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South Korea 2015 Part 1 – Arrival & Myeongdong Gyoja

This is part of an ongoing travelogue series. To start at the beginning, click here.

So off we go to Seoul! Our flight was 1.15am in the morning, so get to KLIA2 by private taxi. We had to get an Exora since there were 4 of us and 3 large suitcases. Cost me RM100 inclusive toll from Puchong.

This was actually my first visit to KLIA2, so you can tell how long it has been since my last trip 🙁

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We were scheduled to touch down at 8.25am, after almost hours of flight. I had problems getting sleep, so throughout my first day, I felt really tired especially we walked quite a bit.

Anyway, we reached Incheon slightly early. Immigration was pretty fast, we were out of airport in about half and hour.

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Bought 4 tickets on the Airport Limo bus no 6015. For more info on transportation, check out my post here. The bus runs quite frequent and is very comfortable. But be reminded that you need to wear your seatbelts especially on the highway.

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(waiting for our bus)

Bus to my hotel took about 40 minutes as traffic was clear, considering it was a Sunday.

For our first leg of the holiday, we stayed 3 nights at Hotel 8 Hours, Seoul. We booked it via Agoda, and there was an additional discount from via my Citibank card.

Hotel 8 hours is a very nice boutique hotel, relatively new, very tidy and excellent location. It is located in between Namdaemun and Myeongdong, near the City Hall subway station.

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(our hotel’s very neat Café Glovis, where there is free coffee, snacks and internet access. Spent our breakfast and suppers here everyday)

it was too early to check in so we deposited our bags and went off to Myeongdong. I had booked tickets for Nanta at 2pm (the cheap matinee show was available on only on Sundays) so we had get lunch first (we didn’t book any meals in the flight, so we were quite hungry).

it was a short walk from our hotel to Myeongdong street, about 600 meters. Along the way, we had our first real look at Seoul city life.

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(autumn colours were still abound)

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(it’s never too early to celebrate Christmas!)

Turning into the Myeongdong street, we were quite surprised to see how busy it was. Most of the crowd were young Korean couples (all finely dressed, I might add) and China tourists. Myeongdong is famous for their cosmetic shops, eateries and clothes shops. But on the main road its mostly cosmetics – Olive Young, Skinfood, Etude House, Tony Moly, The Face Shop etc (see after 1 week in Korea I also know all the brands already).

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(Myeongdong street)

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(we tried their chocolate tower ice cream for KRW 2000 while waiting for the Nanta show)

The side streets of Myeongdong are even more crowded. In Seoul you can find BBQ restaurants on (literally) every street, but for our first meal in Korea, we went for Myeongjong Gyoja. This is quite a famous shop in Seoul, most travel bloggers will recommend it.

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There are two lines to the shop, one for downstairs and one for upstairs. Upstairs has a bigger seating capacity.

Here they only serve 4 dishes – mandu (dumplings), bibim guksu (cold spicy noodles), kalguksu (wheat flour noodles in a hot broth) and kongguksu (noodles in cold soy milk broth). All dishes were KRW 8,000. And like every other meal we had in Korea, there’s free flow of cold water and kimchi. We tried 2 portions of the dumplings and kalguksu, since Hannah didn’t like spicy food and eating cold soup didn’t sound appealing.

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Our first meal was very delicious, the soup was tasty and good for a cold autumn day. The dumplings tasted a bit like Xiao Long Bao, without the water inside. Looking back to the trip, I think we really enjoyed all the food we had there, and can say we didn’t have any bad meals.

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(waiters whizzing everywhere. Do note that you need to pay for your food to the waiter when the food arrives)

When we left the restaurant the line to eat Gyoja stretched outside the shop and down 2 more shops… good thing we were early. If your going to visit the restaurant, take note of how it looks like, the shop does not have any English words on the sign. Although if you are visiting during peak hours, its hard to miss with the queue outside. From the main walking street (Myeongdong-gil) turn into the side street going south when you see a large Olive Young store, just after the Myeongdong Theater.

Next – Nanta and Insadong.

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