February 23, 2015 - the lost pen
Seoul – The ‘e’ is silent
Grown into one of the most dynamic mega-cities of Asia, Seoul is vibrant and fascinating. The city of many Business giants (Samsung, LG, Hyundai) can always be seen at its merry best. On contrary to what’s generally perceived, it has exotic eateries and exquisite bakeries. The city is constantly updating its credibility for tourists, bridging the language barriers and employing innovative and smart schemes. The city has an amazing network of public transport which is accessible from almost everywhere. So let’s take a dig into S(E)OUL.
- The Traditional Walk (Line 5 Jongno 3(sam)-ga Stn. Exit 5):
The traditional essence of Korea can be felt in most places in the city, but the one that would charm you completely is Insadong. It is a traditional market offering Korean artifacts, traditional clothes, souvenirs (do buy them) and relishing street food. There is an ‘Alive Museum’, right in the center of the market which you wouldn’t want to miss (don’t cliché it as a ‘museum’). On the other side of the market there lies a quiet neighborhood where you can see traditional Korean houses – ‘Hanok’. The beauty of those houses can be best seen during winters when snow has taken abode on the roofs. It is often known as the ‘photographer’s paradise’. Club this visit with the Royal Gyeonbokkung Palace of Korea. All these places are in close vicinity.
- Hongdae (Hongik University) and Itaewon:
The party places of Seoul. You don’t need a Friday night to call it a party, these places are brimming with clubs and parties almost always. Join the Facebook group – The Seoul English Party for regular updates. Hongdae (Line 2 Hongik University. Exit 9) – The better of the two I feel. Mostly because of the happening college crowd. Some of the recommended clubs – NB1, M.I, Mansion. Street performances and road-side events are daily deals here, along with the cheap shopping options. Itaewon (Line 6 Itaewon. Exit 4) – One place that has more foreign visitors than Koreans. There is a street right behind the Itaewon subway (exit 4) that has one the most amazing global restaurants. Itaewon is also famous for Indian/Pakistani departmental stores and tailored suits. Have some good food and drinks before diving into the clubs. Some of the recommended clubs – B1, Mute, Volume.
Suggestion for clubbing
1) Stay the night (unless you get lucky, which is quite probable), the clubs are open till 5 in the morning.
2) If you have bags/luggage with you, keep them in the vaults provided at the subway before midnight. Most of the clubs don’t allow it. Good clubs would always want to check your passport so carry it.
3) The clubbing usually starts at 10 but the crowd gets ready for the night by 12, so try and keep yourself busy till then on the road.
4) Get a couple of drinks before going into the club.
5) Clubbing is cheap in Korea. Most of the clubs would charge nothing more than 10-20 $ an entry, even the best ones. Since the clubs are pretty cheap, one common trend for clubbing in Seoul is – Keep changing the club!! Drink in one, dance in another.
6) Try talking to people. You can make great friends in the clubs, especially in Itaewon. You can experience amazing stories they have to tell. You might just get to know everything there is about Romania in one single night 😉
7) Since you’d be tired to the core by the time you leave the club in the morning, get a decent massage at a nearby parlor and you’ll never forget the night.
- Myeondong (Line 4 Myeong-dong. Exit 6)
The shopping paradise of Seoul, and not just for the girls! Right from street shopping to famous brands, you’ll find it all here. If you have poor shopping skills, Myeongdong is the place for you, trust me 😉
Things to do –
1) There is a Seoul Global Culture Experience center, right in the heart of Myeong-dong. The place offers free trial of Seoul’s vibrant traditional clothing – Hanbok’s, apart from other cultural experiences. You can get your photographs clicked in a couple of background setups provided at the center.
2) Do try the amazing street food, lined all through the place, specially the Indian chicken shawarma.
3) There is a famous Cathedral right behind the shopping area you ‘d love to visit.
4) Myeong-dong Theatre – Check out for English plays at this epic stage. Go only then.
These 3 places can cover almost 5 days for you if you are not as lazy as the writer who did it in 10 😉
Stay tuned for another set of places.
Handy sites for Seoul
When in Seoul
– Download the subway app ‘Jihachul’.
– Get a T-money card. You can use it almost everywhere including public transport and departmental stores.
– To save your pockets, Take cabs only after midnight or when its extremely necessary, the public transport is impeccable.
– If you are a vegetarian, ask for ‘yache’ food, their vegetarian might imply egg, fish and sometimes chicken 😉
– Try Rameyon noodles and Maccoli (Korean traditional Drink).
– Oppso (cross of hands) means ‘no’ or ‘not applicable’ or ‘we don’t have it’, don’t push it when this word/action has been said/done.