Last year, my friend and I didn't have experience so, we joined a tour which was organized by a group of fan club which turned out to be quite a disaster. This year, since we already knew where it would be and what needed to be done, we decided to plan our own trip. There were three of us together and we divided responsibility into three tasks; plane tickets, hotel and of course concert tickets. I was responsible for hotel booking. That wasn't too hard as we already knew where to stay. My friend and I would like to stay at the same place we have stayed in the past trip; Western Coop Service Apartment Hotel. This hotel is located in Dongdaemun area and very close to the shopping area (http://www.lifeinkorea.com/hotels/korea/1623). I would say that this is an ideal place for late riser and late shopper like us. This hotel is very convenient because the airport limousine bus stop is right in front of the hotel. It's also about 5 mins walk away from the subway station and the shopping mall of Dongdaemun. There is another reason why my friend and I determined to stay here. The subway here run only till midnight. We once got stuck along the way after hour because we didn't know and had to take taxi which charge us a fix price instead of using meter. So, we didn't want to go through that again. Since Dongdaemun opens till morning and we like to shop after hour, we might as well stay close so that we could quickly walk back to hotel whenever we like. Lucky for us Western Coop offers a family suite which has three beds and it was available at the time. I quickly grabbed the room. That was done. Next was the two tickets. The plane tickets wasn't too hard to get. My friend just asked agency to search for us and found the best possible deal and time. We booked Korean Air. We planned to fly out on the night of 2nd March and arrived in Seoul in the next morning. Then, departed on the evening of 7th March which was our National holiday. This way, we only needed to take a day off. The most difficult and worrisome part was the concert tickets. We knew that the tickets needed to be booked online but, we didn't know how. So, we enlisted a group of fan club to help with this matter with a fee. We saw them advertised in the web and it sounded like they had experience with getting tickets for Big Bang concert before. We had to decide on date and ticket type for the booking. We agreed to see the concert twice on the 3rd and 4th with seating tickets on the 3rd and standing on the 4th. Honestly, we felt very helpless with this as we had no control over our tickets. The tickets were opened for booking in early February. It was quite an exciting and stressful time. It was almost mid Februray until knew that they couldn't get tickets for us! AHHHhhh OMG!!! Now, we were even more stressed. I kind of tried to prepare myself for this situation since it was very possible. The competition for Big Show tickets were very fierce but, still I was kind of down when hearing the news. Actually, for the seating tickets, they already got them but, the location wasn't where we wanted. They informed us that they would be queuing in front of the concert for the tickets for us. That gave a little consolation for us but, there was still chance that we wouldn't get what we want. At that point, I would be happy for any ticket. Since there was nothing that we could do at that moment, we focused on what would we be doing in Seoul and dream on.
When the day came, we boarded Korean Air flight 1:45am to Seoul Incheon Airport. We arrived around 9am of 3rd March. The weather was crisp, clear and of course cold, around 1c. It was like entering a different world, coming from 30c place. To get to our hotel, we only needed to walk outside the airport and we found a ticket counter for airport limousine bus. We knew exactly which bus we had to take, bus no 6001. This bus passes both Myeongdong and Dongdaemun area. The cost for the trip is 14,000won and for this we got a 1.5 hour comfortable ride right to our hotel. Really comfortable as the seat is similar to business class on the plane. It was much more comfortable than our seat on the plane. I think I slept right to Seoul and woke just before we were going to cross Han river. From there, it was only around 15-20 mins to our hotel. We landed right in front of our hotel.
It might sound a bit dramatic but, I just felt like arriving at our vacation home. However, it was too early to check in (around 11am) so, we left our luggages there and went out for lunch. Not much to think of, we already had it all figured out, we were going to have kimchi gyoza. For this we headed to a small street just behind the shopping malls (Hello apM, Migilore and Doota). One of my friends and I had been here before. It was a modern looking restaurant, somewhat like fast food, called Sinpo Woori Mandu. Sinpo Woori is the name and mandu basically means dumpling. We found this restaurant last time accidentally. We saw kimchi gyoza on the internet and really wanted to try. Then, one day we were looking for something to eat and so, we walked to the back alley and found this place. It's quite easy to spot as the front sign is in bright orange color and a list of menu.
We found our seats and did a little of study of the menu but, in fact, we already knew what to order. Kimchi gyoza was a must. Then a soup to warm us up, a bean curd soup. To finish, we ordered rice with stir fried octopus in a stone bowl. This was exactly the same set of food my friend and I had when we were here over a year ago. When all the food came, our faces just lit up, like kids with candies.
My friend and I often make a joke that, in our past life, we probably were Korean because when we taste Korean food in Korea, it just taste like home cooked food. Same for this time, kimchi gyoza just tasted so good and homey. Everything was yummy. It was a good start to our trip. After lunch, we still had about over an hour before we could check in so, we continue walking till we were at the side street of Migilore.
At the back of the mall, there was some kind of open market selling fruits, food, souvenir as well as cloth. However, maybe because it was still morning, not many vendors were opened at the time. While a friend was looking at celebrity souvenir, I did a little look around. The food stall looked pretty good...we gotto have Tteokbokki (rice cake in spicy sauce) sometime while we were there. As much as we love it, we were just too full.
There was also a stall selling fruits...strawberry just looked too good. We made a note that we had to come back for it so that we could have it at our hotel. Since we had time, we headed to Doota for a little, should I say, pre-shopping. We were thinking about just looking around, a bit of survey. However, one of my friend started her shopping engine faster than I thought.
Only 10 mins within entering Doota and she already bought something. We walked around and shopped around till almost time for checking in. Then, we thought that, on the way back, maybe we should get cosmetic stuff both for ourselves and things that friends asked us to buy which were a lot. So that we wouldn't need to worry about it again. Our first stop was Nature Republic. I didn't need to get anything from this shop so, I just hung around. This brand had Jang Geun Suk (actor and singer) as well as a few of Kara's member (girl group) as presenters.
It's curious to see that many cosmetic brands here used male singers or actors as presenters. I know that their main target is to attract female consumers but, still... Isn't the presenter supposed to make the consumers think 'Oh, her skin looks so smooth and healthy that I want to be like her'? It's kind of weired. Nowadays, consumers want to have skin like male actor/singer. Next was Etude which is probably one of the most popular Korean cosmetic shop for Thai people. Again, male presenter...Shinee (boy band). God...my legs are smaller than mine.
For this shop, I got a list of what my friend wanted as well as what I wanted to get for myself. Everything just looked so good and nice to use. Once the staff knew that we are Thai, some of them started to talk to us in Thai..wow. I mean we knew that Etude staff in Myeongdon can speak Thai since that's where Thai tour groups go. I certainly didn't expect the staff here to speak Thai as well. In a way, that was kind of cute. Then, we moved on to Skin Food, probably my most favorite.
I got a lot for my friends and myself. I just love their products because I can relate them with food and drink I knew like wine bubble cleanser. Most of the stuff they have, smell so good like we could actually eat it. I think I got a little carried away... We all ended up carrying heavy load back to our hotel, not to mention one box of strawberry for snack...not even checked in to the hotel yet!
We booked a family suite but since this was not a proper hotel, I was expecting a small room with three beds side by side, you know, imagine sardines in a can. When we arrived at our room, we were kind of surprised to see a decent size room, two beds in one area and there was another queen size bed in a separate room. It was a pleasant surprised. The separate room also got flat screen TV.
It was very simple looking but, it was just right for us. We didn't plan to spend a lot of time inside anyway. After settled down and freshened up, it was already time for us to do what we came for, Big Show!! We were to pick up our tickets around 4:30pm. So, we gather our things including Big Bang bandana and light stick, must have items for Big Bang concert, and headed out.
To get to Olympic Park from Dongdaemun, we took subway line 5 (purple). As mentioned, the subway entrance is not to far from our hotel, like 5 mins walk but, once we entered, it took us another over 5 mins to get to the actual platform for line 5. It just felt forever with lots of stairs too. Our stop, Dongdaemun Station History and Culture Park is 14 stations away from the Olympic Park. The longest I have ever took in Seoul. No wonder we saw many people dozing off. One of the strange thing that we found once we got off at Olympic Park, I was pretty sure that 99.99% of people who got of there were going to the concert. However, there were quite a few kids who started running as soon as they got of the train as if they had to compete for the concert tickets which they should already have. We just couldn't see the point for running. We slowly made our way, following the crowd to the concert. As we were getting close, we saw more and more (a lot more people), many of them were in costumes as well as wearing or carrying something with Big Bang symbols. It took us a little bit of time to find our contact for tickets. While looking for her, we were, should I say, mesmerized by all the posters and banners of our lovely boys. This wasn't just a concert but, more like an international fair for VIPs. Walking around, we could hear not just Korean language but also, Japanese, English and not to mention Thai. Everyone came to show support to our boys. After finally found our contact, we were wandering around to capture the moment at almost every corner. There was a booth that showed concert merchandise...ohh I wanted them all.
There was a center stand which showed pictures from the past concert and not only from 2011 Big Show. We all tried to take picture with our special boy.
Then, there was a giant screen, like a outdoor cinema, that was constantly running music video and ads with Big Bang. It was kind of funny and strange that some fans would scream at the sight of their stars. I mean I love them too but, they were not here, in person. I understood them singing along but, shouting their name??
We also went to the side of the screen which had huge pictures of Big Bang from a promotion campaign. Huge faces...wow!! There was a fierce competition to go in front of the pictures because everyone wanted to take a close up pictures with Big Bang without any other people in the frame. So, once when a person was finishing the posing, everyone else had to be ready to snatch the opportunity otherwise we could be waiting forever.
Since we got a seating tickets that day, we didn't need to rush to go in. So, we could afford to soaking in the feel and vibe. Also, had some snacks. Last time I was here, I remembered having Tteokbokki. However, they must have changed the company already cuz, we only got hot dog...well, hot dog was fine, quick and filling. We went inside around 45 mins (5:45pm) before the concert is scheduled to start. It was always a thrill to enter Big Show concert. They already started playing Big Bang music video as well as ads on the screen. Our seats were on the second level (lower than last year) but, to the right side.
The crowd, especially the standing tickets, was already working their excitement up. Half an hour before concert, the screen started flashing Big Show 2012 logo so, the crowd was getting wilder. However, it was like YG was teasing us because then, the screen went back to show mv again. Just before the concert started, we caught a glimpse of Big Bang boys walking to the stage to get ready for the opening act. That was one of a few advantages we got from these far side seats. Then, at 6:30pm sharp, the 2nd show of Big Show 2012 has begun!!! I don't think that I could explain how I feel other than that I was so so HAPPY. The concert was awesome and super fun. This year, they didn't even build in any break in the show like parody and new mv. It was two and a half hour of pure energy. The boys.....oh wow fantastic baby!, was indescribable. Even though we bought seating tickets, we didn't really do much sitting because, from the start, everyone was so exciting and we all stood and danced. There actually were some songs that we would like to sit but the girls in front of us wouldn't take a break and so, we had no choice but to stand as well. So basically, we only use our seats to put our stuff. When it was all over, I was so tired from standing, jumping, dancing and screaming that I just wanted to sit there and rest. Even worse, it was very warm inside. I recalled from last year that it was quite cool when we in the seating area but, this was totally different. In the middle of the concert, I had to take off my turtle neck. I didn't want to be one of the fan who needed guard to carry out. It took us quite sometimes to make our way out of the concert. We were once again had to face the cold but because we just got out from steaming hot hall, the cold wind was very welcoming. We took the subway all 14 stations away back to Dongdaemun. We were going to celebrate our trip and concert with Korean BBQ. We again went to the back street of Dongdaemun shopping mall and picked the restaurant from the popularity, basically which restaurant had many customers. I honestly didn't know the name of the restaurant, wouldn't be able to pronounce it either. We got a small table close to the entrance which actually was a good position for us because we were so close to the waiters, easy to get their attentions. Looking at the menu and we just wanted everything. One of the waiters came to us and surprisingly asked if we were Thai. Once we said yes, she seemed somehow very happy, maybe because she guessed it right. We ordered 1 beef and 2 pork orders (one being pork belly). That wasn't enough, we also ordered raw beef or Yook Kwe, my order actually. Our last order was spicy raw crab or Yangnyeom gejang and I think since she knew we were Thai, she asked if we wanted it spicy...of course we said yes...bring it on!! This Korean style of BBQ is different from what we had before. Usually, we grill meat on a metal grill but, this restaurant uses marble & iron plate.
I have seen it on the internet, in someone's else review but, didn't think that we would find it ourselves. Also unlike regular BBQ we had, this place put vegetable (shredded green onion, mushroom and kimchi) on the grill along with the meat. When eating, we just took a piece of grilled meat, dipped it in sauce, put it on a lettuce along with the warm vegetables and wrapped it. Then, it was the matter of open wide and tried to eat it in one mouthful. It was a total satisfaction. Whatever we had outside Korea just couldn't compare.
Then came my Yook Kwe. The waiter asked if we wanted her to mix it up and we said yes. She would have done much better job than us. She mixed the beef with raw egg as well as apple and seaweed. The aroma and sweet taste was just so good. I think I ate about half of that plate.
Last was the raw crab, ohhhh it was all red with chilli sauce. Oh, my mounth still get watering everytime I think of this dish. It was very refreshing and spicy. As if the heat wasn't enough, we also mixed the sauce with our rice, it was just sublime.
We were three super happy girls. I think we were crazily smiling while eating that meal. One more thing that we could not miss, Soju. Eating Korean BBQ and sipping Soju just felt so good, it just fit.
Unfortunately, I had a little bit of alzer problem that night so, I couldn't drink much. I needed to safe my stomach for another 4 days of eating. After dinner, we didn't go anywhere else, kind of unlike us but, we really needed to rest as we had a early morning agenda.
The thing was my friend and I wanted to get some concert merchandise. However, it was such a fierce competition to get it because basically almost everyone wanted them and they often ran out very quickly. Last year, my friend and I had to queue up since 10am to make purchase at around 1pm. This year, YG made it harder, instead of 1pm, they moved the schedule up to 10am!! which means that we had to queue up even earlier. We got a warning from a friend who had come to buy since the first day that it was really crazy. People turned up at the crack of dawn and that we had to do that too if we wanted to get what we wanted. So, with determination, my friend and I planned to get there before 7am. We got up I think around 5:30am and I thought, "is this really a holiday??" There were quite a few people on our train who definitely were going with us as they were wearing Big Bang hoodie. They just looked as sleepy and tired as us. Once again, as soon as we got off the train, they started to run. However, my friend and I just thought that a few mins later wouldn't hurt. When we got to the line, There were at least 50 people ahead of us already. It was super cold and windy.
This is what VIPs have to endure for our boys. I was looking around a bit and I found it kind of sad looking. Because we would be on queue for many hours, most people took a cardboard boxes which were thrown away by the mini mart and used them as seats. Following other, my friend and I did the same but, it made us feel like homeless. Honestly, it was almost unbearable because of the weather. There were some moments that I thought about my bed and wondered why ... why did I put myself through this? I know that most people I know would think that this is ridiculous. Anyway, we were just chatting away and listening to some music to kill time. Around 9:30am, YG staff started to come out and lined us up in a row of 4. They were right on time. Once after 10am, they just started to let us in 2-3 rows at a time. It went pretty quick as well as the speed that merchandises ran out. Everytime they put up a sign that any kind of merchandises were out, we could here scream, groan, cry and all kinds of sounds. Lucky for me that I got almost everything that I wanted. Basically, I bought Big Bang Alive hoodie, phone accessory and CD.
It was a truly happy feeling once we got our stuff, mission accomplished!! Now, we could enjoy taking pictures of the concert area with little people around.
By the time, we finished the round, it was almost noon. It was time for us to head back. We needed lunch and, after that, a nap and shower (only washed our faces and brushed our teeth this morning). We didn't want to go out for lunch so, we stopped by at a fried chicken place close to our hotel. We have been walking pass this place for so many times but, didn't get a chance to try. It's call Two Two Fried Chicken. A big pile of fried chicken advertised its speciality.
It was a small restaurant with only one ajumma (auntie) at our service. It was a little difficult to order since she couldn't speak English, no surprise there. As usual, we got away with hand signal. We looked at her limited menu and found that there were a few choices. There was a combination plate with plain fried chicken and fried chicken with sauce. At first, we wanted to order this one but she mentioned (or tried to tell us) that there were only 3 pieces for each flavor. That meant 2 pieces for each of us...it shouldn't be enough for healthy girls like us. So, we decided to order 1 plate of plain and 1 plate of fried chicken with sauce. We took seats to wait while ajumma was preparing food for us.
There were only a few tables around. While waiting, we were entertaining by a trot program (Korean country song) that Ajumma had on. Instead of taking the fried chicken on show but, freshly fried chicken from her pressure fryer. Then, she packed two boxes along with two can of Pepsi (didn't know that those were on the set). We just couldn't wait to eat it. This would be our first meal today since...6am. Once we unwrapped our chicken, we were in a shock. There were supposed to be only 5 pieces of chicken per box. Well, 5 pieces alright but, each of those 5 pieces were probably a quarter of a chicken. So, we basically got two boxes full of fried chicken.
That was A LOT of chicken for 3 people! As for the taste...well, both were yummy. The plain one, though didn't look like much, was well seasoned and very crispy. As for the saucy one, it was both sweet and a little spicy. Personally, I like the saucy one better. We were eating and thinking at the same time...would it be great to have some sticky rice. After our lunch, my friend and I took a little nap to build some energy for our second round of Big Show. For today concert, we were going to be in the standing area. So, we dressed as light as we could, in this freezing weather. I wore long sleeve t-shirt and my new Big Bang hoodie. Even that, once I was inside, I still had to take off the hoodie because it was very warm. Being right in front of the action, right in front of the stage, gave a totally different feeling. When we were in the sitting area, we got an overall view of the show and we could see all that happened even from that far away. The standing ticket gave us chances to get close to our stars and go as crazy as we could be. It was fun being in the middle of everything. The downside was that, besides a high chance of getting stepped on, when the boys were on the main stage, we had to watch the screen. That's why two rounds of concert is the perfect choice.
Well, we had a blast!! The show was FANTASTIC!!! And for their final show, they even played their two new song (Bad Boy & Fantastic baby...my favorite) for the second round at the end. Perfect!!!
After concert, we went back to Dongdaemun for a well earned dinner of once again BBQ pork. We decided to use the same method to choose restaurant for the night. Here was our dinner for the night...
As always, this restaurant had quite a lot of people. I guess because it got all you can eat promotion. Well, we didn't dare to 'all we can eat'. We just ordered (as usual) 2 porks and 1 beef as well as bean curd soup.
I would say that we like the yesterday restaurant better. I mean it was tasty but, the marinate was a little bit too sweet. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our meal as always. And as with yesterday meal, this would not be completed without a bottle of soju. We toasted for our success that we made it to Big Show (twice) as we intended and for the awesome time we had.
Tonight, again, we didn't stay out late because we already used up almost all the energy plus, my friend and I didn't get much sleep last night. So, we decided to went back to hotel, have a rest then, tomorrow, we could have a full day at our leisure.
We woke up (late) to a very gloomy day. The forecast said that it would be raining today. We just hoped that it wouldn't be too hard and too long. By the time, we left the hotel, it already passed noon. Our plan for today was to hang out in Myeong-dong. So, we took subway line 2 (green line) to Euljiro 1(il)-ga. There are two subway station on either side of Myong-dong; the one we took or Myeong-dong station on line 4. Because it was already very late, we went straight to our lunch destination...or so we thought. We planned to have lunch at Myeong-dong Gyoja which is our favourite noodle place. We thought that we got the direction figured out already. It wasn't difficult to find last time. We walked towards the direction that we (thought we) usually went but, this time, we couldn't find it. We just couldn't understand why. At the end, we had to show the picture of the restaurant to different shops' staff and asked them to point us the way. What we experienced during the confusing time was that Korean people are very helpful. Even though we ask store staff without buying anything from their shop, they didn't hesitate to help and even took their time to show us the way. We were really ready to give up when we finally found it. This restaurant offers very limited menu, 3 dishes to be exact but, it is very popular.
By the time we found it, it was after 1pm already so, we didn't have to wait long for table. As mentioned, there are only 3 menus, hot noodle, cold noodle and steam dumpling. I think during summer there's also another cold noodle menu. Anyway, there were only 3, we ordered all 3, for sharing. We had to pay before they bring our food. I really like the hot noodle here. It has a little bit thick noodle but, not as thick as udon. The broth has kind of thick stewy consistent with a topping of some kind of wonton and ground meat. The feeling of the wonton is the same as the steam dumpling which come in a big basket of 8. My friend likes the cold noodle, Bibim Guksu. It looked similar to what we had in Korean restaurant in Thailand but, the taste and aroma are totally different. I just couldn't eat Bibim Guksu in Thailand again. It's simply not as good.
I was truly happy eating up that noodle. Eating it with their super spicy kimchi was even better. After having our fill, we headed out for some shopping. It was finally starting to rain. Lucky that we all came prepare.
After a couple hours shopping, we went into H&M building to escape from the rain. We didn't get anything there though. Then, we decided to go to some cafe for a caffeine boost. Conveniently, Cafe Bene is in the underground level.
This is a chain cafe which could be found in many areas. The atmosphere of the cafe was very relaxing with a feel of garden (that was what I thought).
We were planning to have a cup of tea or coffee but, we saw that quite a few tables ordered honey toast and it just looked too good. So....why not! Once we ordered, we took a pager and once our order was ready, they would page us. An efficient way of service, I think. Customers don't need to keep waiting close to the counter which cause a congestion. Also, they don't need lots of staff cuz, they don't need to deliver the food.
When it vibrated, we picked up our so very yummy looking afternoon snack. It was a good choice, a superb choice.
The toast was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, soaked with butter. Eating a mouthful of crispy toast with cream and a little syrup was amazing. Once our energies have been refilled, we shopped around a bit more. However, the weather still hasn't improved so, we next headed down to an underground shopping area, opposite Lotte department store to buy some CD & DVD. This underground place is also connected to the basement of Lotte department store and so we went. We were surveying around inside Lotte till we got tired a bit. We all agreed to take a break at the hotel before dinner. Before going back to the hotel, we stopped at a mini-mart for a little snack. Even though, it was very cold out, my friend and I still wanted ice cream. This was not a simple ice cream in a cup or cone. This ice cream was in aluminum package.
At the top of the packaging was a tube/straw like opening and we were supposed to basically suck the ice cream out. We actually had to wait a little before we could eat it because it was so cold and frozen. While waiting for the ice cream to thaw, we just had strawberry to kill time. For dinner, we took subway line 2 to Hongik University station. From there, I believe we got off at exit 6??? A short walk from the exit, we found a street lined with BBQ and many different kinds of restaurant. Guess what we wanted to have tonight....BBQ as usual!! We walked around a bit. looking for seemingly popular restaurant based on the number of customers and pictures again. We ended up with this place which was pretty big with quite a lot of people including foreigner.
On its wall, there were posters showing different television show that have come to there restaurant. Now, we felt even better because that means this restaurant is really good.
One of the first thing that we noticed was that this restaurant is very practical. Instead of having tissue box on the table to waste the space, the box is on the wall besides the table. Also, we were impressed that the restaurant provides a big plastic bag to put our stuff in so that our bags and coats would not have BBQ smell....good thinking, love it.
We ordered one sliced beef, one pork neck and a special sliced pork with sauce which was the recommended item. We also saw this one on the poster of the TV show...it must have been good then.
The restaurant staff came to our aid as usual. Actually, looking around, almost every table was grilling by themselves. Probably the staff saw that we are foreigners and kind of dumbfounded looking foreigners so, she came to help with grilling. Actually, we were about to do it ourselves but, maybe we didn't look too competent. Anyway, we were grateful that she came to help. At first, she started with the beef but, since one of my friend doesn't eat beef, we asked her (with hand sign) to cook the pork first. She might have gotten annoyed with us a bit for being picky. She switched to pork neck. It did look a bit simple with only salt and pepper for seasoning but, the meat was very tasty and great texture (not too chewy and not too soft).
Then, she proceeded to cook the garlic and onion. At first, we thought that we were to eat the onion as it was but, that wasn't what she meant to do. She cooked the sliced pork which was already mixed with the sauce then, sort of stir fried it together with the onion. We all ohhhhh...now we saw how it should have been done. After that, she left us to cooked the sliced beef by ourselves which was fine with us. Another different thing that we saw was that this restaurant offered different kind of dipping sauce for different type of meat. We ordered 3 kinds and we got 3 sauces. Honestly, by the end, we didn't really follow the waiter's instruction for the sauce. We just dipped what ever we preferred.
While the meats were cooked, our Kimchi Jigae came along with rice. I must say that that was the strangest looking Kimchi Jigae I have ever seen. Usually, it's a rather brothy soup in a hot earthen pot. Here, it looked more like a thick vegetable stew and it was served in a worn out dent metal bowl. The vegetable and meat were cut up into small pieces. Well, from the taste, it was Kimchi Jigae alright but, a very concentrate one. It really looked like a home cook meal, like a left over from yesterday meal. Despite all the weirdness, it tasted great. We did some spying on our neighbor and it seemed that they put it into the rice bowl and mix it up. So, follow the local example, we did the same and oh wow...it did taste even better. I still think about this restaurant Kimchi Jigae because I don't think that I can find this home cook taste anywhere in Bangkok. Because the rain hasn't done with Seoul, we spent the rest of the night getting lost in Dongdaemun's Migilore building. I think we were there till 1:30am (the place around there open till 4am or 5am).
The next morning, we headed back to Hongdae (the area around Hongik University) for lunch. Our target was Yeolbong, a chicken stew restaurant owned by KPOP singer, Se7en. Not only we wanted to go there for the stew chicken but, we also hopelessly hope that Se7en or, even better, Big Bang might come. To get there, we got off at Hongik University station, exit 9. From there, we walked straight for a block then, turn left. We walked up that street till we saw Tony Molly shop, make a right and continue on and once we passed Etude shop at an intersection, we were getting close. The restaurant was a short walk from there. We just needed to keep looking at the left side because the restaurant is quite small.
We had a little hard timing finding the restaurant because we got confused at the direction we searched from the internet. We again had to rely on the help of cosmetic store staff. I think we went to Etude as well as Tony Molly store to finally find the restaurant. We went up a flight of stair, passed an image of Se7en and we thought, 'wait for me Se7en, we'd come back for your photo' but, right now we had to take care of our hunger. Because of its famous owner, this small restaurant was quite full. We even ran into a Thai tour group. We should have ask the Thai guide for help as there is no English in the menu. We kind of know about this but, still we were surprised because Se7en seems to be able to speak English pretty well, why doesn't his menu contain any English. To make matter worse, the waitress couldn't understand English at all. So, it came down to hand signal, just point at what we want and the number of order. This restaurant also has limited menu; there is the stew chicken with a few side order like rice with tofu and seaweed and rice ball. Well, we ordered them all. For the chicken stew, we had to select the spicy level and since we are Thai and we are proud of our tolerance to hotness, we ordered level two. After quite a long time waiting, our chicken arrived. Ohhh it was huge and we did order a small plate for two. It would have fed 4 people.
Apart from chicken, the stew also had potato, some kind of glass noodle which had very nice chewy texture and lots and lots of chilli. It was really good and tasty. It was kind of spicy but, it was pepper hot rather than chilli hot. After sometimes, we started to get running nose from the heat and our rice hasn't come yet. We had to chase to it. The rice with tofu and seaweed came first.
Other than tofu and seaweed, it also had shrimp roll. We all looked at it and tried to decide what to do with it but, a waitress came to us and with her gesture, we understood that we were to mix it up and eat with the stew. I'm not sure what else she put in the rice but, it tasted very good. We once again had to chase for our rice ball which turned out to be very similar to the rice we had but, already mixed and in ball shape.
This one tasted good as well. I can't make up my mind which one I like better. The rice ball did have smoother and stickier texture because the waitress already squashed for us. I would definitely go back there again. Well, I might focus too much on food. while waiting for our food, looking around, the restaurant kind of gives a cozy feeling. The lighting wasn't very bright and it kind of feel like having a picnic in a garden. Unfortunately, the tree inside wasn't real. What's more chilli doesn't grow on a big tree, do they???
From our table, we could see that there is a private room with glass door to the left. At first, we didn't really pay attention but, after a bit of looking, we could see that this room has picture of Se7en and our boys, Big Bang, or at least half of the band. For me, it was enough, even better, there was G-Dragon too. It would be very nice to have a meal in this room. As it was too late now, we could only take a picture. There was actually a group of people having lunch right under the picture but, shamelessly, we still took picture with the boys image.
After paid the bill, on the way out, we didn't miss taking picture with Se7en's picture. This is the same spot that Se7en took with Big Bang. Just wish they were here.
After completed the shopping in record time, one of my friend, wanted to go and check out other area. So, we headed back to the subway. On the way, we passed a row of tent with small food vendor. As it was one of our intention on this trip to have tent food, though we weren't hungry yet, we thought that it was time. We just picked one of the tents that already had customers since we didn't know which one was good.
Inside, it was a typical street food tent with 3-4 items for sale. There was the inners on the far left, fried food with spicy sauce, tteokbokki and some kind of soup & bean curd.
For us, there was only tteokbokki, the rice cake in spicy sauce. It wasn't much, to really think about it but, it was very fulfilling both physically and mentally. To eat this dish in a tent in the middle of winter weather was even better. Somehow it just doesn't feel right to eat tteokbokki in a proper restaurant. Korean restaurants in Bangkok do offer this dish but, we never ordered it.
While waiting for our train, my sharp eyes friend spotted billboard and banner with Big Bang on. As their fans, we couldn't pass this opportunity. At first, we just took the picture of the billboard but, that wasn't enough. We were a little self-conscious but then, we thought that these people (the passengers) around us, they didn't know us. So, why bother. We each took turn standing in front of the billboard to take picture with the boys image.
The area that my friend would like to go is called Apgujeong. I have never been to that area before and honestly, have never thought of it. My friend has heard that this area has many vintage shop (something I have never thought about, really!!). But, one thing that we didn't prepare for was that Apgujeong is like a cosmetic plastic center. When we got off the train, we looked for the map and saw quite a few plastic surgery clinic around the station but, we didn't think about it much. Not until we were walking around inside the station and we found an entire wall of plastic surgery billboard. While other stations have fashion, shopping or business advertisement, Apgujeong has pictures of people who have been transformed by plastic surgery. It just made me think what about people who were walking all around us, were they real?
We didn't spend a lot of time in Apgujeong but, we did waste quite a bit of time looking for the vintage stores. At the end, we only visited a few of them. After not so successful trip, we decided to head back to our familiar turf, Myeong-dong. It was very lively that night with street vendors lining the street. We could pretty much got almost everything from street food to goods. I got a sun glasses and a new hat (which should got 3 nights ago because it's so warm).
Here are a few skin care and cosmetic shops that are very popular among tourists in Myeong-dong.
Yesterday, we also passed this shop, FUBU. We should have stopped and took a picture with TOP then and there but, we were preoccupied with finding a place to eat. Didn't want to admit but, we did put our stomach over our boys. Well, we thought that we would be coming back but then, it was raining... That's my excuse.
For tonight, we went searching for Dak Galbi (stir fried meat with spicy sauce & fried rice in a huge pan). My friend and I have been to this restaurant before and we would like to repeat the experience. The restaurant is called Yoogane (http://www.yoogane.co.kr/). It's a very colorful place. Entering the restaurant and we were hit with spicy smell...mouth-watering.
We ordered marinated chicken galbi with additional order of rice and cheese! Last time I was here, we ordered fried rice which turned out to have very minimal meat. We were not going to make the mistake again. Once our order arrived, the staff brought out a ... how should I call it; pan cover, rim, edge...no idea. It looked like a giant cake mold. I think its purpose is to prevent a splash. The staff was cooking for us. He started with meat and vegetable. After they were all cooked, he set it aside and cooked rice. When this too were done, he mixed them all together and added cheese.
The next morning, our last day, we checked out and went to Lotte department store. We didn't have much time to look around of food, we decided to had lunch in the basement of Lotte. We went there the other day and saw quite a few small restaurants. Among all the restaurant, we chose Bowl which is Korean restaurant, more classy Koran food than what we have been having. We had kimchi pizza, bibimbap and bean curd soup.
I would say that, though it looked grand,the taste wasn't as strong as others we had and wasn't as strong as what we like. Personally, it tasted similar to what we had in some Korean restaurant in Bangkok. After lunch, we did our last minute shopping. Once that was all taken care off and we were ahead of our intended schedule, we thought that we could have an afternoon tea break. We didn't go far but, the underground of Lotte, again. We stopped at Mochi Cream Cafe.
What did we have??? Mochi, of course. This cafe offers mochi in many different flavors with cream filling. My friends and I only had matcha (green tea) mochi because it seemed to be the most practical choice. There are also, strawberry, coffee, chocolate and many others but, they didn't sound to authentic. It did taste good but, it wasn't as soft and chewy like Japanese mochi that I had before.
Apart from mochi, we also ordered some kind of matcha cake with an interesting look. It looked as if they baked it in a flower pot. Naturally, we had to try. Well, it wasn't as good as we expected. The cake, though was soft, it wasn't so moist even with that wet center. The mochi was much better.
From ahead of the schedule, after we had a break, we were now behind schedule. So, we were looking for a quick way to get to the street and call a taxi. We finally found an exit next to the Lotte hotel. But, it wasn't like other exit, it didn't really open to the street side but, an enclose area with posters and banners. We ran pass a column with hand prints on and I thought that it looked familiar. When we realized that it wasn't the right way out, we double backed. That was when I stopped my friends and had a look. One side of the column had the hand prints of Big Bang on!! Then, we all realized that we were in Star Avenue. I have heard about it but, didn't bother to look for it because I thought that it only located in Lotte World and not Lotte department store. Our thought of catching a taxi suddenly went away. We were busily taking picture.
Come to think about it again, I should have put my hand there too....right next to G-Dragon's hehehehe.
There weren't many other things to see other than the hand print and poster, some of them, we just saw on the internet. Nonetheless, it was a great way to end our trip.
After we got our heads back, we resumed our race to get back to hotel. We didn't much time now. We finally grabbed a taxi and headed back. The traffic was getting congested. By the the time we got to our hotel, we already missed our first choice bus. We wanted to get on 3:10pm bus which would have given us plenty of time at the airport. Unfortunately, it was pulling off when we reach the hotel. Five minutes earlier and we could have gotten on. No worries about packing, we could still do it at the airport (I have done it before). Our next choice was to get on 3:40pm bus (the airport limousine bus run about every 30 mins interval). Another 30 mins and we thought that we had plenty of time to pack. However, when we had to squeeze lots of stuff into an already loaded luggage, it just took more time than what we anticipated. Before long, it was time to line up at the stop. A few people already arrived and that put even more pressure on us. Anyway, at the end, we did manage to get on the bus we wanted which should still gave us just enough time at the airport. However, it was in the late afternoon and the traffic was really bad....felt like being in Bangkok. We arrived at the airport, I would say, just over an hour before taking off. It was hectic, waiting on line to check in, immigration and my friend needed to do the VAT refund. We were exhausted when we got to the gate, not to mention getting hungry from all the rushing. Lucky us, we bought some rice balls and sweet and sour chicken from Lotte supermarket because some of us (including me) couldn't wait for the meal to be served and on fight meal wasn't so good either. I think, despite all the rushing, we did have a great time till the end. We had a few glasses of red wine over the meal to celebrate our successful trip (which could contribute to our happy mood). We were giggling and laughing throughout the meal time. I think people around us must have thought that these three girls were drunk. Don't worry, we were than loud and we definitely weren't drunk, that was for sure. We were just so happy that we got to see our Big Bang boys and we got to do and eat many things that we liked. The only sad thought was that we had to leave. Anyway, we'll be back for sure, maybe for a normal trip, maybe for YG Family Concert...if not, then, we'll definitely be back for Big Show next year.