I’ve finally embarked on recounting my trip to South Korea earlier this month! My trip there was pretty eventful, starting by me lugging a big red luggage up on a bus one drizzly morning to catch a 7-hour flight across Asia.
The bus was where I met a family who were taking the same flight as I was. What a coincidence! In fact, it turned out that they lived just one bus stop away from me, and that the mum works in the same place as I do. We were both unable to grab a cab because of the weather. I must note that it was pretty amusing how the dad and I interpreted our take-off timing – he said that their flight was at 1pm, while I said that mine was 2pm when it was the same flight (1.50pm) all along. I tagged along with the family on the plane trip to South Korea, a first ever since I started traveling alone. It was refreshing.
We had a bit of time to explore the transit area of Terminal 2 in Changi Airport. I’ve always wanted to explore the hidden treasure trove of places in the transit areas, but have never checked in early enough to do so. This time, I got to the airport later than originally planned, but still managed to see the Enchanted Garden:
We headed to the boarding gate, but our flight was slightly delayed.
Picture with the family. Before meeting them, I had always thought that Itaewon was nothing beyond pubs making up the night scene, but apparently it is also home to a significant Muslim community; in fact, it is the only place in Seoul with a mosque.
We eventually arrived in South Korea, where I bid farewell to the family and said hello to Ottie. It was too late for the trains by then, so we had no choice but to take a cab to Seoul. It wound up costing close to ₩100, 000 (USD $100). I guess this extra cost could be factored in when I book cheap flights in the future. Anyway, my first meal in South Korea was at none other than a 24-hour Mcdonalds. Bulgogi burger was pretty interesting with its soft, tenderised meat patty:
Ottie and I decided that our first weekend in Seoul was going to be a relatively splurgey one, but I never expected him to get us a room at the Lotte Hotel in Myeongdong. It was such a fancy place! I felt bad because he refused to tell me how much it cost (but I found out after researching online anyway). My policy on lodgings when traveling is to always veer towards the cheap, since it really is just a place to park my luggage and sleep in for a few hours. In fact, my experience has generally been that mid-ranged places tend to feel less sterile and sport better facilities than expensive hotels. But I wasn’t about to begrudge the awesome decor of the Lotte Hotel our two nights there:
Our room had a very pretty oval mirror and a coat stand that I wished to bring home with me. I was also very enamored with the toilet bowl, which had the usual Korean bidet functions, but more importantly sported a heated seat. A heated seat! I was spoilt by it and thus disappointed by the lack thereof for the rest of my trip during the winter of Korea without heated toilet seats.
Anyway, here’s my favourite corner of the room:
I wanted to take photos of my cool flying-across-countries-to-meet-someone-important outfit, but the room was dimly-lit, and so I had to stand next to the floor lamp:
Rummaging through the drawers unearthed this text alongside the bible. I’ve never read The Sorrows of Young Werther, but Ottie was vastly amused by Lotte Hotel’s commission of such heavy reading.
Our last night at Lotte Hotel saw us dining at one of the restaurants in the main wing. Ottie and I chose to have dinner at Momoyama, a Japanese restaurant offering a great view from the 38th floor. The prices were also ‘great’, but what else would you expect from a 5-star hotel… we did intend for it to be a splurgey weekend after all. Anyway, Ottie and I were virtually the only customers there for the entirety of our meal (a small group left soon after we arrived). As a result, we were waited upon hand and foot by the staff. Frankly, it was pretty unnerving to spy them patiently standly behind us through the reflection of the window.
I have to add that our meal had three changes of tea, totally unasked for. We had green tea, brown tea, and baby green tea, each to complement the changes in our meal. It was pretty thoughtful. A small part of me was lamenting the waste of tea with each change, but the drunk-on-sake me was delighted to compare tea to alcohol (just like how certain meats are paired with certain wines).
Ottie joked that our meal cost the same as our stay in the hotel, but I’m wondering if he was actually serious…
The last picture in this post was the first item I bought at the airport (with Ottie’s money, that is; apart from a very old ₩1,000 note from more than a decade ago (USD $1), I brought not a cent with me on this trip). This brand of salty prawn crackers are common in Singapore, but chocolate-coated ones are the first I’ve seen. It had a pretty interesting taste, sweet and salty, but not necessarily something I’d like to revisit often:
Lodging at Lotte Hotel has its perks if you’re willing to splurge, but apart from admiring the decor that comes with the higher spending power of a major player in the hotel industry, I realised that in the end I’m a no-frills kind of girl. Still, it was pretty damn nice to sleep on a bed that works exactly as advertised – Ottie and I took turns jumping onto the mattress and neither of us were jostled when we sat on the other side of the bed. XD
Outfit photos assisted by Ottie.