Saturday, January 03, 2015

Myeongdong Market, Lotte Mart & Day Six of my Seoul+Jeju Korea Trip!



I shall start day six with the most important meal of the day, breakfast, although it was in the form of black eggs that we purchased in Jeju solely because of curiosity!

Curiosity was killed; they tasted just like hard boiled braised eggs! Nothing fascinating to make this extremely memorable but it did help to curb the bubbling hunger bitch in my tummy.

While the ladies were busy coloring their faces, i read about the tragic accident on The Korea Times where sixteen concert goers fell to their death when the ventilation grate under their feet gave way.

It was drizzling when we stepped out of Hotel Manu! I love the rain although i absolutely abhor it when i am travelling as it could terribly restrict your movements!

For example, one hand holding on to the DSLR while taking this shot (background: the old Seoul Station) and at the same time, juggling with the umbrella and trying my best to keep my sling bag dry too!

Green man countdown indicator; i would prefer the 'timer' version (by seconds) as it gives an accurate indication of the time you have before the man turns red! To me, having this indicator is redundant as you might as well just have a flashing green man.

The road was split into three separate bus lanes; all of them going in the same direction! Fact: Seoul is a crowded city with a population of 9.82 million!

Our first stop was Lotte Mart @ Seoul Station! This would be the place where you can buy boxes and boxes of snacks back to Singapore for family and friends! By and large, you might want to note that it is essentially a department store.

The supermarket section was obviously of key interest to us! There were various brands (faceshop etc) that had also set up store and the one product in the rage now is snail cream! Euwwww right?! Wait till you see the live snails on display.

In usual circumstances, you would not see me buying food souvenirs until the last day i was there. Reasons being what i buy would depend on how much cash i have left and in addition, food items normally take up a lot of space in the hotel room!

My intention was therefore to check out what was available and made a mental note on the prices before returning on the final day! Please keep in mind that some of the products could be found in Korean grocery stores in Singapore (for the list of such stores, click here; note, a bit outdated).

Pet store on level two in the same building! Those hoping to shop for sportswear and kitchen products would not be disappointed even though the range wasn't extensive and you might have better luck (as in nicer designs) at Myeong-dong which i would cover shortly in this post.

Taking the subway on Line 4 to Myeongdong station; pretty empty as it was only about 11am. Try taking it at about 6pm! I tried and besides the risk of being almost squashed to death, i had to endure the dizzying stench of drunkards surrounding me!

Location maps were available within the subway station and i would recommend you take a look to get your bearing right before stepping out.

Pacific Hotel - treat this as your landmark if you are going to check out Two Two Chicken! For those who enjoy staying near "the orchard road" in Korea may also consider this hotel.

Brunch at Two Two Chicken. You may click here for my review; just to give you a heads-up, i wasn't exactly impressed and thought 4Fingers was better.

After stuffing ourselves, it's time to take a walk right across the main road where the main hype and activity were; Myeong-dong market!

Another reason for hating the rainy weather; unlike Singapore which was filled with sheltered, air-conditioned shopping centres, it wasn't exactly the case for most places overseas! Even i can empathise with the gloomy expression on the salesperson's face!

I think the words on the road mean 1000hr to 2300hr even though that's the most i can decipher. The most i can assume is that the road would be a walking street during that time period.

Compared to those in Singapore, i believe the guy in that cat costume had a better deal. For one, the humidity in Korea is much lower and two, the temperature then was below twenty degrees celcius!

At this moment, i had opted to split from my sisters who went crazy with the many cosmetic / facial product shops! Why waste my time right? Might as well take this opportunity to have some "me" time and check out the vicinity!

Chanced upon a Saboten outlet! Given how much i love the tonkatsu, it's a must to compare prices with Singapore; their most expensive black pork tenderloin cutlet set was ₩16,500 (less than S$20). I would have ordered a set if not for the many fried chicken i had at Two Two Chicken!

Narrow walkway that reminded me of Taiwan. Some friends have asked if i prefer Taiwan or Korea and my answer is Taiwan! As i mentioned before, the lack of language barrier in Taiwan would be the main reason although you may wish to note that many service staff in Korea, especially those in major shopping / tourism districts, can speak better Mandarin than us.

Cafe hopping is said to be a must-do regime in Korea but i found it to be rather a waste of time. Furthermore, there're only so much sweet things we can endure with our combined age of more than a hundred years old!

The main passage of Myeongdong; notable Korean facial product brands would make it a point to set up operation in this district in order to gain a foothold in the competitive industry. Hence, you may see this brand here and then turn a corner to chance upon another branch. This repetitiveness would bore many men.

I would like to add that despite my aforementioned statement, there were many shophouses that could still manage to rein in the men's interest; for example, boutique shops, sports attires (like New Balance which have many attractive, unique designs) and of course, a tonne of dining establishments!

Handmade cosmetics and bath tub; i don't quite see the link. Put in a beautiful lady / handsome man in the tub (in swimsuit) and i can guarantee many people would be crowding the shop though! Haha.

Bank of Korea Money Museum; dad would like it here. I didn't step in since i was only aware of its existence today when i did a check on Google Map.

Chinese embassy right ahead and as expected, you can easily find Chinese food in this area. With the touchy political relationship between China and Korea, i am sure this would be a protest site whenever tempers flare.

Rain had stopped, like finally!

That unmistakable aroma of freshly baked bread brought me to a stop in front of this bakery. I so wanted to get my hands on the bread yet the thought of ingesting more carbohydrates foiled my plan. :(

I had to curtail the craving by purchasing a bottle of banana milk from an underground supermarket instead! Unlike the Great Kon who tries new drink / snack / food whenever he is overseas, i am the boring, "play safe" type.

Unique facade although my eyes were drawn to Milky Bee, an ice cream parlour. Again, i have to tell myself i had gained enough weight in this trip and the injuries i sustained from the car accident had dampened any hope of exercising to burn off the calories.

The irony of life; the whole alley was filled with food and food and more food!! Contrary to popular perception, i do have control of my eating habit; that is when i am overseas! Wahahaha.

A medieval style restaurant and cafe. 

Shop selling caps; guess the rainy weather had severely affected their business and we could have used this opportunity to secure a better bargain! A pity both my sisters were not with me then. 

Man bags / haversacks / backpacks in Korea had such nice designs! On my last day, i couldn't resist but to buy two at a department store where i am more assured of their quality.

After a while, everywhere just seemed to be the same. 

You may have realised i didn't really take any pictures of any store's interior. It was because the stores were usually heated and i was too lazy to remove my thick coat. Trying doing that when you are holding on to a wet umbrella and lugging a huge ass camera.

Myeongdong Theatre - opened its doors to theatrical performances as the National Theater of Korea from 1935 to 1975 and re-opened only in 2009! Wow, more than twenty years of disuse; bet there would be a lot of haunted stories about the place.

This area had quite a number of bars and i guess it would come alive only when the sun sets. Anyway, i was sick of fried chicken for the next few days and didn't attempt the beer + fried chicken combination in Korea. 

Met up with my sisters at Myeongdong Lotte (which was closed) and accompanied them to an optical shop for contact lens (photograph taken on the second level of the shop). Louise commented that the prices were comparable to Singapore's pricing and i think she didn't buy any. 

I so regretted not having this KFC Zinger Double Down! It has been a routine for me to try Kentucky Fried Chicken whenever i travel out of Singapore..

Remember the newspaper article i read about earlier in the morning? I believe this was the same kind of grate that gave way. Maybe because of the accident, pedestrians appeared to avoid walking on it.

Besides Lotte and E-mart, another notable department store franchise in Korea is Shinsegae. It's branch in Busan was said to be the biggest department store in the whole world! 

Closed too!??!!?? %^#%^#$%$%# Are all departmental stores closed on Mondays?!? We initially wanted to visit Lotte too which was not open too! Note, the Lotte i mentioned refers to the department store, not the supermarket we patronised earlier in the morning. 

A visit to Namsan (in the above picture) was in our itinerary but we decided to scrape it given the unfavourable weather and limited time in Seoul. 

Namdaemun Market is in fact very near to Myeongdong (it is just a mrt stop away) and we spent the rest of our time in Namdaemun before walking back to Hotel Manu to relieve the sisters' shopping. 

You wouldn't believe it but we walked back to Myeongdong at night after buying boxes of snacks at Lotte Mart!  

By that time, all traces of fried chicken had already been passed out (the Lau sisters would know what i mean) and i was looking for meat!!! Very delicious Yakitori! Location: in front of Skin Shop! 

A stick was hardly sufficient to placate my stomach! With such cool weather, i'll bet these hot roasted chestnuts would be very shiok! 

What's more; they were bigger than those in Singapore and came peeled! Awww, such tender loving care for their customers.

Turned out to be hard and unpalatable though. Damn, i should invest in a franchise for Tianjin roasted chestnuts and gave them a run for their money! 

Myeongdong was way more happening at night! 

Shopping carts (aside from selling food, many were hawking ladies accessories) were everywhere although their existence added to the vibrancy and colour. I can forget about men wear as they were selling for the winter season.

The sisters' target was clear and concise; attacking the facial and cosmetic shops for their incredibly cheap prices; Tony Moly, It's Skin, Etude House, The Face Shop, Nature Republic, Innisfree etc.

For me, i am just like this person in the cat costume promoting a cat cafe. Exhausted and in need of dinner which had not happened then. 

Dinner eventually materialised at 10.30pm when we had a most yummy chicken bulgogi at Yoogane! For my review, click here.


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More on Myeongdong 
Given that Myeongdong is a popular tourist destination, you can easily find location maps installed and placed strategically for ease of use. Information was general and should you need more details, i would strongly recommend you seek out a specific group of people.

These people in red attire! Seek them out before you explore any part of Myeongdong as they had in their possession the best map of the area! Feel free to ask them question as they could likely converse in English and / or Mandarin! 

Appended above was the map they passed to me! From my understanding, this red army would be stationed in key tourist attractions, including Namdaemun Market! As advised, get the maps / brochures from them! 


For a summary of my South Korea trip (Seoul and Jeju Island) and links for more details to the respective day, click HERE.

20 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:36 PM

    how long you take to walk from lotte mart to myeondong? is it very far?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't quite calculate the distance since our hotel was in between lotte mart and myeongdong; maybe for a rough gauge, it took me about ten minutes to walk from my hotel to lotte mart and around fifteen to twenty minutes walk from hotel to myeongdong.

      If you are carrying a lot of goodies, i would suggest you take a train from seoul station to myeongdong station. :)

      Delete
  2. Anonymous12:02 AM

    Hi! Did you shipped back your snacks from lotte mart? If you did, how did you ship back? Or do you just check-in at the airport?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallo! I used the normal check in method; no point shipping back as many of the items can be found in the lotte supermarkets in Singapore.

      Delete
  3. Anonymous4:08 PM

    Hi there, if i dont speak korea, is it easy to navigate korea for first timers? thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallo! I don't speak Korean too! But do you speak mandarin? It is more commonly understood than English..

      Delete
  4. Anonymous12:12 PM

    Hi,

    Am planning to visit Korea on December 26-30, 2015 and now searching on hotels. thanks for your blog, it was a big help for my research. Am looking at LOtte Hotel or Ibis AMbassador as our hotels in myeongdong. how far are these two from these shopping areas?

    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were both near but if i remember correctly, Ibis Ambassador is within Myeongdong.

      Delete
  5. Anonymous11:26 AM

    Hi Cavin, wich camera dslr are you using?? those photos are so clear n nice.. thanks..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallo! I used Nikon D7100! :)

      Delete
  6. Anonymous9:36 AM

    Hi...its nice to read your posting. Is lotte dept store closed every monday or just on the 3rd monday? Thx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks but i am not too sure myself. To play safe, avoid Mondays!

      Delete
  7. Anonymous12:12 AM

    Hi Cavin! Thanks for your informative itinerary! Love your photos too :)
    I will be going to Seoul in a few days' time, and will actually be staying at Hotel Manu! Would love to know how do you walk to Myeongdong from the hotel? Will it be in the same direction as walking to Lotte Mart?
    Thanks in advance,
    CL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi CL!

      Many thanks for your words of encouragement! It's the opposite direction! Basically, you once you are out of the main entrance of Hotel Manu, turn left and walk straight! Lotte Mart is turn right.

      Hope my reply isn't too late as i do note you send last week. My advance apology as i was in China for the past week. Enjoy South Korea!

      Best,
      Cavin

      Delete
  8. Thanks Cavin Teo,

    Love all those pics and tips. Very helpful. Am travelling 1st time to seoul Nov 12th - Nov 22nd. Can you list down some "must" places to visit please?
    My .e.mail is inagaretnam@sas.edu.sg
    Booked a guesthouse at Dongdaemun already. Many Thanks Cavin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hallo Indraani!

      Actually my visit to Seoul is relatively short compared to many people, staying about 2-3 nights and i didn't even visit notable attractions of a historical nature. Personally, i think you can give insadong a miss. I did regret not going up to Namsan park but that's just me. :)

      Delete
  9. i trust you when you said you go back to myeongdong.because that happen to me also.hahaha..because shopping at myeongdong so addicted. the chestnut sooooooo goood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chestnuts?!?!?! Very different from the ones i had in Singapore....

      Delete
  10. Anonymous1:21 PM

    very informative! i'm heading to seoul next friday and we have only one night in myeongdong..hopefully we could cover all these :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. one night? maybe a bit rushed but if you are a night owl, i guess you stand a greater chance. lol. Enjoy the trip!

      Delete

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