Life in Seoul #3: Weekend Stroll

I spent last Saturday going around the central part of Seoul and Itaewon.

The stairs to KTO
The stairs to KTO

My first destination was Korean Tourism Office. From Jonggak Station we just need to go out through exit 5, go straight, cross the Cheonggyecheon stream, and turn right. The office is located underneath the street, but there are signs everywhere so you probably won’t get lost.

Cheonggyecheon stream
Cheonggyecheon stream

The reason I went to the office was to take the free tickets to watch Track and Field on Asian Games in Incheon–I won the ticket through and online event from the Tourism Korea website. However, since there are many things to see in the office, I decided to take some time taking pictures. I also tried out the free hanbok photo booth.

The hanbok booth
The hanbok booth
Pardon my awkward pose
Pardon my awkward pose

I read in some other blogs that the office has a prayer room that we can use. I didn’t see it nor ask where it was, because I came after praying dzuhur, but I did see a place for wudu’ in the toilet.

After the free photo shoot, I took a walk to Lotte Young Plaza which was only some blocks away. It was fun walking because the whether was really nice.

Lotte Young Plaza
Lotte Young Plaza

My main destination at Lotte Young Plaza was the Okcat Pop-up Store. Okcat is a green cat character designed by 2PM’s rapper, Ok Taecyeon. Besides the Okcat Store, I also found LINE Store and some clothing lines wore by KPop celebrities.

Okcat
Okcat

I also checked out the underground shopping place just right under the Lotte Young Plaza. Surprisingly there were sooo many shops selling glasses and contact lenses with super cheap prices. I found some glasses which cost only 20 thousand won. Most of the shops wrote “Japanese OK” in kanji which indicates how they want to attract Japanese costumers by speaking Japanese. No wonder, though, because the price of glasses in Japan is very high.

I kept walking underground until I reached the gate of Seoul City Hall. There was an exhibition which I guess was a Children Exhibition. I also watched a band performance by cute teenagers.

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Seoul City Hall

I was almost going back home but then I decided to go to Itaewon. I have been there last year but I didn’t have the chance to visit Seoul Central Masjid yet. So, getting of at Exit 3, I followed the directions from Korea Tourism website and finally reached the mosque.

Seoul Central Masjid
Seoul Central Masjid
The view from across the mosque
The view from across the mosque

Seoul Central Masjid was relatively big. Both the outer and inner appearance were also beautiful. I was so happy to see many Korean people visiting the mosque. Some of the female visitors wearing shorts or mini skirts were lent a piece of long skirt so that they can be more “proper”.

Before going back, I filled my stomach with kebab from Mr. Kebab. Actually they were many halal restaurants around, but since I wanted to eat at the dorm, I decided to buy something easy to take home. Oh, I also went to an international shop to buy some Indonesian noodles. The shop sells quite a lot of stuff, from American shower gel to halal meat.

One of the international food shop
One of the international food shop

Can’t wait for the Asian Games’ track and field game this Sunday!

Life in Seoul #2: Day Trip to Suwon

Have you heard about Chuseok? Universally translated as Korean Thanksgiving, it is a 3-day holiday where Korean people gather with their relatives. I originally planned to spend the holiday in Incheon, but a friend of mine invited me to join her to Suwon instead. For your information, both Incheon and Suwon are located outside of Seoul area.

Before the holiday started, we reserved two seats for the Suwon CIty Tour from this website. The process was really simple, and we didn’t even required to pay any deposit fee.

On D-Day, we took subway from Anam to Suwon station. Despite taking the wrong subway once, we managed to arrive in less then 2 hours. Before riding the bus, we went to Suwon Tourist Information Center to confirm our attendance, pay 8000 won (student price), and get the tickets.

We also got a "name tag"
We also got a “name tag”

The city tour itself began at 2 pm. Our first destination was Haewoojae, a house which is shaped like a closet. On the way, we could listen to recorded guides in English and Japanese. However, the live guide was actually only in Korean, even though we knew the guide could speak English. Nevertheless, we were amused by the unique statues representing the history of Korean toilets in this first destination.

Just look at the picture
Just look at the picture
This is only one of the unique statues
This is only one of the unique statues

Next, we headed to Suwon fortress. This time the only-Korean explanation frustrated us a bit because the site was all about Korean history. Luckily the guide was kind enough to approach us and give short explanations in English.

The guide
The guide
They say the water looks like a rainbow
They say the water looks like a rainbow

After going around the fortress, we went to an archery field. With only an additional 2000 won we could do the archery ourselves. I was a little bit nervous since it was my first archery experience, but there was an instructor who told us what to do in simple English so I could do it quite easily.

My first attempt on archery!
My first attempt on archery!

Our last destination was Suwon museum. Since the time was very limited we could not see a lot of stuff but at least we could use the toilet. 😀

We arrived back at Suwon station at around 5 pm. After dinner, we went back to Anam station in Seoul.

Life in Seoul #1: How I Could Appear on Arirang TV

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First of all, let me thank my forever-partner-in-crime, Isna, for letting me know that Arirang TV needed some foreigners to appear on their show.

It was a usual afternoon after class when Isna sent me a Line message about the recruitment. Being hyper-excited, I emailed the After School Club team saying that I wanted to join their Chuseok Special pre-recording. The team replied my email right away, asking me about my personal data and stuff, but then I didn’t get any further notification whether I was accepted.

Up until two days later, which was the day before the show, I still wasn’t sure if I was in. So I told Isna not to be upset. Maybe I could join some other events later. But wow, at around 10 pm, they sent me a reminder mail! Being  crazy fan girl that I am, I started writing letters and preparing gifts for the MCs (Eric Nam, Kevin from UKISS, Park Jimin from 15&) and of course the guest stars, the 3 members of Royal Pirates!

The next day, I found myself wandering around Nambu Bus Terminal. The ASC team was kind enough to tell us where to go and what to ride, so after finding the right bus terminal, I just took it and went straight to the Arirang building. I even arrived here at 1 pm even though we were asked to come at 2 pm.

At 2 pm, a girl form the ASC team came out to check us, followed by another girl. They weren’t only fluent in English, they were also very kind!

The shooting itself started from around 3:30. I couldn’t stop myself from being starstruck. Thank God I could make it until the end of the show, and even made a request for Jimin.

Even though the Royal Pirates had to leave right away, I could take some selfies with Eric, Kevin, and Jimin. They were super nice! Kevin even waved his hands to us from his car when we were outside the building getting ready to go home.

Last but not least, here’s where you can watch (me on) the show!

Home

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“Home is where the heart is,” says a proverb. This might be true. In fact. I have been confused of what I should call “home” ever since I left my first “home”.

Before July 2008, I always thought the place I grew up with my two brothers was my only “home”. Yet, since I entered a boarding school called Madrasah Aliyah Negeri Insan Cendekia Serpong, I started to feel of that place as my “home” as well. I remember saying “oh I gotta go home now” unconsciously every time my once-in-two-weeks break was going to end, even though I was technically at “home”. My mom couldn’t even understand why I chose to hang out with high school friends on long holidays–knowing that I would meet them when school started anyways.

September 2011 marked another beginning of the change in my perspective of “home”. As much as I hate it, I must admit that Beppu city has been my third “home”. Three years there doesn’t automatically make me know everything about the city, but at least I now consider it a comfort zone.

And now that I’m far away from all of my “homes”, should I start being homesick?

(Celebrating two weeks of living in Seoul, three years after flying to Beppu, and six years after meeting my new family at Insan Cendekia)