Sunday, 28 November 2010

Roaming the streets of Samcheongdong-gil and Bukchon

Anguk Subway Station, Line 3, Exit 3

Today, Rose's family arrived in Seoul and I am their "official" tour guide - Frankly, Rose knows more about where to visit than I do! She mentioned this beautiful street with quaint shops and folk houses named sam... something. I have not heard of this sam.. something place... though I was supposedly the guide here. (Korean words in transliteration seem HARDER to pronounce, seriously). Well anyways, she has the directions and so I tagged along!

This is called SAMCHEONGDONG-GIL - looks super complicated to pronounce - literally read "sum-chong-dong-kill"

I found out from the tour book:
"Samcheongdong Street - Traditional Korean houses and modern buildings are juxtaposed to create unusual scenery. Contemporary restaurants and wine bars have been established in traditional houses along with galleries, designer shops, specialty shops and themed museums".

Basically, this street gives a sense of nostalgia and melancholy edge, filled with a mix of old and new times. 

New times = Modern looking quaint buildings selling contemporary fashion and accessories (you won't find Faceshop, Etude house etc. here)

Old times = Folk Houses which really are traditional Korean style houses (most of which ARE real residences 

This is one of the many shots of the modern buildings which looked like a cottage in a village. 
I thought it's architectural style was homely and nice, and it was different from that of Apujeong and Hongdae. (they each have their own sense of taste and are all fabulous in their ways!)

OK, a little more on the directions - the moment you exit from exit 3, you should spot some signs to tell you where is where but in fact, none states where Samcheongdong-Gil is cause the whole area is Samcheongdong. 

So, just follow the path alongside the stone walls in the 2nd picture below (that seems to lead to nowhere) cause you will soon reach an intersection and that's where you will start to spot the cottage-looking buildings. 

The weather is really getting colder by now as Winter is just a few days away.. I don't even want to think about how cold that will be!
More pictures of the contemporary cottage-like shops! yay!

And there you see, right next to the cottage-like buildings, there will also be old-world style folk houses!

There are plenty of food and cafes in this area, so no hungry-stomachs!

And you find quaint little shops, artistically displaying their merchandise in front of the store! The prices ain't too expensive, really, but seems like the items sold could also be found in Myeong-dong.

See why I say it looks artistically displayed?

I just had to position them in this manner to add that melancholic idea in the photo!

And at random intersections, you will find residences like these, that's why the experience was so... cool?

Of course, while walking in between intersections, we have lost our way and decided it's ok to just "go with the flow" and ended up at this sorta main road, which will led us to Gyeongbokgung.

In fact, so many shops and cafes line this road. 

Since this location is close to Gyeongbokgung & The Blue House (where the president stays, I suppose) 
my guess is that this district would be an expensive one (where the wealthier people stay). 

Notably, this could also be a dating point cause I do see lotsa couples hanging out here 
(Seoul really has so MANY dating places ya know!)

Signing out with an idiotic pose of myself!
 (BTW, if you observe the background, that is the side entrance to Gyeongbokgung.)
Mental note: Next time, I'd try walking to Samcheongdong via Gyeongbukgung!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Hanging around Sinsa-dong, Garousugil, Apujeong?

What should I say about this next location?

Even though I've read about this location from tour books, it's not one of my to-go places cos the it has this image of an "up-market street". I mean - I am no "up-market girl". And a real bargain hunter, so, what good would it be for me to hang out in a location that's known to consist of luxury goods, expensive cafes, and ultra-beautiful people?

Oh, well, Rose would proof me wrong when she insisted I go walk-walk with her the day she arrived!

I gotta admit that I am really confused with its names. So is Sinsa-dong, Garousil and Apujeong the same location? Truth is, I STILL don't know. But we did get off Sinsa subway station and randomly found our way to these beautiful streets which are so different in architectural styles and concepts. The window displays also seem to be more influenced by the West. A stylish place with an artistic touch in every corner. It's like walking through an art gallery.

"It's like the SOHO district of Seoul.." says one of those tourist websites. And it sure was!

Sinsa Subway Station, Line 3, Exit 8

Here are some random shots of the streets. See how different they are compared to the rest of the shopping districts like Hongdae, Myeongdong and Dongdaemun?

They say you could spot celebrities hanging out in these areas too, since there are a couple of entertainment agencies nearby.

Pretending I'm in some part of Europe!

These pictures are just a peek into the streets here - if you wanna see more - come experience it yourself!

Some crazy shots on the day I went to meet Rose!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Hweeli is in town with me!

The year-end season is finally here and some good friends visited me over the weekend! YAY!

It's coming to 3 months (in another week's time!) since I arrived in this foreign land. Time just whisked by and I no longer feel so much like stranger.

Having friends plan and come visit me makes, me feel warm and homely.

Although I thought the term break of 3 weeks was suppose to buy me time to just sleep, hibernate, basically chill-out without having to face school and do homework - but hey! having fun with the friends whom you have known for ages feels different from having fun with friends you have just met.

You basically go - like. crazy. together.

Hweeli is here with me for a short 3D2N stay. For the first night - I crashed over in her hotel and the second night, she crashed over at my room!

Did I mention, it was LOTTE WORLD HOTEL! Just the perfect place for the thrill-seeker in me.

Directions to Lotte World - Subway to Jamsil Station, Line 2 or Line 8, Exit 4. (You should spot signs to bring you here)

Yup - so thrilling that we decided to go for a carousel ride! *bleh*

Yup, great shot of me pretending to be held captive.
And oh.. check out those dirty feet. 
Again, the glorious "V" sign!
The Lotte World Castle does look a tad bit like  haunted Castle here!

I don't bother doing photoshop cos... hmm... I'm too lazy.
Just be candid ok.

On day 2, I brought Hweeli for a "Korean Perm"
This is the regular hair salon that I go to and even though I don't speak perfect Korean,
they understand my needs well.
So we just went - "I want the latest style of Korean perm" and there you have it.
PIP - Perming-In-Progress

And this is me with my favorite hair-stylist.

This was how my fully utilized, tiny room looked like when Hweeli stayed over.

We basically only had space to walk from the door to the bed.
Even the bed was JUST enough for us to sleep in 1 position.
But it was really coy to have a pal sharing the room with me.

Thanks for flying her and spending these few special days with me, my lovely friend! 

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Dinner @ Uncle Daniel's @ 상록수

Winter is soon approaching.. as it is, the weather is already getting pretty cold, but bearable. (Now I understand why I see people wearing jackets even at home in Korean dramas)

Today I got an invite for a home dinner at one of my mum's church friend's place (Uncle Daniel). Uncle Daniel was a missionary (i think) stationed in Singapore for a period of time, hence, it kinda felt like I was meeting someone from "home". The location was 상록수역 (Sangnoksu, on line 4), about 20 stops with 2 transit stations in between. Total travel time was close to 2 hours - but it was soooo worth the effort and distance.

Uncle Daniel waited for me at the station as he was afraid I might get lost. Very sweet of him.

The moment I arrived at his place, I was greeted cordially by his 2 little darlings and his lovely wife whom I address as 언니 (big sister)! They can't really speak English and so my Korean was put to the test!

It didn't take long for them to warm up to me and soon we were communicating in all sorts of body languages and hand signs! HA!

Even though I offered to help, 언니 refused any help in the kitchen & in no time, the food was prepared and we gathered around the table for a feast.

It's not my first time being in a Korean house (the first time was when I visited my buddy's) and I really do think they all resemble what you see on the Korean dramas.

We dine sitting on the floor. The dishes are always covering every bit of the table leaving no spots empty. And there's just something about meat wrapped in cabbage!

As we said grace for the food, I really thanked God for such friendships (though they were more like my mums friends - I felt they were my friends or even my uncle/auntie). The warm feeling of home just washed over me at that point. I can only say I'm truly blessed.

Could simply feel the TLC in there!

And there you have it, my cute buddies!

And my kind host!

The amazing thing is, it's the first time I am meeting each of them and yet, I felt like I've known them from before.

They treated me with great hospitality and even though we have a communication barrier (my Korean proficiency is just hopeless), it doesn't affect the way we communicate. 

We share stories, experiences, words of encouragements about life and crisis and many more...

Due to the change in seasons, the day gets really short and before we knew it, it was dark, even though it was barely 8pm. 언니 was asking me to stay the night (I felt so accepted and loved, somehow), but being the OCD me, I need to sleep on my own bed and hence I promised I'd be back soon for a round 2 and that will include me helping out in the kitchen! 

She gladly obliged and offered to teach me the art of making a cold cucumber dish! 

My goodbye hug to the little one!

And a promise that I'd come back soon!

The thing about traveling to foreign places on your own and randomly hanging around, is that you never know what you are gonna get. 

And experiences like this one doesn't come easy cos its like a spirit-meet-spirit association. I cannot even begin to describe the fuzziness... Just absolutely grateful.