I am a big commuter during travels.
If I have all the money, then I would taxi my way to all my destinations to avoid the back pains from carrying my huge maleta--but I am still far from that level HAHA! One thing that I truly appreciate though when commuting is you really soak yourself to a bit of the Korean's everyday lives. Seoul is a popular tourist destination already, so you will encounter not only huge flocks of locals, but also tourists, like you, manouvering their way around Seoul's vast public transportation system. Pulling a huge maleta? You are not alone!
The variety of people you encounter is endless, and as with anything, everyone and everything seems to have a story to tell.
In no time, I am back in Seoul to welcome Spring 2018. I cannot believe it has been a year since I went here with no plans except to tour my favorite Kdrama shooting locations printed on Instax films tucked in the inner pocket of my sling bag (March of 2017). This year, I felt as if my departure date arrived too soon, di pa ako ready! Honestly feeling ko I was still recovering from my winter adventures, ayan na sya agad. I started this trip with a little less enthusiasm compared from before. Maybe because it's already my 7th time in Seoul? Maybe it's because I wasn't feeling 100% before this trip? (had a little health scare and even went to the hospital for check-up). Didn't really figured out the reason for the first day slump, but it was nothing that good Myeongdong street foods can't fix!!!
Anyway, I carried on with all the usual airport duties including getting my local Korean sim card I booked via Klook (for unlimited internet during the whole trip), reloading my T-Money card in the airport CU convenience store (plus bought snacks and drinks for the bus), and then searching for the airport bus to Myeongdong.
It was easy, I just asked the lady at the information booth in the middle of the airport for the door exit number, and then saw the bus ticket counters outside where I asked for a ticket. Bus fee is 14,000 KRW (around Php 700). It's about 1.5 hours by bus from Incheon International Airport to Myeongdong.
I had my snacks, which I wasn't able to consume while on the bus because walang kumakain! Haha, nahiya naman ako!
I think what woke me up from the first hours of travel slump was, as usual, the kindness of strangers. I went down the bus in Myeongdong, but I am not sure what got into me that I took the subway exits so I can find my way to the guest house. Akala ko nakatakas na ako sa hagdan!
This happened twice during this trip, both times were in Seoul! I will rest and breathe in the middle platform of the long subway staircase, when an old man passing by will carry my luggage up for the rest of the climb! And in both times, I got teary eyed while struggling with my "Kamsahamnidaaa!" as the ahjussi carried on with his life without even looking back.
On my last day, I was walking around Myeongdong to buy last minute pasalubongs and pang benta when I chanced upon a father-daughter (obviously tourist) tandem in Myeongdong's infamous subway stairs. They have with them not just one, but THREE giant maletas.
I heard the dad instructing his daughter who is barely half the size of the luggage she's holding, "You know what we did earlier a, one step.."
I did not let it pass, and asked the dad, "Need help?" And before they even answered, I scooped the handle of the luggage assigned to the daughter, and breezed my way up the subway stairs. The tiny girl tailing behind me said her thank you, and like the Ahjussis of Seoul I encountered in my many times of need, I proceeded with my shopping without even looking back! Haha!
Namsan Guest House in Myeongdong
This is my nth guest house in Korea, but just my 3rd within Seoul. Namsan Guest House is one of the highest ranked accommodations in Agoda when arranged with cheapest price first, haha! I took it since I've heard about this hostel before, and after experiencing the most crowded, the smallest, and even the dirtiest guesthouses before, what can go wrong???
The walk from the bus stop to the hostel, as expected, is tedious. The area I chose is very near the N-San or Namsan Tower, thus the hostel's name. I did not realized that the walk, although it looks short on Google Maps, requires a looong climb up a steep road! Kamusta naman sa pag hila ng maleta, huhu!
When I saw a Namsan Guest House sign, it's just Namsan 1 palang pala and they have I think 3 or 4 branches heading up! Haha! Mabuti nalang Namsan Guest House 2 lang ata ako, I was there after the next block. (sorry will never figure out the Namsan Guest House numbers, when I booked sa Agoda it just stated Namsan Guest House. :p)
Entering the building, there are tiny cabinets where you have to put your shoes in. They are labeled by capsule so check which one is assigned to you:
This is at the common area at the basement level, where they also have the receiving area for check-in, and the pantry area for the inclusive breakfast and coffee.
While I was checking in, I even saw guests in Korean traditional costumes, taking their photos here by the wings wall. You can even try on the hanboks hanging on a single rack:
Simple breakfast, I saw breads and instant ramyeun and a coffee maker. I just availed the coffee.
Below are photos of the Namsan Guesthouse's Female Dormitory Room. Price per night is only about Php 840, which is already inclusive of all additional charges! There are 21 cubicles in one room, all girls of course, and they have separate toilet and shower area on the same floor. They gave me the upper bunk, which felt uncomfortable at first since I have to climb and go down every time I need to go to the loo. But I got used to it eventually.
I also got the horizontal upper locker, which was difficult also since I have to carry my luggage to and from it whenever I get my things. But I eventually created a system by putting all my packing cubes outside of my maleta and straight into the locker, so when I needed anything-- I just take out the individual packing cubes instead of my whole luggage. Paraparaan lang talaga haha!
With almost all my guesthouses for this trip, noise and cleanliness were my major issues. But bilang cowgirl naresolve ko naman sila. With noise, edi okay pede din ako mag ingay ang dami ko pa namang supot haha joke lang! I was too tired to get bothered, I easily passed out every night. As for the cleanliness, buti nalang I bring my own quick-dry towel and my own rubber slippers which I use instead the free ones they have in the toilet. I also use the rubber slippers around the room and wala naman naninita basta hindi sapatos, hehehe.
Book this hostel or see more photos of Namsan Guest House.
Olive Chicken BBQ in Kdrama Goblin
My first stop on my first half day in Seoul was to meet up with my friend Anj of Annyeong Oppa to try the Running Man Thematic Experience! I was early for our meet-up, so I decided to check my list of other things to do in Seoul, and saw some Kdrama locations also on the same train line. I went for it!
Passed by Korea's popular landmark, the Cheonggyecheon Stream. It is a loooong stream that used to be neglected, but now a natural beauty that passes by a lot of Seoul's popular destinations including Deoksugung Palace and Insadong. Oh, and if you're a Kdrama girl like me, it is also right in front of Sunny's new Olive Chicken resto in Goblin! 😂❤
Anj messaged me na, so I wasn't able to go in. Okay nadin, iwas gastos hehehe.
HOW TO GO: Go down Jonggak Station, Exit 4. Then search and follow on your Google Maps: 서울특별시 종로구 관철동 11-5（청계천로 81).
Running Man Thematic Experience in Seoul!
Running Man is one of the craziest variety show in Korea, and most prob a part of my Top 5 faves! You'll see most of your favorite Korean celebs there getting competitive and giving zero Fs just to complete the challenges! I didn't know that they have a "theme park" in Seoul if not for my friend Anj who has been in Korea for 3 weeks when I met up with her. We pre-booked the activity via Klook to avail their almost Php 200 off discount.
The Running Man Thematic Experience Center is located at the basement level of the SM Duty Free Shop. They are open from 10am to 8pm, though 7pm is their last admission. When you enter the venue, show your mobile confirmation from Klook and get processed for the activity right away. We receive our wrist bands to be used for collecting points. Once we tapped it, our one hour time limit will begin!
They have coin lockers by the entrance, so you can leave everything and just bring your phone and camera and 100% focus:
The starting point! You get to choose your team color: Red, Green, or Blue?
What's inside! When we went there it was a Thursday and around 5pm. There were about 2-3 group of friends lang na nandun, so yey no crowd!
Expect lots of jumping, thumping, throwing, and even screaming! Haha! Medyo physical sya ha!!! Nakakatawa coz it was my first day and I came straight from the airport, but look at me take on all the challenges like a true competitive girl! 😂
The fun part is, ang dami ding photo corners here and there just like any true Korean amusement center! Love this maze area with lots of full-length mirrors and colorful bars of lights:
Alam mong pagod na kami nung photo op nalang inatupag namin, hahaha!
Sobrang tawang tawa kami na terno kami from cap to brown backpack to shoes! Haha, hindi sadya!
All is fun in solo traveling, but nothing like being with your competitive buddy when you go here at the Running Man Theme Park! Make sure to wear your athletic clothes, and be extra on that day! Haha!
We all won Running Man pins as we head out after our one hour's up!
Again, if you're looking for an alternative activity in Seoul, check out Running Man via Klook!
HOW TO GO: Go to Jonggak Station Exit 3, turn left at the first corner and walk for 3 minutes. Or you copy-paste this (서울특별시 종로구 인사동5길 41 하나투어빌딩 SM명세점 지하1층) and follow on your Google Maps.
BTS Run Shooting Location: &Gather
Since we suddenly felt energetic after Running Man, Anj and I decided to go to the cafe where they recently shot the BTS Run episode 45. I had zero idea, but Anj lead the way! It was located in &Gather, a really pretty coffee shop at a higher district in Seoul. It was nighttime we got there, and surprise surprise.... &Gather was already closed huhu!!!
Pero alam nyo gaano ako ka-savage after the long train ride, the long walk, wala pang tulog, and the tiring Day 1 in Seoul--I still went in and politely asked the people cleaning the place if we can take a quick picture of the light signage. You know what, they said yes without any fuss! Always worth the try, just ask! They even opened the neon lights again for us, huhuhu!
My friend Anj of Annyeong Oppa:
V of BTS, the original version:
My version, haha!
Mission accomplished and I am sure I made my ARMY friend happy!!! ❤
HOW TO GO: Go to Hannam Station Exit 1. Then type in and follow this on your Google Maps: 용산구 한남동 96-3
As requested by @ellatorrico on my Instagram post, I will try to add my daily summary of itinerary and expenses at the end of each post....
Day 1 Itinerary + Estimated Expenses:
Airport Bus to Myeongdong - KRW 14,000
Bus Snacks - KRW 7,000
T-Card Reload - KRW 20,000
Korean Sim Card for 10 Days - Php 1687
Guest House (reserved via Agoda, paid in the hotel) - Php 840 x 2 nights
Cheonggyecheon Stream + Olive Chicken Cafe from Goblin - Free
Running Man pre-booked via Klook! - Php 590
Dinner - KRW 7,000
TOTAL = Php 6,331 inclusive of 2 nights accommodation in Seoul, 10-day local sim, food, and transportation card for half of the trip.
Watch my Day 1 Spring in Korea IG Stories:
Watch Anj's Running Man Vlog here: