Jun 11, 2015

Seoul searching


Focusing my recent travels on destinations that are famous for its nature has made me miss the moments of city hopping, subway riding and clothes shopping at major towns of Europe during the good old student days. Needless to say when Yat masterminded the trip to Seoul, Korea, I obligingly followed his lead but yet, simultaneously devised my own plan to discover the exciting shops of Seoul (which at some point are already expected by my travel mates). 

But prior to disassociating myself from the group, we spent our time together exploring the subway, touted as one of the most efficient in the world, sightseeing, trying local food, and of course, mingling with Seoulites. It's hard to resist the temptation of lumping every photo in a single post but for the sake of clarity, I'm classifying my coming Seoul-centric posts to sight seeing, the food, the people and of course, the fashion/shopping experience...

Life is indeed sweet when you are taking a one week off from the madness of seeing more than fifty patients a day in the clinic. This picture of a neighbourhood boutique was taken near our guest home in Itaewon. 

Our first touristy destination was the first mosque in Korea, located at the heart of Itaewon

 Itaewon viewed from the mosque

We next visited Chagdeokgung Palace, one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty

Can't help but to ogle at the closed Hanbok store en-route to the palace

Breathtaking carving + painting

 My Raf Simons x Adidas trainers against the backdrop of painted roofing - the pants and socks kind of match no?

A different angle of me

We had a chance to take a 1.5 hours tour of the 'Huwon' - or the Rear Garden, situated directly at the back of the palace. Also called the Secret Garden, this private place was used by the kings and queen and their aristocrats for recreation, relaxation and games

Amazingly detailed roof art of a gazebo

Blooming flowers near the exit of the palace

We also had a fun and games trip in mind. In this case, we went to the popular Korean theme park Everland, about 1.5 hours from the city centre by subway and train

Transit subway, crossing the Gangnam station. Now, where's my horse?

The map illustrating the locations of attractions
The handle of one of the many rides we took. The sense of aging crept on us as we veered through 'tamer' rides and moved away from the crazy, dangerous 360 degree-looped roller coaster

We took a ride on this kiddy train like the bunch of sissies that we are 

But the view from the train cart looks cool though

Me being pretentiously horrified of the skyway ride

This crazy Rock-and-Roll themed ride that shakes, rotates and swings just enough to induce vertigo is nerve-wrecking even just by watching from afar. Mind you most of the riders were giggly adolescent girls

And who DOESN'T love parades? The characters are cute and the dance moves well choreographed, and I still can't shake off the catchy music of my head

We went down on the streets to join the whole parade, and from the looks of it, we were the only ones who clapped, saung and danced energetically to the songs (well, maybe the rest came as families - would be quite awkward to jump like monkeys in fron of Dad no?)
This guy is a drummer riding a float decked with ginormous plastic floras. How cool is that?

They have a (very) mini bird-and-butterfly park too

I realised Everland houses a water/ocean section. Among the inhabitants in captive are sea lions and penguins

Lovebirds enjoying sunset

Everland entrance during nightfall

Another ultra-touristy (rightfully so, due to its magnificent view), is the N Seoul tower, perched atop Namsan Mountain

Myeongdeong view from the cable car on the way up to the mountain
Note the Pont des Arts-esque love locks. Korean love to express intimacy at their partners here too.

Having a walk around Itaewon neighbourhood

My friends and I with owner of G Guest Home Itaewon, Fiona and staff Niie

Fiona, Niie, and Jyeon. These ladies are so wam and hospitable towards our stay at the guest home.It's such a rare moment when I can relatively connect with people in such a short span of time.  Looking forward to staying here again whenever I com visit Seoul again!

To be continued...

Words and images by Hafidzudin Zainal

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