Okay – recapping!
I spent almost a week in Seoul this past November, no out town travelling this time as my friend was busy prepping for her upcoming wedding. We spent our day doing our crazy things inside Seoul, and the rest of the time I wandered around pretending I lived there (and didn’t have to work…there is no logic in this).
This visit, I stayed at the Shilla Stay Mapo hotel located conveniently at Gongdeok Station. I didn’t know anything about this area as I’ve never stayed around here in the past, but the train station was a 3 way connector, so I figure if nothing else, I have access to the train. Plus the KAL Airport Limousine stopped there (2nd stop) and picked up (last pick up!) so…we’re good! The hotel itself was wonderful – I was upgraded or something and wound up on the top floor, overlooking the main road. There was a beautiful patio on the top floor that is not accessible (but why!?) and would’ve been a beautiful backdrop for an outdoor wedding. In the area, there is the ever fantastic e-mart for all your grocery and snacking needs. They also have fried chicken, sushi etc…so it’s a great place for a solo traveller to pick up food to bring back to the hotel after a long day. Highly recommend the area, and for the upcoming trip I will be staying at Lotte City Mapo to test that one out – will keep you posted!
My top three places for this trip I think would be the Bukchon, Gwangjang Market, and Noryangjin Market. I really enjoy all the little bits of the past that you can get while visiting Korea.
In Bukchon, there wasn’t really much to see, but I managed to find this lovely dumpling place that had really really good dumplings plus a really cute ahjumma who was super understanding when i tried to order in my terrible Korean lol (It’s called Bukchon Son Man Du! Located just off the main area in a small alley). Then randomly I found my favourite tea place ever – O’Sulloc. This one was located next to the art museum, and so it was fairly new, high ceilings and looks out to a lovely little yard. I was able to enjoy a few moments of peace with my cup of tea. Plus cake….you must have the O’Sulloc green tea cake and green tea ice cream if ever you go to Seoul … and the green tea latte if you still have space. I visited 3 different O’Sulloc locations in my week there this time haha.
From Gongdeok Stn, I took the purple line to Gwanghwamun and walked over to visit Gyeongbokgong, and off the side entrance I walked over to Bukchon Village. On the way out, don’t forget to visit the amazing Kyobo bookstore at Gwanghwamun!
Gwangjang Market is a traditional market full of foods and fabrics. I found alleys and alleys of stores that sold all sorts of fabrics and linens. Too bad I can’t sew! 🙂 The food was a bit of a blast from the past, and I chose to have some hand made noodles on what turned out to be a very very cold morning. I loved sitting there and watching the grandma knead the dough each time there was an order, and slice enough to make however many bowls she needed to make. It was always fresh, and looked like lots of the business owners ordered from this stall because the ahjummas were in and out carrying trays on top of their heads in delivery! My 5000won brunch was so fulfilling, I had to finish it off with a 1000won shikhae….ohhh so yummy. It was a beautiful day so I did a little walk around the area – saw Chungyecheon, and wound up in Dongdaemun Culture Park area. (and found a store that sold all the Big Bang merchandise! found a keychain lightstick. Big Bang, I’m waiting!)
To get there from Gongdeok Stn, I took the purple line to Eujiro 4-ga station and strolled for 5 minutes or so. Then the walk over to Dongdaemun was only about 15 minutes strolling so it’s very very doable.
Noryangjin is the fish market in Seoul that is supposed to sort of be like Tsukiji in Japan I guess? My friend was skeptical about my choice to go there, but she sucked it up and came with me. Turns out we had one of the best seafood meals there. Noryangjin has two sides – the old side is a very old, very traditional looking fish market. It had a lot of character despite being old and fairly empty – if you like to take pictures, this is definitely the side to go to! The second story can be reached from the new side though, so if you want to take one from up top…go from the new side! All of the fish, I suggest buying it in the new market, and then you can take it to one of the many restaurants to have it cooked for you. We decided to get a crab and steam it…plus my first ever live octopus! soooo awesome!!! It didn’t taste like anything, but that’s one thing knocked off on my bucket list!
Oh yeah… just off exit 5 at Gongdeok stations lies Gongdeok Market. I still need to see it during the day, however at night, Jokbal alley comes to life! By alley, it was more like..2 or 3 stores. Each store was like a maze inside – seems like they bought out other storefronts and knocked out some walls…which goes to show how much business these places get. And they serve…jokbal! Pig’s feet! One SMALL order of jokbal was more than enough to feed a village – plus there was a whole buffet of the free sides – soup, sundae (the sausage, not the ice cream), ddokbokki, rice and lettuce…ohhh man. It was so yummy. I hear during the day there is tempura street in Gongdeok market too. So I will report on that when I get back to Seoul in April!!