Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Doo Guesthouse, Traditional Hostel in Bukchon Hanok

Bukchon Hanok Village
On my previous Seoul trip, my friend Jess and I walked around Bukchon Hanok, the traditional Korean village. It was a very nice visual experience to look around the neighboorhood. Scenes from dramas like Lee Min Ho's Personal Taste and Jung Yong Hwa & Park Shin Hye's Heartstring were shot there but it's actually a private residential area.
Doo Guesthouse Bukchon 2
For our trip, my sister and I booked a room in a traditional hanok guesthouse located in Bukchon hanok village. It is one of the coolest experience we had on this trip. 

shared bathroom and kitchen on the right side
It is conveniently located near Anguk station, the airport bus stop and its few minutes away from shopping areas such as Myeong-dong, Insadong and famous historical place, Gyeongbukgong Palace.

living room area
It was a nice experience to hangout in the living room during morning or night time to enjoy Seoul's view and fresh air.


Photo from http://www.dooguesthouse.com 
I wasn't able to take a nice photo of our room because we had a lot of luggage so I just grabbed this from Doo Guesthouse' site. It was very cold during night time so we really enjoyed sleeping near the heated floor using the Korean traditional blanket and bedding.
Doo Guesthouse Bukchon 1
Before checking out, we went to Bukchon 1, the main office of Doo Guesthouse.
My sister and I took turns for our Hanbok photoshoot.
Annyeong

They have a wide selection of traditional Korean dress and accessories that guests can borrow.

Doo Guesthouse provides the same service with other backpacker hostels such as free wifi, free breakfast (coffee, tea, bread) but a room with private bathroom will cost more. Also, the walls are paper like and thin so we tend to be cautious in not making a lot of noise especially in night time. We originally planned to stay at Doo Guesthouse during our entire trip but we changed it to overnight stay instead. It's fun but a one off experience to say the least. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Revisiting Seoul: Trick Eye Museum, Hongdae, Insadong, Myeongdong

Day 3: Trick Eye Museum, Food trip and shopping at Hongdae, Insadong and Myeongdong

On our third day in Seoul, we woke up to the sound of heavy rain. It was really cold and we decided to sleep longer instead of having an early breakfast at Gwakjang Market before catching the 8AM 4D movie at Yongsan CGV.

oppa
We leisurely took our time and finally tried Cafe Twosome Place located near Myeongdong station.
Our breakfast set
They sell a lot of Lee Min Ho merchandise, from mugs to planners to calendars. My ninang requested for a 2015 calendar but I know that I can get better bargains at Insadong.
TrickEye is shortcut for Trick of the Eye
Because it was still raining hard, instead of a city tour thru a hop on hop off bus, we decided to go to TrickEye and Ice Museum. 
Find your center
How to get there:Get off Hongik University Station. Go straight 150m, cross the road and turn onto Hongik-ro Street. Go Straight 120m and turn right down the second side street (in between TonyMoly and Holika Holika). Walk straight to arrive at Trick Eye Museum on the right side of the road.
I'm a Matryoshka doll

We bought the 2 museums in 1 ticket for 15,000 won. There are instructions posted on the wall to get the best angle. My sister and I are taking turns for taking shots...
So funny!
but for this one, we actually asked a Korean boy to take our photo. So shameless =))


Freezing
We also went inside the Ice Museum, but I think we only explored it for less that 10 minutes because it was very cold!

lol
It was filled with icy sculptures done by local artists in Hongdae, here's my sister sitting on a chilly bathroom!
art attack
The perfect souvenir is making our own TrickEye art toys! 

 Spot the geisha Trini and heavily bearded Eyni.
ta da
 I designed the Kokeshi like Trini in blue kimono while my sister made a chibi version of herself.


It was already past 2PM when we realized that we're starving. We're craving for Dak Galbi (stir fried chicken with vegetables) and passed by a restaurant that serves a dish similar to the ones we ate at Yoogane in Timog. They don't have an English menu so we ended up eating various pork parts instead of chicken or pork meat.
Seoul street food <3
 We're still starving, good thing that we passed by this street food cart.

We ordered tteokbokki (rice cake), fish crepe on stick and free broth soup  that goes well with the cold weather.
Insadong
We went to Insadong to shop for souvenir items like the I love Korea shirts requested by my aunts, the gold plate and ref magnets for my mom. I even found table runners for my domesticated friends. 
Myeongdong
We ended up in Myeongdong Underground Shopping mall and Myeongdong proper for more shopping! I was planning to shop for Christmas gifts but they only sell winter clothes. We ended up buying sweaters, kpop socks, minions socks and BB creams! 

Dak Galbi
 It's funny how we came across 2 branches of Yoogane in Myeongdong and we finally satisfied our Dak Galbi craving.
Danmuji muchim
 They even offer unlimited ban chan (side dish), hooray! I think I ate 1 plate of picked radish.

Ice cream of the day
 For dessert, we lined up for these chocolate and mocha macaroons. 

My Seoul loot bag
 And I'm happy with a Starbucks planner, socks and make up loot. =)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CNBLUE Retreat: MinHyuk's Restaurant, JongHyun's Sulbing, YongHwa Star Park

2014 is truly my wanderlust and fangirling year! Aigoo, I've come to this. =))

My sister and I still have the CNBLUE concert hangover! It's not enough to watch their concert once but their only remaining schedule for this year is in Japan. My sister and I slightly cured our hangover by visiting the BOICE CNBLUE fandom, yes they have a name landmarks in Seoul.

1st stop is drummer, Kang Min Hyuk's family restaurant.
ta da!
How to go to Hwang's Eel Restaurant: Get off Yeongdeungpo Sijang Station, exit 3. Walk straight until you reach the five way intersection, cross the street to the left. Pass the Yeongdeungpo Rotary Underground Shopper Center, exit 1. Look for the next exit 1 across exit 5.
chibi versions on the front door
We found it! Basically, after you get out of exit 3, stay on the right side of the road and walk straight. On our way to the restaurant, we passed by several street food carts and we're tempted to buy and eat there. 
The walls and the entire place is covered by post it messages by BOICE. There are posters and photos of CNBLUE from their debut days to present.
1 YongHwa, to go, please =))
Their specialty is fresh eel and baby octopus but we played safe by ordering and enjoying samgyeopsal (pork).

Non Boice area?
We dined at around 7pm and the place was packed by ahjussis. I guess the restaurant is really good that the older people endures the overly colorful background and photos of 4 young men plastered everywhere.=)) That's the non-BOICE area right there, where there's minimal fan arts and photos.

<3
Happy tummies
After carbo loading, we're off to grab our dessert from guitarist, Lee Jong Hyun's Sulbing Cafe
JongHyun owner-nim
How to get there: Get off Shillim Station, exit 6. Walk straight and don't be alarmed by the construction area on your left side, keep walking until you see this building.




JongHyun's Korean dessert cafe is located on the 2nd floor of the building. Once you go inside, you'll see a lot of congratulatory flowers from BOICES all over the world!

Manila franchise, juseyo
Sulbing/Seolbing is  a Korean shaved ice dessert. We ordered the cheese patbingsu set. Honestly, we're still full from our dinner but we NEED to try it! The combination of thinly shaved ice and cheese is heaven to our taste buds!!!

To complete the CNBLUE retreat =)), on our last day in Seoul, we woke up early to see Jung Yong Hwa's handprint at MBC Star Park.
MBC
The television stations are located right across each other and I feel that they silently "compete" through the humongous art installations in front of their buildings.
MBC Star Park

How to get there: Get off at Digital Media City Station and go out of Exit 2, ride a taxi (2000 won) to MBC station.

High five, oppa!

Next on my fangirl bucket list is to watch them perform live in Seoul, Busan or Japan!

Revisiting Seoul Day 2: Gangnam and Everland

Everland was listed number one on my sister's must see list. We planned to visit Korea's mash-up of Disneyland and Ocean Park on the second day of our trip. We hoped that there's few people on a Friday compared to weekends. 
Who got "B"?
We woke up early to go to Gangnam station, it was a 40 minutes subway trip from Myeongdong as we passed 13 stations with 1 line transfer. We badly needed a caffeine fix at 8am. Most of the cafes and stores were still closed but after walking several blocks from Gangnam station, we finally saw "Pure Kona Beans".  
I love whipped cream, no?
I ordered a french toast and they are really generous on the size of bread and amount of whipped cream. A typical breakfast set on cafes cost around 10,000-13,000 won.

Bus 5002 from Gangnam Station, Exit 10
After satisfying our caffeine and Wifi fix, we walked back to the main road to look for Bus stop for 5002. I printed another guide map that indicated that we should pass by Giordano and it should be right across the CGV building. Just walk straight from exit 10 and you'll eventually see people lining up near that 5002 bus stop sign.

mandatory shot
It was a 45 minute bus ride from Gangnam to Everland. We were dropped to the bus parking lot then we walked to the bus stop and rode the free shuttle to go to Everland. I swear, while typing this, I can hear the voice over in my head talking about going to Ever line and Carribean Bay that was played during the 10minute bus ride ! One of the many things that I love about Korea is the discounts they offer for foreigners, we paid 40,800won for 1 day pass instead of 50,000won.
Autumn in Everland
My sister and I dreamed of riding the snow sledge but as you can see, the background is red gingko and maple trees. The view is very deceiving though, the truth is it was freezing and we even had to wear ear muffs.   
K-Pop area
We had to console ourselves because we found out that the winter rides were not yet available! We checked out the K-Pop hologram area located near the entrance. Too bad that it's sponsored by YG Entertainment and I'm not a fan of BigBang, 2NE1 or Psy. We waited for 2NE1's hologram show and we're surprised on how much we enjoyed it. It turned out that you don't need to be big KPOP fan to appreciate the amazing hologram concert experience! It's as if they're really performing in front of you.  If it was CNBLUE, I bet I'll go to the stage and a hologram bouncer will kick me out =)) 

Safari bus tour
In our quest of exploring the areas that  I wasn't even able to see the last time I was there, we found ourselves on Safari area.We rode a bus to explore the huge forest like part of the theme park. It is separated by heavily guarded double gates to make sure that animals were grouped. 
Tigers chillin'
Scary!
Black bears, chillin

What happened?
I was really psyched to see a polar bear but I was disappointed to see the skinny polar bear, otoke???
Happy Feet live action
It was fun seeing the penguins and seal. It really dawned upon me that my friends and I explored just half of the place in our 2013 trip.
Pork and kimchi stew
We had our quick late lunch at Han Ga Ram Korean restaurant. We had to take a break from all the walking and the cold outdoor weather. We enjoyed our pork and kimchi stew, by the rate things are going, we realized that we're spending 10-15k won per meal.
Too tired to walk
Did I mention that Everland is huge? That's why they have cable cars and this ride to transfer to from one area to another.
Soooo good
It was very cold but we couldn't resist the Mini Melts ice cream! The small circular bits will burst with hints of ice cream once you bite it. It looks cutesy but a spoonful can also result into brain freeze!

We explored Everland from 10:30am to 5pm and rode bus 5002 again to go back to the city and go to a CNBLUE retreat.