling for her to get off quickly. The ahjummas inside the train were too. It was like one of those slow-motion scenes in movies where one of the characters almost gets halved by train doors in a freak accident. Haha!
We did manage to find the automated ticket booth for the train to Gapyeong (you can’t use your T-Money card) which was one floor down. At this point, my feet was already punishing me from being dumb enough to not break it in before the trip. Having to climb all those stairs felt like participating early for this year’s Penance parade. My blisters usually heal quickly and leave no marks, but it’s been three months since that trip and I have scars on my feet as souvenirs for this trip. There was no use running up and down the stairs too because by then we were too late to get tickets for reserved seats and paid 4000 won each to sit on the train floor of the next train.
About an hour later, we finally found our way to Gapyeong station. From there, tourists can opt to either take the bus or a taxi to the port. Since there were four of us, and the line for the bus was quite long, it was more convenient to take the cab since we had three other people to split the bill with.
Cab drivers only go up to a certain point, and they dropped us off a couple hundred meters away from the port itself. It was a Friday but it seemed to be peak season to go to Nami. The crowd was intense, and to be honest, overwhelming. There wasn’t even a proper queue once you’ve paid the 8000 won entrance fee (boat ride included). We simply went to where the bulk of the people seemed to be.
Arriving in Nami, we could already see some of the trees and I was a bit disappointed that the trees were mostly green. I have watched so many Korean dramas that took place in autumn and it was breathtaking.
I guess the management of Nami thought the same so they created this ‘falling leaves’ illusion. Haha!
I’ve had a couple of Korean friends tell me to visit South Korea during their autumn season as it is their peak season. It has given me the impression that the autumn foliage is why tourists all over flock to the country from mid-September to early November. Coming from a tropical country where we alternate between exhausting humid heat ranging from beach weather to this-heat-is-going-to-fucking-kill-me-someday, and rainy days where even a drizzle could cause 6-hour traffic jams (although that may not be the weather’s fault altogether), seasonal tourism is truly a foreign concept.
You could imagine how giddy we all became upon the sight of yellow and orange trees. We took tons of photos, thinking these were all the ‘autumn foliage’ we needed in our lives.
Once we were done taking as much photos as we could with those trees, we headed to where most of the restaurants were. It was noon and almost everywhere was packed with people having their lunch. We decided to just buy various skewered meat which tasted bland in comparison to the street food you will find outside Nami. Pro tip: maybe head to the restaurants for a proper meal, or go all out and pack your own lunch so you can have a picnic (like real Korean drama characters, ha!).
We rented bikes for two hours. The island is too big to explore by foot on limited time, and we were planning to take tons of photos. (Also, remember that Winter Sonata scene where they biked at Nami?!)
I rarely take great photos and the ones I took do not do it justice. I’m not a big fan of the outdoors, but this was one of the moments where I could not help but wish that my eyes could take photos. Everywhere I turned were sceneries that seemed to be straight out of a postcard!
Funny story time! Tin didn’t know how to ride a bike before the trip and when we booked our flights six months prior, we teasingly insisted that she learn how to. And by sheer will, she did so by practicing a few days before we took off. Haha! There was even a time where the three of us had so much fun biking (it was quite a bumpy trail), we sped up and totally lost her. Once we stopped and realized she wasn’t following behind us, we retraced our trail and was literally screaming her name the whole time. It was quite a scare at the time but we all laugh about it now. 😛
I never realized how much I would love to live in South Korea even just for a little bit, until I was looking at the photos from the trip. We didn’t even take a lot of photos! But 3-4 days barely scratched the surface.
Spent and ravenous (please remember the lunch box pro tip mentioned earlier), we headed to Myeongdong to look for the dakgalbi restaurant Sean kept raving about. At that point, I was ready to eat anything, even those live octopus they serve at pojangmachas.
We did not find the exact restaurant but we found a similar one that serves cheese dakgalbi. I swear it’s one of the best things I’ve ever put into my mouth. (Or I might be biased because of the hunger, but still, it was great!)
After the filling dinner, we strolled around Myeongdong. Sean and Tin was out to shop, while Jill and I, like the #TitasOfManila/#AhjummasOfSeoul that we are, ended up food stall hopping. This strawberry mochi came highly recommended (by everyone who has tried it) and the 2500 won price tag made it easy to try it. As it turns out, it’s mochi encasing a large strawberry and nutella. I’m not even ashamed to say I had more.
Let me tell you that I’ve been to a lot of shopping districts, but I have never entered as many makeup and skin care stores as I did that night in Myeongdong. It was crazy! Albeit buying a whole lot of skin care items (I was on the hunt for LABIOTTE where they sell wine makeup), the items I bought the most were socks! C is fond of printed socks, and I bought a whole lot of them that he hasn’t bought a pair since. And in our group of four, I had bought the least number of socks. It was at another sock store that we bumped into one of our colleagues, Raech, who was also vacationing with her husband and in-laws. Everybody loves Korea! *waves South Korean flag*
We were supposed to head back to our apartment by 9 PM.. But plans change, so together with Jill, we looked for a coffee shop where we could drink tea like the true titas that we are until our friends finish their shopping. Ha!
TEESH || PHILIPPINES