Friday, January 15, 2016

Seoul 2015 - 3/16

Yaaaay another post in this mini series!
Due to jet lag and I guess the rush over finally landing, I never scribbled down any notes from this day so I apologize if this post is going to feel a little 'diluted' (ㅠㅠ )

This day, July 22nd, was our first day in Seoul!

After having waited for an unspecified number of hours, breakfast finally came!
It consisted of potato squares, an omelette, spinach, a bun, and a 'cup' (if I remember correctly) juice made from Jeju (제주도) oranges.

Almost there!! I loved how we had been flying pretty straight ever since entering Russian airspace and then suddenly made a huge turn as if the pilots just were like: "Wooops there's North Korea! Nopenopenope!".

And then we landed in Incheon (ICN)!
Now we had to wait estimated two hours before Philip would fly in from Japan so after claiming our luggage, we found a 'meeting spot' right in front of a café and sat down with all of our stuff.
And here is, as John named us, "the Korea squad".
There was a big TV (of course Samsung) and a couple of power stations so we could charge our phones and what not. John picked up the SIM card he'd ordered so he would be able to use internet at all times while we were there, Alex got something from the café, and the girls and I bought some sunscreen and what else we hadn't brought with us.
I think it was Cindy and I who went to to explore the airport a little and in one of the information stands we found a couple of brochure for plastic surgery, nicely placed between the rest of the travel guides and maps. I knew the view on plastic surgery there was very different from in the North but it was still quite an eye-opener. 

We went back to show the others and afterwards just sat down and talked while waiting - both for Philip to land and my friend Kong to find us as he'd said the day before that he would. I was quickly doing something on my Facebook (because YAY Incheon Airport for having free wifi that actually works) when the others went quiet before Cindy said: "Uuh Lucy...".
I looked up and THERE HE WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! I cannot describe what I felt at that moment. I just shot up and hugged him as tight as I could. He looked exactly the same. Yet he had grown much taller than me and had dyed his hair brown and let it grow back into the typical Korean half-bowlcut-half-shaved-in-the-sides hairstyle.

While back in Denmark I decided to give him a present once I met him and had read that a great present would be something that wouldn't be easy to find in Korea - especially something typical for your country if you were a foreigner. So I made the most Danish gift bag I could think of. Inside it was a Danish flag, a Hoptimist (a Danish piece of decoration that has grown famous worldwide), and some Danish hard candies.
And I was so proud when I handed it to him.
As thanks he bought me a carton of Doraemon chocolate milk because 'young Korean girls like to drink that'.

We went to the other end of the airport and were all waiting while discussing the BIGBANG banners hanging down from the ceiling when a bunch of people, including Philip, came out of the gate. He and Kong were introduced to each other and it was a very memorable moment for me seeing my two best guy friends finally meeting each other. "Oh no he's handsome!" Kong turned to me and whispered. And that was how they met ㅋㅋㅋ.

I swear Kong was such a huge help!
He talked to the girl in the information and found a bus that we could ride straight to Jongno-gu (종로구), Seoul, where our hostel was located. He rode the bus with us all the way and once we got off, he helped us navigate to the hostel in the pouring rain. But it was really hot outside so it was quite a nice feeling although my hair freaked out because of the sudden, intense humidity.

This is the name and address of the hostel we stayed in:
Fortune Hostel Jongno 89 Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
(서울 종로구 익선동 89 Fortune Hostel Jongno)

At the hostel we were greeted by a guy wearing a hat in the reception. We could either pay now or when we were to fly back home so we decided that we would just get it out of the way now. The downpayment I had paid when booking the hostel almost equalled my share so when we had to pay, the others told me that I should keep my money and then they split the bill. Wooah. 
Kong stayed by our side until he'd made sure that everything was alright and then he left.

The receptionist informed us about breakfast, how to use the door, what to do when we wanted new towels etc., and then handed us the keys to our rooms. Us girls stayed on 7th floor and the guys on 6th.
The rooms were exactly as in the pictures I posted when I first blogged about having bought tickets. They were clean and it light. The room wasn't too big but the beds were tall enough for us to hide our luggage underneath. Only minus was that the air conditioner was noisy whenever it took in new water; and the colder the room, the more often it would take in water. The guys' air conditioner was nowhere as noisy as ours for some reason.
This was the view once you stepped inside our room. I apologize for the mess > < These pictures were taken after we'd stayed there for a week or so and it was during a busy morning. The bathroom was behind the door to the left but I'm afraid I forgot to take pictures of it. Sorryyy.
I took these from Cindy's bed. The top bunk bed was mine and Camilla was sleeping underneath

Once we had settled down we met up in the reception and went out for some early dinner. Camilla had read somewhere that we should avoid cold soups the first 3-4 days of our stay to avoid certain bacteria so we went to this small place close to where we got off the bus.
The name and address of the place should be:
 Yookssam Naeng Myeon 229 Nakwon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
(서울특별시 종로구 낙원동 229 육쌈냉면)

The average age of the other costumers was probably around 60 and boy were they noisy. Here in Denmark you would expect a place with mainly elder costumers to be more to the quiet side but these ajeossis (아저씨) and ajummas (아줌마) were talking away. It was refreshing.
Cindy and I figured that we weren't that hungry and shared a bowl instead - from that day on we became food buddies and shared almost every meal.
 John had joked that it was a noona's (누나)  job to treat her younger and I wanted to show my gratitude for the others splitting the last 20$ of my share - not because of the money but because of the thought - so I paid our meal. That also became a 'thing' during our trip. Sometimes we paid for ourselves, sometimes we took turns and paid for each other.

Before we went back to the hostel we went into a convenience store and each bought a T-card and put money on. 
Camilla was jetlagged and Cindy had a stomach ache so they decided to nap back at the hostel. The guys and I weren't tired (or perhaps just too hyped to sleep) so we made use of our new T-cards and took the subway for the first time and went on adventures in Hongdae (홍대)!
I'm not going to lie - I was a little disappointed with the neighborhood our hostel was located in and I was afraid that Korea wouldn't live up to my expectations. Nothing much really seemed to happen there and there were a lot of not-very-good looking buildings. It was nothing like what I had expected - That completely changed when we came to Hongdae and walked down Hongik-ro 3-gil (홍익로 3길). 

It was surreal. Like being in a dream. The weather was so hot and there were people, young people, as far as the eye could see. The girls wore the typical Korean style make-up and everyone wore 90's inspired closed since that was in during the time of my visit. There were stores on both sides and make-up store workers handing out free samples when you passed them and who, in broken English, invited you inside.
Waaaaah ((;O)

We continued down the street and came to the food area, which had little cafés and restaurants on both sides.
John and I didn't take the heat well so we went inside a place called California BoBa and had a milkshake to cool down with. I had a really yummy one with coconut taste! When we got back outside the weather was much more comfortable. 
Our adventures continued and we met up with a Swedish girl, one of Philip's acquaintances and a member of a Swedish dance group called R-10, who led us to YG Entertainment's building. Oh yes, the fancy building below? That's YG.

We didn't recognize any of the limited amount of people walking in and out but there was one guy with a big hat, who looked slightly suspicious.
After a little while we decided that enough was enough and headed back home to the hostel.
I think we reached the hostel around 9pm.

Later in the night, Philip asked if I was up for some more exploring. Although my body was tired, I didn't feel like sleeping yet. As I was leaving, Cindy asked if she could join and so the three of us went on a short walk around the block. When we came back, Cindy got ready for bed. Philip and I went out once again a little later and walk-talked until 1 or 2 in the morning.

After having seen Hongdae I was super excited for the following day!

Actually, Cindy has composed 4 videos with the recordings we got from her camera and I'm really recommend you watch them! My pictures show a lot but watching the videos truly brings back the memories. What we had done so far is from the beginning of the video to 1:58. Don't watch more yet unless you want to spoil it for yourself!

← Return to 2/16                                                                                                         Continue to 4/16 

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