Saturday, 30 March 2013

travel: South Korea 2013 Day 7: Seoul: Namsan Tower, Hongdae

Our trip is closing to an end and today is the last full day for us to spend in Seoul, as tomorrow night we will be flying back to Sydney. Planning to just relax and stroll around the neigborhood (and try to not swipe the credit card for more shopping..).

We went to Seoul Tower / Namsan Tower, than can be reached by taking the cable car (you can also walk all the way up, but hey, I am lazy) which location located around 10 minutes walk from MyeongDong.

the cable car station

Upon reaching the station at Namsan Tower, you can see the guards dressed in their traditional attires ad simulating their guarding duty during the old days. There is also a free service to try on Korean hanbok.

Hey, Free and I are best friends

Damn. How short are we compared to that guard

We opted to visit the Teddy Bear museum also located in the tower (you have to visit the museum first before going up to the observatory). The ticket for both the museum and the observatory costs KRW14000 per adult. The teddy bear museum showcases the old era and modern era of Korea - teddy bear style.

Love it. The extra details they put into the dioramas are crazy.

the poor bear! she fell and broke the dishes

Then the modern era...

guess who

Observatory is pretty meh... . Been to HongKong and Taipei, I think I have started to think all high observatories are pretty much the same. However the view would have been gorgeous in the midst of spring time (where all trees should be blooming flowers or ripe with greens and can be viewed from up high). But apart from that, there are only tall buildings around. Viewing this during night time when the city lights light up would be better I think... .

But trust the South Koreans to make the best of everything and make them as cute as possible. Check these pictures out: those are locks hung on the trees and fences, written with affectionate words of couples, families, and friends. Some are so rusty indicating they have been there for a long time. We were tempted to add a lock of our own, but could not think of words to write... :P

Then we headed back down via the cable car and had some KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) at TwoTwo. You cannot miss this place when heading back to the station.

Total damage: KRW16000 (for half garlic chicken & half spicy chicken)

MyeongDong is always alive
After heavy but heavenly lunch of fried chicken, we headed to Hongdae (Hongik University station) to go to Trick Eye Museum. I think it is enough to visit this place just once. Be creative, take lots of pictures, move on.

There won't be many pictures posted in this blog for our visit to the Trick Eye museum as they are mainly of us being idiots and I prefer being idiots around my circle of friends, not on a public blog... :D
But basically the place has lots of 3D pictures that you can pose with to create comical effects depending on your pose.

Hongdae is full of trendy young people and it certainly is not difficult to find someplace to eat. We had dinner at a place called 'Meat-ing' - a korean BBQ all you can eat that only costs KRW10800 per person for dinner time (lunch cost around KRW9000 I think, forgot how much exactly). Cheap or what. They have all assortments of meat, side dishes, and fruits as well. My camera battery went dead though (and we left the spare at the guesthouse). We took some pictures via iphone, but I am too lazy to upload them now :P

Friday, 29 March 2013

travel: South Korea 2013 Day 6: Seoul: Seodaemun Prison, Apgujeong, Dongdaemun

29 March 2013

Today we visited Seodaemun Prison, a historic real prison site that was used by the Japanese to suppress the South Koreans during their occupation of the latter until World War II ended in 1945. It was a somehow sombre visit, what with the cold weather, but somehow necessary and meaningful as well to learn such a bleak era of human civilization.

Let's all hope and pray, work our best, and love one another so there will not be another war on anyone or any nation.

The site is considerably smaller than the whole original complex - The buildings shown on the miniature photo above is pretty much mostly what were left standing nowadays. Patrons can see various prison relics, short documentary of survivors, various torture methods that were actually used, and even the execution ground (death by hanging).

this hall houses all known records of the prisoners who had been forced to call Seodaemun home - for however many years until they passed 

various torture chambers

this dark tunnel is a secret tunnel only recently discovered in the 90s. It was used by the Japanese soldiers to sneak dead bodies out of the prison.

the execution room

Exercise area for prisoners

After somewhat depressing morning because of the visit (although by no means I would have missed it. It makes me all the while more grateful of my life and what I have right now, in this generation), we decided to visit the infamous beauty belt of South Korea.

Nothing beats looking at first world problems after such a meaningful visit to a historical prison,right?

It is an area around Apgujeong and Sinsa in Gangnam area where there are a lot of plastic surgery clinics clustered almost together if not a few blocks apart.
They have no qualms advertising all their services either, complete with before and after pictures on their banners.

You want to change your eyes? nose? lips? make your chin smaller or bigger? (smaller is the trend, btw) do you want more hair? plumper/fuller breasts? thinner thigh, waist, or legs?

If you can imagine it, the surgeons can do it.

As soon as you reach Apgujeong station, there are a lot of advertisements of the clinics nearby.


You can practically transform to a different person altogether. Now I can't help but wonder if those beautiful girls I saw at the station have had some procedures done... .

Headed back to Lavinia for a quick nap, then we went out around 8 p.m. to hit the suburb that almost never sleeps - Dongdaemun. Took the subway to Dongdaemun Historical & Culture Park, then as soon as we headed out of exit 14.... ... ... ... shopping malls and markets everywhere. The shopping malls in this area no play play. They close at 4.30 a.m.!

Of course, a visit here wouldn't be complete without taking at least a brief walk along the Cheonggyecheon stream... .