Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Seoul Day 1, South Korea

We arrived in Seoul at just after 7am with a long looking day ahead of us that we needed to power through in an attempt to jump straight onto South Korean time. We took one of the airport limousine buses from the airport to our hotel which turned out to be a really efficient way to get into the city, the bus virtually dropped us at our hotel door and was almost as luxurious as the business class seats on the plane! Although sadly there was no complimentary glass of bubbles....

We arrived at the TMark Hotel in Myeongdong both hoping that we'd be able to check straight into our room, but unsurprisingly, that wasn't possible at 9am so we left our bags and after a quick freshen up headed out for the day.
We set out in the direction of the main train station, walking through the fashionable Myeongdong district, which seems to be the shopping hub of the city with lots of modern and funky buildings. The area had a very international vibe, but the vast majority of brands were Korean.

Leaving Myeongdong behind we made our way over to Seoul station to pick up our tickets for the train journey down to Busan we'd be making in a couple of days time. We'd made two attempts to book tickets from the UK and weren't sure if either of them had worked, but there was one set of tickets ready for us to collect. Hopefully we only get charged once to!

We seemed to get stuck in Seoul station for a good few hours. First we had a drink ( I decided to go local with a coffee in a can) and then we headed into the Lotte department store which was attached to the station. Everything in the department store was very expensive. We didn't go in any other clothes shops while in Korean so I'm not sure if this was normal pricing of Lotte is particularly high end.

Leaving the department store we spied the entrance to the supermarket so popped in there for a look round too. The shop was a bit reminiscent of a French hypermarche with lots of food and non-food items for sale, in addition to a couple of counters where you could sit down and have lunch. There were lots of free samples on offer at the end of various aisles. We tried a tea type drink that was very nice.

When I've visited a Thai supermarket the fruit and veg section has been full of unidentifiable ingredients, but I was surprised to see in Korea that I could name almost everything.

When we left the supermarket it was absolutely tipping it down so we dived back into the train station to have some lunch at one of the restaurants there. I had a bulgogi. It was perfectly nice, but nothing exceptional.
Once the rain had subsided we headed to the Seoul Museum of History. On the airport bus we'd noticed quite a lot of public art and we passed lots more on our way up to the museum. We later learned that companies are required to place some art outside of their buildings.

Most of the museum passed me by in a jet lagged haze as I could barely keep my eyes open at this stage of the day. I however do remember that the museums contained lots of models including the one in the photo above of Seoul city which was pretty cool.
Right next door to the palace is the Gyeonghuigung palace. Virtually empty of people we were able to wander round the palace more of less by ourselves. There are no rooms to go into or artifacts to see, but the building was pretty interesting to look round.

Leaving the palace we walked across the city back to our hotel briefly stopping at tourist information along the way. We had a shower in our hotel room and rested for a while, but before we both fell asleep we dragged ourselves out for dinner. Becks had found some good reviews of a local KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) place. We didn't manage to find the restaurant she'd read about and ended up in another KFC place instead.

Miraculously after being awake for close to 30hrs we managed to stay up just past 10pm.

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