Friday, July 30, 2010

DAY 4 in SEOUL(Part 2) - Shopping at Noryangjin district

(Above) Shopping district at Noryangjin

After lunch, we crossed to the opposite side of the Noryangjin station to take a look at their local shopping street. The shopping street here is more modest so don't expect big malls but there have quaint and unique little shops, cafes and boutiques which makes for a more cozy shopping experience.

As it was lunch time, along the way, we saw many koreans crowding into the street side tents(below) for some affordable lunch such as Korean fried rice, rice cakes from 2000W($2.30) which is half the price of most eateries where the going rate for a normal lunch is 5000W($5.74)

(Above) Along the way, we spied a Kia Soul which is very popular among trendy yuppies in Seoul.

We came across Daiso and walk in just to check out novelties and ended up coming out with a huge bag of buys. Daiso is really a 'dangerous' place because everything is so cheap and interesting that you can end up with a sizeable sum spent!

(Above) Some of the stuff we got from Daiso.

(Above)Walking along the back streets where the locals shop and dine. Trendy youths in continental cars are a common sight at cafes.

(Above) A nice cozy cafe we came upon. Koreans are really coffee drinkers!

(Above) Cafe Pascucci is a famous coffee cafe chain found in every city in Seoul.

(Above) Many small boutiques such as the one above with no name are dotted throughout back street shopping streets where the locals shop. Gayle bought a nice quality shorts here at a cheap price($10).

We spent an interesting hour over walking and shopping like the locals which is why free and easy gives one an authentic and interesting holiday experience. We then returned to the train station and took a train to 63 Building for our next stop.

More on that in the next posting.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day 4 in SEOUL (Part 1) - Morning at Noryangjin market

As it was a fair day, we decided to head for fresh makan at the Noryangjin Fish Market which is an extensive farmers fish market in the neighborhood of Noryangjin-dong.

(Above) From the subway station, move out of the station and up one level to access the bridge adjoining the Noryangjin market.

(Above) Together on the bridge to Noryangjin market

(Above)At the end of the bridge, you will come across the rooftop carpark of Noryangjin market. Move one level down to access the restaurants while the market stalls are on the ground floor.

(Above) The market scenes

At the market, you buy your own ingredients from the market below and bring it to whichever restaurant you wish to patronise. They will charge you a small fee for preparing and cooking your seafood buy. For us, it cost about SGD$15 for the soup, preparation and side dishes plus vegetables thrown into the soup. We surveyed the restaurants above and were choosing between a japanese one and a korean one and were won over by the friendliness of an ajuma from the korean restaurant.Good thing was that she spoke mandarin being from china, harbin and that made communication alot easier. We told her our budget and what we were looking for - fresh fish and octopus and she accompanied us down to the market to haggle with the stallholders to purchase our seafood ingredients.

(Above)Ajuma informing us the price of the live flatfish she has bought for us

(Above)Choosing our octopus for lunch

(Above) Upon entering the restaurant, you need to take out your shoes and put it in a trash bag and bring it with you to your table.

(Above) Seated on the floor, waiting for our seafood soup to be brought to us. Spicy soup is cheaper than clear soup so we opted to eat it in the Korean way- spicy.

(Above)Gayle cooking our ingredients in the soup

(Above)Delicious spicy soup

(Above) As Gayle wasn't so keen on eating it raw with the tentacles squirming in her mouth, we told the ajuma to cook the octopus. You can have a choice of eating your seafood sashimi style and throwing the live octopus into the soup in front of you as most Koreans do but we took the cautious route by having everything boiled. Besides, it's a little cruel to see the live octopus squirming in the hot boiling soup being boiled alive.

Talking about eating in the Korean restaurant at the market, don't expect courteous conversation. The Ajumas will tell you off if they see something not done properly. We observed that and we ourselves also got an experience. Gayle was 'told off' when she told the ajuma she didn't know how to switch on the gas canister for the portable stove. The Ajuma said that all women should know how to operate kitchen stuff.

(Above) Boiled octopus

(Above) After a hearty lunch, we walked back across the bridge and spend some time taking in a view of the city and the traffic below.You can see the iconic 63 building across the Han river in the background which is our next destination for the afternoon. More on that in the next posting....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 3 in Seoul - Shopping at Myeongdong

(Above) Us posing in front of Somerset Palace Serviced Apartment before setting out for the day.

Day 3, we decided to go to Myeongdong for shopping since the rain had stopped and it was a fair and cool day. Before we left our apartment area, we decided to have a fashion shoot at the fountain area with Gayle posing as my model(below)trying on her buys from the previous day for some fun and to take advantage of the nice weather.

(Above)Outside Myeongdong Station.

(Above) At entrance to Myeongdong shopping area

(Above) Glitzy shop front at Myeongdong selling lingerie.

(Above) Faceshop is a dime in dozen in Seoul, especially at Myeongdong where you see one at every corner of the street.

(Above)Faceshop stores here are huge and more high class decor inside.

(Above)Attractive Boutiques at Myeongdong offering varied fashion styles. We notice that the Korean ladies love frilly and layered tops that promote a sense of feminity rather than sexuality.You can hardly find any low neckline tops or spaghetti tops. Baby Tees are however common.

(Above) Couple wear is all the rage in Seoul at the time we were there, with many shops showing photos of celebrity couples wearing couple apparel such as T shirts etc.

(Above)Gayle posing in fornt of the street side markets which sell everything and anything. Do try to bargain and hop from one to the other for a good price.

(Above) Trying out Shoes. For shoes, we felt that Singapore offers the best variety and quality at affordable prices. The shoes in Seoul cant really beat our local ones for design and the pricing is quite high($70 to $150 for quality ones but designs a let down). The cheaper ones at the market place is about $12 - $25 but design,quality and comfort is another issue altogether.

(Above) Gayle posing with mannequins showing off summer dresses.

(Above) For lunch, we decided to try the men in the street food - traditional korean home cooked meal comprising of bean paste stew, steamed egg and side dishes like kimchi and other pickled vegetables in the eatery above. 10000w(SGD$12) for 2 set meals.

(Above) What we like is everything that comes out of the kitchen is freshly cooked and steaming or simmering hot! just like the steamed egg above .

(Above) Our simmering hot bean paste stew, looks and tastes really good!

(Above) Another picture of our traditional korean meal

(Above) The advertisement menu that caught our eye. In Seoul, do look out for eateries on the second floor of buildings around you. Actually we notice that most of the good and value for money eateries are located either on the second floor or in the basement.

(Above) Myeongdong has shopping for everyone from the lower end market goods to pirated stuff - LV, Chanel and Gucci being the most popular to the real stuff.Be ready to be randomly checked if you are bringing branded bags into Seoul as we experienced that. Upon arrival at the airport, Gayle's D&G bag was spotted by security and was checked and fortunately, we passed the check. So if you are bringing any pirated bags into Seoul, please don't take the risk to avoid embarassment.

(Above) We preferred the donuts at Dunkin Donuts rather than the famous Krispy Kreme one above. More variety and better taste at Dunkin Donuts.

(Above)We had Korean ice cream- really superstructures! Valued for money at about SGD$1.60. You have to speed up to eat up the ice cream before it starts melting since the serving is so generous.

(Above) Taking a break at the fountain area at Myeongdong, watching dating couples, students and children having fun.

(Above) Street stalls selling Korean snacks

(Above) We also took a break at a cafe overlooking the shopping streets

9Above) Underground shopping malls like the one above at Soggong, near Myeongdong are common but we felt that the goods are those that one finds at City Plaza and Katong shopping centre type. Not very cheap either. For underground shopping malls, they really can't beat those in Japan or even in Singapore.

(Above) For dinner, we went to a famous ox blood stew eatery located at one of Myeongdong's shopping street, opposite a Missha skin care shop. You can get the location from the Tourist Information centre there. Really good stew! recommended by many foodies!

(Above) Looking forward to our dinner!

(Above) More pictures of our yummie dinner stew!

(Above)For supper, we bought rice rolls with spicy cuttlefish from a popular eatery at Myeongdong operated by the two ladies seen above. Really spicy! be forewarned!