I was beginning to become quite fond of Busan for it is a developed city and it was easy to get around yet it is still rather laid back with a strong cultural character lingering and there’s so many things to see and do. The local folks were all too kind and they made me wish I had much more time in Busan! But too bad we only planned three days during the first leg of this trip and I had to leave it all behind and wish for another visit in the near future!
[Korea September/October 2014]
29th Sep 2014 – Day 4
KTX Busan to Seoul & Myeongdong
Thankfully everything about the KORAIL is just simply awesome! The people behind the ticketing counters at Busan Station can communicate fluently in English and the station doesn’t have any confusing directory and signs that we managed to catch the next trip out to Seoul under 30 minutes upon arriving at the station!
Guess all that rushing around still took a toll on our sleepy heads somehow that we didn’t remember any morning selfie until we got on the train!
Hahahaha… Honestly, we were all up till quite late the night before as we try to pack up our belongings while having some supper and meokgolli and we were actually not that energetic as it seems!
The ticket for the KTX ride from Busan to Seoul cost us ₩53,300 each and we took the chance of the approximately 2.5 hours ride to catch up with some sleep and brace up to take on Seoul in a bit!
Good bye Busan, and hello Seoul!
Home at Seoul
It was probably about 12:00pm when we arrive in Seoul and figured our way to the apartment we had booked (of course from AirBnB as well…). And although it was still way before the time for check-in, it was really nice of the owner to meet us and show us around the apartment a little and let us leave our luggages behind with him as he cleans and prepares the apartment for us!
Quick look at our home in Seoul for the rest of the trip!
If you ask, we will tell you that we first chose this apartment simply because of its location!
It is located within the Cityhall area of Seoul and so centralized. And not to mention, the building this apartment is in is just above Chungjeongno Station on Line 2 (Green) of the metro train system in Seoul, meaning we have got most of the shopping havens like Hongdae Shopping District, Edae Shopping district, Dongdaemun and even Myeongdong right under our noses!
On the apartment itself, there’s no better term than WONDERFUL to describe it! It was spacious, simple yet well-equipped, well-maintained and squeaky clean! Of course, what made our stay really nice is that the host, Andrew, will drop us a text or two occasionally to ensure that we are all well! And best thing of all, he drops by the apartment periodically to clean up the place a little for us, to provide us with a fresh batch of towels and top up our supply of bottled water just like in hotels!
You deserve two thumbs up, Andrew!
Myeongdong Shopping District 명동
So just like how we arrived at Busan on our first day in Korea, we decided to grant ourselves with lots of food and shopping after arriving in Seoul for the rest of the day at Myeongdong!
Myeongdong is a popular shopping district in Seoul and the shopping district is formed by two main areas, one beginning from Myeongdong Metro Station on Line 4 and the other from Lotte Department Store at Euljiro 1-ga Station on Line 2. There you can find (almost) all the brands you can possibly think of, designer brands and a number of major department stores too. It is simply a shopaholic’s mecca!
We arrived at Myeongdong via the Euljiro 1-ga station and decided to look around for some lunch first. And you can say that this is pretty much the most random lunch we had simply because it started to rain a little when we got to Myeongdong and we had to take refuge at Lotte Department Store for a while! We got these bibimbap and jjambbong off the Food Hall on the basement level, it was decent but pretty costly actually. Nothing note-worthy about it that I can recall. Haha!
The rain didn’t stop when we were done with lunch and exploring Lotte Department Store a little. So we continue to take refuge and attempted to check out the underground shopping at Myeongdong too. My honest opinion? Don’t bother about it unless you are planning to look for some really expensive vintage stuffs!
And by the time the rain finally ceased, the sun is already starting to set when we start to roam the streets of the remaining area of the popular Myeongdong Shopping District!
This building where the exclusive theatrical performance center is located in right now used to be the home to the National Theater of Korea. When the National Theater of Korea closed its doors in 1975, it went through major renovations for 3 years to upgrade the interiors while preserving the exterior facade, before the place is renamed and reopened as Myeongdong Theater in June 2009. Guess with all the shopping and happenings at Myeongdong, this historical building is probably left quite unnoticed to most tourists.
By the way, Myeongdong offers an array of food choices as extensive as the shopping options. There are lots of food places at different scale from street stalls to local eateries to cafes or restaurants. And if you are looking out for street food in Myeongdong, they are all mostly lined along the street in front of Myeongdong Theater!
After 4 days in Korea, I finally found it! Egg muffins 계란빵, the one and only street food that I had been harping about, reminiscing and craving ever since my first trip to Korea some 10 years ago! Anyway, an egg muffin should cost you approximately ₩1,000 to ₩1,500. This stall in Myeongdong where we got our egg muffins at ₩2,000 is considered a little too pricey already!
Prior to the trip, the buddy and wife reminded me again and again to make sure I try jjimdak 찜닭 and such coincidence that the girlfriend knows and recommended Andong Jjimdak 안동찜닭, or recently rebranded as Bongchu Jjimdak 봉추찜닭, in Myeongdong!
Yes, we are eating again! Haha!
Andong Jjimdak is a Korean braised chicken dish in ganjang 간장 based sauce that originates from the city of Andong, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province just as how the name suggests. There are varying speculations on the origin of the dish and the ingredients that goes into the dish as well depending on the vendor.
This one we had at Myeongdong is served with chicken thigh chunks, a variety of vegetables like leek, onions, radish and potatoes on top of a generous serving of the broad version of dangmyeon 당면. Slightly spicy and very yummy!
It was a fine evening after all that rain so we managed to walk around in Myeongdong aside from just shopping. And at the corner of this crazy shopping district, lies the very first Roman Catholic parish Church, or in other words, the birthplace for the Roman Catholic Church community in Korea. Also, the first Gothic building ever built in Korea houses a small sanctuary on the basement level where the remains of the martyrs are enshrined.
And since Myeongdong Cathedral is located in downtown Seoul, in close proximity with tourist spots like Namsangol Hanok Village, N Seoul Tower, Namdaemun Market and obviously, Myeongdong itself, it is a popular destination for many lcoals and tourists alike!
Map of Myeongdong Shopping District of the places I mentioned in this post!
Click for an enlarged view!
And with that, it sums up our first day in Seoul! Really lots of food involved yeah?
Then I will like to urge you to stay tune for the next post when I am going to cover the story on our long day starting from Gwangjang Market followed by exploring Bukchon Hanok Village together with Samcheong-dong and Insa-dong also!
More posts from Korea September/ October 2014 travelogue series:
- Day 1 – Seomyeon Shopping District, Gwangalli Beach & Gwangan Bridge
- Day 2 – Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi Market, BIFF Square, Gukje Market & Gwangbok-ro Fashion Street
- Day 3 – Shinsegae Centum City, Haedong Yonggungsa & Jong-ga Daebak Jib
- Day 4 – KTX Busan to Seoul & Myeongdong
- Day 5 – Gwangjang Market, Bukchon Hanok Village (Samcheong-dong) & Insa-dong
- Day 6 – Edae Shopping District
- Day 7 – Gangnam and Sinsa-dong Garosu-gil
- Day 8 – Ihwa Mural Village and Namdaemun
- Day 9 – Hongdae (Hongik University Street)
- Day 10 – Hangang Park
- Day 11 – Bupyeong (Incheon) and Cheonggyecheon (Seoul)
- Day 12 & 13 – Flashback and Goodbye Korea (for now)!