KOREA (part 1)

I will tell you a story about a trip that was half a year in the making. Last year, my friend told me about this promotional campaign in the Korean Embassy – a GOLD credit card would not require statements of account and Income Tax return for their Visa application (because we need to secure a VISA to travel to Korea, hello third world country πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­ ). Off I went and applied, the embassy gave me 5 years multiple entry Visa (yay!); while my other friends were only given 3 years.

Normally, a round trip ticket to Incheon would cost us Php12,000 to I guess PHP20,000. We were able to catch low fares at Cebu Pacific and I bought mine for P7,200 (yay!). We waited for the seat sale with a travel period on the last quarter of the year because we wanted to see the beautiful autumn leaves (coz there aren’t any in a tropical country like ours.

Our trip was set on the last few days of November – which turned out to be an epic fail scheduling because 1) the leaves have fallen and

2) the weather was slowly transitioning into winter! We didn’t have a choice but to go through with it coz We can no longer change my leave schedules, and well, it is what it is. So off we went to thrift stores to buy preloved winter clothes, went to Uniqlo to buy Heattech tops and gloves, I did buy some jackets a year in advance because we booked the trip last March and the winter clothes were already on sale here (but the look would be so last season lol).

A few more glitches happened before our scheduled departure – a change of flight (because Cebu Pac suddenly only flew one time per day to Incheon and back to Manila); unavailability of Korean Won (it did not help that the Php continued to depreciate in value during that time); excess baggages (which was remedied by all of us checking in at once and begging the girl to treat the check in baggages as one even if we had different tickets). The air conditioning in the airport was broken.

And Then Off We Went βœˆοΈπŸ›©πŸ›«

We landed at Incheon and the temperature was 2degrees Celsius. WHAT THE FCK. IT WAS SOOOOOO COLD. I expected it to be cold, but I did not expect it to BE THAT COLD. Imagine me, a person who lived and complained about the heat in the PH all my life, transported to a freezer that is Korea haha.

When we arrived, there were no more trains or regular buses (it was past midnight because the flight was delayed); so we rode the late night bus to Seoul – around this time, I have no idea what is happenin

We got to Seoul at 1am, I was not able to check the temperature but it was waaaaayyy colder than it was ij the airport. There was absolutely no transportation other than taxis, so the five of us were forced to ride separate taxis and just advice the driver of the destination – somewhere in Hongik / Hongdae (coz my friend has been to Korea and he thinks we can figure it out – FIGURE IT OUT IN THIS WEATHER!!!). And it seems like a scene straight out of Amazing Race, the driver does not speak

ENGLISH!!! He does not even understand what we were saying, good thing we have a map, we pointed to Hongik (which luckily had Korean translation as well) and we were dropped off at “Exit 9”. We were supposed to be dropped off at Exit 3. So me and my friend, carrying heavy bags (a couple of bags were not even ours), walked amidst the cold Seoul breeze. The only good thing about it was I can ask the cute Korean guys for directions. Boy, oh boy. These Koreans, they are soooooooo damn fine.

They are well dressed, their skin is amazing, the jawlines (my weakness) are so defined – oh I was in heaven! But I had to be drawn back to reality – it was cold, and we were sorta lost. The lady who owned the Airbnb (her name’s Ellie, by the way) sent a step by step (with photos) guide on how to go to her place from Exit 3. Fuck, we were in Exit 9. It took us a few more minutes in the cold to figure out that we’ll pass by Exit 9, then 8, then 7 and then the other Exits were on the other side!

After what felt like forever, we found exit 3 and followed Ellie’s guide. We were able to reach the house – unharmed. But very hungry. Lol.

There was a 711 near our place, so we went there and had ramyeon and that triangular rice thingie (which later turned out to be my favorite thing in Korea).

We passed by an arcade and tried picking toys (as they made it look easy in the Kdrama series); but we were already out of luck.

So we just took photos.

These toys were really cute, and these arcades were just everywhere with no guards whatsoever. Even the trains and malls have no guards (i assumed, then, that PH is much more dangerous than Korea haha).

With the other 3 – they took the other taxi and arrived safely and comfortably. They didn’t struggle like we did lol.

We slept at around 4am, and with just barely enough strength, managed to get up early to start our 8 day Korea adventure.

DAY 1

Our original plan for Day 1 was to explore the palaces, but since we woke up late and planned itineraries almost always change, our Day 2 – Korean Drama locations and other things – became our first day. We also explored the area around our Airbnb, and there was a park nearby with some autumn leaves still in the tree!

Needless to say, it was time for a photo shoot.

Yes, I didn’t care a bit on how I looked. It was TOO cold, I had to stuff myself with whatever clothes I could.

This was me forcing a smile.

And my favorite shot of them all!

But that was just me. Remember, there’s another gay guy, two girls and a straight guy in the group. We each had photo sessions. So after an hour or so and hundreds of photos, we proceeded to walk to Hongdae and look for a place to eat (I think I’ll just do a separate Korea food post).

I’m not a blogger #Ootd shot haha.

Also found this drink that was the inspiration for my hair lol.

While exploring Hongdae, we found this London-ish looking establishment and of course we just had to take photos (bear in mind that we haven’t eaten yet, we were still just exploring).

My friend also told me about this information booth where he found the cutest police officer ever; sadly he was not on duty. But I managed to have a photo with these two, and they weren’t so bad at all. I think after this, we already had lunch.

And then we proceeded to the subway (first time!!) to go to EWHA Women’s University- because it was more picturesque there.

And indeed it was.

I’d say, photo-wise, we have already captured autumn.

At around this time, the temperature rose already so I wasn’t bothered about the weather.

We were enjoying the surroundings, but we forgot about the other places in our itinerary. We went to Hello Kitty Cafe (i have no photos there) but it was closed; and then to the Coffee Prince place (I didn’t watch it so I didn’t go inside); then we were supposed to go to the bridge where Sunny (not Sun Hee) met the Grim Reaper but it was just a bridge and it’ll probably just be a waste of time so it was scrapped. We went to the Goblin’s house, but it was a school and we weren’t allowed to enter.

So we just took more photos at EWHA.

The obligatory jumpshot

And another one.

They also brought a
goPro for those wide angle shots

And group photos. After EWHA and that failed Goblin House visit, we went to Myeongdong to 1) have their USD changed to KRW and 2) Look for Heo Joon Jae’s house (Legend of the Blue Sea) before going up to Namsam Tower.

From Myeongdong, we walked (no, not walked, CLIMBED) to get to this place. The girls in the group are not essentially used to situations like these, so we forced them to do this.

We found the house! But since this house was situated in a very high place, the temperature also dropped. And it also started to get dark!

After this photo, we walked one more block to the cable car to Namsan Tower (and yes, we are going higher so the temperature is also going lower!!!)

I no longer have my photo with the tower, though. It was soooooooooooooooo cold. I’m telling you, it’s like one of the worst nights of my life. I was shivering nonstop; the skin on my face was breaking out; I just wanted that day to be over. I almost wished I didn’t go haha.

But well, at least I was able to take some good photos. After the Namsan Tower experience, we waited for the bus which took more than 30minutes and went back to Myeongdong, supposedly to have dinner.
But no no no no no no. As you all know, Myeongdong was a shopping district. And these girls? Well, I don’t know what their deal was, but the cold didn’t seem to bother them. Aside from the super low temp, it was also WINDY. My other gay friend and I, we both just wanted to get out of there.

Maybe it’s a gurl thing? But dude, they complain about the weather but they stop at EVERY STORE and they miraculously forget the cold; and for some reason, they always have something to buy. Bear in mind that THIS HAPPENED EVERYDAY. Not just in Myeongdong, in every train exit that had a store, we just had to stop and check everything. And the other girl – the girlfriend of my friend’s brother – she just keeps on forgetting stuff. Mind you, she had to purchase one more Tmoney coz she lost hers.

Day 2

On the second day, we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the first of the five grand palaces of Seoul (sadly the only one we went to). Why? You’ll know later lol.

When we got off the train, it was freezing. And when we got out of the exit, there it was – snow, softly falling from the sky. My initial reaction? Of course I jumped up and down with glee. It was the first time in my entire life to experience it. I forgot about how cold it was (for a moment); until my face started to swell.

This was when I realized that the snowfall was over, and my face was starting to become red and swollen

I found this interesting. I think it’s a drum? No one explained to me what it was.

Look at the details, amazing. But to be honest, I thought they all looked the same.

If you look closer, you can see that the skin on my face looks weird already.

That’s why I asked my friend Aki to take wide shots lol:

That’s him, the other gay guy in the group. We’re using his camera, btw. It’s a Fujifilm XE2.

Here’s the gang, today, we were prepared for the weather. Apple weather app (which is more accurate than Accuweather) predicted the snow in the morning. Hence, my oversized Fila jacket (it helped a lot, but I looked like a midget wearing it).

See, my face had red bumps due to the cold.

But we saw these trees inside the palace grounds and I said, what the heck, I’d take the jacket off coz I needed to look good for the photo.

I was able to nail it? Or I think I did.

It’s nice that my hair also stood out and sort of matched the autumn colors lol.

We saw this area in the palace where there aren’t any people, I think it was where the Queen stayed.

And we loved the wooden doors and panels.

An epic fail jumpshot + dab

And we also met this French hottie who was just wearing (a very revealing) sweatpants.

How I looked after the photo above was taken.

I wanted us to go to the Pagoda because I love how powerful they look like, but I think they’re actually places of worship.

Okay, I had fun taking photos at these penis looking statues (they are not, they are gods, I suppose).

Told you I looked like a midget

See?!

We were already outside of the palace because Aki and I went ahead and left the three behind. They were busy taking photos in one section of the palace, not realizing that we have to cover a lot of places today. Caz (the gf) also lost something while walking around the palace, I think it was the gloves she bought from Myeongdong the night before? Luckily she found it again. We just agreed to meet at the front of the palace so we can all use our time wisely.

Good thing we found fellow Filipinos who gladly took our photos in exchange of us doing the same for them. After this, we went to Insadong to search for a decent place to have lunch.

Oh, we also took a photo with the guards. That’s Caz, and the plastic bag she’s holding was the one she lost earlier (eventually it was found)

After lunch, we went to Bukchon Hanok Village – Aki and I believed that everywhere is walking distance; so we walked here. The girls, They weren’t complaining, but you can tell that they’re tired. We just tell them that there are good places to take photos at; so they endured. Lol:

There were indeed great places, but there were a lot of people. We also opted not to wear the traditional Hanbok coz we thought we’ll just do it the following day – we planned to go to MBC Dramia, a studio where some Korean dramas were filmed.

Speaking of Korean Drama, after the walkathon we did on Day 2, we found ourselves looking for Sunny (Not Sun Hee)’s cafe; where she employed Eun Tak *From Goblin series.

We had early dinner there – all the walking made us hungry.

They have Goblin stuff displayed all over the place

I was wearing the Grim Reaper ‘s hat! I don’t know if this was the actual had he wore (coz we can’t get proper responses from people, ugh)

Nevertheless, we enjoyed the dinner. We went home afterwards, tired and ready to hit the sack. But Aki had a different thing in mind – he wanted to drink. Being the good friend that I am, I joined him with the disclaimer that I wouldn’t drink. I’ll just look for Korean Boys.

Eventually found some at the Better than Waffle (our favorite) store. We’ll talk about that sometime soon.

While we were walking along Hongdae,

It snowed again!!!

And this time, it looked like it would be snowing for a while. Because after the initial soft snow falling, we realized that it wasn’t stopping anytime soon. So we headed back home. The snow was like rain, only bigger. It’s like crushed ice, the ones used for Halo Halo and Bingsu.

This was at the park, remember the autumn photos in Day 1? In just one day, we were experiencing another season! Wth! Hahah.

Girl it was cooooooollllldddd.

And of course my face reacted badly, red bumps appeared again. But I took this selfie coz there was snow on my hair!!! How cool was that?! Hahhaha.

When we got home, the other half of the group also had their share of experience with the snow. We talked about it and even shot videos, we were ecstatic. Unaware of what we will be facing the day after – which I will write about tomorrow, coz this post is already long. 😜

#Travel #DayreTravels #Explore #Korea #Seoul

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