First Day in Seoul, South Korea
Upon entering the country, we got money out of the ATM. Although I’ve read about certain ATMs not charging a user fee, I couldn’t locate this mythical machine, and ended up paying 3,600 won (3.20 USD) for the privilege.
We headed to Door 11 and took an immediate left once we exited to purchase Airport Bus tickets to Anguk-dong (10,000 won (8.88 USD) per person). The lady on duty directed us to Stop 11B to wait for our Bus 6011. Our timing was good; we only had to wait 10 minutes for our bus’s arrival. When our bus arrived, the bus attendant loaded our bags onto the bus, giving us claim tickets in the process. The bus was perhaps a quarter full.
The bus trip didn’t seem to take very long as we passed rows upon rows of apartment buildings in the distance and farmland closer up. Most of the cars on the road were either Kia or Hyundai. For some reason, our bus driver drove passed our stop, so we disembarked at the next stop, which was fortunately only 5 minutes’ walk back to where we should have alighted.
The weather in Seoul was surprisingly mild and deliciously cool and night. Our AirBnB, which I’ll review later, has many windows allowing for a lovely cross-breeze.
As we hadn’t eaten since our second breakfast in flight, we decided to have an earlier dinner. We wandered over to Insadong and had Korean BBQ (or BBQ as the locals would call it) at Cha Iyagi. I had read a few good reviews online about this place and was keen to try it out. These reviews also said this place was hard to find, but we didn’t have any problems; just look for the spinning BBQ sign on Insadong 10-gil and you’re there!
There was one other table occupied, but the place was fairly busy by the time we left. The ladies running this restaurant were lovely and spoke enough English. There’s a choice of Western seating or traditional (floor) seating; we chose Western.
The menu is in both English and Korean. We had the Samyeopsal set (pork loin with side dishes). This included roughly 100 grams of pork per person plus 10 side dishes, including kim chi (of course), raw garlic, ssamjang sauce, artichokes, some sort of tasty greens, an Asian-style coleslaw, tofu, pickled turnips, a mystery vegetable in red sauce, a very spicy tofu and mushroom soup, rice and lettuce leaves for wrapping the meat in. Everything was so delicious and very filling. The pork was quickly self-cooked at our table.
Tom did the biggest no-no and blew his nose at the table! This is definitely not something that’s socially acceptable in this country. It’s ironic that the food is can be spicy enough to make your nose run, but nose blowing is not polite; you must stick to nose dabbing or sniffling.
How Spicy ratings:
kim chi – me 3/10, Tom 5/10;
soup – me 5/10, Tom 6/10.
Cost: 13,000 won (11.55 USD) per person
Next stop was Ssamzigil for a look-see. It has a lot of cute, little shops selling cute things.
We ended up at the Poop Cafe on the top floor for a post-dinner drink. I had a green tea latte and Tom has a hot chocolate. Price point: 6,500 won (5.77 USD) per drink.
On our way back to the AirBnB, we stopped at a GS25 convenience store for supplies. This included drinks, breakfast and T-money cards. For breakfast tomorrow, we’re having kimbap (triangle-shaped sushi rolls) and iced coffee.
T-money cards are used on the transit network. Instead of buying a ticket each trip, we now have tap-and-go convenience. We can also return the cards when we leave South Korea and get a refund (minus a small service fee).
So far, Seoul has been great. Everything has worked like clockwork (despite the mis-step with the bus drop off) and we’re really looking forward to spending the next few days exploring this city.