Monday, July 14, 2014

Ivy's Travel: Korea Trip Part 2

Day 4 (Gyeongbokgung Palace, Tosokchon, Insadong)

One of my goals for the Korea trip is to taste as much as possible of their Coffee shops. Not so much on the coffee of course, but more to satisfy my curiosity. Do you know that Korea is one of the country with largest coffee shop chains in Asia? In our entire trip, there are countless of Cafe Bene, Angel in US, Coffine Gurunaru, Toms, Tous Le Jours, and many many more all over the streets. Starbucks? Almost unseen! Yes, it's not a secret that Korea and Japan are two countries who is very much proud of their own local brand. Out of the topic, we almost didn't spot any other car brands at the streets except for KIA and Hyundai.

Cafe Bene

Anyway, there is one Cafe Bene not far from Hotel Aropa, so we stopped by for a quick morning breakfast. The cafe is so pretty. Lovin' their wooden vintage interior berry berry much. In fact, all the coffee chains are nicely designed, even the small petite ones. 

The breakfast menu is limited. I went for the Caramel cinnamon toast (6000 won = 66k rupiah), and hubs went for Tomato & cheese bread (4200 won = 46k rupiah). The service is pretty much the same with Starbucks, self service. The toast, as soon as I throw away the unnecessary whipped cream, tasted great. The bread was fluffy and match the caramel sauce. It's just a bit not suited for breakfast. Not a fan of the tomato & cheese bread, instead of savory like we thought it would be, it was sweet. 

During our next visit to Cafe Bene, we also had the famous Korean dessert, Patbingsu (8900 won = 98k rupiah)

A pretty Starbucks somewhere in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace 

We are not really the type of person who attracted to historical places. Most of the times we travel to a new country, we only care for its food, shopping and entertainment places. But Korea is so famous for its palace. They have four popular palaces, we only went to the most popular one, Gyeongbokgung Palace. The ticket entrance is 3000 won (33k rupiah) per person. The place is huge!! Not so much to see besides the palace, if you are into this kind of thing, you should wait for the Change of Guard ceremony, will be held three times a day, 10 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. Aside from that, here visitors get to experience wearing Hanbok (traditional Korean uniform). These two are the famous attractions in this place and if you go by tour, the travel agent will most likely include this on the itinerary. It's totally free and included on the entrance ticket.

Before you leave, must take picture with one of the guard in traditional Korea uniform. Just like the guard in London, they tend to only stand still and will not blink. Well, at least the entire time I stared and took pictures, he didn't blink. We are lucky to come during autumn where the weather is just perfect, not too cold just a bit chill. My kind of weather. I hate traveling on winter, besides that I can't stand cold weather, I hate the fact that the luggage is full with winter heavy clothes.

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (closed at 5pm on Nov - Feb winter season). CLOSED every Tuesday.
Directions: Gyeongbokgung palace station (line 3) exit 5.

Tosokchon - The most famous Samgyetang in Seoul

Okay, if there's one thing I hate the most during our trip, this is it, this is the one. Tosokchon is arguably one of the most popular restaurant in Seoul. I have read almost every blogger who went to Seoul would recommend the place. Specializing in Samgyetang (Korean soup primarily consist whole steamed chicken cooked with Korean ginseng).

The place opens at 11am, and we reached there before twelve. Good timing as after we finished our lunch, the queuing outside was massively long. Though they located in the same area nearby to Gyeongbokgung palace, we spent around 30 minutes just to find them. The locals mostly aren't too fluent in english, so even with so many police outside the palace, none could really point us the directions. I'm sorry that I won't be able to put directions to here, as it's a miracle that we finally found them, though after we eat, every part of me so wish that we didn't find the place.

The place is a Hanok turn into restaurant. They still keep the inside as original as it is with several rooms separated inside. As soon as we were seated, they served us two big jars of complimentary kimchi and raddish. The kimchi was delicious. So happy that I could eat lot lots of kimchi in the origin country itself. They almost has none to offer on the menu besides the samgyetang, seeing how it is their specialty.

Our mistake was, we were starving since we only have breads for breakfast, and we were tired from getting lost, so without thinking we order two portions of chicken stew right away. Chicken stew with ginseng (15,000 won = 165k rupiah) and Black chicken stew with ginseng (22,000 won = 242k rupiah). We also order their Pajeon, savory pancake with spring onions and seafood (15,000 won = 165k rupiah). The portion of their chicken stew could easily shared for two.

The taste? Sigh... Not good at all. Until this very day, hubs and I still use this story to mock each other. Starving, tired of getting lost walk here and there for 30 mins and end up to pay almost 600k for meal which we didn't even bother to finish. Don't get me wrong, yes, the chicken was super tender, but the herbs soup were too strong for our liking. The rice stuffed inside the chicken was mushy and tasteless. If you do like these kinds of soup, at least, order one first, don't get too excited with the crowds and order too much.

Am not sure why the place could be so popular, or perhaps something wrong with our taste buds. The pajeon was good though, plenty of seafood. After trying this and Wangbijib, who also fully recommended but tasted standard for us, we came to decision to just eat where ever we feel like. After all, it's the beauty of travel right? To taste the unknown.

Opening hours: Daily 10am - 10pm

Insadong - The only Starbucks in Korean language all over Seoul

Insadong is a district in Seoul famous mainly for its tea shops, traditional rice cakes, antique and modern galleries. The district is well known as a traditional street that represents the culture of the past and present to both locals and tourists. The area is well known for sightseeing, mostly will find a lots of antique shops which sells porcelain and sculptures. There's a popular mall in here, Ssamzigil who inside, sells a lot of unique creative things. Some even only to be found at Ssamzigil. Don't expect to see clothes, shoes or bags at Insadong. In here, mostly you can find lots of unique and antiques for your home, not your body.

Expect to see the only Starbucks in Korean language all over Seoul here in Insadong. Also, if you have time, do visit the famous tea house, O' Sulloc tea house. They have a branch in Myeongdong too, but the one in Insadong is their first. The place specialize in green tea from Jeju.

Directions: Anguk station (line 3) exit 6, go straight 100m then turn left, you would see Miss Lee Cafe at the entrance of Insadong street. 

Continue to Ivy's Travel: Korea trip part 3


irene said...

Shame about the samgyetang! It does look good though. Keep the Korea trip posts coming, Ivy! Loving them :)

Ivy said...

Thank youuu for reading Irene! I really do hope I could meet you one day! Hopefully in Sydney instead of in Jakarta. Haha!

qimiqimimoo said...

I plan to visit Korea this year.
Your review helps me a lot!
I quote your words
"After all, it's the beauty of travel right? To taste the unknown."

Ivy said...

Thank you. :) have fun in korea!