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South Korea: The First Country I Visited Outside the Philippines

We didn't want to get bored while on a layover for ten hours at an airport in South Korea.So we booked a transit tour for 50 USD each. That tour will take us to several points of interest in Seoul. We booked this through the Asiana Airlines office at the Mactan Cebu International Airport. 




Looking back, it felt like we were scammed. The Visit Korea website mentions that all tours are free of charge. No advanced reservations were made on our behalf. We had to make our own arrangements at the transit tour desk at the Incheon International Airport. Anyways, let me just consider those a form of gratuity as we enjoyed our tour anyway.




Our city tour lasted five hours starting 9:30 a.m. and ended at 2:30 p.m. It took us to only two spots in Seoul. We visited the Bukchon Hanok Traditional Korean Village and the Kwangjang Traditional Market.

Bukchon Hanok Traditional Korean Village 

Our tour's first stop was at the Bukchon Hanok Traditional Korean Village. It is right at the heart of Seoul, Korea's capital and largest city.  The area where this is located is also said to be among the most expensive places to live in the whole of Korea according to our local tour guide.

Hanok Traditional Korean Houses

At the Bukchon Hanok Village, traditional Korean houses called hanok are preserved. They give visitors a glimpse of Korean architecture from 600 years ago. Many of these houses are open to the public and serve as mini-museums. Several of these houses do not charge an admission fee but one can tip. Picture taking may be allowed at the yard but not inside the house. Footwear also need to be taken off when entering the house. 


Traditional Korean House
Traditional Korean house





Deep Fried Seafood and Noodles for Brunch

After a short tour of the village, we were given free time to wander around. Since we were starving, we searched for a restaurant and found one by the roadside just outside the village. We had deep fried fish fillet, deep fried squid, and deep fried seaweed with noodles for brunch.

Korean breakfast
Our meal


Gwangjang Traditional Market 

The second stop of our tour took us to Gwangjang Traditional Market, said to be one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul. We saw that a lot of shops near the entrance of the market sell mung bean pancakes (bindaettok), pig snouts, and a Korean delicacy that involves slicing a live baby octopus for eating. I wanted to try it but I couldn't get myself to eat a squirming tentacle.

traditional market
Gwangjang traditional market




A Great Cafe

For the free time we were given, we stayed at A Great Cafe near the market's entrance and by the roadside.

A Great Cafe
A Great Cafe

We ordered a mango smoothie and a banana shake as refreshments.

smoothies
Banana shake and mango smoothie


A Loaded Dinner at Streat Cafe in Incheon

We were back at the airport in Incheon by 2:30 p.m. after a long bus ride from Seoul. After picking up our carry-on luggage at the transit tour counter and pre-departure proceedings, we found a Japanese-inspired place to dine at the pre-departure lounge. At StrEAT, we ordered spicy kairamen, shoyu ramen, and gyudon. I think we ordered too much for two people as the servings were good for at least three to four persons. That was a really filling meal before we boarded our flight for San Francisco, California.

airport cafe
StrEAT Cafe

noodles
Shoyu ramen

beef bowl
Gyudon

spicy noodles
Spicy Kairamen


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About Thaddeau II Engaling

Brothers Janus and Thadz document their travels around the United States and occasionally around the world.

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