friends, korea, travel

Seoul 2013, Day 5 – Samcheong and Itaewon Freedom!

Samcheong was suggested to us from Adrienne’s friend Christine because it was an area that is famous for its Bukchon Hanok (Korean traditional houses). It is a bit of a tourist attraction within itself other than the hanoks because the area houses a lot of art galleries, and speciality art/antique stores. However, as this wasn’t exactly the kind of thing I was expecting, I was a bit underwhelmed by the area as a whole. The residential houses are very beautiful though. If only we were able to go inside to see it. I watched a K-drama a couple months ago called “Personal Taste” with Lee Min Ho (don’t judge me), and the hanok they had in the drama was really pretty. I think I like that sort of “inside” garden feel.  We intended to take some cool “outfit of the day” pictures along the walls of these hanoks as a joke, and made Alvin our photo director. Somehow it ended up being a picture of Adrienne holding or squishing a mini me..

Next we headed out to Itaewon!!!  Itaewon is the international or foreigner district of Seoul where many people are pretty fluent in English. It was a good thing we came here on our last day and not early on as we originally intended because then we would have been majorly spoiled with all the English. Adrienne and I were very very excited to go to Itaewon because of one of our favourite songs – Itaewon Freedom.    Please enjoy the music video  below : )

Throughout the trip we have been continuously saying the lines “Do you know Nam San Tower?” and “Where is Nam San Tower?” but we didn’t end up getting to use those phrases on strangers.  We were actually unsure how to get to the tower and I did  ask a black guy where it is though (close enough). Nam San (North Seoul) Tower wasn’t anything too special to me honestly, it  was much like any other skyscraper / tower. But it did have really cool ceiling TV screen inside the elevator which I think really helps with reducing the pressure on your ears. The video they played was also amusingly cheesy.  We did get to do an Itaewon Freedom pose in our group photo below though : D

I think Nam San Tower is more of a spot for couples either local or tourists more than anything. They have a lot of couple-ly things such as their famous trees made of locks – aka Locks of Love. I’m not too sure on what you’re supposed to do, but I assume you write the names of the 2 people and hope you stay together??? Inside they also have a Love Wishing Well where you purchase plastic coins (with a heart!) and toss it into the well from a given distance. And if your coin goes in the well, your love life is blessed!!! Mine was so close! I guess no love for me  : ‘(     There is also a Teddy Bear Museum inside which we didn’t pay to go into, but we found a PSY bear and took pictures with him.

After we headed back to the main streets of Itaewon and just walked around the area to explore. There was a lot of international restaurants varying from Asian cuisine to European cuisine, and of course even American styled coffee shops. If you haven’t noticed by now, coffee shops are really popular and somehow trendy in Korea. They are usually a multi-storey, floor length glass window building.  How they are able to support that sort of rent is beyond me. We stopped by a coffee shop for some dessert and beers, what more can I ask for in life? In this coffee shop in particular, they had a world map where you could put a pin to mark where you came from. We got pins to mark down Toronto and Hong Kong to represent : )  It’s pretty neat to see how many people from all across the globe have been to this one coffee shop.

We walked and explored some more and came across the most beautiful patio I have ever seen in my life. It’s an outdoor balcony sort of patio which is enclosed within trees. It gives a nature feel yet was designed in a way that it was still very classy. The food wasn’t even expensive too! Only about $20 CDN for entrees, so it was definitely worth it for the awesome ambience. We think in Toronto, this sort of restaurant would cost SO much more. Unfortunately it’s not a very big patio space so it was difficult to take pictures of the area without awkwardly also taking pictures of people dining there. The food was good too, my spaghetti was al dente!

One activity we wanted to do in Seoul was to visit a sauna and luckily for us there was a big one called Itaewon Land right in Itaewon! This wasn’t one that we originally intended to go to, but it was our last night and it was close by so we decided to give it a shot. What was particularly interesting about this sauna was that it had double barber poles outside. Which means it’s a place that offers SPECIAL massages in addition to regular sauna services, if you know what I mean.  The sauna itself was pretty big not only did they have several sauna rooms of varying temperatures, they even had a work out room, a sleeping oxygen room and separate floors for the mens’ and womens’ change room, baths and hot springs.  It is really too bad that the temperature outside is already so hot that we can’t fully enjoy the heat of the sauna or the hot springs. But we had lots of fun learning how to make the Korean style towel wrap which we always see celebrities on TV wear every time they go to the sauna. However, in real life, no one really seems to wear it in that style…or even use their towel on their head.

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