Prior to this trip, the furthest I’ve been to is just Taipei. This is my first trip to both South Korea and Japan. The whole trip included Seoul and Osaka, and our flight was planned this way: Seoul – Osaka – Seoul. The trip was planned 6 months ahead because we wanted to take advantage of the early bird special for Korean Air tickets and all the excitement only started about a month before the trip, although I did start buying winter clothes much earlier than that.
Having never experienced autumn or winter, I was looking forward to the trip and feeling anxious about the weather at the same time, constantly asking Mel if it would be too cold for me, and asked her to help me pack my luggage. Having a well-travelled (even if it was only to Korea!) daughter has its advantages…
Mel, Irene and I took a 1am flight on 11th Nov and flew to Seoul via Korea Air where we spent a night before flying to Osaka to meet up with Lina, her girls Wen and Ya, and Stef who had flown directly to Osaka a day before us.
- Before our flight…dinner with hubby who drove us to the airport for our 1am flight
- Irene ready to fly! Our pre-flight shopping loot: TWG macaroons and cream tea to get us through the midnight flight.
- Pic 1: stuff they provide onboard; Pic 2 and 3: selfies before take-off
- Self-amusement…and getting ready to settle in get some sleep
- Touched down and testing out the weather outside the airport
- Tempting cakes at the airport but we went for abalone porridge instead…which was a tad disappointing because it was bland and the abalone was cut into small pieces and almost non-existent
- Taking the train to our rental apartment in Hongdae
Mel is very familiar with the Seoul train system because she had been there so many time that we’ve lost track of the count, so we had no problem getting around the area and finding the apartment. Along the way I noticed that Irene’s luggage had lost one wheel (her luggage has 2 wheels on each corner). Since there was another wheel supporting that particular corner of the of the luggage, it wasn’t too much of a concern although she would need to get a new luggage before our flight to Osaka the next day.
We were too early to check in the apartment, so we went to a café called Twosome Place (a chain café just like Starbucks, but with yummy cakes) to have some cakes and while away the time.
- Twosome Place
We sat near 2 gentlemen who were conversing in a mix of Mandarin and Korean, and just before they left, one of them turned to smile at us and started a conversation with us. It turned out that he is a Korean language teacher and his friend is a Chinese national who was going to take a tour guide exam in Seoul. We spoke mainly Mandarin, even though the Korean man could speak English as well, and his friend tried to practise his knowledge of Seoul’s places of interest on us by telling where we could go visit. Mel knew practically all those places he mentioned even though it was hard to comprehend what he was saying as he mentioned those places in their Chinese names. The language teacher praised her for her clear pronunciation of the Korean words so she must be rightly pleased, and so was her mommy 😛
Finally it was time for our check in and with our luggage in tow and our bodies warmly wrapped up in jacket/coat and scarves, we made our way to the apartment. The cleaning lady was just coming out of the apartment when we unlocked the door with the password (digital lock).
The studio apartment was quite spacious, with 2 double beds, a sofa bed, a built-in kitchen and a decent bathroom.
- Irene showing the hidden kitchenette. Our view from the window excited both her and Mel, while I remain clueless as to who that guy is…
Irene had been sick prior to the trip and was still feeling slightly under the weather so she took her meds and got knocked out for a bit. I had a short nap too before we started exploring the area. Mel’s itinerary was Edae but we went to Myeongdong Street instead so that Irene could get a new luggage. It was strange dragging the new luggage along but then the street was filled with tourists so it really didn’t seem out of place at all. One Innisfree outlet even offered locker areas to store customer’s luggage but we didn’t use the service.
- On our way to Myeongdong for some shopping and also to get a new luggage for Irene
- Got our first bite of a Korean street food, the Gyeran-ppang (egg bread).
After eating the egg bread, getting the luggage and some facial creams, we hit the street and had our face stuffed with street seafood…
- Abalone and Scallops
- Where can you get fresh lobster for under S$20???
- Fresh butter and garlic prawns, and eel…Yummy!
- Some shopping before dinner…yup, even after all that seafood we still had stomach for dinner!
We went back to Hongdae for our dinner after depositing the luggage in the apartment and found this little gem of a restaurant, Joon Ho Kitchen, tucked in an alley. The beef in the beef bowl and sushi was so tender and juicy that Mel almost cried out of sheer bliss… And the best part is that the whole meal only costs us less than S$40. Oh, another best part…there were 2 waiters who looked alike, probably brothers, and they were tall and good-looking, although the guy serving us has a more rugged look than the other. They were pretty cool going about their business while we took surreptitious glances at them LOL This place begs another visit, we told ourselves, and we did return on the last day before our flight back home.
The sky had already darkened when we stepped out of the restaurant even though it was just 8pm. As it was a Friday evening, there were many young people out and about, and many buskers showcased their singing talents along the streets, probably hoping to be discovered by talent scouts.
There was a group of female students waiting excitedly around for a young man to set up his equipment when we passed by on our way to dinner and when we walked back the same way, the guy and his friend were already serenading the crowd. However, their singing was a bit lacklustre which probably explains why the group of female students had almost all disappeared. Guess on a street filled with good-looking Korean men you really do need to have other talents to attract the hordes of star-struck young women in the land of K-pop!
We headed back to the apartment after some more shopping. I managed to constrain myself to buying only an eye-cream (most of salespersons in the shops selling beauty creams always recommend me eye-cream when they saw my face!) and a souvenir for a friend. After some packing, we zonked out till 6am the next day to prepare for our flight out to Osaka.