Sleeping on the laundry room floor could be fun!

Seoul Travel Blog

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Sunset as the plane lands into Seoul airport

People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Polina (Kazakhstan/Russia/Korea), Mukesh (India), Joon (South Korea)

Arriving into Incheon airport at 18.30, i eventually got onto an airport bus and was heading to the centre of Seoul a little after 19.00. I was dropped by Anguk tube station in Insadong, but had no idea of the direction i needed to be heading in, so went into a building to ask a security guard. His English was non existent, but he got what i wanted and managed to point me in the right direction, which i was very grateful for. I managed to get a bit lost in amongst a lot of small alleys when i was trying to find the hostel i wanted and eventually a Western couple helped me out and pointed me in the right direction, with the warning that the hostels seemed pretty busy due to some concert taking place in the capital.

Changgyeonggung Royal Palace

The first hostel i reached was full, so i began to wonder onto the next one, but got the same reply. It was nearing 21.00, i was wearing a pair of shorts and it was beginning to get cold, so when i walked into Beewon Hostel and got told that the place was also full, i started to feel a little desperate. The receptionist, a very friendly guy named Joon, told me that he would call the other hostels listed in my book, but to my horror, all the responses also came back negative.

What happened next was my first real introduction to Korean hospitality, when Joon explained there was a small room upstairs where they stored the sheets and rather than sleep on the streets, he said i could sleep there for free instead! I immediately jumped at the chance without even checking the place out, but when i did take my bag up there, i found a little box room, with a heated floor and all the spare blankets and duvets that the hostel owned.

Blossoming flowers at Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
I dumped a couple of duvets down and found them to make an extremely comfortable bed, especially when they got heated up from the wooden floor. A shower, shave and quick blast on the internet and i was off to bed and sleeping like a baby!

I arranged with Joon that i could stay in the room over the weekend and we agreed on 5,000won ($5) a night, in comparison to 17,000won ($17) in a 4 bed dorm. For this price i also got free laundry, internet, breakfast and tea and water all day. Anyone thats ever been to South Korea will know that this is an incredible bargain! So with my accomodation sorted, i decided to head out for the morning, but was disappointed to open the door on a grey and rainy day in Seoul. Ann had given me a fetching yellow raincoat in Taiwan, so i pulled this from my big ruck sack and trudged off into the gloom.

Jongmyo Royal Palace

First stop was Changgyeonggung Royal Palace, which due to the rain no doubt, was basically empty. The complex contained several impressive buildings, a nice pond, botanical gardens and a stele containing Royal umbilical cords, which i found a little wierd. But the place made for an impressive introduction to the city. The birds were twittering in the trees, i managed to see some little squirrels and there were some ducks in the pond, who didn't seem too concerned about the constant drizzle! From here, there was a path that led into neighbouring Jongmyo Palace, so i wandered into there and saw much of the same, impressive renovated buildings and only a handful of people.

I wandered back to the hostel with some sandwiches and crisps and had my lunch there, whilst trying to warm up.

Changdeokgung Royal Palace
I headed out again to catch the 13.30 English tour of Changdeokgung Royal Palace, where i learned that the Kings of Korea used to sleep on heated wooden floors and this reassured me that my living arrangements were not only not embarrassing, but also regal! The Palace was very impressive, but the weather made it a somewhat miserable experience, as my camera lens kept fogging and getting wet and my hands felt close to frostbite! It was really taking me some getting used to the cold weather again.

By 15.00 i'd had enough for the day and just headed back to the hostel to watch the TV, use the internet and just basically laze around for the rest of the day. I ventured out briefly just to buy some food from the local grocery store, but other than that there was nothing of note to report.

Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine and Museum
I got an early night in my 'Royal' abode and slept very well once again!

On Sunday morning my first task was to navigate the gigantic Seoul subway, but thankfully there are plenty of English signs and maps to help you out. On top of that, i found a nice old Korean guy who spoke a bit of English and was only too happy to point me in the right direction. My first stop was the Seoul World Cup Stadium, which hosted the final of the 2002 World Cup Final between Brazil and Germany - a real must for any football enthusiast like myself. I had planned on doing a quick tour of the ground, but was told i couldn't buy a ticket for another 45 minutes. I therefore walked around the ground and took in the scale of the place, before heading back to the ticket office, where a man then told me that it was impossible to do a tour, as there was a game on later in the day.

The statue of brothers at the War Memorial Museum
Rather than let that defeat me, i just decided to buy a ticket for the game and took it as a bonus!

Once i had secured my seat for later on, i took the subway to go and see the Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine, a Catholic memorial that was built for the Korean Catholics, who were massacred by their countrymen in the 19th century. After some French bishops had been killed by Koreans, the French sent 2 warships to seek some form of reparation, but left empty handed. As a result, the Koreans felt angered to have faced such a situation, so blamed the Catholic religion and thus tortured and massacred anyone admitting to been of the Catholic faith.

On the front lawn was a large monument of Saint Andrew Kim Dae Gon, who was an important martyr at the event and also some interesting stele and carvings.

Flags are waved at the Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seoul 3-1 Daegu
As i walked around i also came across a group of worshippers who were singing, which was quite melodic. The friendly ticket lady at the museum let me in for free and was very keen to practice her English, but sadly i couldn't talk for too long as i had places to go and football to see! Within the museum itself were some artefacts that Pope John Paul had used on his visit to Korea, including a chair that he sat in. I couldn't help patting the seat and indirectly giving him a slap on the bum!

My next port of call was the War Memorial Museum, which is housed in an impressive building and also has plenty of outdoor displays to boggle the mind. These included a Sherman Tank, The statue of brothers, a tracked landing vehicle and several large aircrafts, as well as an obelisk.

Child blows his trumpet at Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seoul 3-1 Daegu
Inside the Museum i only had 45 minutes to look around before i had to leave, and sadly this was a museum that i could have spent a lot more time in. It was very well layed out, informative and covered a large period of time on a subject that greatly interests me - war! The diorammas and items on display were all well signed and there was plenty of information on boards, but not too much to bore you. I tried to hurry around as best i could and felt a pang of disappointment as i left, but i already knew i was going to be late for the footy!

Thankfully no goals were scored in the first 10 minutes of the game between FC Seoul and Daegu, as i wasn't there in time to see this part of the game, but the crowd were already singing and chanting like somebody had scored! The game was very entertaining, with both sides playing open and attractive football.

Homeless teddy bear moving house :(
Daegu scored first, but Seoul cancelled this out just before half time, as the teams went into the interval locked at 1-1. 

The second half began with the eruption of some fireworks, as did each goal that was scored, which always made me jump! The fans seemed to sing, dance, chant and cheer for the entire 90 minutes and they were rewarded with 2 second half goals, the first a penalty, which secured FC Seoul a 3-1 win and maintained their unbeaten start to the season. I left the ground buzzing to have been back in my element and decided that if i was still in Seoul on wednesday, i would definitely go back to watch them again!

I had arranged to meet one of Julia's friends called Polina in the evening and we were accompanied by her Indian friend Mukesh.

Looking down Cheonggye Waterway in Seoul
Polina has Korean roots, but was born in Kazakhstan and holds a Russian passport and the pair of them are studying Korean language at Seoul University. They very kindly took me on an evening walk around Seoul, so as i had my first proper look at the downtown area whilst it was all lit up, which was great. We stopped along the way for some decent food in a small cafe, before walking alongside the impressive Cheonggye manmade stream, that runs through central Seoul. I was incredibly impressed with much of the architecture and was already beginning to fall in love with the city and its inhabitants! We called it a night around 23.00 and I said my goodbyes after what had been a great night and caught the metro back to my hostel, to wrap up for me what was a pretty ideal day!

cmgervais says:
My friend Lisa will be in Beijing with us, and she loooves Fish & Chips...I vote for that over Peking duck any day! Will there be a Guinness as well, I wonder?

Where are you staying in Beijing? We will be in the Chaoyang district, right near the Guo Mao Subway stop.
Posted on: Apr 10, 2008
Deats says:
Well, i aim to please :D We still on for that peking duck!!! Oh i got recommended a fantastic fish and chip restaurant in Beijing too, i converted my girlfriend to them, maybe i can get the two of you next!
Posted on: Apr 10, 2008
cmgervais says:
I am happy for the Korea updates since I am going there tomorrow!
Posted on: Apr 09, 2008
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Sunset as the plane lands into Seo…
Sunset as the plane lands into Se…
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Blossoming flowers at Changgyeongg…
Blossoming flowers at Changgyeong…
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine and Muse…
Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine and Mus…
The statue of brothers at the War …
The statue of brothers at the War…
Flags are waved at the Seoul World…
Flags are waved at the Seoul Worl…
Child blows his trumpet at Seoul W…
Child blows his trumpet at Seoul …
Homeless teddy bear moving house :(
Homeless teddy bear moving house :(
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway in…
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway i…
Sunset as the plane lands into Seo…
Sunset as the plane lands into Se…
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Pond at Changgyeonggung Royal Pala…
Pond at Changgyeonggung Royal Pal…
Walkway at Changgyeonggung Royal P…
Walkway at Changgyeonggung Royal …
Botanical glasshouse at Changgyeon…
Botanical glasshouse at Changgyeo…
Botanical glasshouse at Changgyeon…
Botanical glasshouse at Changgyeo…
Squirrel at Changgyeonggung Royal …
Squirrel at Changgyeonggung Royal…
Pond at Changgyeonggung Royal Pala…
Pond at Changgyeonggung Royal Pal…
Chinese pagoda at Changgyeonggung …
Chinese pagoda at Changgyeonggung…
Pretty flower at Changgyeonggung R…
Pretty flower at Changgyeonggung …
Rainy day at Changgyeonggung Royal…
Rainy day at Changgyeonggung Roya…
Turtle stupa and burial place for …
Turtle stupa and burial place for…
Turtle stupa and burial place for …
Turtle stupa and burial place for…
Blossoming flowers at Changgyeongg…
Blossoming flowers at Changgyeong…
Blossoming flowers at Changgyeongg…
Blossoming flowers at Changgyeong…
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Ceiling and light at Changgyeonggu…
Ceiling and light at Changgyeongg…
Writing at Changgyeonggung Royal P…
Writing at Changgyeonggung Royal …
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Strange tree at Changgyeonggung Ro…
Strange tree at Changgyeonggung R…
Strange tree at Changgyeonggung Ro…
Strange tree at Changgyeonggung R…
Raindrops on a tree at Changgyeong…
Raindrops on a tree at Changgyeon…
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace walls
Changgyeonggung Royal Palace walls
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Jongmyo Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Doing the rainy tour of Changdeokg…
Doing the rainy tour of Changdeok…
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Changdeokgung Royal Palace
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Seoul World Cup Stadium
Pope John Paul bust at Jeoldusan M…
Pope John Paul bust at Jeoldusan …
Statue of the beheaded martyrs at…
Statue of the beheaded martyrs' a…
Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine and Muse…
Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine and Mus…
Saint Andrew Kim Dae Gon Statue at…
Saint Andrew Kim Dae Gon Statue a…
Jeoldusan Martyrs Shrine and Muse…
Jeoldusan Martyrs' Shrine and Mus…
Painting at Jeoldusan Martyrs Shr…
Painting at Jeoldusan Martyrs' Sh…
Seat sat in by Pope John Paul at t…
Seat sat in by Pope John Paul at …
A view of Seoul from Jeoldusan Mar…
A view of Seoul from Jeoldusan Ma…
War Memorial Museum
War Memorial Museum
Sherman Tank at the War Memorial M…
Sherman Tank at the War Memorial …
Tracked landing vehicle at the War…
Tracked landing vehicle at the Wa…
War Memorial Museum
War Memorial Museum
War drum at the War Memorial Museum
War drum at the War Memorial Museum
Monkey zodiac sign at the War Memo…
Monkey zodiac sign at the War Mem…
Dancing tiger at the War Memorial …
Dancing tiger at the War Memorial…
Armour at the War Memorial Museum
Armour at the War Memorial Museum
Sailing war ships at the War Memor…
Sailing war ships at the War Memo…
Diorama at the War Memorial Museum
Diorama at the War Memorial Museum
War Memorial Museum
War Memorial Museum
War Memorial Museum
War Memorial Museum
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seoul…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seou…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seoul…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seou…
Flags are waved at the Seoul World…
Flags are waved at the Seoul Worl…
Flares lit at the Seoul World Cup …
Flares lit at the Seoul World Cup…
Flags are waved at the Seoul World…
Flags are waved at the Seoul Worl…
Free kick taken by FC Seoul at the…
Free kick taken by FC Seoul at th…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seoul…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seou…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seoul…
Seoul World Cup Stadium - FC Seou…
Penalty kick scored by FC Seoul at…
Penalty kick scored by FC Seoul a…
Fireworks go off at the Seoul Worl…
Fireworks go off at the Seoul Wor…
FC Seoul celebrate scoring at the …
FC Seoul celebrate scoring at the…
City Gate lit up at night
City Gate lit up at night
City Gate lit up at night
City Gate lit up at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway in…
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway i…
Mukeshs Dinner
Mukesh's Dinner
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway in…
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway i…
Illuminated feature in Seoul
Illuminated feature in Seoul
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Jongno Tower
Jongno Tower
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway in…
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway i…
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway in…
Looking down Cheonggye Waterway i…
Mukesh and Polina at Cheonggye Wat…
Mukesh and Polina at Cheonggye Wa…
Looks like a purplr shell!
Looks like a purplr shell!
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Post Tower in Seoul at night
Post Tower in Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Seoul at night
Polina, Me and Mukesh
Polina, Me and Mukesh
Seoul
photo by: chiyeh