Day 7 of South Korea Trip 2016

Early in the morning, I left my Taekwondo mates in Gangnam and took a taxi to Conrad Seoul on Yeouido Island to meet my wife, who had just flown in from Hong Kong earlier that morning. After meeting, we dropped off our luggage as it wasn’t time to check-in yet and then went for coffee and a bite to eat at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. The egg, ham and cheese served in an English muffin was delicious! Also of note is that it seems to share space with a car showroom.

Next, we took a taxi to Myeongdong for some congee at Bonjuk. If you’re taking a taxi, get off at Myeongdong Cathedral and Bonjuk will be nearby. Congee is a great breakfast meal made of soupy rice and sometimes extra ingredients added. It’s kind of like oatmeal.

Myeongdong is probably the busiest and most vibrant shopping district in Seoul. It’s an amazing place that you really should visit at least once as a tourist even if you don’t care that much for shopping. At least go to experience the atmosphere. There are plenty of cafes and places to eat when you’re tired of walking around.

We eventually made our way over to Lotte Duty Free. It’s a big department store with lots of clothes and other items to buy. You might find a good deal there!

After a busy day of shopping, it was off to Doma in Mapo District. Doma is a great little bbq meat restaurant. I quite enjoyed the raspberry wine and the food was pretty good as well.

What I really loved about Mapo District is that there’s a lot of art in the area. After eating, you can casually stroll around and check out the street buskers or whatever art happens to be on display.

To cap off the night, we took a taxi to Noryangin Fisheries Wholesale Market. We picked our seafood in the market area and then went up to the dining area where they prepared and served it. It was an enjoyable end to a wonderful day!


Day 1 of South Korea Trip 2016

Last night I boarded a Jeju Air plane with fellow taekwondo club members on a flight from Hong Kong to Seoul. We’ll be taking part in the 2016 World Taekwondo Hanmadang. It’s an annual tournament that takes place in South Korea and features competitions in patterns and board breaking!

The flight departed late last night at close to 2 in the morning. I slept most of the way on the flight.

Incheon International Airport (ICN) is the international airport closest to Seoul. It’s a very well designed, modern airport. Upon disembarking of the aircraft, we made our way to the shuttle train, then through customs and immigration (which doesn’t allow photo taking), then baggage pickup and finally out into the arrival hall.

Next, we exchanged Hong Kong dollars for Korean won (₩). Just exchange enough currency to get to the city and exchange more at a bank later where the rates are better. Then we went outside the arrival hall and purchased some bus tickets to Gangnam district in Seoul. If you purchase tickets with a Union Pay card, you’ll get T-Money cards (cards that can store cash and be used to efficiently pay for things by tapping the card on the payment device) along with the bus tickets. The bus that runs to Gangnam features deluxe seating so the configuration is 1 lone seat on the right, aisle, 2 seats on the left. The seats are all reclining captain seats so you’ll surely get a comfy ride to Seoul, which is nice because it’s roughly just over an hour.

When the bus pulled over at one of the hotels in Gangnam, we all got off, collected our luggage, and made our way uphill off the main avenue deep into the heart of residential Gangnam. There, we found the house that we’d be renting for the next few days. The first floor is private so we have access to the second and third floors. It’s nice! It’s complete with a living room, kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, master bedroom and 3 or 4 other bedrooms.

After settling in at our rental house, we found breakfast at The Jincook. It features a lot of the common dishes you might expect in a Korean restaurant, like delicious pork and beef, noodles – both hot and cold and some yummy kimchi. I had the naengmyeon (냉면 / cold noodles) and grilled pork.

Later, we went window shopping in the area, had some coffee at Starbucks, and went to the Kukkiwon campus. There’s the main Kukkiwon building and a separate cafeteria building with a modest but interesting little museum on the second floor.

There are also a couple of shops in the area that sell taekwondo gear and related merchandise. Prices are actually mostly kind of high. Afterwards, we went back to the house. That’s where I’ve been relaxing all afternoon. The house is well furnished and cozy.

In the evening, we went out for some Korean BBQ for dinner in the vibrant commercial area of Gangnam. With Korean BBQ, the grill is built into the table and every table has its own localized ventilation system. The meat was delicious and there were plenty of side dishes like kimchi as needed.