Day 4 Korea. Sept 17, 2016
Today we left Gangneung and headed to Seoul!
First of all, since Gyeongpo Beach (and actually Gangneung itself) is well known for their majestic sunrises for being located out east, we got up at 5:45 a.m. to try to catch the sunrise from our room. According to Google, the sun would be rising at 6:07 a.m. Unfortunately, it had been raining from last night and kept on raining so the skies were gloomy with clouds and no clear sunrise could be seen. All we could see from our window were the brightening of the sky; no colours or sun.
Nevertheless, it was nice to get up early, copy my photos from my phone to my computer, eat some buns, and try the instant noodle cheese ramen that I got from the convenience store. Mmm yum!!! It was so cheesy and slightly spicy too. I liked the texture and firmness of the instant ramen too. 😀
By 9 a.m., we were all packed and ready to check out of Soo Hotel. We hailed a taxi to take us to the Gangneung Bus Terminal where we then bought our bus tickets to Dong Seul.
Our bus departed at 9:55 a.m. and we were on our way to Myeong-dong, Seoul! 😀
Along the way, we made a pit stop and I made sure to get some walnut balls since they’re a great snack for the road. I remember eating these on my first visit to Korea where I had them steaming hot and fresh in the winter time. It was such a delight to eat these with the gooey walnut paste centre to warm up to. This time, I got to experience the crispy shell again and sweet walnut paste centre.
In about 3 hours, we had arrived. The bus brought us to Gangbyeon Station. From there, we used our T-money cards to take the Seoul Metro subway all the way to Myeong-dong station.
With our large luggage, it became a bit of a challenge to go through the subway system, switching from station to station, line to line. We had to look for the escalator or elevator only routes which meant a lot more walking than usual. Good thing we were commuting in non-rush hour!
By 3 p.m., we finally arrived at our hotel, Loisir Hotel (blogged here), and checked in. The room was a standard typical western style stay, way more modern than the two other residences we were in the past three nights. Ahh 🙂
After putting down our stuff, we went straight for food since we hadn’t had lunch yet (good thing those buns and ramen held up).
We went to Loco Quan 401 Restaurant (just a short 5 minutes walk since our hotel was located in the heart of Myeong-dong shopping and eating district) for Korean BBQ. Since it was late afternoon, the places was ours with the exception of a few other patrons.
We ordered the Pork BBQ set, pork skin, and two nangyemons. It was the traditional KBBQ with a long tube in the centre of the table to suck up the smoke from the grill.
It was quite lovely to enjoy all this in Korea! Real KBBQ! 🙂
We had a lot of pork. It went so well with the perilla leaf and pickled radish. Yum!! 🙂
The grilled pork skin was new to me as well. So chewy and gooey.
The nangyemon was so nicely presented. By the time we got around to eating this (we were still finishing up the pork), the ice had all melted already.
However, the cold noodles were still so delicious and firm. I loved it!!! The soup broth had judt enough kimchi paste in it too and I gobbled it all up. Such a great dish to cool us down after the KBBQ.
After that, we exchanged some more won and braved the subway again for a trip to the park for food truck smashing.
Once we arrived at Hangang Park right outside of the subway station, I could immediately see tons of street vendors selling various street food like spicy rice cakes, sausages, things that looked like bugs, etc. There were a lot of people but just like at the cultural night on the second day of our trip, this was a very comfortable kind of crowd to walk among since there was no pushing or shoving and there were spaces between people to walk between.
We kept walking and there were many more vendors and food trucks too. I was still very full from the late lunch we had had so I wasn’t even entertaining a thought to buy anything to eat — at least not at that moment.
When we approached a wide open field facing the ocean, there were tons (probably hundreds) of locals sitting in groups on picnic blankets and enjoying food they bought from the vendors under the full moon. It was so peaceful, organized, and nice to see such a community conformity. Everyone was just enjoying the night eating and chatting with their family and friends. The weather was perfect, neither hot nor cold, and there was a gentle breeze every so often.
We kept walking and there was a street performer too who drew a crowd. His singing was quite good!
We were right by the harbour (by Hangang River) and it was so beautiful. 🙂
We then got directions from a local who said we could take the 261 bus back to our hotel area instead of taking the subway and going up and down stairs.
Before we hopped onto the bus however, we got a dried squid and some fresh takoyaki to eat.
The dried squid was exactly what it sounds like — a flat bunch of squid all dried up. It didn’t taste very good. (I’ve learned that squid relies heavily on its accompanying sauce to taste good; it tastes bland on its own).
The takoyaki took a long time. We were in line for 10 minutes before we received our takoyaki. I watched the chef turn the takoyaki in its shell casing on the grill and he was very meticulous about the process.
The takoyaki tasted really good!! It was plump, the takoyaki sauce was perfect, and the inside was so creamy and smooth. Yum! I would have loved eating another one. 😀
We then walked back to the bus area and caught the 261 right when it approached the bus stop.
During this comfortable 20-ish minute ride (the seat cushion was so plump), I saw a beautiful night scene of Seoul. I found it neat to have experienced both its subway and bus system on this trip! 😀
We arrived back at Myeong-dong Street at 9:30 pm. We separated from our friends and my mom and I explored the streets of Myeong-dong.
Wow! There appeared to be something like a night market here. There were dozens of street vendors set up neatly on each street — not crowded at all — and the street food they had on display and were selling were absolutely amazing! There were so many varieties I can’t even name them all.
I took lots of photos of vendors I found interesting but even then could not document everything I saw. =D’
We were thirsty and thus when I passed by the infamous 32 cm ice cream cone, I immediately got one. They only a limited number of flavours and I got the green tea and vanilla twist.
Ahhh, I was so excited to be able to try this finally!!!! I remember passing by this years before (and wasn’t much of an ice cream fan) and thus not interested in trying it out (I took photos though) but this time, I was all about it.
I took a short video recording how the tall ice cream was made — process is super quick — and for 2000 won (about $2.30 CAD at the time of writing), this was a steal.
I soon learned how the ice cream cone could stand up so well without falling — the major component of this ice cream was its icy makeup. It was less cream than usual and was almost like eating a flavoured ice stick but ice cream-ized, if that makes sense. I loved it though because it was definitely thirst-quenching. Win-win!
After this, we continued wandering the streets but vendors were closing soon (they close at 11 p.m. each night). I took a cute photo with a gigantic stuffed bear!! (I later saw that you have to line up for this during the day because of its popularity.)
When we met up with our friends again at 11 p.m., we decided to get Korean fried chicken to eat. KFC!!! Yay!!! Even though it was my third time visiting Korea, I actually never had had their KFC until now. The excitement was real! (We got it from the first place that I saw had KFC which was called 디디치킨 DD Chicken.)
We decided to do take-out and bring it back to our hotel to enjoy. After placing our order, we were advised by the restaurant staff to go to the local CVS to buy beer instead of at the restaurant (cheaper that way). Then we picked up our fried chicken and walked a short 7-min distance “home” back to our hotel room to enjoy the chicken and beer. 😀
Mmm, the chicken was good! It came in three flavours: original, sweet and spicy, and green onion. The original was actually really good but I loved the sweet and spicy one. The drumstick and wing parts were the best. I found the chicken breast to be incredibly dry and rough.
After that midnight feast, it was time for bed. I was pooped! Tomorrow is our last full day in Korea before heading back to Hong Kong. How time flies!