Sunday, June 3, 2012

Korea Trip: Settling into Seoul

Yes, finally! My Korea trip post...the first of many, hehe. I'd been wanting to go to Seoul for the past two years and this spring, I decided to just go and make it happen! (Sometimes I am impulsive like that.) Waiting and trying to plan it with people, and match our schedules and budgets...well that obviously didn't get me anywhere over the past two years so I went ahead and traveled on my own for the first time to a foreign country. The cons of traveling alone are rather obvious, I'm sure, even down to minute matters like having someone to take your picture or take a picture with you, but overall I'm very glad I did it because it was a great life experience for me. I definitely learned a lot.

Getting there was a bit of an ordeal. I boarded my plane and was all ready to go, when the captain announced there was a mechanical problem and we had to wait for an engineer to fix it. Waiting, waiting...then the new announcement was that we had to de-plane and quickly head down the terminal to use another plane. Thennn we had the wait at the new gate for another hour...two hours...first because they were prepping the plane, then because they needed to find a new crew due to labor union laws of work hours...they gave us meal vouchers for lunch...and after I had lunch, I saw everyone standing in a longggg rebook! *exasperated sigh* SO I stood in line for another hour or two, and luckily I was able to take the evening flight through Korean Air instead, but I had to wait a few more hours than that. I'm not kidding when I say I spent over 12 hours at LAX, ugh! I got another meal voucher, had cake and coffee for dinner, haha, and because of the delay, I missed my first night in Korea (waste of hotel fare, *sigh*).

Nevertheless I was quite happy to land in Incheon the next morning and headed to my hotel in Yeoksam-dong 역삼동, which is one train stop or a short walk to Gangnam 강남. After showering and resting, I met up with a high school friend who lives in Korea. We walked around Gangnam a bit and then had kbbq in Sinsa-dong 신사동. Of course, Korean barbeque in Korea is a must!

This was my first time having yeoltan bulgogi 열탄블고기, which is charcoal grilled marinated pork. It's sliced thinner and is a bit more crispy than pork bulgogi 돼지 블고기 that I usually eat. Very tasty!

We also had 7 Minute Pork Kimchi Jjigae 7분 돼지 김치찌개. You add the kimchi stew and toasted seaweed and mix it with your rice. I love kimchi jjigae, it's one of my Korean comfort foods, keke.

Afterwards we ended up in a cafe and I had apple tea and carrot cake. Cafes and coffee shops are trendy and well in abundance in Seoul. The atmosphere is very lounge-y, with lots of seats and tables for people to gather and hang out for hours. I believe the one we went to had a touch screen in the middle of the table where we ordered from, but I didn't take any pictures. time!

Let me backtrack a bit and show you my hotel room. I had to read tons of reviews beforehand and ended up choosing this affordable business class hotel room since the location was very convenient, near both Gangnam station and also the airport bus stop.

The entrance. I didn't know at first that I had to leave my hotel key in the slot for the lights to stay on, haha. Oh the joys of traveling to a foreign country and staying at hotel that doesn't have signs on everything.


View from the entrance.You can see my luggage, hehe.

I love having a matching pink set because I can see my luggage from a mile away, it makes it so easy to find my luggage when picking up from the checked baggage area. And yes, one was empty, haha! I'd actually put the medium luggage inside the large luggage, and when I came back home, of course, all of my luggage was full.

The room was rather large and...roomy. It was also Korean style in that it had heated wooden floors, which sometimes made my feet hot, haha, so wearing house slippers was kind of a must.

On the downside, there was no closet or dresser for my clothes, so I kept my clothes in my luggage at first and then eventually just utilized the sofa. Also, the lighting was really dim. It was a bit difficult for me to apply makeup the first few days, until I got used to it and just stood in front of the window. On the plus side, I could open the window and stick my hand out to see what the weather was like, hehe.

The bathroom was also very spacious and Korean style with an open shower and a drain in the floor, and the entire washroom is set lower than the main room to avoid flooding. There was a large jacuzzi tub but the jets didn't work.

(The potty area was next to the door and shower, and had its own glass door.)

The hotel provided large bottles of Happy Bath Natural body wash and Mise en Scène shampoo and conditioner.

The Happy Bath body wash smelled nice but unfortunately was a bit drying on my skin. (That tends to be the case for me with Asian brands.)

Mise en Scène Pearl Shining line. Not bad but not spectacular either.

And, honey! Korean won. I'd exchanged my currency back home before leaving since I'd heard I'd get better rate (but I still lost quite a bit, boooo). I'd asked for mixed bills but why the bank gave me so many 5,000 and 1,000 bills is beyond me. That's the equivalent of carrying hundreds of dollars in $5 and $1 bills, haha.


My stacks depleted a bit after hauling skin care and cosmetics. Yikes!

I shall continue with my Korea trip posts next time (and the next time, and the time after the next time, and the next, next, next time...). I hope you're all enjoying your weekend!


  1. Sounds like fun! The only place out of the US I've been is Canada and that was with my fam. Can't even imagine going somewhere foreign alone :X Looking forward to the your other korea trip posts! 

  2. what a start to your trip!

    Anyway the hotel in Seoul looked so much better than Tokyo LOL. It looked like you had a comfortable stay there!

  3. Great intro to your trip :D i cant wait to hear about the rest of your koreatrip ^___^

  4. Oh, so jealous of you. I'd love to visit Korea. That dinner looks good.
    Seattle Beauty Fashion Blog

  5. I did my first-ever solo trip to Taipei last year and I had a blast. Travelling alone is such a different but incredible experience. I met a lot of friendly folks and just did things on the fly...which I prob wouldn't if I were with someone else. Looking forward to the rest of your korea trip posts.

  6. i've travelled alone for business trip + sightseeing. it's definitely a different, but marvelous experience. 

    that's a huge bathroom!

  7.  Definitely has its pros and cons, hehe, but I think I learned a lot and grew from the experience. I wouldn't mind doing it again!

    I loved the bathroom, hehe, just wish the lighting was better (and would have been awesome if the jacuzzi jets actually worked, keke).

  8.  That is so true! I got to rest whenever I felt tired, or persevere whenever I was very determined about my plans, lol. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who has traveled alone and enjoyed it!

  9. Hehe it was definitely bigger but the Tokyo hotel had much,  much better lighting, lol. I guess I can't have it all if I want to do it on a budget! :P

  10.  Thanks! I haven't been to Canada. Oh it took me many years of wanting to travel but never being able to do so with friends I wanted to go with...even something as simple as a road trip to Vegas! Finally I told myself I'd rather travel alone while I'm still young rather than keep waiting and perhaps still not be able to go with others! :)

  11. Aww you must have been pretty stressed and tired >< but at least when you got there you had a nice hotel and food!!! I love korean heated flooring, it's so comfortable!

    Travelling alone sure takes balls and a lot of planning! I don't think I'd be able to do it because I have neither the guts nor the planning skills required...I also have the most terrible sense of direction ever. When D (shinyprettythings) came to london I started panicking about subway routes...............until we found Vicky who knows where she's going. And at the end of the day D managed to find her way back to where she was meant to be going better than me..I managed to get the train in the wrong direction.



    Anyway OOOO keeping a medium luggage inside a big luggage is a great idea for hauling a lot! XD Teeheee

  12. Ahh I had the guts but not so much the planning skills and sense of direction, lol. I didn't really give myself enough time before going, so I just sort of winged it. There was so much that I didn't know, and sometimes people gave me conflicting advice. Everyone told me to go to Dongdaemyun to shop for cute and cheap clothes...when I exited the subway, I walked in the wrong direction and wandered around the wholesale district and like a farmer's market for like an hour, before I found the regular shopping section. *smacks forehead* I also went in the wrong direction of my hotel when I first arrived, although not totally my fault but these girls who were insisting they knew where my hotel was and would help me find it (so nice, and so, so wrong!).

    Oh, luckily it's really cheap to rent a smart phone in Seoul and I used a subway app that helped me get around (as long as I knew which subway stop I wanted to go to), but a couple of times it told me to take the train in the opposite direction. hehehe I also got a bit lost when I had dinner with D while she was in LA, lol. Omg can you imagine if it's ever just the two of us together and in an unfamiliar place? We might never find our way! jk
    I'd always joked about bringing an empty luggage but I'm so glad I did it! It also helped me to not pack over the weight limit in one luggage (and make it a pain to lug around). I would definitely recommend it and also do it again if I get to travel and shop lots in Asia! XD

  13. Hello! If you don't mind me asking, how much in Won did you bring? I will be going in roughly two weeks time, but I haven't a clue how much to put aside for shopping. I imagine that I'll spend most on skin care/ beauty products O.O Thanks for your help!

  14. How exciting! Hmm you should probably start making your shopping list now, if you have time. It really depends on how much you like to spend and plan on buying. For me, I gave myself about $100 a day for shopping, entertainment, food, etc. You can also use credit card for some purchases (you might want to check with your bank/CC company about fees, but mine were very minimal).

    Have fun!! I'm a bit jealous, keke. =)

  15. may I know what's the hotel name since I also plan to travel alone to seoul later?
    thank you ^^


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