Springin' around Seoul 2014 Day 2: Palaces, Samcheongdong and Banpo Bridge

My original plan was to head to Gapyeong for Nami Island and Petit France on Sunday and then save the Seoul sight-seeing (palaces and more) for Monday. But thankfully, I realised that the palaces were not open on Mondays and switched my plans around.

We woke up pretty early and took a train down to Anguk station. Thanks to my previous blog entry, I was able to remember that I had to head out of Exit #3 (the cafe I blogged about is still there). My mother is a coffee person so we opted to go to Cafe Pascucci for coffee and breakfast. Though I try and steer away from coffee chains when I'm in Korea (because there are way too many independant cafes to try), but the coffee and food there turned out to be pretty good!

We then took a quick stroll to Changdeokgoong and explored the palace. For my mother it was quite an eye-opener as it was her first time in a palace. While I've been to Changdeokgoong before, it was always one of my favourite palaces, next to Deoksugoong, so I didn't mind the trip back there. It also helped that there were quite a few cherry blossom trees on the palace grounds, so there were many photo opportunities.

Once we were done, I stopped by a Hotteok stand outside the palace. I actually think this was the very same one my sister bought a Hotteok from previously. It was a cold day too, so Hotteok was a perfect midday snack, plus his Hotteoks weren't too oily.

We continued walking in the other direction of Exit #3 and walked towards Bukchon Hanok Village. There were so many tourists there, a far cry from the empty streets I saw the last time I paid a visit there. We had to be mindful to keep our voices down since these were actual houses. Grab a map at the Bukchon tourist centre before you head into the village area so you more or less know where you're going.

The map will also show you how to get to this grey flight of stairs which will bring you right into the heart of Samcheongdong.

We walked around Samcheongdong for a bit before we headed for the side nearer to Anguk station for some lunch. By then it was almost three and I was famished. It seemed like the restaurant's speciality was Bossam (보쌈) or steamed pork, so I ordered it, along with a serving of Seollangtang (설랑탕) or Oxtail Soup. What I failed to notice was that the restaurant required us to order a minimum of two servings for the Bossam, so we basically ended up with a meal fit for three. Thankfully we managed to finish most of the food, minus the rather bland Seollangtang.

It was back to Anguk and off to Insadong, a cultural street with all sorts of Korean souveniers. There wasn't anything to see in particular, but it was interesting to listen to all the aspiring musicians.

We also noticed that there were tonnes of people holding a weirdly-shaped ice cream cone, which I later found was made of corn. I got one for 3,000krw, but to be very honest, it tasted odd because it was corn meaning it was mildly salty. Plus the shape was just so awkward and inappropriate.

We took a straight train down to Apgujeong after that. Note to self: Apgujeong Rodeo has it's own station. The blur me was still stuck in my exchange-mode so I didn't realise Apgujeon Rodeo street had its own station (it opened in 2012, and my exchange was in 2010), so we spent 10 minutes walking from Apgujeong. Apgujeong Rodeo Street used to be one of my favourite hangouts for chilling, or for star-spotting because celebrities used to hang out there all the time. But I noticed the crowd kinda fizzled out there. Nonetheless, I grabbed some Sweet Potato Latte at Homestead and I was good to go. I also got a pair of laced flats there for 20,000krw. I don't remember the name of the shop, but it's the one on the ground floor of the Everysing building. It's a very small and narrow shop, but everytime I go there I would definitely find something I like.

I contemplated making a stop at Garosugil before we headed to Gangnam for dinner, but we were mad tired. I somehow had the idea that we could stop by a barbequed meat joint in Gangnam, but we ended up randomly walking into Jaws Ddeokbokki. You would have probably seen it around Seoul. It sells street food, but in a restaurant setting. It is also priced slightly more that street food, presumably because it's a lot more sanitary and in a different setting. But you still get your fried food, rice cakes and fish cakes served in a similar fashion.

The last itinerary for the day was Banpo Bridge to see the rainbow fountain. I've seen this in so many dramas and advertisements but I've never gotten to see it in person, so I decided by hook or by crook, I had to go there. This, despite the nail-biting cold. Getting there is pretty straightforward - stop at the Express Bus Terminal Station, go straight for 400m and cross the street at the crosswalk, then go straight through the underpass. Go for the second underpass. I don't know why but we ended up going through some improper underpass and it was incredibly dodgy. The lights come on at 8pm and 9pm in the evenings. For a detailed listing of timings, please refer to the KTO website.

I loved the display. You know, it's odd how Singapore has the light display at Marina Bay Sands and tonnes of people flock to it nightly, but I can't be bothered. Whereas for this, I was so mesmerized  The music must have helped! Haha. We stayed for the full show which was about 15 minutes. By then my fingers were seriously frozen cos' I had to expose my fingers while holding up my camera for photos/videos.

We walked back to Express Bus Terminal where I spotted this Ajusshi hawking some pretty nice footwear for 10,000krw/pair so I got myself three pairs of shoes. After all it was hardly S$12 a pair! I dropped my mother at home and then headed out to meet Carolyn (who was one of the bloggers who went on the KTO trip back in December 2010 with me). We settled at a HOF along the main Hongdae street called Madang Gipeunjib (마당 깊은집) which I remembered going to for pretty awesome fruit makkeoli and pancakes during my exchange days, and then we called it a night.

Caffe Pascucci (Anguk Branch) / 파스쿠히 (안국점) 
1 Bukchon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Nearest subway station: Anguk station (Exit #3)

Bukchon Gamasot Seollangtang / 북촌가마솥설렁탕
18-3 Anguk-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest subway station: Anguk station (Exit #1)

Homestead Coffee (Apgujeong Rodeo branch)
648-9 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea
Nearest subway station: Apgujeong Rodeo Station (Exit #6)

Jaws Ddeokbokki (Gangnam Branch) / 죠스 (강남점)
1308-10 Seocho-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea
Nearest subway station: Gangnam station (Exit #10)

Madang Gipeunjib /마당 깊은집
163-15 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
Nearest subway station: Hongdae station (Exit #9)

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