#seoulsearching : Myeong Dong
Yesss! It's been 10 freaking years since I've visited Seoul. And well, a week in Seoul then back to Paris, I feel like I'm living a lie somehow. I still can't believe I flew there and got home. #whysoemotional
I didn't do much research about things to do (which I kinda regret a tiny bit now) but it was 7 days of fun, food, shopping and relaxing. Though maybe not too much on my feet. I booked my flight through Skyscanner some 1.5months earlier. I'm quite particular about flights, I would never take budget flights for long hauls. I'd search for comfort and practicality, which I ended up with a direct flight Korean Air (operated by Air France), 11 hours straight to Seoul. Sometime ago again, I took Air France back to Singapore, and I was deeply disappointed by the aircraft and the service. Yet this time, I was pleasantly surprised! The seats were spacious, they served 2 meals (which I hungrily waited for each of them), snacks and ice cream!
These days, I'm really enjoying my flight meals. I was soo eggcited for their Korean Meal, it comes with a small little tube of Gochujang and a tiny sachet of Sesame oil.
1310 from Paris to 0640 Seoul time. I tried my best to sleep at the correct time so I wouldn't feel the jetlag. I was super lucky in some way, to be seated at the very last row. My neighbor was the flight's translator, 80% of the time she wasn't there. I was free to go for toilet breaks and snacks.
There were so many people at the customs! I spent an hour-ish queueing to get out... First stop after I got out, I went straight to Starbucks for an ice latte. Is it me or it's always warm while moving around in the airport? I'm forever sweating at the slightest movements. Waited another hour-ish for Felicia's arrival to share a cab to our Hotel.
Again, we didn't plan/research before hand. Just being lazy bums, we got ourselves a taxi. No hassle transferring between buses nor trains. The journey from Incheon to Seoul took an hour. Our taxi cost 56 270₩ which is almost $50USD, while my Uber from Paris City to the airport costs 50€. Sadly there's no Uber in Seoul for the lazy bum in me. But I tested the application, it's UberTaxi and works according to the meter. So I guess there's not much difference from regular taxis anyway.
Accommodation for the week was Crown Park Seoul Hotel, located right in the busy neighborhood of Myeong Dong. It's funny how throughout the whole taxi journey, and street prancing, faces of Gongyoo, Lee Sung Kyung, Song Hye Kyo, Kim Soo Hyun, Song Jong Ki were plastered everywhere. It's funny because it's a sign of addiction over Kdramas.
impossible to miss, STYLEnanda
Say South Korea, say kBeauty right? I was quite interested in this makeup label 3CE (3 Concept Eyes by Style Nanda). Originally a fashion label if I'm not wrong (used to super love their coats, but once a 90+€ import tax on my parcel, I gave up) their makeup line skyrocketed with popularity when they started promoting heavily (some 2-3 years ago? Based on my personal opinion) the shop was crowded with people sweeping all the products they see.
A 5 level flagship store was so uniquely decorated that people seemed to not want to leave, including myself. Unfortunately, we visited the shop too late, they were closing their rooftop terrace "pool". I love how they themed the whole boutique like a hotel. They still have their clothing-line, but compared to a few years back, their style has evolved to something too street-style for my personal taste. I was more interested in their makeup instead :) Pardon for the lack of photos, but I was busy with #50shadesoflipstick on my hand.
the holiday outfit
Unfortunately, the hotel check-in time was only at 2pm. I had my airport handbag with me, which includes my inflight toiletries, charges, camera, notebooks— basically lots of stuffs that I don't need while shopping. So imagine the weight it had on my shoulders! We had a late lunch at Andong Jimdak, it was soo spicy!!! Then we headed to the hotel to rest and refresh ourselves. I traded my leather jacket with a much lighter long cardigan, boots to espadrilles, deposited my bag in the hotel and left with a silky-zara tote bag and a camera in my hand.
Myeongdong isn't all about shopping, there were also lots of street food carts. They usually only appear during the evening during weekdays, and all day during weekends if my memory is correct. Spoilt for choices, from soft-shelf crab tempura, butter-and-cheese clams/scallops to poke-you-to-death potatoe slices, croissant tayaki, japchae, grilled cheese sticks and lots more. Apparently it was the strawberry season, so there were strawberry mochi coated with a tiny layer of red bean. However, I am told that the street food at Myeongdong cost a little more than other neighborhood.
I didn't try everything luckily, I didn't want to bring home another 3kg of fats. Most stuffs are around 4000₩ / 6000₩ a portion. More expensive stuffs like butter-and-cheese scallops are probably around 10 000₩. I've tried the japchae and jajangmyeon, both of them were 4000₩ a portion. My favourite one would be the croissant tayaki, 3000₩, I went back for a second one on my last day, it was major yums.
Innisfree Green Cafe
Another hotspot for me around this quartier generale is Innisfree's flagship store. Felicia and I hopped in, looking around at their colorful bb cushion cases, and realized that they have a cafe upstairs. Obviously we had to say our #ahnyeongs. We had our street snacks, but can't really decide if we were full or not. So we decided to rest a little for coffee.
Then we found ourselves at the virtual dating booth with Lee Minho. It's a VR headset in a lush grey sofa seat to relax and let Lee Minho bring you to a secret date in Jeju island to learn Innisfree's natural ingredients. But #lolololol no way I was seated comfortably. The headset was huge and constantly slipping over. The view you're looking from, you're definitely being super close to virtual Lee Minho. But since I'm partly working in this digital field, I didn't get the crazy heartbeats like other people do. I, however couldn't stop laughing at all the cheesy lines.
After VR session, we ordered our drinks. The temperature was a little chilly at night, so we go something to warm ourselves. Originally very much tempted by more sweets, but we decided to come back another day for more food. We came back a day later for brunch, and I went back to the Green Cafe on my solo day for brunch too! Gotta try their souflé pancake! It's so soft and moist, combine them with a bit of honey and blueberry jam, major yums! So yep, it's worth a cafe visit if you're around the corner!
Oh, plus there's free wifi! It's so much easier to travel around Seoul without renting a router compared to Japan. Find any cafes and you're good with wifi for a while!