One of my favorite things about traveling is I get to experience temperatures that is so different from ours. Seoul was around 14 degrees Celsius on my first day there – a far cry from the usual 30 degrees of Manila.
My hostel room is tiny but cozy. It barely has enough space to fit in my luggage from the bed to the bedroom wall. However, it’s very clean and tidy. The sheets were all white and I have a small tv all to myself. The floors were heated!! The bathroom is the best I’ve been to so far. It’s super clean and was the same size (or even bigger!) than my bedroom space. My neighborhood is between big buildings and mom and pop shops. I like it here.
I’m usually the type to drop my bags off, rest my feet for a couple of minutes, and then go, go, go. Not this time. I took a few minutes to unpack my coats. A few minutes to call my family to let them know I arrived safety. A few minutes to gush to Yuna about how the temperature is for when they arrive tomorrow. A few minutes to rest. A few minutes to remind myself that if I’ll be too shy to ask for directions, then I’ll get lost. And a few minutes to remind myself that I can do all of this alone.
My walk back to the train station is about five-ten minutes and it’s a little upright. It’s a little tiring but the cold made sure that I didn’t sweat. What I’d give to experience this in Manila. The train system is easy to navigate. It’s the same as Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s so I wasn’t worried about getting lost.
My first stop is Insa-dong. Insa-dong is basically just a lot of alleyways filled with modern galleries, shops, restaurants, and tea shops. There’s just a lot of tea shops and galleries here. There’s also a lot of stores that sells cute clothes and bags that goes for 10000KRW (roughly PHP400 which is not bad at all). I guess it can be described as a mix of traditional and hipster. The place is filled with both locals and tourists alike. You can also see a mix of them wearing hanbok and taking a lot of photos. Korean streetfood is also very present in this area and just thinking about it makes me want to back my bags and head back to Seoul.
Sadly, I didn’t take much photos in Insa-dong. I was video-chatting with my mom and brothers as I walk down streets. I also spent my time just really looking at the menu from different restaurants though I didn’t dine at any of them (lol). I also really loved people watching here. I sat down at one of the benches, eating some skewers, as I watch people walking past me.
How to get to Insa-dong: You can get down at either Anguk Station or Jonggak Station and it’s about five to ten minutes walk to Insa-dong. You don’t have to worry getting lost as there’s a lot of tourist information booth you can pass by after alighting the train!
When it was getting dark, I went off to my next destination: Dongdaemun Design Plaza. It has a different, unique shape! Also called as DDP, it is the world’s largest atypical architecture. It has five different halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. It holds fashion shows, various exhibitions, international events, etc.
I’ve read that the Design Market is open 24 hours. It’s one of the top reasons why I want to visit DDP. They’re supposed to have a lot of exhibits and I was looking forward to buying maps and other memorabilia from it. But it was closing when I arrived. 🙁
Side note: While I was talking photos, a Korean approached me. I realized that she was asking whether I want to have my photo taken after she already passed by. #Lutang
I just decided to grab some quick dinner from the first random restaurant I saw that was affordable and have an English menu. I’m sucking at this travel solo thing. After that, I went off to find the DDP LED Rose Garden but I also didn’t find it after walking around the place three times. My shy ass didn’t think of asking anyone lol. Who’s the best solo traveler again? It’s something I’ll definitely work on for my next solo trip.
(I also found out there’s a Shake Shack branch near DDP after my trip!! I’m definitely bummed I didn’t get to try it out but I’ll do it next time!!)
I didn’t have anything planned after this so I just sat down at one of the benches outside DDP. It was so cold and I was just wrapped up in my coat, almost taking a nap right there! Man, if I only knew this would be the only chill day I’d have in Korea, I would have stayed in that bench even longer.
How to get to DDP: Get down at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station and go through Exit 1.
Afterwards, I made my way back to the hostel. I felt completely safe walking home at 10PM alone. (Manila, do this for us, too!) I passed by one of the numerous 24 hours convenience store along the way. I finally got myself some banana milk to try for tomorrow morning! The receptionist greeted me a good evening as I went back in the hostel and reminded me of the free breakfast they serve. Koreans, man, so nice.
This is it for Day 1. For Day 2, I’m seeing myself in the largest mall in Seoul, meeting up with Yuna and her family, seeing a palace, and trying some traditional Korean street food. I’d say see you next Thursday for the next installation of this series but I’m thinking of doing a blogmas! So, just… see you!