Monday, 6 May 2013

Saranghae South Korea!!!

Caution: this is a very LONG post... If u like, u can just skip it and scroll down straight to the pics ;)

That's our "secret" destination trip that we've been talking about...12-16th April.

So this will be our 2nd time to Seoul! First time was back in 2006 when my bro Jason got married to his Korean wife nam Eugene... And it was karthik's (mr. Hubby) first time meeting the Chaws family... Let me tell u, he will never ever forget his meeting experience! Lets just say that we all went to the sauna... And mr. Hubby got really "up close and personal" with the men of the family!!! And plus he was the only Indian guy in there!!! *STARES* So he was in n out in a jiffy...
This time we didnt go anywhere near a sauna!!! LOL!!! It's one of Koreans fav past time over the weekends as u can spend the whole day there just relaxing and getting all hot, steamy and sweaty!!!

Thank God we covered all the touristy stuff the previous time (pre baby Si times) coz this time the "spring" weather was not so springy! Still too cold especially for us for long periods of time being outdoors...what more for baby Si!!! It's her first time ever experiencing cold! And we were told by friends that the day before we arrived it SNOWED!!!

Last time we covered:
COEX mall
Kimchi museum
Folk museum
Dongdaemun (shopping)
Namdaemun Market (shopping)
Myeongdong (shopping)
Han river
Lotte world
Yeouido Full Gospel church (largest church in the world)
Cheonggyecheon (Formerly polluted and covered with an elevated road since 2005 this stream has been cleaned up and made into an Art and nature walkway through the heart of Seoul. Nice to go at night)
Seoul tower

From our first trip, we thought that everything in Korea is super expensive and the place looks super ultra moDern! But this 2nd trip proved us wrong...

This trip we stayed in Hoegi which is in the city centre near shopping areas such as Namdaemun Market,Myeongdong and Dongdaemun. We decided to stay in a service apartment instead since there's a stove and microwave which we thought could be used to heat/cook baby Si's food! But thank God she liked Korean food ;) and which mummy wants to be cooking on her vacation??? Plus baby Si passed the porridge and puréed stage a few months ago! Much easier now! But daddy did utilize the microwave which he used to warm up his "tapao-ed" takeaway Taco Bell which he so desperately went looking all the way to Itaewon (ex patriate/US military/Ang moh area).

Ok back to Hoegi...we love love love this place coz everything we need is right at our doorstep. theres plenty of good and cheap restaurants, 24 hr mart, coffee shop on the main road and more on the side alley. If you are coffee lover like me, please only go to Paris Baguette bakery... Their bakery items are yummylicious too...

There's plenty of korean grill restaurant which is our fav! We ate there for dinner every night... Daddy ate his takeaway taco bell for dinner, so he had his supper n shared with me! 300g of galbi beef for 10,000 won (10usd)... Can u beat that??? Enuff to feed all 3 of us... Then as soon as we step out, there's our dessert waiting for us on the street! Fried dough wt cinnamon caramel for me and Dong Bang peanut waffle for mr. Hubby (do see pics of mr. Hubby wearing the mascot).
These people from the korean grilll restaurant n dessert kiosks remembered us from our nightly visit... One lady so graciously gave me the last fried dough for free since they were closing :)
Oh did I tell u, Koreans are soooooo fond of babies??? Everywhere we go, people especially Korean "Ajumma" will stop dead in their tracks to play with baby Si!!! Some even made a u-turn...
My hubby finds it amusing... We could have charge a dollar for every pat/pinch/smiles... I told mr. Hubby that maybe baby Si is their first mix CHINDIAN baby they have seen in real life...

Shopping at Dongdaemun, Namdaemun Market and Myeongdong:
Doota Mall and Migliore mall is closed on a we headed next doors to hello APM and good morning city mall. It is basically just like platinum mall in Bangkok. But not much bargaining can be done and the opening prices are quite high. But they do have things on sale which are quite reasonably priced. Unless if u buy a few pieces at once, then we got more negotiating power. Mr. Hubby got some really nice long sleeves shirts...I call them k-pop shirts! Very fashionable... Koreans are famous for being very fashion forward people.. Some of the men's suits are nice too! Very innovative styles... But too bad Singapore weather is too hot to handle!
Bought some a dress, a skirt, tops and a light jacket for myself. Didn't get anything for baby Si as it was mostly thick clothing and quite expensive.

Don't forget the foodcourt level b1 at lotte departmental store! Lots of snacks n food. Got our krispy kreme fix there too...We bought seaweed there at the supermarket. We also got seaweed for baby Si as well since the lady recommended the most famous brand for seaweed especially for babies!!! Didnt get any kimchi as too heavy! One tip for men, u don't have to limit your wife's credit card spending, just limit ur check in luggage weight when booking on airasia! Shopaholic problem solved!!!

Itaewon for Taco Bell:
As mentioned above, this is an expat place! When we got out of the subway station...I felt that I was in New York City! Multiracial people everywhere... And lots of deli, hot dog, kebabs places, bakeries, etc... Graffitis everywhere... Must be the most ghetto place in Seoul! But a nice change from the usual...

Shopping at duty free at incheon airport:
Laneige ~ bought my first "atas" cosmetic!
Was advised by mummies in a mummy forum (Mummies Connect) that Laneige is a must buy from Korea since its a Korean brand - cheap and good!
Actually didn't know what to get in particular, so asked the sales lady for the top seller and she said its the Laneige water sleeping pack_ex. Will try out soon ;)

Places we did not have time to cover:
Insadong (place to get Korean souvenir)
Seoul children's Grand park (too cold as it is outdoor)
Seoul city bus tour (too troublesome with a stroller plus we already did most of the sightseeing)
Pororo park (wanted to go as it is age appropriate for baby Si but didn't have enough time...wished we stayed longer...maybe next time mr. Hubby??? Anything for ur dear lil' princess right...)
Everland theme park (located outside of Seoul...too far n not suitable for baby Si)
Busan (2nd largest city in s. Korea)
COOKING Nanta show!!! ~ according to karthik's MBA friends who we were with us, they recommended going to watch this show...basically a comedy show using cooking utensils to make music! Would have love to go but apparently a bit too loud for baby si's liking! Perhaps when the kiddos r a bit older?

Mummy tips:
~ make sure to book a bassinet before hand when taking airasia. Our flight was full and all the bassinets were taken up. Btw, it cost RM 110 each way for a bassinet. (Oh how I miss full service airlines). But the food was si and mummy enjoyed nasi lemak and daddy had indian vegetarian briyani going n coming back. Luckily we pre booked our meals online (30% cheaper) coz they ran out of hot meals for purchase on board! Baby Si did unexpectedly well on the 6.5hrs flight... She just sat in the empty seat between us the entire time (ate, slept, played, the safety card did keep her occupied for a very very long time, entertained the passengers behind us)
~If taking the subway, some places do not have escalator or a lift... So make sure to bring ur macho man to carry the stroller and shopping bags :p and u carry the baby!
~most, or I would say all, restaurants do not have a baby chair except in lotte departmental store level B1 food court.
~most restaurants are not smoke free. We chose a restaurant which is small and cosy so won't have many people smoking. A couple was kind enough to smoke outside (left their jackets are food inside) when they saw baby Si... This is how Koreans, drink beer, smoke, continue eating n beer n smoke...etc...
~only big departmental stores have baby changing table n nursing rooms. A few subway stations have it also...
~baby Si had no problems with food coz there's this wonderful thing called "Samgak gimbap" which is a Triangle shaped sushi (there are many kinds- we got the ones with no raw meat in it). U can get it practically anywhere...(7eleven, mini mart,etc). No heating required... Just tear the wrapper and ready to eat! Oh did I mentioned that baby Si loves Korean strawberries as well... Mummy bought 2 pints of strawberries for 5000won (5usd) CHEAP!!! Thinking it was all for me...but ended up all for baby Si! Her first time having strawberries...

One of the highlights of our trip was attending a Korean wedding in Gangnam!
We attended Andrew and Sena's wedding (both are mr. Hubby's MBA friends who met at NTU!!!) And we went on their first double date together... I'm guessing we sprinkled some love dust on those lovebirds! *tee hee hee*
It was a very nice, elegant Tiffany style wedding held at the Ritz Carlton in Gangnam...
Not to forget the groom did PSY's gangnam style dance...right after their first dance! Very well practiced I would guessing the booze did helped a bit...
Here's wishing u two lovebirds a happy married life ahead!

Right after the wedding, we met up again with the rest of mr. hubby MBA troops for some coffee, dinner and drinks!!! Too bad we couldn't stay for supper as it had been a long day for baby Si and it was getting too smoky!

All in all the trip was a good one even though a short one...
We "Saranghae" it :)

Hmmm I wonder where baby Si's next trip will be... Anyone from the MBA troop getting married outside of Singapore? Hehehhe....
Oh yeah, Btw, the girl that caught the wedding bouquet is mr. hubby's MBA friend from Thailand and the guy that caught the men's wedding "bouquet" is from Columbia...
Thailand again or Columbia perhaps?

More pics can be found in mr. Hubby's Facebook at this link:

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