Quantum of SEOULace

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Today’s blog entry title is taken from the Ian Fleming James Bond short story and film of the same name. In simpler language, the Quantum of Solace is described by one of Fleming’s characters as “a precise figure defining the comfort, humanity and fellow feeling required between two people for love to survive. If the quantum of solace is nil, then love is dead.” (http://voices.yahoo.com/quantum-solace-november-2008-james-bond-film-1344199.html)

Originally, October 20, 2013 was supposed to be the first time I would set foot in the Republic of Korea after my college friends and I managed to take advantage of a seat sale by AirAsia last June. But I guess the Great Bird of the Galaxy had other plans for me when I got in the Youth Camp for Asia’s Future (as explained in a previous blog post). After camp, I spent the entire month preparing for my second foray into Seoul, because this time around, I’m the one expected to show my friends why I fell in love with Korea.

After getting our visas and making sure we had a place to stay in Seoul (the 5 of us booked a family room at the ROI Guesthouse in the Hongdae area. It’s 15 minutes away from Exit 3 of Hongik University station, the place is clean and new, has free breakfast and the owners are kind and accommodating! Would definitely stay there again when I come back hopefully next year. You can check them out at their FB page at https://www.facebook.com/roihousekorea or their website at http://blog.naver.com/kkjasia), I started drawing up the itinerary.

ROI Guesthouse Photo Credit to Suzie Barba

ROI Guesthouse
Photo Credit to Suzie Barba

 

Originally it looked like this:

Day 0 – October 19, Saturday

9:00 pm – Check-in at NAIA 3

Day 1 – October 20, Sunday

Hongday

Day 2 – October 21, Monday

Gyeongbokgung Palace and the other palaces surrounding the area

-Free english guided tour starts at 11:00 AM, then 1:30 PM, then 3:00 PM

Day 3 – October 22, Tuesday

Myeongdong, Dongdaemun/Cheongyecheon Stream

Day 4 – October 23, Wednesday

DMZ

Day  5 – October 24, Thursday

Everland

Day 6 – October 25, Friday

Insadong, Han River cruise, chicken and beer afterwards

-Insadong: Ssamziegil

Day 7 – October 26, Saturday

Everybody goes to the airport but then suddenly Ramon gets lost and misses his flight dun dun dun

What really happened was:

Day 0 – October 19, Saturday

9:30 pm – Check-in at NAIA 3

Day 1 – October 20, Sunday

Hongday and Gangnam

Day 2 – October 21, Monday
Gyeongbokgung Palace (English guided tour at 1:30pm), National Folk Museum (because the National Museum is closed on Mondays), Seeing the statues of King Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Soon Shin,

Day 3 – October 22, Tuesday

Myeongdong (also known as the Myeongdong incident), Namdaemun/Cheongyecheon Stream

Day 4 – October 23, Wednesday

DMZ

Day  5 – October 24, Thursday

Chillin like a villain in Hongdae and Lotte World (also known as the Lotte Mart Incident)

Day 6 – October 25, Friday

Insadong, Han River cruise, eat all you can Korean BBQ

Day 7 – October 26, Saturday

Everybody goes to the airport and everybody gets on their flight

My friend commented that our actual itinerary was a good balance: alternating between learning and having fun. That was not intentional during the conceptualization of the itinerary. Haha.

Tip: It helps if you have an app of the Subway system of Seoul. I used this app on iFany 5 (yes, that’s how I named my iPhone) and we only got lost once because the line from Gangnam to Hongik apparently branches off to kkachisan from Sindorim. The app can also tell you what time the trains arrive in the station and how much you’d pay for the fare. Also, if you can, get a copy of the InSeoul magazine that has a map of the tourist-y places of Seoul so you’ll know which exits to well, exit from the subway station.

Free and available on the App Store.

Free and available on the App Store.

CRAYON POP ON THE COVER WHAT

CRAYON POP ON THE COVER WHAT

Another tip: If you’re staying in Seoul for a week, might be best to get a T-Money card. You can reload it once it runs out of money so you don’t have to keep lining up at the ticket vending machine every time you take the subway.

T-Money card. A gift from Youth Camp by my friend Soyeon :)

T-Money card. A gift from Youth Camp by my friend Soyeon 🙂

Also, I had planned to meet up with some of my good friends from Youth Camp. Unfortunately, my trip was also smack dab in the middle of midterms season, so some of them I couldn’t meet (knowing the stress of midterms, I perfectly understood haha).

Saturday, 19 October 2013. The Ateneo Blue Eagles (lol because last time I went with Gilas Pilipinas, and this time I’m going with my friends from college get it get it) met in NAIA 3, and a few hours later, we were off to do some Seoul searching.

 

Hongdae

Photo Credit to Eleanor Kawsek

Photo Credit to Eleanor Kawsek

If you’re young, then Hongdae’s the place to stay for you in Seoul. Hongdae’s got an awesome nightlife (when we arrived in the morning, they were cleaning the aftermath of Saturday night) and loads of guesthouses and hostels in the area catering to the youth. Prices are cheap in Hongdae because it’s a college town and there are lots of bars, restaurants, coffee shops and stores in the area.. It gets its name from Hongik University, or in Korean HONGik DAEhakkyo. From Incheon International Airport, it’s a 40 minute train ride via the AREX.

And oh, I’m just leaving this awesome of a find here.

I did not go in that store. I swear.

I did not go in that store. I swear.

Gangnam

IMG_0755

Now, we went to Gangnam to visit Bomi when she invited us to visit the tteokbokki restaurant where she works in. Gangnam is beautiful and busy at night. You can get to Gangnam via Gangnam Station in Line 2.

I’ll also just leave this here:

IMG_0759[1]

Gyeongbokgung

#MedyoJohnLloyd

#MedyoJohnLloyd

Constructed in 1395 and rebuilt in 1867, it’s the biggest palace among the five grand palaces in Korea. Near Gyeongbokgung Palace are the National Museum of Korea, the National Folk Museum of Korea, and the Blue House or Cheongwadae, the residence of the President of the Republic of Korea. From Gwanghwamun gate, you can walk a few meters and see King Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Soon Shin’s statue in Gwanghwamun square. Entrance to Gyeongbokgung Palace is KRW 3,000 and you can catch the free English tour at 11:00 am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm. Gyeongbokgung is closed however on Tuesdays. Take the subway Line 3 and get off at Gyeongbokgung station, Exit 3.

Myeongdong

Photo Credit to Suzie Barba

Photo Credit to Suzie Barba

Oh Myeongdong, you never fail me with your finds. If you love to shop, then Myeongdong should be in every tourist’s itinerary. For K-Pop fans, I suggest you go to the SPAO store and go to the EverySing store on the top floors (if you’re an SM stan). You can also buy tons of albums and merchandise in other shops too – I buy my non-SM CDs in MusicKorea and I usually get a free poster and/or photo. My female friends had the time of their lives in the make-up stores in Myeongdong (also dubbed as the Myeongdong Incident, when the Wallet Demarcation Line was breached for the first time) with Bomi’s help. Haha. The guesthouse’s owners recommended that we try Myeongdong Kyoja, or a noodle restaurant there. The lines are long, but you get your food quick – faster than fastfood because they only have like 5 menu items but they damn, do they do it well.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

This was the former site of an elevated highway, but was then demolished and excavated to restore the stream that leads to the Han River. Cheonggyecheon stream is a nice place to walk around and enjoy some solitude from the busyness of Seoul.

Joint Security Area and the Demilitarized Zone

"Those of you on my right are still safe with me in the Republic of Korea. To those on my left, you're now in North Korean territory." Guess where we were.

“Those of you on my right are still safe with me in the Republic of Korea. To those on my left, you’re now in North Korean territory.”
Guess where we were.

Technically, the two Koreas are still at war, but both are bound by an armistice agreement. If you want to visit the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom and the Demilitarized Zone, you have to book with a tour company at least 48 hours before you plan to do so. You’ll be required to bring your passport during your tour, and if you take the Joint Security Area tour (which is conducted by USAF personnel),  you’ll be asked to sign a waiver saying that you understand that it is a hostile area, and that there is a possibility of injury or death as a DIRECT RESULT OF ENEMY ACTION. In the JSA, you’ll get to see the famous conference rooms where the North and South meet for talks (we were technically in North Korean territory in a photo) and you’ll get to learn about the history of post-WW2 Korea. During the DMZ tour, you’ll get to see the third infiltration tunnel which was discovered in the 70’s by the South Koreans as a means by the North to conduct a surprise attack to the South. You’ll also get to see Dorasan station, a train station that links to the North that they hope to use one day.

We booked our tours with the Cosmojin Tour agency and you can check them out at www.cosmojin.com

Lotte World

Photo Credit to Eleanor Kawsek

Photo Credit to Eleanor Kawsek

This is the second time I went to Lotte World. Unfortunately, the roller coaster was under renovation and we only got to go on a few rides because it was SO COLD OUTSIDE. If you want to visit Lotte World, I suggest you be there at 4 PM so you can take advantage of the KRW 31,000 pass. You can get to Lotte World via the Jamsil station in Line 2.

Insadong

Ssamziegil

Ssamziegil

This is the place you visit if you want souvenirs or pasalubongs, if you’re Filipino. Haha. Try out the famous ice cream cone in Insadong, and visit Ssamziegil. You can get to Insadong via Anguk station in Line 3.

Han River Cruise

Before Sunset

Before Sunset

During Youth Camp, we got to go on a cruise of the Han River at night and got to see water and light show in Banpo Bridge. This time, we took the sunset cruise and just enjoyed the scenery of Seoul as the sun was about to set on our last day. Ticket price for just the cruise is KRW 12,000. You can get to Hangang Park via the Yeouinaru Station in Exit 5.

Thank you to Bomi, Juran, and Hani who I got to see during my short stay in Seoul, and I look forward to playing host to you when you visit my side of the world. Haha. I also hope to see my other friends that I unfortunately didn’t get to see during this visit.

IMG_0838 IMG_0844

I made a promise to myself that I would make visiting Seoul a yearly thing, because Korea has been kind to me in my past visits and apart from Manila, it has made me feel at home. This visit to Seoul has invigorated me, and has inspired me to go after my passions in life.

I left my heart in Seoul, Korea and the Quantum of SEOULace is at an all time high.

7th Grade (mentally) Civil Servant and #SEOULdierOfLove Photo Credit to Eleanor Kawsek

7th Grade (mentally) Civil Servant and #SEOULdierOfLove
Photo Credit to Eleanor Kawsek

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GerALDVENTURES!

Less words. More pics. Fun read.

#ninjamode

We all have something good to say

Eien no Kataomoi

Sorry you got the insane one.

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