Saturday, December 1, 2018

Getting Around Seoul

We are quite familiar with Korean food- kimchi, kimchi jjigae, tteokbokki, bibimbap, ginseng chicken soup with rice, dak galbi, pajeon and bulgogi can be found in Malaysia. Well, the price for the food in Seoul is two to three times more expensive compared to Kuala Lumpur and Selangor area in Malaysia. For example, a kimchi stew with rice is around RM 12 - RM 18 in our country, while in Seoul, it cost around RM 26 to RM 40. 

For Malaysian, we would recommend kimchi, kimchi stew, and bibimbap. These dishes taste a bit different than what we can get in Malaysia. We should try the Korean style noodle in Seoul as well. They have more variety than the Korean Restaurants in Malaysia.

We tried budae jjigae (army stew) at Dongcheonhong (东天红) Restaurant, located at Saimunan-ro 9-gil, nearby Gyuanghwamun Plaza (upper left). Most of the visitors were from local (upper right). The portion of budae jjigae was big (lower right) with complementary kimchi and desserts. The price was around RM 40 per person. The taste was good and the portion was really big. So sharing is recommended. 

We visited the food street at Namdaemun Market (upper left), many shops were closing down around 8:30 pm. We stepped into one of the shops (upper right), and tried kimchi jjigae (lower right) and jap chae. Both dishes were spicy, but the taste was good. Kimchi jjigae, is the stew kimchi with vegetables and pork, while jap chae, is a dish with mixture of glass noodle, vegetables, meat, and egg with spicy sauce. The staff  there were not friendly and they couldn't speak English. But surprisingly, a few of them could communicate fluently in Mandarin.    

Myeongdong is a place with plenty of eateries. We chose one with Mandarin name "乌达里家", located at 28 Myeongdong 8na-gil (upper left). The eatery was full with the photos of visiting celebrities (upper right). With much anticipation, we tried bibimbap (lower right) and samyetang. Bibimbap is Korean style mixed rice, samyetang is Korean ginseng chicken soup. The bibimbap was really good. The staff however, was a bit inattentive and impolite.

Namdaemun Market has plenty of street food, including hotteok shop (upper row) and barbecue stalls (lower row).

Street food at Myeongdong- fruit juice and flour fritter with sausage.

Street food nearby Guro Station. We bought sausage (KRW 2000) and sweet potatoes (KRW 1000). The taste was good.

For traditional dishes, we tried bibimbap and kimchi jjigae for several times. Beside that, we tried several Korean street food, snacks and drinks (mostly Lotte), Klaud beer, bread and buns, seafood, banana milk which is famous in Malaysia, and many more. Well, nothing really special about these food. By the way, we found that for some Lotte snacks and drinks, the selling price in Malaysia was actually cheaper than in Seoul.

Place to Stay
To be frank, staying at the heart of the city, such as at Myeongdong area is great. It means we are not only staying nearby to numerous of eateries, shopping malls, underground markets, and street markets, but we are just a walking distance away from royal palaces and several other places of interest. 

However, the price and the availability are always the issues. It might be harder for us to get a room at low price, as peoples are queuing to get a room there. Well, that's why there are reports saying the service provided by small hotel or B & B owners there are not up to the expectation.

Therefore in our recent trip, we stayed a bit further from the city center at Daelim Residence. The apartment is located nearby Guro Station (Line 1). Guro Station is around 20 minutes away from Seoul Station, so it is very convenient for us to move around Seoul. 

 Guro Station is located behind AK Plaza. There is a huge supermarket in the plaza.

Daelim Residence is a tall building where we can see from AK Plaza. The entrance to the apartment is locate behind a Chinese Restaurant (upper left). The entrance is small (upper right), but the room is big and equipped with cooking facility, washing machine, flat screen television with online channels, clothes drying area, and even with a desktop computer (lower right). There is a small dining area on a side of the room. Water dispenser and free flow coffee and chocolate machine are provided at the lobby at every level.

The view from Daelim Residence. Walk straight along the road and we will reach AK Plaza in a few minutes.

MRT System
Moving around Seoul is easy, especially with their extensive MRT system. We wish to highlight an interesting fact- Seoul airport MRT announcements were made in four different languages- Korean, Japanese, Chinese, and English. For others, announcements were made in two languages- Korean and English. All the signage were stated in Korean and English, so, it was really easy for us to find our way in and out.

Detailed MRT map is provided by Korea Tourism Organization. Getting a T Money Card will make our life easier as the card can be used in almost all MRT and bus lines. We used bus and ferry services in Gapyeong. We had no problem using these services.

People are queuing for MRT. The frequency of the MRT in Seoul was 5 - 6 minutes.

Some of the MRT stations, such as Airport Station and Gyeongbokgung Station are beautiful (upper right). The signage are stated in different languages for all stations in Seoul (upper right). The MRT was quiet, with most passengers looking at their hand phone (lower right). Stairs are unavoidable at some places.   

No doubt Myeongdong is the shopping heaven for most of the tourists. It consists of several streets beside Myeongdong Station. The shopping area is near to City Hall Station (Line 1) and Eulji-ro-1-gal (Line 2).  

Souvenirs, clothes, handbags, IT gadgets, food and snacks, coffee houses, and on top of that, skin care and cosmetic products can be found in Myeongdong street market. Comparison of price of the same product in several outlets might be necessary to ensure the price of the product we bought was on the lower side. Best thing to buy in this market- skincare products.

One of the streets at Myeongdong. The street gets busier at night.

This photo was taken from Myeongdong Cathedral. We could see the crowd on Myeongdong streets.

Another place that we went for shopping was the street market at Namdaemun. Unlike Myeongdong, we could bargain at some outlets. Instead of mixing together, the outlets at Namdaemun are more organized- the outlets selling same or similar products were clustered together on the same street. Again, while we busy bargaining, we should compare the prices of the same product from different outlets. Anyway, Namdaemun was less happening compared to Myeongdong. The market is a good place for us to buy souvenirs, such as key chains, chopsticks, and fridge magnets.

We could use labelled gate sign to avoid getting lost in the middle of the Namdaemun streets.

Food stalls in Namdaemun Market.

The best thing to buy in Seoul (and worth buying)- skincare and cosmetic products from Myeongdong. For drinks and snacks, which mostly made by Lotte, we would advise to try a little bit first before we buy in bulk. If you are a big fan of seaweed, you can buy it from Namdaemun street market. The seaweed was sold with very low price in a local product carnival held in Seoul City Plaza during our visit.

For more information and sharing on our visit to Seoul and Nami Island, please read our previous blog posts on Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Nami Island and Attractions in Seoul City.

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