Tag Archives: korea 2014

Last Day in Korea

Our flight was 1640H and we planned to check out at 1200H so that we could take the airport limousine bus to Incheon International Airport.  It was only 10,000won per adult and the pick-up point was a mere 1-minute walk from our hotel.

Given that we had to check out by 12pm, we headed out at 10am for brunch at Holly’s Coffee. 20140526-221816-80296318.jpg

 

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It was so early that we had the whole floor to ourselves for the whole hour and the boys played catching.20140526-221816-80296963.jpg

This was us on the bus20140526-221817-80297075.jpg

Some friends would wonder why we did not opted for taxi to go to the airport.  Well, a regular taxi might not have sufficient boot space to house our 29″ and 32″ luggage as well as a stroller.  A bigger taxi would cost US$100, so taking the airport limousine bus sounded like a good option to me.

X, looking pensive at the airport20140526-221817-80297472.jpg

We had lunch after getting the custom stamp for our purchases and checking in our luggage.  We had a lot of time to shop, to collect our tax refunds in cash and to shop more.  I ended up buying a pair of Issey Miyaki perfume because it was only US$60 per bottle!  Mr H grabbed a pair too.  His was around US$50.

Waiting for boarding20140526-221818-80298105.jpg

During the flight, we celebrated our friend’s child’s first year old birthday.  We did not get to sing the birthday song but we got to enjoy the complimentary birthday cake prepared by SQ.

We also bumped into a friend on the return flight20140526-221818-80298003.jpg

 

Z had immense entertainment while we endured the long wait for luggages.  This pretty much summed up our holiday to Korea.  While Z was a handful, it was still a great trip.

 

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Ninth Day in Korea

Our plan was simple.  We thought of visiting the Trick-eye museum at Hongdae area.  We took a cab over and it was almost 9000won.

It was a visual treat and camera-fun.  Both X & Z had a great time too.  They enjoyed the graphics though they did not really understand the camera magic.  When Z finally saw the pictures, he loved them!

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Those photos were not all the exhibits, there were more and the museum refreshed their designs too.  The entry ticket included admission to the Ice museum.  Though it was tiny, it was super cold so no one could really stay very long inside too.20140526-222223-80543512.jpg

We walked along Hongdae briefly and adjourned for dinner at a pizza/pasta restaurant at Z’s request.20140526-222223-80543399.jpg

We returned to Myeongdong area and shopped for all our souvenir goodies at Lotte Departmental Store.  I really liked how nice they focused on packaging these days too.

I also loaded on the masks shopping and bought my favorite Etude House Eyebrow pencils which were super cheap at 2500won.  There was a Teddy Bear Museum in Myeongdong but limited time meant we had to give it a miss.20140526-222224-80544852.jpg

We returned to Hwaroyeon for dinner with our friends20140526-222405-80645822.jpg

Post dinner, we continued to wander on the streets of Myeongdong and caved in to Z’s ice cream request.20140526-222223-80543459.jpg

In a jiffy, it was the last of our 7 nights’ stay with The Grand Hotel.20140526-222405-80645387.jpg

Eighth Day in Korea

This was meant to be a Kids’ Day Out!  I had wanted to go Lotte World but we had brought Z there less than 2 years’ ago and Mr H was still suffering from TPF (Not referring to The Purseblog Forum, but Theme Park Fatigue).  Hence, I researched a little and decided to check out the Grand Children Park in Seoul.  It looked pretty interesting on the web!

The family selfie on subway20140526-221333-80013236.jpg

The Grand Children Park had a station of its own called the Grand Children Park – rather literal!  The park offered free admission and looked rather cute!  There were many kids at the park and we were impressed by how big the park was.  However, the rides’ section was under renovation.20140526-221333-80013565.jpg

This was the Children’s museum20140526-221334-80014129.jpg

We made a beeline for the Auto Park!  Z was so excited about the prospects of driving a small vehicle on his own.  Unfortunately, this Auto Park was a little similar to our Road Safety Park and it was opened for educational’s purpose.  They would only admit Korean children.  #gasp #horrors20140526-221334-80014839.jpg

Z was super disappointed, so were we!  We pleaded so hard to let him go in and walk around, nevermind that he could not drive the mini cars.  They also did not allow.  Le sigh!!

We had to promise Z toys to lift his mood.

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There were nice playgrounds at the park too, so the boys spent almost an hour playing there. 20140526-221335-80015271.jpg

 

After the Children’s Park, I went to my own wonderland.  We visited the H store at Dosan Park since it was a local flagship store.  It was a beautiful visit before we made our way to Lotte World Shopping Centre where Toys’r’us was housed.  We had a simple lunch and rushed to shop.

This was the local version of ‘Transformers’ called Tobots.20140526-221335-80015809.jpg

We picked out a toy for X too.  We also found some interesting accessories such as a netted bottle holder with sling strap.  Once we were done with the kids, we headed up to the Lotte Duty Free store.  I was almost tempted with a Classic Pink Chanel Classic Flap in jumbo size.  However, though the price was pre-increase at US$5500 (while it was $8410 in SG), it was a little hard to justify paying so much for a Chanel flap when I used to only pay 3K+!  We walked away from the bag and headed back to Dongdaemun for more shopping.  I also had to pick up the glittery ironman t-shirt for Z.  It was retailing at US$20 and Mr H had been reluctant to let me buy initially because the boys had so many clothes.

X had a mini puke job during the shopping.  He was coughing till he puked.  He had been strapped to Mr H via baby bjorn so that meant both of them stank.  We had dinner at Hanwoori.  Once dinner ended, X gestured for me to remove his overalls.

As though he was shy that he was revealing too much skin, he tried to pull his romper down to cover his kneecaps.

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The much acclaimed Ironman T-shirt20140526-221336-80016381.jpg

We cabbed back from Dongdaemun to Myeongdong.  They were along the same main road and it only cost 4000won.

 

 

 

Seventh Day in Korea

The most annoying thing was to lose a blog post.  It was not WordPress’ fault.

Anyway, back to working on the backlogged Korea Holiday entries.  This day was meant to be a shopping day, here was X looking on with apprehension.20140526-221133-79893223.jpg

 

We planned to shop at Dongdaemun.  There were 10++ of such wholesale shopping centres.  If you were to take the subway and exit at #9 or #10, you would end up facing Good Morning City Shopping Centre.  There were others such as the more famous Doota, APM, Migliore and more.

This was how Good Morning City looked like20140526-221133-79893781.jpg

In Seoul, all the shopping districts and within the shopping area itself, there was very strong monopolistic competition.  It meant quite a few items could be found in Myeongdong, in Dongdaemun, in Hongdae and even at Express Bus Terminal.  I saw a dress for US$68 at Express Bus Terminal but I got it for US$42 at Dongdaemun.  Conversely, I saw a cardigan for US$18 at Express Bus Terminal but it was going at US$22 at Dongdaemun.

While the apparels at such wholesale shopping centres were not as cheap as in China or Bangkok, the quality was a lot better.  I could imagine some of these going at US$2-300 in Japan because I had seen many ‘Made in Korea’ fashion in Japan too.

We spent the entire in the area where I added a healthy stash of tops, dresses and jackets to my collection.  The shopkeepers were pretty funny.  When they saw X, they would suggest to give me US$5 discount because he was cute.  If he was wailing, I would take the chance to ask for more discount.  I had been able to slash the price of most items from US$65/68 to US$50.

We did not visit Doota because it typically offered higher prices than the rest.  The buildings nearer to Doota were also pricier.

Anyway, I was rather surprised that the malls were pretty empty too.  It was very unlike the last 3 visits.

By evening, we headed to Myeongdong to try this 1-star Michelin Star eatery boosting of knife-cut noodles.  Though we had the address, I could not find the eatery.  Thankfully we had data plan, so I searched for information and chanced upon this blog entry.  I used the instructions and pictures to find the eatery.  There were 2 stores in the same street (oddly).20140526-221133-79893936.jpg

I considered it an eatery because it was so crammed for families with children and strollers (like us)!  Almost everything was 8000 won on the menu and there were only 5-6 items on the menu.

The gyoza – which tasted the same as the dumplings in the soup – hence, not really important to order this20140526-221134-79894257.jpg

A huge bowl of noodles which was very smooth!20140526-221135-79895343.jpg

The soup was great too 20140526-221134-79894752.jpg

 

We had a quick dinner and left the eatery for more shopping.  There was a Migliore at Myeongdong but that was rather disappointing.  It was only 2 floors and the stores did not seem to have much trendy stuffs.

We shopped more before ending the night at Caffe Bene with a korean version of ‘ice kachang’.  This bowl of ice was 9800 won.  I had to say, Seoul offered a really expensive cafe culture.20140526-221135-79895659.jpg

Sixth Day in Korea

This was meant to be a sightseeing day, so we headed to Gyeongbokgung Palace.  We decided to cab over because it involved the changing of a few lines.  However, the driver did not know where to stop for us to alight and circled around the area.

As per most Korean palaces, the decor was similar and rather simple.  20140525-071457-26097966.jpg

It felt more like a walk in an ancient park.  However, our 3000-won admission price was made justifiable with the free visit to the museum tucked all the way at the back.  You would have to keep your ticket stub for re-entry back to the palace.

We were educated on Korean history and I finally understood why Koreans held such strong confucian values as portrayed in the historical dramas.20140525-071852-26332454.jpg

There was a children museum too.  One part of the setup was based on a Korean folklore.  The visuals were beautiful but we did not understand the story to appreciate the exhibit fully.20140525-071458-26098279.jpg

We were done with the attraction within 2hours and headed via a side gate for the famous ginseng chicken soup restaurant.20140525-071458-26098730.jpg

It was really just a short walk away.  There was a queue when we arrived at 1215pm but thankfully, we made reservations!  We were ushered in immediately.20140525-071459-26099071.jpg20140525-071459-26099529.jpg

 

The Ginseng Chicken soup started from 15,000won per pot.  I shared with Z & X since I could not finish one on my own.  It was one of the better Ginseng chicken that I had tried but was not exactly the best.  I thought the version at Congee house near our hotel offered a better version.20140525-071646-26206739.jpg

It was super hot and sunny when we were done with lunch.  We cabbed over to Insadong (1.2km away, 3300won cab fare).  It was a pretty street with lovely crafts but I found them rather steep in terms of prices.

We checked out Ssamziegil at Insadong.  There were many fancy shops and interestingly, it offered tax free shopping too.  I bought a pretty fan (it was so hot!), a cap and some cute keychains (which by now, I realized it had been misplaced).20140525-071647-26207579.jpg 20140525-071647-26207115.jpg

It was Roses day so they were giving out Rose balloons to couples.  I went with Z and received one.  To get a second balloon for X, I claimed Mr H as the original other half.20140525-071649-26209074.jpg 20140525-071647-26207923.jpg 20140525-071648-26208244.jpg

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It was a fanciful artsy building.  It was so cute that it actually reminded me of Harajuku.

We crossed to the other side facing Insadong.  The area was called Samcheongdong and it was hailed as the ‘Haij Lane’ of Seoul.  We stopped by the first cafe we saw and rested.20140525-071850-26330275.jpg

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After the tea break, we continued walking down.  The string of cafes were prettily done up and some even reminded me of an English rose garden.

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X was bored and played with the Korean drum that I had gotten from Insadong20140525-071850-26330877.jpg

 

We headed to Cheonggyecheon stream via cab (4000won), took some pictures, let Z play with water, hop around the rocked path and went to Lotte Duty Free (again!).  This round, I saw a H Evelyn III in Rose Confetti!  I was very tempted by the colour but the style of the bag did not work for me.

We walked to Hwaroyeon at Myeongdong for dinner.  It was pretty good, and wallet friendly compared to Samwon Garden.20140525-071851-26331870.jpg 20140525-071851-26331472.jpg

The boys were super happy with the drums – their new toy of the day!20140525-071852-26332367.jpg

Fifth Day in Korea

I nearly forgot that we had purchased matching Batman T-shirts for the boys at Namdaemun the day earlier.  I tried it on the boys and was pretty amused.  I also realized that Z coined these as character T-shirts.  I guessed that was the term used in school.  My boy was growing up too fast.  Or should I correct – my boys were growing up too fast.20140523-230131-82891902.jpg

We were heading to the other side of Han River for the day.  This was the ‘mandatory’ outfit of the day shot during the holiday.  That was in jest.20140523-230132-82892370.jpg

We planned to have Krispy Kreme for breakfast.  I was surprised that the original Krispy Kreme cafe at Myeongdong had downsized significantly.  The selection was lesser too.20140523-230133-82893303.jpg

X was telling us which doughnut he wanted20140523-230132-82892886.jpg

X was a cheeky boy this holiday.  He attempted nonsensical stuffs in the cafe and even ended up walking into the corner of a table.  Back to Krispy Kreme, the Tiramisu flavour was odd.  There was a cream cheese topping with coffee powder.  My favorite was still the original glazed version.  Despite my love for Krispy Kreme, I had yet to try the local Krispy Kreme ironically.

We took the subway to Express Bus Terminal station.  My colleague tipped me off that there were clothes as cheap as 10,000 won (US$10) at the underground shopping mall attached to the station.  I checked online and a blogger mentioned that it was a 2-way 1km-long shopping mall.20140523-230136-82896168.jpg

 

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The stores were pretty fun to shop.  I bought a pair of grey leggings for US$5, a black tulle skirt at US$5 and the other items ranged from US$10-US$25.  However, not everything was cheap, there were some apparels as steep as US$80!

I managed to get some pretty nice statement necklaces for US$5 and this made the costume jewellery selection & prices at Dongdaemun pale in comparison.

After a while, the stores seemed repetitive and it was simply a monopolistic competition.  We had lunch and went to the ‘Rodeo Drive’ of Seoul.

The mummies and kids at the Gangnam Station20140523-230133-82893921.jpg

We could have taken the subway to a nearer station but the fear of stairs meant we preferred to take the flat path above ground.  We visited the flagship MCM store at Gangnam and realized that the Myeongdong branch carried a wider selection.  The Rodeo Drive really reminded me of Champs Elysee and Japan’s Omotesando but the former were prettier and livelier.  We window-shopped at the other luxury stores.

We walked to Samwon Garden from the Rodeo Drive.  They boasted of top quality Korean beef for BBQ (think Kobe beef but Korean style).  It was really pricey at US$58 for 130g of meat.  That was not the priciest option though.20140523-230134-82894546.jpg

After dinner, we cabbed back to Myeondong which cost about US$7.30 as opposed to taking the subway for US$2.50.

The bedmates watching late night TV together20140523-230134-82894988.jpg

Fourth Day in Korea

It was refreshing to wake up and not have to check out of the hotel.  In fact, we were going to be staying at the Grand Hotel for a grand total of 7 days, pun totally intended.  Our plans for the first day in Seoul was simple – shopping around the area.  Grand Hotel was located strategically within Myeongdong and a short walking distance to Namdaemun.

X, looking all dazed at the hotel entrance20140523-221444-80084663.jpg

 

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We had late breakfast at Lotteria because it was one of the few eateries which was on ground floor.  We were not mentally prepared to move the strollers up second floor via staircase.  Not every building was equipped with a lift and we had 3 strollers in tow.

Myeongdong was dotted with lots of cafes like these.20140523-221445-80085966.jpg

We walked down to Namdaemun through Shingsagae.20140523-221445-80085424.jpg

The items at Namdaemun outdoor market mainly boasted of food, frumpy apparels and knock-offs.  I liked the children’s clothing area but prices were surprisingly steep.  Paley & Love offered more competitive prices honestly.  I only bought hankies for the boys and a super discounted cap (US$5) for X.

Our friends’ kids needed a lunch break, so we headed back to Shingsegae.  I took the chance to check out the H store within Shingsegae.  I was also thinking about Burberry Black Label.  My holey brain thought that it was available in Korea too but it was wrong.  We adjourned to the basement level and was overwhelmed with the revamped food section.  It reminded me so much of the food basements in Japan!  The confectionery was prettily done up and in beautiful packaging too!

It was X’s turn to take lunch and we hung out briefly at Starbucks before shopping the last bits of Namdaemun.  By 3pm, we made our way back to Myeongdong.  We checked out the sights of Myeongdong and slowly shopped towards Lotte departmental store.20140523-221447-80087770.jpg

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I saw a blue H toolbox 20 at their H DFS on level 10!  It was a tempting thought but there was a loose-looking stitch.  Had it been a red, pink or orange toolbox, I would have not resisted.  The boutiques on the duty free floors were listing their tax free prices in US$.  Given how strong korean won was when we were there, it would be more advisable to pay in US$.

We returned to Myeongdong and met our friends for lunch at Yoogane, a supposedly famous chicken galbi eatery.  It reminded me of BBQ Fast food.  The food was not too bad but it was super smoky.  X was pretty upset with the smoke, so we had to leave the moment we were done.20140523-221446-80086390.jpg

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He was cool the instant we were outside of the restaurant.  Hence, I ended up shopping at Banila which was diagonally opposite the restaurant.20140523-221449-80089427.jpg

Banila offered one of the most expensive CC cream.  Etude house’s cc cream was at less than half the price!  Well, I remembered Banila had some good reviews, so hopefully the premium was justifiable.

With that, we headed back to hotel to rest for the night.  I also proposed for X & Z to share the bed, instead of X & I.  I really could not get used to being kicked the entire night.  For parents who co-sleep with their children, I had to salute you.