Sunday, 23 October 2011

Seoul trip – 23 Oct 2011

After sleeping for more than 10hrs, we woke up feeling refreshed. We went up to the 4th floor where the breakfast is served and to our surprise, there ain't anything at all! We wrote a message at the reception to inform the hostel about the aircon problem, borrowing of hair dryer when we returned and no breakfast served even though it's indicated that breakfast is served from 7am onward.

We left the hostel and searched for breakfast nearby. We settled for a quick breakfast at Paris Baguette Cafe which has a branch opposite the hostel. The bread sold at Paris Baguette is not cheap.
Paris Barguette cafe
Breakfast @ Paris Barguette

We took subway to City Hall and change to Line 2 (Green) to Samseong. I used to complain that our Northeast line and North South line interchanges are far apart, the subway interchange at some of the Seoul stations are even further than ours.
Bicycles are allowed in the subway

It took us about 45min to reach Samseong station. We saw lots of pretty sculptures decorated with flowers on the way to Bongeunsa Temple. This makes me fall in love with Autumn. =)
 These flowers sculptures are so lovely
Unique sculptures

It took us about 20min to walk from from Samseong subway station (Exit 6) to Bongeunsa temple but we spent quite some time snapping the flower sculptures. The weather is cool hence we don't feel that we take so long to reach the temple.

Bongeunsa Temple 봉은사 is a 1,200 year old temple built in 794. This is one of the temple which offers "Temple Stay Program" in which visitors can lead the life of a monk for 2 days. Opening hours: 3am – 10pm.
Entrance to Bongeunsa Temple

From the main gate to the main temple compound, it's decorated with 5 different colours of cloth banner which makes the compound very colourful. We saw many devotees chanting inside the temple hall, probably it is a special occasion today.
Bongeunsa Temple compound

After spending about 1/2hr at Bongeunsa Temple, we crossed the street to ASEM tower. We thought the it's COEX mall and I only realised it when I'm blogging. No wonder we couldn't find the Kimchi museum inside ASEM tower. We asked the security guard for help as COEX mall is huge. As we did not come from the direction of the subway, it's hard for me to describe the way to the museum. Direction: Subway Line 2 (Green line), Samseong Station, Exit 6. Walk through the mall towards COEX Aquarium and MegaBox Movie Theater then take the escalator next to the ASEM Pharmacy down to the second basement level.

Pulmuone Kimchi Museum 김치박물관 is open from Tue – Sun 10am – 6pm (last admission: 5.30pm), Admission: ₩3,000. The explanation on the displayed board are written in both Korean and English hence it's not necessary to hire a guide in the museum.
Kimchi museum

Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish and is the most common side dish in Korean cuisine. Kimchi was originally developed as a way to preserve the vitamins and minerals in vegetables over the long winter. The methods of making Kimchi during the Prehistoric times and the three Kingdom period includes salting vegetables and dipping vegetables in paste etc. When red chili, a New World vegetable not found in Korea was introduced to Korea from Japan, it became a staple ingredient in Kimchi.
Kimchi which evolves from Prehistoric times to Chosun period
Do you know what are the ingredients in Kimchi?

Jangdokdae is the place where Koreans place the jars used to store fermented food such as kanjang, kochujang, deonjang, and kimchi. Jangdokdae is usually in the backyard near the kitchen in a high area with plenty of sunshine and good ventilation. Long ago, Korean families believed that the soy-jar terrace were important to the family's well being. The Jangdokdae is cleaned everyday and the jars are polished daily as it was believed that a properly located and well kept Jangdokdae can make the family prosper.

Different types of kimchi were traditionally made at different times of the year, based on when various vegetables were in season and also to take advantage of hot and cold seasons before the era of refrigeration.
Various type of Kimchi
Seasonal kimchi
Model displaying ancient Korean preparing kimchi for winter

There is a food tasting room in the museum where visitors can try out a variety of Kimchi. There are 8 types of kimchi available and some taste similar.
 Kimchi food tasting
Someone is feeding me kimchi

Health magazine named kimchi in its list of top five "World's Healthiest Foods" for being rich in vitamins, aiding digestion, and even possibly reducing cancer growth. During the fermentation process, beneficial lactobacilli and anaerobic increased rapidly which resulted in various kinds of nutrients that are good for health.
Benefits of kimchi

Kimchi has relatives from all over around the world from the neighbour Zhacai (chinese raddish prickle) from China to distance cucumber pickles from USA.
Preserved vegetables from different countries
Kimchi's relative
Kimchi dishes

We left the Kimchi museum and head to another museum, Bank of Korea museum. There are several subway stations near the museum: Subway line 1 (Dark Blue) or line 2 (Green), City Hall Station Exit 7 or Subway line 2 (Green), Euljiro 1-ga Station Exit 7 or Subway line 4 (Blue), Hoehyeon Station Exit 7. Bank of Korea museum is located diagonally opposite the Central post office, the building which looks like a condominium. Although the opening hours of the postal museum stated in the Korea Tourism website is 9am - 6pm, it's already closed when we visited at 2pm.
Central Post Office
What are these chimneys doing here?

The Bank of Korea museum is housed in a historic building which is previously the Bank of Korea (Opening hours: 10am – 5pm Closed on MonAdmission: Free, Address: Seoul-si Jung-gu Namdaemunno3-ga 110 Bank of Korea building). There are 2 levels inside the building and is divided into 4 different zones. This is one of most interesting museum which I have visited.
Bank of Korea museum
Chandelier in the museum
Currency symbols used worldwide

The Currencies from around the World section is very educative and I also learnt a lot about the currencies worldwide. It compares different bank notes worldwide such as the print, signatures, length and width etc.
Bank notes using floral, animals or people
Signature of bank notes 
Size of bank notes
 South vs North Korea bank notes
Singapore ship series note

There is a replica of the bank vault inside the museum. The door is molded of concrete which explain the heaviness.
Bank vault

It is interesting to know that shredded bank notes can be used to make construction materials.
Tiles make from shred bank notes

One of the display educates the public how to differentiate genuine and counterfeit notes. There are computer graphic of the bank note which can be zoomed in and we can see the security features clearly.
Security features

There is another section which display the commemorative notes and coins and below are gifts from Monetary Authority of Singapore to Bank of Korea.
Singapore's commemorative coins and note

There is even a toy machine at the museum but there is no prizes for picking up the toys. My sis was a bit disappointed by this.
What's my sis hopping to get?

We spent around an hour in the Bank of Korea museum and then left for lunch at Myeongdong.
Ding Tai Fung restaurant in Seoul
Homeless people
Myeong dong

A blogger has recommended Nolboo Hangari Galbi at Myeong-dong which is famous for Budaejjigae. Beef budaejjigae (army base stew with beef) was originally created from the leftover food that came from US Military Base during the Korean War. At that time, meat was scarce so locals used the leftover canned ham and hotdogs and cooked it with their traditional spicy soybean paste soup.

Nolboo Hangari Galbi Address: 25-3 Chungmuro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu & Direction: Myeong-dong Station Exit 5 and walk towards Myeong-dong 8na-gil. The landmark nearby is the Post Tower (Headquarter of the Seoul Post Office). On its left there is a small alley just walk towards the Myeong-dong shopping area and you'll find it on your right.
Direction to Nolboo Hangari Galbi

We ordered the Nolboo budae jjigae which cost ₩7,000 ~ S$8 per pax. The stew comes with rice but we requested for instant noodles which we cooked it inside the stew. There are many ingredients in the stew such as fishcake, hotdog, luncheon meat, bacon, tofu, rice cake etc and the portion was relatively filling for both of us.
Nolboo restaurant

There is a Lotte Market few shops down the street but not everything sold inside are ₩999 ~ S$1. We didn't purchase anything as we intend to save our bag space for shopping later.
Lotte minimart
These are for the Kpop craze

Myeong-dong is one of the busiest place and most popular shopping destination in Seoul. Myeong-dong is infested with many cosmetic brand and the same brand can almost be found at every street in Myeong-dong. Surprisingly, almost every cosmetic shop has at least one sales personnel who can speak Mandarin. A free gift (e.g. cotton pad, mask) is given upon entering the cosmetic shop regardless the customer purchase any products from the shop.
Bustling Myeong dong
Rows of cosmetic shops

We saw this tall ice cream selling at Myeong-dong and there was a long queue. We decided to try it and it cost ₩1,500 ~ S$1.70 each. There is nothing special about this ice cream but the long queue will entice people to join in the queue.
Super tall ice-cream

The sun sets very early in Seoul and it's pitch dark at 5.30pm. However, Myeong-dong get busier and more crowded as the night falls. We spent more than 5 hours shopping and still couldn't finished exploring all the shops.
Myeong dong at night

We did not had proper dinner and just grab some snacks from these roadside stalls. The snacks sold here are relatively cheap as each cost $2 - S$3.
Yummy snack
He's fast!
Self collection of BBQ squid
Foamy bath in the public?
Unglam sight
Seoul ambassador

There is a Diaso outlet opposite the hostel and the price is almost the same as Singapore Diaso.
Diaso outlet

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