[Seoul] ~ Lost in Hongdae

Keep a map ready but find happiness in getting lost. Some places you find, some places you don’t. You’ll be surprised how amidst it all, you had a great day. – 03.22.13

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Lost in Hongdae

20130327_180031-smallSomeone’s nerve – cited! I spent months trying to plan for my first ever trip abroad that is 100% for leisure and a gift to self after 27 years of living. Google, Evernote, Trip Advisor, Korea’s tourism site and even Seoul Metro Subway’s site then became my best friends as I formulate my ‘close to final’ Seoul itinerary.  For each of four days I would be there, I’d like to think I came up the time- and cost-efficient destinations that I find most interesting – which I shall warn you, I barely followed.

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“Must.write.plans” mentality up to a few hours before the trip

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I like to be at the airport early so I  was there 3 hours before flight time. It was a default of course to check the electronic board for check-in counter details and it said there counters for my flight were still closed. How can one not trust the board, right? So I just waited in a corner where I could see said counters while I charge my ever-heavily-battery-consuming phone. After 30 minutes of waiting,  I started to wonder so I went to the other side and asked the guard who then told me that board is not updated and that check-in counters are open as in physical board saying “Incheon”. Oh Cebu Pacific, I just do not understand you sometimes.

One hiccup (i.e. temporary setback) but then again, I was lucky enough.

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A bit before midnight at the boarding gate. 

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20130327_180031-smallUnexpectedly chilly it was in Korea. Plane touched down in Incheon Airport around 6 in the morning. Korea is an hour ahead of Manila so in my body clock, it was technically 5AM. I immediately felt cold as soon as I stepped out of the plane. I was like “Oh-oh, I underestimated the cold. (I did my weather research and I was seeing 0-15 degrees Celsius but didn’t expect it to be that chilly. I just had a long sleeve top on and a light jacket.)

IMG_5542Passed by this cool area on the way to the Transport Terminal. 

One of my worries prior to this trip was how to go from the airport to the accommodation as I was used to riding a cab during business trips. But again, I did some preparation for this and I was fortunate to have found a place to stay in that is nearby a station where the Airport Railroad Train stops. So after immigration, baggage claim and buying of TMoney, and hopping on a train to take us to the passenger terminal, I was peacefully on the train around 8AM. Sitting on a comfortable seat near the door, I enjoyed people-watching and scribbling some travel during the 53-minute ride. Numb fingers while on my way to Cozzzy GuesthouseI got a bit lost on my way there simply because the map the place provided kind of made things complicated. It was just an easy find, I later on realized. It was just funny how I was there walking with my hands barely even able to hold the travel notebook on which the map was pasted onto.

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Thinking about it now though, I could not quite figure out how I got confused! o_O

~~~

Let’s start walking shall we? Right after dropping my luggage, getting my coat and realizing I forgot an essential ‘anti-cold’ accessory I must have (my gloves!!), I immediately head out to — supposedly Bukchon, but no, I decided to go around the busier Hongik University area which is right across the major road where our guesthouse was.

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I barely had enough sleep but let’s start wandering, shall we? 

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20130327_180031-smallHongdae is known for its young and indie vibe as it is near a school known for its Fine Arts courses, i.e. Hongik University after which it is named. For me though, my walk around Hongdae was meant to find location shoots of my favorite Korean dramas, especially Mary Stayed Out All Night (매리는 외박중) which is mostly shot there. Among my various searches online, I only had on map the aA Design Museum where Wi Mae Ri (played by Moon Geun Young) wrote down the ‘statement’ which Kang Mu Gyul (played by of course Jang Keun Suk!) tore it up. I just know that it is near an art building called Sangsangmadang (상상마당 ) which I immediately saw during my first few minutes of walk. Yet no matter how many times I look at the map, I cannot just figure out which way to go. I have this very ‘bad’ habit — I decide to go a certain way, find an interesting alley, just go there and totally forget which direction I need to go to find my way back. 

So I just keep on walking until unexpectedly  I saw one location spot! It was something I did least want to see but I was happily surprised!

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This is where Mu Gyul bought ice cream for him and his mother.

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After this, I was going around the area – getting lost here and there and just when I was about to give up (decide to no longer look for the spots and instead find my way back to the subway station) – voila! the aA Design Museum! It was a different kind of high really – just when you put less pressure on yourself on finding something, it shows right at your face.

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There was some setting up going on so I tried to be discreet with the photos. 

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Here’s Jang Keun Suk filming in front of the cafe + museum. 

(Photo credit goes to koalasplayground.com)

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I continued walking when I noticed it seemed like it was drizzling! I got so giddy I thought it was snow! o_O. But inasmuch as I like the feeling of walking under a pseudo-snow, I felt very cold and was desperate to find a temporary roof. Most of the shops were still closed as it was still early so I decided to enter the first coffee shop I saw that was open. I got a hot cappuccino and wanting very much to see other filming locations I wanted to see – I just really had to ask the barista, showing her all the photos I saved on my phone. Unfortunately though, she is not familiar where those places are. Well, I guess I have to find those places on my own then.

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So I just saw there for a while then my feet felt like walking again that I brought my coffee outside and started walking again. This time, I was actually aiming to find Hongik University because according to the map, nearby are Hongdae Playground as well as other famous cafes like Hello Kitty Cafe and Coffee Prince. But — I got lost again given my poor sense of direction and vulnerability with interesting alleyways. Only when I saw again Sangsangmadang as well as Snow Spoon Cafe did I realize that I was lost – for the nth time that day.

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At 8:30AM, oh hello again, Sangsangmadang and Snow Spoon!!

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I was wearing flats but I could hear my feet complaining at this point. But I kept on walking and just took pleasure in taking snapshots of whatever seemed interesting in an area abound with cafes, shops and narrow streets with graffiti. And I remain that kind of ‘walker’ – many times I keep on telling myself that I will aim to go back but I always get distracted and forget where I wanted to go and where I was.

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How many cats are there?

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At first glance, the girl looks like she is picking her nose. But then she was just saying “hush”

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Was that a bear in a hoodie? Ain’t that cute? ^ ^ 

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Oh mirror, thank you.

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I don’t know why but she kind of reminds me of Emily the Strange

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Maybe the 17th Street Art Competition?

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Hmm do I have a color? I hope so. And I hope it is yellow.

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Cuckoo. Looks like Twitter.

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This one looks quite rebellious. I like those faceless men. 

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Aha! I even found the NANTA Theater in Hongdae where I was originally supposed to watch the show later that day.

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My bar – T(eng)2-Bar

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Garfield meets… (Joker?)

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Hmm the Super Drink got me curious. Is this kind of related to Super Junior?

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Waah. I wish I can understand this. Someday, I shall.  

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I was lost in all the walking that it was already around 10AM when I finally saw the playground. And expectedly, I do not even remember how I found it but I just did! Again, I felt that kind of high.

Fotor0327182733Hmmm. So this is the playground and the kiosks in front of it. It was too early in the morning so it kind of dead and quiet. 

~~~

Ironically, just as I was about to go to subway to go to my next destination, a Tourist Information officer approached and asked me how she can help. Hmm, I guess I did seem like I was lost. I just confirmed with her whether that is Hongdae Playground and still asked about Mu Gyul’s apartment. She tried Googling on the spot but she could not tell me where it is. Well, add that to a reason to come back.

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Mu Gyul,s apartment, where art thou? Please be there when I go back.

(Photo not mine. Credit goes to koalasplayground.com)

~~~

20130327_180031-smallHow to reach Hongdae area.  Though Hongdae area is also accessible by other lines such as Hapjeong Station, easiest would have to be via Hongik University Station (Line 2, green), Exit 9. Hongdae area is kind of big and stretches across Hongik, Eoulmadang, Wausan and Jandari (Funny how I get to know all these places because I keep on seeing on street signs though I never make an attempt to remember how they are in relation to each other geographically). Best to come at night but if you are looking for a quiet stroll, you may want to go there before 10:30 in the morning. Cafes and other establishments usually open 12 noon.

If you want an accommodation nearby the area, you may check Cozzzy Guesthouse (www.cozzzy.co.kr).

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