Thursday, June 06, 2013

Korea Travelogue: Day 5 - Changdeokgung, Insadong and Lotte Mart

Update Feb 2015: I've moved my blog over to Hop on over there for my trip to Korea in Dec :)

Day 5 itinerary

  • Korean traditional food (Breakfast)
  • Changdeokgung 창덕궁
  • Miss Lee Cafe 별다방 미스리카페 (Lunch)
  • Insa-dong 인사동
  • Natuur Pop (Tea break)
  • Lotte Mart
Back with Day 5 of this Korean travelogue. Hope you're enjoying what you're reading so far!
Do check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4's posts if you haven't :D
Starting off with... bread (no la! I don't really like bread.)
This greets us every morning without fail when we step out of our guesthouse because a bakery is situated opposite.
Looks very nice and fluffy right? ^^

Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread can be very tantalising...

Ran out of ideas of where to eat breakfast at so we decided to just have traditional Korean food at Kimbab Heaven round the corner of our guesthouse.

More kimbab for us!

My cheese ramen #fatdieme

I think this was the day I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and got really grouchy.
Lack of sleep + rude people = Angry Paula
Will elaborate why later on.
Took the metro to Anguk Station to get to Changdeokgung, the destination for that morning.
You can find out more information about Changdeokgung here.

Big Bang for GMarket! :D Ad in one of the trains

Take the metro to Anguk Station and exit via Exit 3. Follow the signs and walk straight ahead until you reach the entrance of the palace. It'll probably take you approximately 5-10 minutes to get there. Make sure you're not walking in the opposite direction which takes you to Gyeongbokgong instead.

Now lemme explain why I got so angry that morning. Please skip this to the next picture if you do not wish to hear me rant.
Was really annoyed when a Korean middle aged man pushed me to walk past me at Anguk Station while I was waiting for the girls outside.
It got me really riled up because it wasn't the first time that it had happened.
Over the past few days, we've all on different occasions encountered really rude behaviour from the locals.
Now don't get offended right away, nice citizens of Korea.
I am not a stuck up tourist who expects locals to give in to my every whim and fancy when I go to their country.
I abide by their culture as best as I can but pushing people around and shoving your way through public areas is really very rude and inconsiderate I feel.
Heck, if it helps I also get very pissed and mad at fellow Singaporeans who are very inconsiderate on public transport (HELLO PERSONAL SPACE PLEASE).
I most certainly wasn't blocking the way (I was standing at the corner outside of a convenience store) and there was ample space on the other side of me except that a group of students were there because their teachers had to take their headcount.
Why couldn't you walk around them, or even said Excuse me very nicely? I may not understand you but if I heard someone talking to me and from their body gestures I believe I can decipher what you were trying to say.
So yes, when the girls came out I was very angry and upset at what had happened and totally hopping mad that I was prepared to murder whoever pushed me next without saying excuse me.
I find that only the older generation tended to do that but there was nothing we could do about it.
Perhaps a courtesy campaign should be set up la. Like Singa! Altho he quit LOL.
FYI later on in the day someone else did push me again by pushing me aside and shove their way through.
I went on a rampage screaming in English because I was that close to bursting already.
But oh wells. Part and parcel of overseas culture I suppose?
Back to the travelogue.

Tickets to Changdeokgung and the Secret Garden costs 8,000 KRW in total (5,000 KRW for entrance to Secret Garden and 3,000 KRW to Changdeokgung).
Do note that the palace is closed on Mondays while Gyeongbokgung is closed on Tuesdays!


Ticket counter to purchase your tickets

Mandatory tourists shot hahaha

When you want a group shot... Selca heh.

Interior of one of the palace areas


With my travel mates! :)

Now the highlight of Changdeokgung was actually the Secret Garden tour (or so I read online)
So of course we had to go and attend the free guided tour.
There are timings so do check the website before your trip ok.

Booth to purchase the Secret Garden tickets if you haven't bought it at the entrance.


The lady in the middle is the guide

I will not bore you too much with the pictures of the Secret Garden.
The tour is about 90 minutes long and you get to do a fair bit of exercise (which involves climbing up a steep slope). 
Is it worth it? Well, in my opinion, yes if you haven't been there before.
I didn't visit any of the palaces on my last trip so this time I really wanted to.
And between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, we ended up choosing Changdeokgung because of the Secret Garden tour. Perhaps next time I will visit Gyeongbokgung.
And the good thing of joining an English speaking tour? Fellow tourists who can converse in English when you ask them to take pictures for you! Heh.

Enough of palaces. We walked back towards Anguk Station in the direction of Insadong.

Take the subway to Anguk Station and exit via Exit 6. Walk straight all the way once you come out and you will see the long stretch known as Insadong on your left after approximately 5-10 minutes.

Now why were we there in Insadong? Because I wanted to eat the bento box from Miss Lee Cafe 별다방 미스리카페 again! Oh, and their 빙수 too!
K-pop trivia: YongSeo (Yonghwa of CN Blue and Seohyun of Girls' Generation) couple from We Got Married Season 2 visited here on one of their dates!
Yes, at this very outlet haha. There's also one more outlet at Myeongdong so if you haven't got time but want to try the food just find it around Myeongdong.

As you enter Insadong from Anguk Station, look for a GS25 convenience store on your right. You should see the banner or even the mascot Miss Lee (the girl) hanging above this GS25. Walk to the side and up the stairs to the 2nd floor.


Interior of the cafe

Grab a sheet of paper and a pen then leave your notes hanging anywhere in the cafe. As long got space can already haha!

Like this.

We ordered 3 of their bento boxes or 도시락 (do-si-rak) to share again to save tummy space for other food lol!

What's inside: Rice, kimchi, fried egg, sausages and seaweed

How to eat the food in the bento box? Shake it like crazy once you put the lid over.
Be careful of spillages ok hahaha!

All of them trying to shake the box but most of them failed and I had to do all 3 in the end :O

It should look like this after mixing hahaha! Of course you can just eat it normally but where's the fun right? Try it if you can ok lol

LUNCH!!! /digs in/

Our dessert! Very yummy ^^ 5 of us shared this huge bowl and gobbled everything up quite quickly actually lol

After that awesome lunch we went to walk around Insadong.
Something unique about Insadong is that all the chain stores like Starbucks, Missha, The Face Shop etc all had their store names written in Hangul or Korean alphabets.
You cannot find the Hangul store signs in other outlets except at Insadong.
Not too sure why but I think it's really cool, brings out the Korean culture there.
Plus Insadong sells alot of traditional items and souvenirs albeit at a steeper price. This is a tourist spot after all.

Walking along Insadong

Visited Ssamziegil inside Insadong to bring Juyin to this store where I bought my luggage tag last time.

Damn cute please! "Poop" bread hahahaha

Shopped around (bought more bags FOL) and then decided to go and eat waffles LOL!
It came to a point where whatever we see and looks yummy we'll just go and buy to try.
Crossed the road to the place where we went before entering Bukchon to find this cafe that sold waffles (we saw the sign when we were going to Bukchon).
Waffles remind me of Mir from MBLAQ. 'Waf-fur' <<<< how he pronounces waffles

Again, 4 of us minus Qiu ordered this to share HAHAHAH plus the 3 perpetually thirsty people (Juyin, Lirong and I) ordered drinks too.


So our original plan after that was to go and visit the sauna room then go Lotte Mart.
However, I think we lost track of time so we decided to postpone the sauna trip to another day and just go ahead to Lotte Mart to buy food!
Before that, I was dying to visit Natuur Pop 나뚜루팝 to eat some ice cream and get the free Infinite files they were giving out. (I'm also an Inspirit by the way!)
Totally panicking because I had only printed out directions to 2 outlets and the only outlet I saw was at Lotte Department Store's foodcourt (a very tiny one by the way).
By Day 5 I still hadn't located any outlets to eat the ice cream so my very nice friends decided to accompany me to this Natuur Pop outlet at Jongno 3-ga Station which I had printed out directions to because it was on the way from Anguk to Seoul Station where Lotte Mart is located.
Ok, then we got very lost. The map from the official website was wrong! T.T
For some strange reason when we got out of Jongno 3-ga station we realised something amiss because it looked like an industrial area and there were alot of old people.
Not some place where you'd expect young people to hang out and have ice cream to be honest :/
Was that close to giving up because despite asking a Korean guy (who Naver-ed the address and allowed me to take a screen shot of his phone) and asking another Korean girl (who very nicely called up the outlet and told us it was at Jonggak Station instead even when she was rushing for time and Naver-ing the location again), we still couldn't find our way there.
Then came our saviour in the form of Shannon LOL.
Shannon is this really nice Korean girl I told Kai Kee to approach and ask for directions to Jonggak Station.
Turns out she was heading towards the exact same place because her English school was next to Natuur Pop!
We followed her to the place and she even exchanged Facebook accounts with Kai Kee and of course we thanked her for her help.
Yay to nice Koreans! Makes up for the shitty ones who push people around D:


Myungsoo ya Sungjong ah! Annyeong!!~

Myungsoo /inserts lovey dovey eyes/ is my bias!

I treated the girls to ice cream because I felt bad for making them walk so much just to find my ice cream #lifeofafangirl

HAPPY ME GOT MY FILES!!!! victory.jpg

To get to this Natuur Pop outlet, take the subway to Jonggak Station and exit via Exit 2. Turn left as you come out and walk straight. Look out for a stretch on your right with loads of food tents selling alot of street food. Walk down this alley and you should find the outlet on your left beside a building (where Shannon studies English lol!) I don't know if you can trust the maps from the Natuur Pop website because we got lost for a long time and thank God for meeting these kind people who brought us there. Your best bet would be to get a Korean be it the guesthouse owner you're staying at or some random passerby to call the outlet and check properly where is it.

Street food outside Natuur Pop

Fat die us seriously but after the whole ice cream fiasco we finally took the subway to Seoul Station to Lotte Mart.

Take the subway to Seoul Station and exit via Exit 1. You should be able to spot the huge Lotte Mart sign on your left.

Outside Seoul Station

Inside Lotte Mart

Our trolley for the 5 of us HAHAHA!!

Oh my we spent a long time inside Lotte Mart, easily 2 hours at least buying all sorts of things.
Obviously, I couldn't control my spending once again and bought loads of things for people back home with the intention of mailing everything back to Singapore.
If you are like me and just wanna buy loads of Korean goodies, there's an EMS counter right after the cashiers on the supermarket level.
You can just box the things up (they provide boxes for you at Lotte Mart) and mail it back home. Easy peasy right?
We had to take a cab back to our guesthouse because there was way too many things already!
And then after unloading all our things, none of them were hungry except Juyin, Kai Kee and me :(
So we ordered jajjangmyeon through takeout service from the guesthouse!
We saw some other guests eating it so we asked the staff to order for us 2 bowls and a portion of fried dumplings because we were mad starving!
I also shared a bottle of makkeolli (rice wine) with them that I bought at Lotte Mart because it was very cheap.

Delivery man! I only see them in K-dramas to be honest :/

3 happy girls eating jajjangmyeon! :D

Alright and there you have it Day 5.
Check back soon for the next entry bye!


Amanda Feng said...

Hi! I came across your blog while researching for my upcoming trip to Korea... It's lovely how you posted directions and opinions about the places (: Borrowed some tips and recommendations!

I'm excited to go to the underground shopping malls and Edae/ Hongdae this time round because I've mostly shopped at Dongdaemun last time and I think it's really quite expensive (especially Doota!) and sometimes it's a bit repetitive.

Plus good job finding a nice guesthouse; I'm staying at a guesthouse too in August at Myeongdong (Ari Guesthouse) and it's wayyy cheaper than hotels. Last time I was in Korea however I stayed at a motel that turned out to be a love motel... wtf! Heard a lot of woohoo sounds at night.

BTW I'm not an INFINITE fan (I'm an SNSD and EXO fan but I love all Kpop) but I've watched Reply 1997 and Hoya's quite cute in it plus L is very cute ^^ Haha!

Paula said...

Hi Amanda!

Thanks for commenting :) Hope you'll enjoy yourself alot in Korea! Gosh, makes me wish I was back there again because my bestie is currently there now and all her pictures are making me die of jealously lololol. I wanna teleport there now!

Edae should be awesome if you love shopping like me! *\O/* The girls had tons of fun shopping up a storm that day and yeah I agree that Dongdaemun is qt ex so I don't get it why people still wanna go there.

Hahahah I'm a SONE toooo! My bias is Yoona :D :D :D :D Basically, I pretty much have biases in tons of Kpop groups :X

Alright, lemme know if you discovered somewhere nice and awesome on your trip to Korea. Have fun :)

my-precious-metoyou said...

Hi Paula!

I've been reading your blog while researching for my upcoming trip to Korea too.. Kudos for all the awesome recommendations. Enjoy reading it over and over again! :)

By the way could you let me know, is it convenient to ship back the things you bought from Lotte Mart? Is there a cost to it?

Another thing is that, if I purchase a lot of cosmetics and skin care stuffs from the shops say The Face Shop, may I know how to go about it if i want to ship back to Singapore too?

Thank you! :):)

Paula said...

Hello! Thank you for the kind comments :)

Yes, it very easy for you to mail back the stuff from Lotte because right after the cashier you can spot an EMS counter. They charge by weight with a maximum 30kg weight per package. You can check out the fees when you want to mail them. Same goes for your cosmetic stuff but bear in mind if you ship all your cosmetic items you may not be able to reclaim your tax refund!

Have fun in Korea! :)

shasha said...

Hi, I will be staying in Namsan Guest House too.

Just wondering if they will be able to help you to order the jajjangmyeon ? or did you called and order by yourself? :D

Paula said...

Hi, they will call for you. Just let them know you want to have chinese takeout!

Love Rain Admin said...

Hi Paula,

Thank you for the reply :)

Jessica said...

Hi Paula

Thank you for recommending Lotte Mart. I was wondering if you could share what you bought from there other than Makkeolli. I was kinda lost there after finding just Makkeolli. It didn't occur to me then I will be in this situation. Blur me. :D

But as I was about to checkout, I noticed some Chinese (don't know from which country) buying a trolley full o Market O brownie and Fish shaped cake and I just follow suit. I simply have no clue what to buy.

Paula said...

Hi Jessica, wah you really commented on alot of my posts lol. Thanks for all the love <3

Erm what did I buy from Lotte Mart let's see...

- Makkgeolli (My fav kind of Korean alcohol. I don't really like soju)

- Instant japchae (Ohhh I bought like 2 packs of this but I loved it so much I regretted not buying more when I came back to SG)

- Ramen (I bought those that I cannot find in SG Korean marts)

- Fish bread (I bought this too but I didn't like it D:)

- Naengmyun noodles (To cook at home! :D)

- Red pepper paste (try something that I cannot find in SG as well)

- Bossam paste (The chilli paste they use when they eat the samgyupsal

And... I cannot really remember sorry D: My friend bought the vaccum packed blood sausage (soondae) to cook in SG. You can check out her blog here:

AmalinaHamdam said...

Hi Paula! Found your blog when googling "Free and Easy Korea" LOL. Thanks for sharing your experience in Korea! I'm going to Korea next year but i don't really know how much to save for flights+food+accomodation+attractions+(esp)shopping. Can you share how much you spent in total? Thanks alot!

Paula said...

Hello Amalina,

I am a horrible person to ask how much I spend in Korea because.. I always overspend lol. It's a true story (every.single.time.)

But I can offer you some tips on how to save some $$ if it helps haha.

- Air tickets: Be subscribed to all airlines that fly to Korea! Sometimes it is also good to have in mind an idea how much you would like to spend on airfare too (budget or commercial?) and while I haven't taken any budget airlines to Seoul, I have taken Korean Air, Cathay Pacific and Asiana Airlines. Direct flights costs more but there isn't a layover while those with connecting flights are cheaper but only if you feel it's worth it to spend that excess time at the airport you are transitting in (I LOVE HKIA just fyi). Also, budget airlines tend to have good promos so just like them on their FB post or be on their mailing list, good to always be in loop of good airline deals!

- Accommodation: Stay in a guesthouse if $$ is of an issue to you. After all, you are only going to spend what... 8 hours max a day sleeping there. Don't be too fussy about the small toilets or the lack of lifts or the thin mattresses. I like staying in guesthouses because of the price plus it really isn't a big deal for me about the mattresses because they are not that bad. You really pay for what you get and if the guesthouse offers free breakfast i.e. toast and jam and some coffee and water etc.... good for you!

- Food: You can save on breakfast by eating at the guesthouse OR.... eat the free ramen that is available at your guesthouse (if you're staying at Namsan Guesthouse). When you go to a restaurant, try and share among your friends the dishes because it can be quite filling to eat a whole bowl of food all by yourself plus it leaves you enough stomach to try even more food! Or if you're really very broke and have no preference, buy a kimbab from the ahjummas on the streets! They are always very nice and yummy (and cheap!).

- Shopping: Now... I really cannot give you much tips except to bring along the discount coupons found on the KTO website or google for some links. Very important lol! You can refer to my post here for more info:

Alright, hope you have fun in Korea. Bring along more cashhhhh (bank rates are horrible for swiping your credit cards. Don't use it unless it's an emergency! LOL)


AmalinaHamdam said...

Hi Paula!

Thanks for replying! It kinda helps me with my planning!

Yeap I decided on staying in one of the guest house in Korea. I'm going to Jeju and Busan too so i guess i need more money for the transportation haha!

Thank you again for sharing your experience and also replying me!

Paula said...

Hi Amalina, enjoy! :)

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