What a phenomenal 5 days it has been. Seriously. It feels like I’ve been on this trip with all these wonderful people for two weeks when it’s only been 5 days! That’s how much fun we’ve been having.
So today we finally get to walk around Seoul, which I find is always a pleasure. I love walking around cities like this because the mood is always perfect. There’s just the right amount of people and the energy is one that keeps you pumped up but not overwhelmed.
Bonus points for the lovely golden lighting the wintertime brings! Thankfully the weather wasn’t as cold as I was afraid it would be. I don’t know if it’s because my body has adapted to the weather already. (I should have extended my stay right?!)
The itinerary for today was to visit Gangnam, and on our way to ride the bus we passed by the Bosingak Belfry. During New Year’s Eve, they conduct a special ceremony here where they ring the bell 33 times to usher in the new year.
Riding the public transport in Seoul is always a pleasure. It’s systematic and convenient whether you take the metro or the bus– something I appreciate because we lack that in Manila. 😅
It was also a special day, because our Global Wow Korea group was going out on separate trips with the local Wow Korea Supporters. I decided to go with the Gangnam group because I haven’t been to this area of Seoul before.
We didn’t really have a plan for where to go in Gangnam so we just went into one of the many themed cafes this area is known for. The one we visited is called Merci and it has a garden theme. When you enter, it feels a little bit like you’re going into a greenhouse.
This is Gibs by the way, a Wow Korea Supporter from the Philippines. Yay! One of my best friends back home is also named Gilbert and he also has a bibbo (very lively) personality. They remind me of each other!
Here’s the rest of our group: At the center there is Ece, then to her left are husband and wife Sayeem and Afsana from Bangladesh. Then there’s Debbie, Gibs, Nita from Indonesia, me, and Ji Young eonnie from the Korean Tourism Office.
We ordered some snacks and cakes and I have to say they were all quite delicious. I know that Gangnam has a reputation for being the center of all these interesting cafes but I like the Asian-Western fusion they went with here. Bulgogi Panini, anyone?
This was my giant glass of Hot Grapefruit Tea. It was so good! A little bit sweet but very pleasantly fruity.
Apart from the quaint cafes, Gangnam is mostly known for its affluent residents and night scene. Since we had no business with either of them, we took a cab and headed off to Itaewon for a little bit.
Our first stop was a gallery that was at the moment displaying a hanbok exhibit in conjunction with the promotion of the movie ‘Spirit’s Homecoming‘.
Downstairs you can donate to various charities while you enjoy your time looking through the different era clothes on the mannequins.
We decided to replicate the poses of the mannequins and do another mannequin challenge, and this was what Gibs wanted to replicate hahaha! Never a dull moment with this guy!
We walked around Itaewon for a bit until Ji Young eonnie pointed out to us this really popular patisserie called Passion 5. It’s really pricey but look at all the pretty food! Pastry heaven!
This is the first time I saw noodles stuffed inside a hotdog bun haha! But now I wish I had bought some pastries to try because according to Elizabeth, this place is worth the money.
Thanks to an overload of attractive food, we went to eat (again) and decided to have some Halal food this time. We do have some Muslims in our group and I think sometimes many Muslim tourists think it’s hard to find a Halal restaurant in Seoul. There are actually quite a lot, like this place we ate at called Hummus Kitchen.
The hummus and pita were well done, and the kebabs so juicy!
Moving about after a meal is always a good idea, so we wandered around for a little bit and took photos haha!
Suddenly we were right in front of the Line Friends Store, and we went in just for fun.
It’s sad how quickly the time passed today, on the last day! We were supposed to head back to the K-Style Hub at the KTO Building by Cheonggechyeon around 3.30 PM, so we took a cab back again.
I’ve actually never heard of this place before, but apparently it is relatively new since it just launched this 2016. I decided I will bring my family here on our next trip to Seoul just because I had so much fun inside! It’s open to the public so anyone can partake.
You can do a wide variety of things in here, such as see parts of Korea on a big screen. Not up for that? Well they’ve got some virtual reality goggles here that will allow you to see Korea as if you’re actually standing there!
Here’s a really fun area for all you K-Pop fans:
This is my favourite activity in this area: You can pick your favourite Kpop act and pose with them as if you’re actually together, then take a picture with your phone. So cute!
The K-Style Hub also has some interesting spots, like the Medical Tourism Information Center which can analyze the different parts of your body and make assessments to you regarding your health.
There’s also an area to learn about Korea’s traditional cuisine.
But my favourite part was getting to cook a Korean meal! Up at the fourth floor of the building, Master Chef Kim Yong Gi took the stage to teach us how to make bulgogi.
We were paired up with our Wow Korea Supporter friends and I thought all of us did an excellent job working for our meal!
Bulgogi isn’t really difficult. You just need to marinade it sufficiently for maximum flavour.
After that we got to eat or creations. Yay! Here I am with my partner Nita. The food looks good doesn’t it?
And we were promised some sweet tea if we washed our plates haha!
I really admire KTO and Wow Korea for building this kind of community for all of us foreigners who love Korea. This event became more meaningful because we all came together to complete it, really like brothers and sisters. Each of us have different nationalities and languages but we did it together.
Before I end this post, I just want to say some things I didn’t get to say during my exit interview. When I first found out I was chosen for the Global Wow Korea contest, I really couldn’t believe that I was being given this chance. Like Ibwas literally wondering if it was a prank haha! But since the moment I arrived, I have felt nothing but love and warmth from all the members of this Wow Korea family.
You know I’m a really introverted person when you first get to know me. I always stay quiet and prefer to listen to people and laugh at their stories at the start, because it takes some time for me before I become more talkative towards others. But with this group I felt comfortable from the beginning. I can’t explain it. I only wish I had a bit more time to spend with them.
It’s true that I’m a sentimental person who remembers a lot of things, and I will forever be grateful for the memories and kindness from everyone. And because of all of them this experience will be something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
Thank you so much to Max and Sunny, to the KTO, and our lovely guide Helen, for taking good care of us all. You are my Wow Korea Supporters Family, and as I write this I feel very emotional haha! I will miss you all.
And of course, I will thank God everyday for allowing me to explore this absolutely beautiful country that is South Korea with the most amazing set of people. I hope we meet again someday.
Oh and Korea, I will be back!
K-Style Hub 케이스타일허브
KTO Seoul Office 2F-5F
40, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 중구 청계천로 40 (다동)
Hours: 2F – Tourism Information Center 09:00-20:00 // 3-4F – Korean Food Exhibition Hall & Korean Food Experience Hall 10:00-20:00 // 5F – Art Market Hall 10:00-18:00 (Closed Tuesdays)
Contact Nos: +82-2-1330 (Travel Hotline in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese) / +82-2-729-9496~9499 // +82-2-6053-7177~79
Website | More information
This post was brought to you by the Korea Tourism Organization.