Sunday, December 15, 2013

Adventures in Seoul, Korea: Day 6

Our last full day of Korea was Day 6.. :( But I tried not to concentrate on that fact and focus on the wonderful planned out day we had before us! We started our day around 8 AM and after breakfast in our room, we headed to Insadong to do some window shopping and visit Beautiful Tea Garden (Address: 193-1 Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul) which my sister wanted to see for some reason.

Entering the Insadong area, we saw a long street with shops lined up on each side that continued almost endlessly and it just looked so nice and peaceful. There were lots of cultural shops including tea shops and shops filled with glass figurines and statues and of course, food shops~! They had these cute twisty crunchy and hollow tubes that they would fill with frozen yogurt and everyone was walking around with them so when we found the shop selling them, we had to get one to try! While it is basically just a normal vanilla frozen yogurt inside a cone (except that the cone is a long tube so you get more than usual), it's definitely a fun snack to eat and something to try out when in Insadong! There were also lots of other random food carts around the area that we passed by and tempted our tummies :(

One of the food stands we passed by. I'm not sure exactly what these were but they looked yummy!
After walking around for a bit (and picking up a modest amount of items ^__^), we came to Beautiful Tea Garden which turned out to be a quaint and peaceful tea cafe garden. Apparently my sister thought it was a tea museum, which I suppose it kind of was because they had an area with many different teas and flowers used to make the tea leaves, but they also had a dining area that had an open roof so the natural light spilled in, and it was just amazing! It was super pretty and relaxing and we enjoyed sitting down with a nice cup of freshly brewed tea. I forget the name of the tea (sigh) but it was super delicious and it was supposed to be good for your throat (which is why we ordered it because my mom's throat had been feeling a bit sickly) and it actually did help my mother's throat! Right after drinking the tea and the next day she said she felt much better! We took tons of pictures (I made mine my Facebook profile picture~! ;3) and felt super fancy sipping our tea ^__^

Yummy tea in cute fancy teapots plus complementary green tea rice cakes (the rice cakes didn't really taste like much but still a cute addition to our tea time ^__^)
After relaxing at Beautiful Tea Garden, we walked around Insadong casually taking in all the interesting sights and foods around. We walked around picking up small food goodies to bring back for our friends and family back home before it was lunch time. We also made sure to try out their little poop red bean snacks which were absolutely delicious despite their somewhat not so yummy appearance (see some pictures below!). I wish I could remember what the restaurant we ate at was called, but I forgot to take a picture or write it down /: It was located on the outer edge of the shopping streets with two other restaurants next to it. We had no idea if the food at the restaurant would be good or not, but there were so many people inside it, we decided it had to be at least decent... and it was that and more! We ordered  a hot plate dish that had freshly cooked beef bulgolgi and rice cakes which, as all restaurants in Korea do, came with side dishes and I must say, their potato fruit salad was deliciooouuus <3 The waiters were super nice and understanding of our lack of Korean speaking skills and if I could, I would totally recommend you guys all check the restaurant out. Unfortunately I can't, but I will say, stop by Insadong if you have time because it is a nice peaceful place in Seoul to visit (especially the Beautiful Tea Garden!).
Definitely a must try. They have these little shops all around Seoul so it's not like this is unique to Insadong, but you definitely need to pick some up if you come by a shop. The workers take a ball of honey or some sticky sweet mixture and mix it with some flour mixture and stretch it out so that it becomes a tiny ropes and they do this repeatedly until the one string of honey&flour becomes more than a 100 fine strings like web! Then they wrap some sort of filling - either peanut, chocolate, almonds, etc - and make a sort of chex-square shaped snack and package them. They're super yummy!
This lady mixed nuts or rice cracker puffs with some honey and other sweet spices together and bagged them right on the spot. We even got to sample a few before we got suckered in and bought a back of honey rice puffs. Absolutely yummy and even my mom liked it (who's not a big fan of sweet stuff so that's saying something!)

The poops~! They're only about $1 so I highly recommend picking one up if you can. I guess it is just a normal red bean pancake but it's yummy and warm and perfect for any occasion~!

Here's another food item I would highly recommend. It's not really about the taste for this, but more the presentation. If you can't tell, this is a little ice cream cart! They have them around Seoul too and they'll ask you if you want ice cream and if you say yes, you buy one and they'll give one to you ... after doing a few magic tricks with it and making it disappear! It's quite funny to watch and who can say no to ice cream right?

Our lunch meal~! Doesn't that look good? I loved how they had the rice cake rolls but they also had rice cake eggs (see those round rice balls?). Super yummy and more than enough for my sister, mom, and me!
After our lunch in Insadong, we moved onto the nearby traditional village of Bukchon Hanok Village which is a small community made of traditional Korean style houses and nearby Gyeonbokgung Palace and Samcheong-dong (if you're planning on visiting either of those two places). Because there are normal citizens who live in these houses, they ask you to be respectful and not too loud or rambunctious while walking around the village, but this wasn't too much of a problem because the whole area has just a nice quiet peaceful feel to it that you can't disturb without feeling guilty. The view from some areas of the village is also quite stunning as it looks down onto the rest of the neighboring area.

Once we finished walking around the village, we decided to move onto our next location - Apuejong~!!!! Now of course my sister and I had been looking quite forward to this day to go here and can you guess why? Well if you don't know already, SM Entertainment, JYP, and Cube have their main headquarters all located here! (Why YG doesn't also have a building in this area I have no idea why but it pains me because we didn't have time to go visit it Q.Q) We found directions online and I'll link it somewhere later (I actually can't find it for some reason but er.. if you google SM, JYP, CUBE directions you should be able to find something helpful! >__<;)  because they were actually really accurate and helpful in directing us to the buildings. The only one thing I'd say is that if you're walking down the street that JYP is supposed to be on, don't bother looking down every cross street because it's literally going to be right on the side of the street and you CAN'T miss it LOL. Plus, Cube is like right next to it so you really can't miss either of them. Unfortunately we didn't see any Kpop stars but it was nice just being able to ooggle (yes I made up that word) at their giant beautiful faces plastered on the walls *__* Now I'm not sure if it's done yet but I know when we went to visit SM's building, it was actually under construction but hopefully the next time I visit Korea, it'll look amazing and beautiful and I'll get to see Kyuhyun~! ^__^;

Once we found all 3 entertainment buildings, we decided to stop by the Grill 5 Taco owned by Super Junior's Donghae. He had actually very recently opened it up and yea okay, maybe we were hoping to see one of his friends stopping by to support his business (unfortunately that didn't happen =3= ) but the food was still yummilicious. We weren't too hungry since lunch had kept us quite full, but we ordered some Seoul Fries and they were very good! I was a bit disappointed that the building wasn't decorated with Super Junior signatures or posters and what not, but it still felt good to go and support him as a fellow ELF :)

How it looks on the outside - hopefully this will help you if you're having trouble finding it :P
Our celebratory photo of victory - we found it~!
Our yummy fries! It does look like quite a mess, and it kind of is.. but it's worth it!
After our "taco pit stop", we had a bit of extra time to kill (it was about 3:30 PM), so we decided to go to the Coex Aquarium. We arrived at the aquarium just a bit after 4 so the admission price was a bit discounted and because we had our passports, we also got an extra discount! (So make sure you bring your passport if you want a tourist discounttt ^__^) I'm glad we decided to make this spur of the moment trip because the aquarium was definitely amazing and tons of fun. It's totally different from any other aquarium I've ever visited and much cooler! They keep the fish in cute and unique tanks and there was even an alligator!! (See an awesome close picture of it below :3). The aquarium is also incredibly kid friendly and there's an area where you can touch the starfish and coral :)

So this ends day 6! I don't think I'll be writing a post for day 7 because it was our last day so we didn't do much and had to leave for the airport quite early /: I hope you enjoyed my Adventures in Seoul series and I hope my random ramblings will help you in some way if you ever visit Seoul or wish to! I'm so lucky to have been able to travel there last summer with my family and hope to return back someday! Until then, I will be revisiting my photos often as a way to keep the memories fresh in my mind! I hope you all have a lovely day and thank you so much for reading :) Feel free to leave a comment below and tell me what you thought was most interesting!

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