friends, korea, travel

Seoul 2013, Day 1 & 2 – Arrival and shopping at MyeongDong

Finally I embarked on my 2 week Korea and Japan trip!

My travel buddies for this trip were Adrienne, Alvin and Orson (Adrienne’s family friend).  Adrienne, Orson and I were scheduled to land 2 hours earlier than Alvin so we were waiting for him to join us at our airbnb hostel. To this day I still don’t understand why, but Alvin never went on the airport wifi so he was basically MIA for 3-4 hours making us very worried. Because we had no idea where he went and when he would arrive, Adrienne and I trekked out to explore and get food to bring back. Our attempt at ordering take out was one of the biggest communication fails I have ever been a part of. Firstly, no one understood us because they weren’t fluent in English, and probably because we weren’t pronouncing’take out’ in a Korean accent.  Secondly, most kitchens all closed by 9pm. We were so dejected and worried because it seemed like we underestimated the language barrier. However, throughout the trip we (read: Adrienne) tried to use more Korean, and we tried to speak English in a more Korean accent which definitely helped.

We started our second day in Korea quite early since most of us were a bit jet-lagged. Wanting to eat a “Korean” breakfast, but unsure what that really meant, we decided on sharing kimbap with a mindset that we would eat frequently but in small portions in hopes to try more things.

Our main activity of the day was shopping at Myeong Dong! It’s famous for its streets which are FULL of Korean cosmetics stores that are renown to give out lots of free samples.

MyeongDong literally had every single Korean cosmetic brand you could think of packed into one block. You could not walk past a couple of  stores without hitting another cosmetic store. Some of the more popular brands like The Face Shop, Skinfood, Tony Moly and Etude House had a store around every corner!  Stupidly, I forgot to add money into my wallet (I divided my money up equally into days to make sure I wouldn’t overspend and you know, in case I got robbed) and had nearly no money after my first purchase. Alvin became my wallet for the rest of the day – I must’ve looked like a major gold digger, haha.  I went on a huge beauty & makeup haul, and even bought some clothes at Forever21 and SPAO.

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After being dreadfully tired of lugging around all of our purchases and walking in the scorching heat, we decided to eat some cold noodles to cool ourselves down. I overestimated my own capabilities and ordered spicy cold noodles AND mixed in all of the hot sauce. Please see photo above to see how much hot sauce there was. It is by far the spiciest thing I have eaten in my life. Within my first bite, I instantly regretted ordering it and mixing in the sauce so carelessly. It tasted good, don’t get me wrong…but my tongue was literally on fire and it hurt : ‘(  Alvin enjoyed it though, maybe he’s a bit sadistic ?

We headed home late afternoon which seemed to be the perfect time to receive free samples because sales associates were offering samples even if you just walk in and “look” at the store. They were not this generous earlier in the day unfortunately. After resting up at home, we went to a local Korean Fried Chicken restaurant for dinner. And by local I mean right beside our building. Korean fried chicken is soo good, no fried chicken anywhere can compare to its crispy outside and tender inside. It also goes perfectly with beer – which is exactly how they market it, Chicken & Hof (which I guess means beer?).

We then journeyed to DongDaeMun which was supposed to have late-night shopping life. I always thought it was an outdoor night market kind of thing, but it was really a lot of malls that opened very late. After tirelessly looking through various malls that had a lot of cheap looking clothing which reminded me of Mong Kok, we finally came across Doota, a department tore with lots of fashionable local brand stores. However, we were all just so tired from the day’s activities that none of us had the energy to really look through the racks of clothing. We intended to come back later on in the trip, but didn’t in the end due to lack of time. With the amount of money I spent at MyeongDong, I couldn’t afford to shop any more anyway.

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