Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 1: Seoul Searching Begins

My first teaching job was as an English instructor to Koreans. That was 7 years ago. Since then, I've fallen in love with the Korean culture, food and people. My sisters and I would spend hours and hours watching many different Koreanovelas and movies. We would often dream of going to the nice places we see on tv and we swore that we'd eat authentic Korean food in Korea! Haha!

Eleven months ago, I went on a very special trip. I am a late bloomer when it comes to travelling abroad, so I was beyond psyched when me and two of my sisters decided to book a trip for Incheon. We had it booked on May and we were to fly a week after my birthday.

I was fear stricken at first because visa was required for this trip. After months and months of worrying, I finally got my passport on my birthday! And it appears that they approved the visa that same day too! :)

When the plane landed at Incheon International Airport, I was still in awe. I just can't believe that I was actually standing on South Korean grounds. A dream come true indeed.
Incheon International Airport. Beyond Expectation. Indeed! 
Looking down helped us find our way out. 
Hassle-free airport.
A sunny day greeted us as we head to the train.
Single journey. 
We took the long way to Seoul. I think we had to transfer twice to finally get to the train to Jongmyo district where we will be residing for 6 days. We landed early in the morning, so some train stations were packed with people. Rush hour. I was the one with this huge luggage so it wasn't really a breeze for me. And most train stations don't have escalators or lifts, so my sister had to help me carry my luggage when stairs were involved. When we finally reached Jongmyo, I was tired and hungry and my arms were starting to kill me. Finding Beewon Guesthouse wasn't much of a trouble for us. We came across two God-sent policemen and one of them led us straight to the guesthouse.
Friendly Jongno-gu neighborhood.
UNESCO World Heritage: Changdeokgung
Tourist mode on! :D
Students on their field trip.
After checking in at the guesthouse, we went on in search of the authentic Korean lunch experience. We walked to this business part of Jongno and we were greeted by office employees on their lunch break. There were a lot of restaurants to choose from but we chose this small family-owned restaurant. It was packed. So we went on with our adventure and decided to go back when lunch break is over.
It's tiny details that get me.
Small potted plants.
Vintage "thrift" shop. Their version of ukay-ukay. Still kind of pricey.
Selfie inside Superan.
We can no longer ignore our hunger. Time for us to go back to this restaurant. Gave our orders by choosing pictures displayed by the window! Good thing we knew that we really wanted bibimbap and kimbap and that we can actually know how to pronounce them! For all the food that we stuffed our faces with, we only paid KRW12,000! That's not even worth Php500. Not bad at all!
Feast for three!
Their kimbap is really something!
Generous serving of side dish.
Seafood soup with lots of bean sprouts and other veggies. So good!
This place didn't disappoint us. We kept coming back for more. It became our dining room away from home. The owners were really nice. The old lady who cooks never forgot that we only want mildly spicy soup. ;)

After our hearty lunch, we explored some more. My sister knew where she wanted to go next: Bukchon Hanok Village. It's this part of Seoul where hundreds of traditional houses called hanok stand. We found this cute little boutique, Anvil/Moroo, on our way to Bukchon. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed just looking at and taking pictures of the handcrafted stuff! The CEO/jewelry designer was surprised to know that we were from the Philippines. She said we were her first Filipino customers.
I just love this mirror!
Star struck! She bought a pair of earrings and took this very Korean photo with the CEO.

Koreans are such creative people. You can see it all over Seoul.
It's NOT only in the Philippines.
Nice, clean wall. :)
Ceramic shop.
Getting closer to Bukchon Hanok Village.
Oh how my heart skips a beat everytime I remember our first day! And I haven't even seen my most favorite place in Seoul! We're almost there! :D

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