Sunday, July 13, 2014

Travelogue Day 1: 안녕하세요 Seoul! Hongdae, Trickeye Museum, Ice Museum and Dongdaemun!

Annyeonghaseyo! Officially day 1 of my Korea travelogue even though technically i arrived the night before. For whatever reason you missed the previous Day 0 post, you can read it before you start on this post: Day 1 in the land of Hallyu - as much as i can't wait to visit the oh so famous theme parks, i felt that the first day should be spent getting into the momentum of being in Korea, if you get what i mean. I wanted to roam the streets, eat their street food, spend some Korean wons, basically getting into the mood of being in another country and the best place to start would definitely be one of the more popular tourist area in Seoul - Hongdae! At the same time, visit the ever famous trick eye museum! :D
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Accommodation for this trip: Seoul Tower Hotel. Had a pretty good sleep the night before, the bed was comfy, temperature just nice. Skipped the hostel breakfast because it was nothing much, basically just jam and bread i think.
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#ootd in the middle of the road outside the hostel. 
 Love how my copper/orange adds vibrance into the photo. The photo probably won't be as vibrant if my hair was black.
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On the way downhill towards Myeondong subway station, i spotted this little store selling toast bread. Took the menu and decided on something on the safe side - Ham Cheese Toast. Little did i expect it to have a omelette inside as well with the ham and cheese! Not only that, the egg was mixed with corn before pan-frying. The first bite was HEAVENLY. It's like the perfect breakfast and in my head i was like, "I can totally have this everyday!!!" In front of the counter (bottom right hand corner pic) is a couple of baskets which i soon realized it's for the payment. Basically you pay by putting the money into the baskets - coins and notes separately and if you are supposed to get change, just take from baskets accordingly. It's all based on integrity since the 2 ahjummas are pretty busy preparing the orders. 맛있어요!
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The taste of the toast still lingers in my head till today and i wish i can have one of it right now! :(
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Traveling on the subway requires the T-money card, just like our Ezlink in SG. So we went to the T-money machine to purchase one each, selected English language and was given a choice of getting the normal card (2500won) or the token (5000won) The token looked pretty unique and makes a nice souvenir so i got the token for myself and topped it up! $$
Talking about traveling on the subway. Do download this "Subway Korea" app by Broong, Inc. This app is the must-have app a tourist in Korea should have. It has the latest subway map and provides you with essential information that you need such as time table, transfer information, cost and more. I referred to this app wherever i go because it gives me the route that takes the shortest time and the stations to transit to get to my destination. Oh ya, the app is FREE! 대박
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To get to Hongdae, take the subway (Line 2) to Hongik University station (홍대입구역) Approx 26 mins from Myeondong.
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Instead of roaming the streets, we decided to head to Trickeye Museum directly. To get to Trickeye Museum, take exit 9. Go straight for about 150m and turn left onto Hongik Street. Go straight 120m and turn right down the second side street (between TonyMoly and Holika Holika) Continue for about 100m and Trickeye museum will just be on your right.

If you think the instructions is confusing, fret not. There will be signages along the way to guide you to the Museum. Don't expect a grand entrance because the entrance is only a stairway leading to the Museum at the basement. Admission fee is 15,000 won but do PRINT OUT THIS COUPON (link) which will entitle you to pay only 12,000 won! ($15)
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Practically took photo with every single artwork but i'm not gonna flood all the photos here plus it's gonna spoil all the fun if you know everything that's inside. Actually few days before i was about to fly to Korea, i received an invite for the opening of Trick eye Museum at RWS but the date was during my trip but never mind, i visited the real deal in Korea! :D
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Inside the museum, there is actually "photo spots" stickers on the floor which your photographer should stand on so that he/she can have the best angle to take the photo in order to achieve the best result of each artwork. There are also examples pasted at the side so you can reference it in case you have no idea how to pose! Think out of the box!

The ticket also includes admission to the Ice Museum located on the same level! Before you enter the sub temperature museum, the staff will pass you this ridiculous looking vest which you are supposed to wear it inside (i have no idea what's the purpose of it) but you won't see the "vest" in the photos below because it's so ugly and it will definitely ruin the photos lor. Wore the vest in and took it off upon entering. Just ta-han the cold, take all the photos and leave!
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You know how we have the 2 degree ice art exhibition in SG? It's like the same thing lor, only smaller. It's really really cold inside till i exited the museum after going in for about 15 mins, then hang out outside at normal temperature before attempting to go in again for more photos. I was wearing short sleeves and shorts some more! Totally freezing.
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Good experience nevertheless and i really enjoyed both the trick eye and ice museum. Spent close to 2.5 hours in total i think. There's also free WiFi at the main area so you can upload your photos online on the spot to show your friends! Then again, now that the trick eye museum is opened in RWS, it might not be that unique anymore... Nonetheless, it's still a must visit attraction for tourist! You tell me, how can you go to Seoul and not visit the famous trick eye museum?!

Time to roam the streets of Hongdae! Hongdae is known for its urban arts and indie music culture. I heard that it gets really crowded during the weekends and you can find freelance singers and musicians showcasing their talents along the street! There is also lots of cafes and fashion stores, catering to the students from the nearby Hongik University. Nice!
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Spotted a cat cafe as well as the famous Hello Kitty cafe too! I really love how the fashion stores display their apparels and accessories, makes me just wanna buy everything! One thing you can notice about the apparels is the quality! 좋은
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After spending the afternoon at the museums and roaming the streets, we realized we did not have our lunch. So we popped by a random steak restaurant called - "Roscoco" and had set meal each. Mine was a teriyaki chicken steak set!
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Before lunch, we past by several street stalls selling street snacks but we told ourselves to have something decent for lunch before trying them all, LOL Was so tempted to buy and eat along the way while looking for a place to have lunch!!! 2 highlights snacks was this fish waffle filled with yogurt and a chocolate covered fruit stick (3000 won) Delicious but i think the yogurt filling inside was too much for me, couldn't finish it. The waffle was nice and crispy!

Have always been a fan of Churros and when i saw this stall selling made to order Churros, i knew i had to get one! The ahjumma will squeeze out the dough and put it into the fryer and it takes about 7 mins for an order to be ready. Piping hot churros with chocolate dip (2500 won) One word - Awesome! Why is it so difficult to find good Churros in Singapore?
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Spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Hongdae and when Don mentioned that the flagship store of the famous women's fashion store StyleNanda is located in Hongdae, we decided to hunt for it since we had to buy some stuffs back for our friends. Took us awhile to find the store since there was no directions, almost wanted to on our wifi egg so that i can use my GPS but just as i was about to search on my phone, the store was just to our left! So lucky us.

While don was making payment, i came across the famous Stylenanda photo booth which i remember seeing girls on my FB and Instagram taking a photo as a "proof of visit" and since it was empty, i just went in and started taking photos (it's free by the way, lol) Ended up taking twice, one in B&W and 1 in colour. #freethrill #kiasu #singaporean HAHAHHAHAHA
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Random #ootd shot along the street. The photo turned out pretty nice!
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After Hongdae, we decided to head to Dongdaemun to see if we can do some shopping. On the way there, we passed by this stream which i think is the famous 11km Cheonggyecheon (청계천) stream that runs through downtown Seoul. There is a history behind this stream (go read if online if you are interested) but now it's a good hangout place for couples to rest and relax. In the photo above, there's actually ducks on the middle platform! I have no idea where they come from.
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Taking the subway during the peak period is seriously no joke. Just when you are entering the train upon the door opening, people from behind will just push you all the way in and when it's time for you to alight, you have no choice but to push your way out because it's so squeezy! Just when you think the peak hour crowd in SG is bad. Oh my tians...
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Dongdaemun is a popular shopping and tourist destination. Definitely one of the must-go because there's so many shopping malls in the area and they are opened up to 5am! YES, 5AM! You did not read wrongly! Even though it's a shopping haven, the stuff for guys are quite limited or should i say they are selling almost the same thing. Couldn't really enjoy shopping because the shop keeper will come and "pester" you and do some hard selling, so annoying. Anyway the apparels at Dongdaemun are not really cheap but again one thing you can be sure is definitely the quality.

Outside along the streets are these stalls that sells Korean street snacks like the famous spicy rice cake (Tteokbokki) and my all time favourite corndog covered with french fries on the outside! Super delicious with the tomato sauce!!
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Saw a shop in one of the malls selling a whole range of one of my favourite brand - Boy London! Oh my god, i want to buy the whole store down!!! I want all the singlets, tee and pullovers, not forgetting the caps!!! Some limited edition!
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Stalls along the pavement selling all sorts of street snacks! After looking closely at the photos above, i realized they do sell churros too! (or is it not?) Now i kinda regret not trying a bit of everything. Everything must have taste delicious :(
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Once again we were too busy roaming around that we totally forgotten about our dinner. Decided to have Fried Chicken! Korean Fried Chicken or Seasoned Chicken (yangnyeom chicken) is really popular in Korea and it's one of most popular food item to have for supper for Korean! It's normally consumed with Beer and recently this "chicken and beer" got really famous because of the hit Korean drama - My love from the Star" as it's the favourite supper of Cheon Songyi
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On the way back to the hotel, i saw a street stall at Myeondong street selling my all time favourite egg bread (Gyeran Bbang 계란빵)! It's like this sweet muffin with a slightly salted whole egg on top of it! SUPER DELICIOUS, especially when it's just out from the oven!!! You have no idea how good it is until you taste it for yourself! So craving for one right now!

That's all for my Day 1 in Korea! While blogging about my trip, i realized i ate quite a lot along the way, especially those junk and street food instead of proper meals. Then again, i'm not really a fan of Korean food because good ones are mostly spicy or they are filled with lots of veggies, especially the side dishes that comes along with the meal you ordered, mostly are all greens and veggies. Oh wells, i'm perfectly fine with fried chicken and street food! HAHHAHAHA My Day 2 post would be a visit to one of the famous theme parks in Korea! Not mentioning which one so do stay tuned!