We departed Jeju for Gimpo airport on Air Busan (only KRW 172,300 for 2, 2 way ticket) and I had arranged for pickup at the airport, so it was an easy breezy commute to the backpackers.
I decided to stay at Banana Backpackers because it was the main location for one of the Thai movies Mr Goh and I watched when we first started dating. At that time, I was just recuperating from my jaw surgery and wasn’t able to go out often. So Mr Goh would come by my house every weekend with movies on his HDD to accompany me.
The backpackers building
If you’re coming straight from Incheon airport, don’t worry as there is a bus (#6011) that drops you off the main street and you can easily take a 5 minutes walk to the backpackers. Check the website for directions.
So anyway, we spent 3 days in Seoul, just relishing in the fact that we’re in Korea! The backpackers inn was situated in the culture-rich suburb of Insadong, so naturally we visited the palace and also the streets.
Trying on the palace guard uniforms for free
Trying to make sense of this sun dial
The weather was nice and cool, but we decided to rest our weary feet at O Sulloc Tea House. They have a number of outlets, in Jeju (plus the sprawling tea plantations), MyeongDong and where we were, Insadong.
Preparing fresh brewed green tea for tasting (O Sulloc)
O Sulloc tea, from Jeju. Very fruity and refreshing, I bought a packet of the tea mix home.
My big boy enjoys hot chocolate wherever he goes
There were many street food carts which offered all sorts of yummy snacks.
We shared a stick of grilled sausages (the third one on the stick is the yummiest! It has chewy rice cake in the middle) and also a packet of fresh custard mini cakes.
Nom nom nom
Our favorite street food would be gyeran bbang, or egg bread. It’s pretty much like a sweet muffin, topped with egg. In fact, Mr Goh likes it so much, that I made it for him when we returned to Singapore. Of course, the ajummas’ version was still better.
We also tried Jjim Ddak, which is a stewed chicken and cellophane noodles dish. Actually, my friend BS recommended us to try it at a stall at Nam Dae Mun, but walking up and down the night market at least 4 times and still unable to find the said stall, we gave up and settled dinner at one of those tents you see in Korean dramas. Mr Goh had always wanted to try eating at one of those tents. The Nam Dae Mun market was fairly quiet at night, and mostly locals patronize there at night (tourists go there during the day to buy seaweed snacks etc), and so the owners of the food stall were very friendly to us.
Nondescript food tent
Cans of cola (learnt my lesson from Jeju), kimchi pancake & grilled pork belly
Eventually I managed to find another famous Jjim Ddak chain store in Insadong, and brought Mr Goh to try it on our last day. Bong Chu Jjim Ddak was where we went to. The cellophane noodles were super chewy, would definitely recommend cutting them up into small pieces. Don’t even think about pieces that are 10cm long. I think you’ll spend a long time chewing and even gagging on them.
One small serving is enough to serve three! 20,000 Won
Of course, when in Korea, how could I pass up the chance to devour steamed dumplings? It’s one of my favorite foods! I found a discount voucher on Konest for this particular restaurant in MyeongDong and decided to try it. Of course, the most famous dumpling shop would be MyeongDong Gyoja which I’ve already tried during my first transit on my way to Alaska.
Steamed dumplings and seafood pancake
Of course, how could I not go to Dong Dae Mun? They’re open almost 24/7, so I didn’t have a good reason to not go right? I only went to Doota mall though as that was where I went during my previous Korea trip and snagged some cheap buys. Some clothes and then more cosmetics that I didn’t manage to get from MyeongDong in the day.
Lovely Dong Dae Mun at night
When in Korea, watch Running Man!
Nomming on Jeju chocolates
*Tip: I always go onto http://cn.konest.com/ before my Korean trips, to source and print interesting discount vouchers or vouchers that would entitle me to freebies. They have discount vouchers for food, cosmetics, clothing, transport even!
*Tip 2: while the Korean language is not necessarily a must-know since sign language is the best language, it definitely helps if you can speak or even just understand a little bit when travelling in Korea. It would come in very handy when you’re lost, or even just to get better service from the locals! The locals warmed up to us immediately when they learnt that Mr Goh and myself understand and speak simple Korean.
*Tip 3: If possible, you can try cosmetic shopping at the shops outside of MyeongDong. The staff are usually more willing to give more freebies (sometimes even full size products!). And higher chances of getting the stuff you want as MyeongDong usually runs out of stock fast. But be sure to check what is the minimum sum for tax refund! Shops in different suburbs may have different amounts.