“You have arrived at Incheon International Airport, South Korea” – the flight attendant announces as the plane lands on the Korean runway in chilly Autumn of September 2018. The landing announcements were almost the same back in the Spring of April 2017. It was the same words that gave my heart a thud, I am back in one of my happy places on Earth. They say happiness is not a destination but the journey. But I say if you can have it both ways because you are with amazing friends (that turned into family) all the way from the journey to the destination then so be it!
The drive from Incheon to Seoul is as usually smooth and fast. Seoul is the same from the last time I remember it. Its wide roads busied with blue, red and green buses going around the city. The buses were covered by endorsements of everyone’s newest favorite CEO, Park Seo Joon. Local shops with labels written in their native language (Hangul) line the sidewalks. And locals with their unique fashion outfits rushing to the bus stop or to the subway station to catch a ride. It’s all those Korean Drama stills coming into life once again before my eyes.
When we arrived at Wons Ville, Myeongdong Hotel, the staff bowed and welcomed us with their familiar accent and greeting, “ANNYEONGHASEO!” . The hotel was 5 minute walk from the famous shopping district and nearest subway station. It has a buffet breakfast (but offers the same menu everyday). Location wise, its convenient. But the rooms are a little cramp, the towels were small and there were no closets. But I still think its the best option if you’re really into just touring the city for most of your stay.
Our first stop, shopping, food trip and Nanta Show! Myeongdong is packed and busy as usual. The number of skincare shops are still overwhelming. With famous lines, Innisfree, Etude, Nature Republic, Saem, Laneige, dominating the scenery. The street foods are sumptuous. With the grilled lobster and grilled cheese as my new favorites in addition to old timers, fish cakes and Korean pancakes.
And of course, the all time spectacular, heart pounding, humorous Nanta Performance for the night’s finale.
You haven’t visited Korea, if you haven’t worn the Hanbok to the palace (yep entrance fee is still free if you’re wearing a Hanbok). It lets you time travel from modern Seoul back to the dynasty era.
Walking around inside just one of the 5 palaces really gets you tired and hungry. There’s this really good barbecue restaurant just 15 sec away from entrance/exit of Anguk station line 2. I forgot the name of the restaurant but there’s a coffee and ice cream stall right outside it. People would claim that there are very good Samgyupsal restaurants in MNL nowadays but still nothing beats legit Korean meat!
Next stop, is the aegyo Teddy Bear Musem and Mirror Maze. If you are with kids and with limited time to visit an amusement park, this is a good alternative. Kids are sure to enjoy the life-size teddy bears.
The real adventure began when we chose to commute going to Namsan Tower Cable car station. We sure got on the right bus from Teseum but the route for walking given by google maps from the bus stop where we alighted is quite tricky given the hilly roads of Seoul. To sum up the day’s walkathon, our pedometers are rewarding us for accumulating 25,000 steps for the 2nd day of our trip.
The last day is chill out day with wind on our faces as we drink our coffee at Garden of the Morning Calm, lounge among the trees at Nami Island, stroll at the little French Village (Petite France) and cruise along the Han River.
Its one thing to travel as a fan girl, visiting seemingly insignificant places to most, but meaningful to the fandom. But its another to come back, introducing to others the highlights of one of the seemingly underrated cities. I have to learn to look at things on a different perspective and embrace the country as if my own to showcase its best.
Seoul will always be a go to place with its aegyo culture, fun language, delicious food, world class skincare, random model-looking oppas, convenient transport system, addicting banana milk, triangle kimbap, unique fashion and its damn good barbecue, chicken and beer!
And Topnotch will always be home with Doc Broli and his family always with the pure intention of shaping and giving the best to young doctors. And all Mother-geese who were once lost goslings trying to find their place in the harsh field of Medicine finally found a family that transcends medical hierarchy and medical school culture differences.
Autumn 2018 is definitely one for the books! See you next time SK!
Click the link below to get a comprehensive copy of our 3 day itinerary (all tickets are pre-purchased from Klook. Its cheaper than the one I used before, Trazy:
photo credits to Drs. Rob, Ian, Troy and Dinky 🙂