Hope you guys satisfied with the first part of our Seoul story and thank you so much for your support. After more than 2 years sharing our backpacking experiences, we mark our 100th followers yesterday and sememangnya ia sesuatu yang tak sangka. Now we continue with our second part of the journey in Seoul... Apalagi, Cerciter..cerciter.. (petikan dialog dari filem “Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah).
If Malaysia is famous for its late night dinners/suppers and uptown/downtown market, I guess Seoul is not much different from us. Late night shopping is another attraction in Seoul. After Anna finished her Reception Dinner around 9pm, we decided to head down to Dongdaemun Market. Took a subway at Samseong Station straight to Dongdaemun Station, this market is very much alive regardless of the cold weather outside (-15c). Maybe the power of shopping kot yang buatkan diaorang ni semua kebal sejuk…hehehe!. Sememangnya anda akan rambang mata melihat seleksi barangan yang dijual disini. Migliore Mall and Am-Pm Mall are among the shopping malls that we managed to browse into. Everything from clothing, shoes, bag, fabrics, accessories, local designers brand is selling here (retail and wholesale) and be divided by floor sections. Even if some shops have their price tag, give your bargain skill a test. Who knows you might get a cheaper price. (Me myself doing the bargain, macam ayam dengan itik..hehe!). Dongdaemun Market open as early as 8.00am and close around 6.00am everyday. For those who shop till late, taxi charges are double after midnight. So, I guess it’s better to shop till you drop than paying the taxi charges ya…hehe!.
8.00 am, Friday morning and like any other days, the sun was shinning bright through our hotel window. But not today and that’s a bit weird. When the curtain is widely open, both of us scream excitedly. “Ya Allah.. Salji turun…!” Call me “Jakun” but seriously, in my 37 years of life this is my first time to see and touch a real snow. After breakfast and before Anna’s conference started, we took lots of photo with the snow and make some snowball (macam dalam cerita orang putih tu). Oh ya! You got to have proper shoes when you walk on a melting snow. It’s slippery and can be dangerous if you're not careful. Best to wear rubber shoes like sneakers and boots.
After the snow stopped, I continued my journey to Itaewon were expatriates, foreigners and embassies are largely reside here. The presence of US Army personnel can regularly be seen in Itaewon as The US Military base is located nearby. (mula2 tu risau juga, almaklumlah masa tu tengah kecoh pasal North and South Korea…hehe!). Suasana disini juga agak berbeza jika dibandingkan dengan beberapa kawasan lain yang saya lawati di Seoul. Here you can easily find lots of international restaurant and cuisine serving Middle East, India, Thailand and Chinese food. Pendek kata, halal food is not an issue here. There are also English bookshop, entertainment places like bar/club/café, market and a mosque; I guessed that makes Itaewon very popular among tourist. (Terselisih juga dengan beberapa grup pelancong Malaysia, tapi diaorang buat macam “tak perasan” jer).
For those who love collecting Hard Rock Café stuff, you’ll be disappointed as the remaining building is no longer serving as the popular café but instead turn into a clothing shop. Damn..! (Anna was so frustrated..).
Since it was Friday, I took a chance Friday prayers in Seoul Central Masjid, the first masjid to open in Korea. Established in 1976, it comprises the Islamic Center, which offers an Islamic based education and also halal butchers shops, groceries, restaurants and a bookshop that can be found around this area. After a simple lamb kebab lunch, my journey was cut short as snow started to fall again.
Back at the hotel and while waiting for Anna to finish her conference, I watched an interesting Korean thriller movie titled “The Housemaid”. (sound fishy ya.!). Directed by Im Sang Soo, the movie is a remake of 1960 classic Korean movie with the same title. It’s about a struggling woman who takes a job as a housemaid for the wealthy upper class family and later fall into the trap of destructible love triangle.
“Malam ni kita makan kat mana?..” That was always the question every time we decided to eat. Last kali, we end up eating at the same place, Coex Mall food court..he!he!. So, before we're leaving our luxurious hotel on Sunday, we decided to have our special dinner together at Buchesta. Everything on the menu looks tempting, tapi macam biasalah kena cari yang veggie and fish based.
Saturday morning and before Anna wrapped up her last day of conference, I headed to Hongdae. Still using Seoul Subway that I find very convenient, I stopped at Hongik University the leading Art & Design University in Korea. It’s a different ambiance here with lots of artsy young people & students around, boutique, craft market, club, bar, wall graffiti and music. Talk about music, there is two music shops that I find interesting. Purple Record (mix, rock & indie) & Record Forum (jazz scene). For you information, Hongdae is also famous for it’s indie music scene. Go check it out guys!..
Later in the afternoon, I met Anna at Gyeongbokgung Palace. Built in 1395 during the era of Joseon Dynasty by KingTaejo, the palace is the grandest among the Five Grand Palaces. In 1592, the palace was nearly destroyed during the Japanese invasions. Not until 1865, when Daewongun, the father of King Gojong started to rebuild it again. Many obstacles happened during the process and when Korea was under Japan colonial rule, most of the palace was torn down and destroyed. Now the first phase project to restore the palaces that begin in 1990 has finally finished. Another attractions in Gyeongbokgung Palace are the National Palace Museum and the National Folk Musuem.
On the way back to hotel, we stopped at Itaweon to have our Middle East dinner. Sejuk-sejuk ni cepat betul lapar…yum!yum!. (Agak2 bila la Malaysian nak buka halal restoren kat tempat-tempat macam ni?). Lepas makan, cepat-cepat balik ke Coex because Anna had to attend one more show before the whole conference ended.
Last but not least, experiencing snow for the first time was totally a dream came true for both of us...
We’ll continue the last part of our Seoul story on the next post.. Stay tune ya!