Woke up to a nice bright and sunny day with a temperature of 11° C/52° F. Started my day with a glazed donut from Dunkin Donuts and a chocolate milk from 7-11 – a quick and easy breakfast that I can have while heading towards the subway.
One good thing about subways in Seoul is that you are allowed to eat and drink on them and yet they are still extremely clean because everyone here is very conscious about putting litter as well as being very mindful of other passengers. Riding on the subway in Seoul is actually kind of relaxing because other than the sound of the train, there isn’t much noise because other passengers keep their volume down so as not to be disruptive to other passengers. They’re also very conscious of their bags so if they’re carrying a backpack and the train is crowded, they will usually take their bag off and place it on the floor so that they don’t accidentally hit someone.
My destination for today is Paju Premium Outlets. This is operated by the same people who run the Premium Outlets in the US. Paju is a city about an hour or so outside of Seoul (depending on mode of transport). There are two huge outlet malls located in Paju, the Premium Outlets one and the Lotte one. For this trip I decided to only visit one of them as they both essentially have the same stores. I guess I picked the Premium Outlets one because that’s what I’m used to because I’m always heading to their outlet malls whenever I’m in the US lol.
Getting there is actually not as hard as you think even without a car. To start off, I caught the Line 1 subway at Euljiro 1(il)-ga station and got off at Hapjeong station, that took about 10-15 mins. I got out of Hapjeong station using Exit 2. Right in front of Exit 2 is the bus stop for the bus that heads to the outlet malls. From that bus stop I can take two buses, 200 or 2200, but I had read that the route for 2200 is shorter and more direct so that was what I was taking. I was super lucky because just as I got to the bus stop, the bus showed up. I think the bus fare is about 2,000 won but I’m not sure because I had my T-Money card and I usually don’t notice what gets deducted lol. The bus ride was about an hour and it actually went past the Lotte Outlet mall so I got a chance to have a quick look at it. Will definitely pay it a visit on my next trip to Seoul (yes I foresee many more trips to Seoul lol). I didn’t have to worry about not knowing when to get off the bus because the buses in Seoul always announce the upcoming stop though the announcement is in Korean but for certain stops on this route the announcements were also made in English. I believe that did that for the more tourist related stops. The bus stop for the Premium Outlets is actually near the back entrance of the mall, so I just had to cross the road and use the back stairs. I took note which were the first stores I saw once I was at the top of the stairs because the bus stop for the trip back was near the bottom of the stairs.
The mall really does remind me of the ones in the States, and it was pretty big. There were three floors of stores with the top floor filled with mainly the food court, some restaurants and stores selling cookware/kitchenware. It took me about 2 plus hours to walk round the entire mall and that was with limited visits to select stores. Saw the cutest little security car in the courtyard (see pic no. 3 above), and before you ask, yes it is a real car! While some of the prices may not have been as good as in the US but then again this is Asia and there’s the import tax lol. I did however manage to get a bunch of my fave tees at Gap for like a third of the price it would have cost me back home. One thing I did find funny – well funny to me anyways – was that Charles & Keith was considered like a sort of high-end brand there. That’s funny to me because it’s a Singapore brand and it’s generally considered a mid range shoe and bag brand here lol. Well it is an imported brand for them I suppose.
Given that it was after 2 by the time I had walked around the entire mall, I headed up to the food court to get some lunch. There was a bit of a variety available from local food to different Asian cuisines and western food. My choice for lunch was my favourite Bulgogi Jjigae!
Oh my gosh that was super yummy and the soup really hit the spot after walking around the outdoor mall with the cool breeze blowing. Now recharged and warmed up by my lunch, I headed back to the bus stop to catch the bus back to Seoul. I didn’t have to wait too long as the frequency of the bus is like 15-20 mins. Because the bus route is actually a sort of loop route, I got off at the same bus stop I had gotten on in the morning at Hapjeong station. From there I headed over to Apgujeong station because I had read that there was a Marks and Spencer’s in the area and I wanted to see how their prices were compared to back home. Unfortunately I think the information on the website – which was supposed to have been the South Korean distributors website – I was looking at was wrong because now when I check the UK website, it says they don’t have a store in Apgujeong. I knew there were other outlets in various department stores in say Gangnam, Sinchon and Yongsan but I thought it would be easier to find the Apgujeong one as it was apparently a stand alone store while the others were within department stores or malls. Guess I was wrong. Luckily it wasn’t like I needed to get anything from there so after realising that the store probably wasn’t there and the website was wrong, I headed back to my hotel. This time round I got off at Myeongdong station so that I could walk through Myeongdong and do a little shopping as I walked to the hotel hehehe. I was only in my hotel room long enough to drop off my shopping, switch to my little crossbody bag and grab my windbreaker before heading out.
First stop for the evening, Kyobo Books hehehe. There was an item I had noticed the day before and was debating whether I would actually use/need it and decided what the heck because I hadn’t seen it before and figured it would it get used eventually. So what’s this amazing thing that I found you ask? Well it’s a jacket gripper by ALIFE Design. You clip it to your bag and then you can clip your jacket and your jacket won’t slip out.
I actually have another handy tool of theirs which allows me to attach my carry on bag to the handle of my suitcase so that I just drag my suit case. I seen a bunch of their other stuff around but I had never seen the jacket gripper and thought it would be just so handy so I grabbed one plus I had the strangest feeling that if I didn’t get it, I’d regret it lol. After getting that and another Korean grammar book (I couldn’t resist lol), I headed over to the ticket counter for the City Tour bus.
There are two night tours available. Both of them are consider non-stop routes and both are supposed to take about 90 mins. The first tour drives along the Han River and goes on or past 5 of the bridges as well as goes up to N Seoul Tower before driving past Namdaemun Market and stopping at Cheonggye Plaza. The second tour is only slightly different in that it covers one additional bridge, the Moonlight Rainbow fountain (never heard of it before though) and goes past Namsan Library instead of go up to N Seoul Tower. The first tour actually stops at N Seoul Tower for about 10-15 mins so I thought I’d rather take that one so that I’d have a chance to take some photos of N Seoul Tower. The first tour costs 6,000 won and is a single deck bus while the second tour is 12,000 won and is a double-deck bus. There is only one night tour for each bus each day.
The tour itself was enjoyable but I made one minor mistake – I sat on the wrong side of the bus!!! I complete forgot to check which side of the bus would have the better view and thought that the driver’s side would be the best but sadly I was wrong. I had the street view and saw all the lovely traffic lol while the other side had the nice clear views of the river and bridges so didn’t get any pics of them. Maybe in a later trip I’ll consider taking this tour again and make sure I sit on the better side of the bus lol.
The time at N Seoul Tower wasn’t nearly enough as the driver only gave us 10 mins so I stayed near the bus stop but still managed to get some nice shots of N Seoul Tower and the city lights below. Next time I’ll have to come up to N Seoul Tower in the late afternoon and watch the sunset from the observation deck – hehehe already what to do on my next visit. It was a good thing I brought my windbreaker along because it was super windy up there! Once I got off the bus, I headed over to Cheonggyecheon to get some nice shots of the waterfall and plaza and then headed back to the hotel.
On the way back to the hotel I decided to pick up a snack I had spotted the night before from a street side cart – egg bread. It’s kind of like a Japanese pancake but instead of a red bean or chocolate filling they actually cook an egg on top of one side of the pancake and then “sandwich” it between the two sides of the pancake. It’s a bit difficult to explain so here’s a picture. The white part is the “poached” egg.
I was still full from lunch so wasn’t really hungry so this snack was just right. It was pretty yummy and the bonus was that it was super cheap. 1,000 won each!!! That’s about S$1.22 or US$0.98 each.
And so ends another day in Seoul.