Hehe, if you think 'timing' is everything, then I got to have the lousiest timing ever. Of all the thousand times I dreamt about breathing the same air and walking on the same ground as HRH in Baeland, this is definitely NOT one of those scenarios i.e. HRH is NOT even there! But being the optimistic me, I comfort myself that this is the perfect opportunity to see Korea ‘free’ of any distraction of a possible gorgeous sighting. Otherwise, what else could I do? Kidnap HRH back to Seoul?? Yup, thought of that already, but golly, getting past those 52 bodyguards??? Are you kidding me? Even their necks are thicker than my thighs! Sigh!
I’ve got to confess I’m a bit hesitant to write a trip report, largely as bb said, "it’s a tiresome job". Eventhough there are tons of tourist guide books out there, still I prefer to read my Bae sisters’ trip journals. As our similarity in ‘interests’ and ‘tastes’ (hehe, u know what I mean) always leave me with a more personal impression, so I value their opinions more than any travel experts. But what more can I add when we already have such 'info & action packed' journals from our princess, camille and liezle? After all, we went to the same places, saw the same things and probably ate the same food. It’s not like I have earth shattering news, say ‘I spot HRH on the street of Seoul!’ Hahaha if I really say that, then you know I am having a case of 'desperation turned hallucination'. For this trip, instead of the popular Myeongdong, I have chosen to stay in the Gangnam area located on the south side of Han River, aka HRH's territory. Maybe you’ll like to see this different perspective of Seoul? Please be warned, this is long :) OK, let's go!
Bye bye Fujisan :) Do you see the snow-capped crater? The flight from Tokyo to Seoul took about 2 hours 45 minutes, against wind currents.
Incheon is voted as one of the 3 best airports in the world, together with Hong Kong International and Singapore Changi Airport. Hehe, notice that escalator behind these trees? Could it be the one that JunSang rode after finished reading his magazine in the cafe?
Outside the Passenger Arrival area, you can easily catch an airport limousine bus to any major hotels and city centers for just 14,000 won (~ US $15), really comfy and lots of leg room too :)
Since Seoul is to the east of Incheon, all airport buses enter the city from the west side on the highways along Hangang (Han River). That provided us with an overall idea of the city set up, and great view too.
I am sure you know (from all the Korean drama) that Seoul is divided into north and south by Hangang. Myeongdong, Namsan, all the famous ‘gungs’ (palaces) and museums are located on the historical north side, while the urban south is the prosperous shopping and business district. Hehe, remember the Trump World Tower that Hyun Bin lived in ‘My name is Kim Samsoon’?
We checked into Park Hyatt Seoul in Gangnam, a medium size hotel, opposite the gigantic Coex convention/shopping complex.
Why this hotel? Tada, the tropical rain shower!
and its bright & spacious feel
I tend to check out the guest reviews from other websites when I am hunting for a hotel. I know everyone’s expectation and requirements are different, so the hotel write-up and rating do not necessarily give the whole story. I guess I am scanning for any common complaints like space, noise, service, cleanliness etc. Overall, the staffs in Park Hyatt were extremely courteous and the sheets/towels felt fresh and clean. Hehe whether the ajumma simply sweeps the dust bunnies under the bed or not, I’ll never know. But as far as the service, comfort, proximity to shopping, restaurant and public transportation is concerned, I definitely recommend it. Will I return again? Hmmm …… probably, because it’s close to HRH ma!
OK, enough hotel review, we didn’t waste anytime as I read about Apgujeong being the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Seoul. I believe Chaerin’s boutique (in Winter Sonata) was around there too, right? Plus, I have this secret scheme of sneaking the nearby Gorilla into our dinner plan, hehe. We asked the hotel concierge to write those famous sightseeing destinations in Hangul on the back of our hotel card so we can hand those to the taxi driver. Hehe, no more finger pointing (literally) and lost in translation. So first stop, Galleria Shopping Mall as the starting point of Rodeo Drive :
And in the basement of this ‘fish scale’ building, we found this fabulous gourmet food court
Hehe, cleanliness came first
Then dig in! Our first meal in Seoul - the food was absolutely yummy and the cost so reasonable.
I proposed we should walk off those calories, where? Hehe, of course shopping on Rodeo Drive! I was sticking my head out front, left and right, eagerly searching for those ritzy boutiques with out-of-this-world designs worn by those beautiful Korean actresses in the drama.
Huh?! This is Rodeo Drive?
And this is the ritzy boutique?? (in Cantonese : gom doh duk?)
And this too???
Oh well, I quickly switched to my Plan B - let’s head to Gorilla! Actually, the roads in Gangnam look very much like those in Toronto, wide and easy to find. We followed the map leading to Dosan Park, before long, I saw the big Hermes store always mentioned in the 'directions to Gorilla' :
Yeah yeah, THAT building, THAT sign! This crazy woman was so ecstatic, I just dashed across the road without paying attention to all the oncoming traffic!
Yup, Gorilla is every bit like what all the sisters have shared, in pictures and in words :
Hubby liked to explore the history of Dosan Park a bit more (after all, we just ate a full meal!), but no, I was NOT going anywhere. I was gluing to my chair, not even the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ could lure me away from Yonsama’s palace.
It’s barely 5pm in this very warm afternoon, so the restaurant was quite empty. The staffs were very attentive and accommodating. I took a look at the menu but how could I swallow another bite? So they just kept pouring ice cold water for us.
Hehe, hubby turned around and asked me if it’s safe to drink un-bottled water in Korea. I teased him, “Hey, it’s served from Yonsama. Even if this water has higher lead content than the waste dump, drink up!” :)
Sorry I was too excited and totally forgot to take pictures of our entrees. Mine was spicy grilled pork with brown rice and my son had pasta with chicken in olive oil. He loved it so much that he gobbled the whole 'human' plate up in no time. In the next few days, he kept asking us to go back to Gorilla. I also thought for sure that we would be back to try out other dishes, but regrettably for the rest of the trip, we were simply too far to even make it back to the Apgujeong area. But, there’s always a next time, HRH and mini-HRH, k?
By now, we had a really long day as we were up since 4am in Tokyo. Even though I wanted to stay until dark for Gorilla to light up, but we decided to call it a day and returned to the hotel. The way to end our first day in Baeland ……. a relaxing dip in this dark infinity pool on the top floor overlooking the night sky of Seoul, simply romantic (hehe, for the 3 of us, I mean :)
Afterthought : Omigosh, I really am longwinded!