#Seoulid - part 1

12:00:00 AM

Although I’ve been traveling a lot for the past five years, I haven’t been out of the country since October 2009, when I flew to Bangkok, Thailand for a tourism industry conference. Local travel became my priority because of that trip: I met a lot of foreigners who have been to more places in the Philippines that I have, and not being able to share anything when they were talking about MY country was pretty embarrassing.
Ikiro represent!
I still wasn’t officially part of the company when Kristoff mentioned to me that he was bringing everyone to Seoul, South Korea for an incentive trip. He asked me if I wanted to tag along, and I remember saying no because I didn’t have money for it. Haha! But since I officially came on board a month before the trip, I got to join the rest of the kids for a weekend getaway of amazing street food and awesome shopping in biting cold weather. 

Commuting was confusing for us because of the language barrier, but it wasn't unpleasant at all. We flew in Friday morning PH time, and got there a bit after lunch, local time. After walking around a bit, we realized that we were in a completely different district. If that were in the Philippines, we'd all be soaking in our own sweat after a walk like that. But the weather made walking absolutely enjoyable.
Utility bike
Bussing around
Dama sa kanto
Our first meal was in a small restaurant somewhere in Seoul (we got lost, haha!), and it was delicious as it was affordable. I don’t eat kimchi here in the Philippines, but since I was in Korea, I decided to give it a try. It was still too spicy for me, but I gobbled the stuff anyway as it helped keep me warm. I had a variety of bibimbap that had beef, ferns, and veggies, which I finished to the last morsel.
Street view
That orange goo
Some sort of Bibimbap with fern veggies
Hotel Tong in Myeong Dong District was our home for the weekend. Its location was perfect - it was right at the center of everything! I loved that it was cute and cozy, too.
Center of everything
Roomies with Lea
We were two blocks away from Sungnyemun Gate - “The Gate of Exalted Ceremonies” - and of course the whole group went there for the mandatory photo ops! Haha! But I actually went there already on the first night, when I walked around with Jun to help him find a money changer. The vehicles made it a bit challenging to get a decent shot, but I somehow managed to get one. 
First attempt
Second attempt
After dropping off our things at the hotel, I started to feel a little hungry so I walked around in search for food. While I ended up just buying coffee from Paris Baguette, I managed to get to one of the palaces on foot: Deoksugung Palace, near Seoul City Hall. I didn’t go in anymore because it was already late and they were about to close, so I didn’t want to waste money on the entrance fee. 
Another gate 
At the side of the palace
In my home country, I’m a bona fide pedestrian: I walk from the condo to the office on the daily, and I love the freedom and economy of it. But being a pedestrian in Manila can sometimes be a harrowing (maybe even life-threatening experience), which is why I really appreciated the City of Seoul - the properly-marked walkways with functional traffic lights, and of course the disciplined drivers. It’s a bike-friendly city, too, which made me even more jealous. I promised to bring a bike the next time I visit.
Lovers crossing

Bike lane!!!!
I'm so glad Kristoff didn't sign us up for one of those rigid scheduled tours! Walking around aimlessly in a city where I didn't know anyone, where I didn't speak the language is in my opinion the best way to really soak in the culture - and that's what we did, one step at a time.

(To be continued)


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Hello, reader! Thank you for wasting your time reading my blog. I do hope you enjoyed whatever you stumbled upon. :)