Autumn Seoul Searching

B&W - Nami Island 3


ACROSS the venue of Seoul’s Cultural Week celebration is Metropolitan Government Building. On the foreground is the Seoul Metropolitan Library.

Bookworms should not miss this place. The four-storey book repository has over 300,000 titles ranging from children’s books to international publications to city publications. It also houses over 6,000 books for persons with disabilities, plus 13,224 DVDs and audio books, and 11,428 electronic books.

Not only that. Make sure to catch Seoul’s stunning sunset at the library’s rooftop garden.Shopping has always been part of my travels, buying stuff to remember the trip by.

Myeong-dong is one of the major shopping centers in Seoul where we spent most of our shopping time. I noticed that Myeongdong complex has beauty boutiques found on most corners of its area. Curious, I did buy some Korean skin care products and got to bag free samples from many of the shops. (Fashion enthusiasts, check out Korean brands FOMAN, Human Potential and J Koo.)

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Seoul Sidetrips:

Nami Island and Everland

Namiseom island, fondly called Nami, is situated in the province of Gangwon, 63km away and about an hour-long train ride from the suburbs of Seoul. The half moon-shaped island is a dream. It’s also called the “Republic of Love” because of the romantic vibe this island exudes. We took the Seoul subway to Gapyeong Station and hailed a cab to Namiseom dock. Excitement has already built up from the moment we stepped out of Gapyeong station for the fall season, actually even more here than in Seoul. It’s much colder, and the leaves of deciduous trees have turned vibrant hues of red, yellow and orange. The instant ferry docked in Nami, running along the rows of tall Metasequoia trees was the first thing I did. And yes, Nami Island is where the Korean Drama “Endless Love: Winter Sonata” was shot.

I love theme parks, and going to Everland was one thing I was looking forward to during the trip. South Korea’s largest theme park, Everland has a zoo, a plant athenaeum, coasters, thrilling adventure rides and shows. Zootopia was one of the attractions I enjoyed. My jaw dropped when I saw two black bears stand up, and another one shooting hoops. Passing by a group of fennec foxes napping at their pen was a charming sight. But surviving the T-express, touted to be the steepest ride in the world, is one thing I’m proud of and consider the highlight of my Everland visit.

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Korean Food

Moke ga! Let’s eat! Samgyeopsal, bulgogi bibimbap, galbi and ramyeon are just a few of my favorite Korean dishes, and finally, I got to sample them in their place of origin. Aside from these familiar fares, the trip was also
an opportunity to savor local dishes I haven’t tried yet. Samgye-tang or ginseng chicken— a soup dish made with tojondak (Korean chicken), four-year old ginseng, chestnut, garlic, jujube, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, black sesame, etc.— was the perfect lunch after a good walk at the Gyeongbukgong Palace in 17-degree temperature. We dined at Tosokchon Samgyetang, a famous restaurant that serves the middling herby-toned soup dish. The place was packed and we had to wait 15 minutes before we got seated. I am a freak when
it comes to the local Cebuano delicacy “Siakoy,” and seeing a sidewalk vendor along the streets of So Kor offering a Korean version of the fried dough got me thrilled. Called kkwabaegi, the Korean twisted doughnuts are also available
in fried ball variety. I bought a bag of 10, which I consumed
in less than five minutes.


Korean grill houses are all over Seoul and the best way to spot a good one is simple— people would be lining up at the door to get a seat at the restaurant. We were able to spot one a few blocks away from the foot of Ingwansan mountain where we had lunch after our morning hike. We ordered the usuals for grilling —samgyeopsal, bulgogi, shrimps, kalbi—and also sampled their Kobe beef. Also sipped on Jjigae, a Korean stew, which surprisingly turned out to be good paired with the grilled spread. And lastly, a great combo to wrap up an autumn night is KFC—that’s Korean fried chicken—and beer!

Seoul is charming and easy to fall in love with. It’s an alluring metropolis offering an interesting mix of the days of yore and the present. Commuting is a breeze. Of course, food on its own is an adventure. The neutral colored
autumn fashion ensembles with fascinating cuts and folds is out of the ordinary.

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So what is its best feature for me? Just like Cebu, Seoul is great because of its proximity to many places of interest, just an hour-and-a-half or
less to anywhere in the metro.

And this month, autumn is unfolding in Seoul. The foliage looks fantastic in auburn and yellow and the wind is just a bit nippy… aaaah! It’s always worth coming back to.

TAGS: book, Korea, orange, red, Seoul, sunset, Travel
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