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Taken at: University of the Philippines in Quezon City, Philippines

Today was the D-day. I was too anxious for my own good. I think I did well. I may have spelled some things wrong.

I hope I pass because I am keen on taking the next class and I am really serious about getting that Beginner’s Level TOPIK certificate!

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Taken at: Balanga Wetland Park in Balanga, Bataan, Philippines

Today we went to the Balanga Wetlands to plant mangrove seedlings as part of our company’s social corporate responsibility.

We were a little late and the tide was already high. People were a little hesitant in going to the water. Plus, we were warned that we’ll be stepping on mud instead of sand.

Since we were already there, I decided to just go for it especially when I brought extra clothes.

Mangroves are essential to any seaside community because they (1) provide a safe breeding habitat for some species, (2) filter pollutants from run-off, and (3) prevent seaside erosion.

I’m glad to have been part of this activity!

Spring in Seoul v.3 (Day 2)

T oday is a trip to Nami Island. We decided to be on the more comfortable side so we booked bus and entry tickets via the Nami Island website (here). For KRW 23,000 you get round-trip bus tickets and entrance to Nami Island. You can also book one-way bus tickets for KRW 7,500.

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From Myeongdong station, we made our way to Seoul Station. And from Exit 4, we ran towards Sungnyemun Gate. The bus is scheduled to leave at 9:30 and we almost missed it! Good thing that there were people who arrived later. It actually feels good that you aren’t the cause of delay.

An hour later, we were on the ferry dock of Nami Island. There were so many people that day.

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See how South Korea and Philippines are very good friends?

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What did I tell you about the number of people?

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Welcome to Nami Island!

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To be honest, I’ve never been to a Nami Island with trees that have leaves. Last winter, everything was bare. The spring before that, the leaves are just about to grow. And now, I am pleasantly surprised that Nami Island is more beautiful with its leaves. It makes me wonder how much more beautiful this place will be during the fall.

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Nami Island is awarded a Child Friendly Park award by UNICEF. They hold an annual Children’s Book Festival and cultural events for children.

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The first path¬†that you’ll be walking through is the Korean pine tree path.

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And, when you get near the Central Plaza, you will smell one of the most delicious smells ever – sausage. This costs KRW 2,500 per stick and is worth every penny (ehem, won).

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In the Central Plaza, there are a lot of food choices. We decided to go with the Asian restaurant since it was almost lunch time too. I ordered bulgogi because we’re in Korea and I have to eat Korean food.

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In Korea, you get what you pay for. A KRW 10,000 meal really does feel and look like KRW 10,000 – serving-wise and taste-wise.

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What about dessert? Hotteok is my second favorite Korean street food. Hotteok is a pancake with brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon as filling.

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From the Central Plaza, you go to so many different directions. We easily picked the Cherry Tree Lane that leads to the hotel of Nami Island.

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You’d soon realize that most people stay in the Central Plaza and the Metasequoia Lane – the most famous of all the walking paths. So, if you want peace and quiet in Nami, you have to go to the ‘outskirts’ of the island.

It’s easy to say that Nami is one of the most romantic places in Seoul. During our time there, there were so many people going on dates. It’s not just the young ones too.

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After a few hours of walking, it’s now time to leave Nami Island. The bus going back to Seoul is scheduled to leave at 4:00 PM. We went back at around 3:30 PM and then browsed through the nearby CU Mart for some food to eat.

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We are now back in Seoul. We were dropped at the Sungnyemun Gate.

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We walked for a little while until we reached City Hall station. Why not use Seoul Station? We were going to Hongdae which is connected to the Line 2 of the subway system. City Hall station is also along Line 2 so we don’t have to transfer stations.

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Welcome to Hongik University station Exit 9!

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We were supposed to meet our friend. But, since he’s not yet done with his thing, we decided to just meet up at 8 PM on the same spot. From there we went to Churro 101. What is Churro 101? Churro 101 is the store of churros that are better than any boyfriend.

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I’m not making things up. They’re the ones who claimed it.

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I bought the one with custard cream filling and one with cream cheese filling. The verdict? Yes, they are better than any boyfriend. They are tasty, sweet, and has a lot of flavor. The bread is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It’s worth trying!

I will definitely come back for more.

Since it was still too early to meet up, we decided to just roam the streets of Hongdae.

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One of my favorite things about Hongdae is busking. Busking is the performance of students (actually, anyone) that shows of their talents. Some more successful than others. There’s dancing, singing, and, to some extent, variety shows.

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Instead of going inside for dinner, we decided to munch on street food instead. I had tempura and that corndog type thing and gimbap and chicken on skewers. It was really filling.

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One good thing about eating while standing is that you don’t feel like the food is staying in your stomach.

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After dinner, we had another serving of bingsu from Sulbing’s branch in Hongdae. I had my own bowl of my usual strawberry bingsu. After that, it was back to the guesthouse for us.

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Others in this series:

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 1

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 3

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 4

Spring in Seoul v.3 (Day 1)

So, we’re back to the motherland. It’s the spring season and we’re hoping to be able to go cherry blossom watching and walk without having to worry about the heat.

We got flights via Jeju Air. The flight is at 11:00 PM so we didn’t have to add another work day leave. After work (and after our colleague’s last minute flight booking), we headed straight for NAIA Terminal 1. There were reports that due to problems with the Bureau of Immigration, you need 5 hours to go through the whole check in process.

See, it was just 7:19 PM and we’re already eating at Jollibee. One good thing is that this branch is transferred from it’s original and horrendous location. Hoping, though, that there will be other stores and shops because there clearly isn’t enough room for everybody.

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We didn’t have any problem with checking in or immigration. Although, the Jeju Air I know is strictly punctual. This time, they were a little late. Although, compared to my experience with local airlines, this tardiness is negligible.

A few short naps later, I’m back in South Korea. I am with my dear friends and it couldn’t get any better than this.

We topped up our T-Money. I didn’t buy one because I still have mine from my first trip in 2015. Then, we rode Limousine Bus 6015 bound for Myeongdong.

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Good morning, downtown Seoul.

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Wake up, sleepy head. We’re in Seoul!

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Hello, Bank of Korea!

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Upon arrival in Myeongdong, we dropped of our bags in Guesthouse the Hill, our home for the next four days. After some freshening up, we made our way to Jamsil via subway. We made our way to Exit 2 and we were on our way to Seokchon Lake.

You will see the newly opened Lotte Tower on your right. You wouldn’t miss it as it is South Korea’s tallest skyscraper, as of the moment. We wanted to go up but it was too early for it to be open.

NOTE: South Korea has a delayed work day for shops. They mostly open at 10 – 10:30 AM so you don’t have to wake up early to enjoy the sights.

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Upon crossing the street, you have reached Seokchon Lake. It is serene because the cherry blossom festival has already concluded. Last year, it was lively. There were people walking around, have a picnic, and singing live.

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The only extraordinary thing this time around was that a Korean drama was filming. We were not advised of the title and we were not familiar with the lead characters. Maybe I’d recognize them once the drama airs.

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My friend and I who have both been to Korea before decided to sit down on one of the outlook areas of the lake. We asked our first-timer friends to explore the area especially the one near Lotte World – on the other side of the lake.

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We wanted to see what the top of the Lotte Tower looks like but PHP 1,000 does not seem to justify what we’ll experience. They don’t even have food, even coffee, for that price. Maybe some other time and in some other life. We had lunch at Hyundai Department Store. I ordered bibimbap for KRW 8,500.

Then, we made our way back to Myeongdong to check in, rest, take a bath, and have a little afternoon siesta.

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At around 5 PM, we woke up from our slumber and decided to go to Namsan Seoul Tower. We waited at the nearby bus stop for Namsan Bus No. 5. It’s the bus stop that’s just outside of Myeongdong station Exit 3.

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This bus will be a little crowded because it will be full of locals, on their usual day, and tourists, who opt for the cheaper way of going to Namsan Seoul Tower. The other option is a cable car ride for KRW 9,000 per way.

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On the way up the mountain, there’s still a plethora of cherry blossom trees.

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We went up the Namsan Seoul Tower during the golden hour because it offers one of the best views of the city and, frankly, who doesn’t love a sunset view. We were dropped off at a mini bus terminal with a convenience store. From there, we’d hike our way up the Namsan Seoul Plaza.

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Wouldn’t you love this sunset?

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The Namsan Seoul Tower is a working telecommunications tower. It’s famous for the love locks and the rotating restaurant. Sometimes, there are galleries held here like the Hello Kitty Museum and Teddy Bear Museum.

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We took the same bus, Namsan Bus No. 5, and we were back to the same bus stop. It was time for a trip to Myeongdong. Myeongdong is the shopping mecca of Korea. Every street is lined with different stores.

This is one of the most famous entrances to the Myeongdong area. It’s outside Exit 6 of Myeongdong station. It has Nature Republic on the left and a big Uniqlo store on the right.

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And on that spot is my favorite Seoul street food, gyeranbbang or (literally) egg bread.

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Since it was a bit chilly that night, and, mind you, Namsan Seoul Tower will really give you the chills, we wanted to find some noodles with hot soup. We found this gem of a restaurant that sells different udon dishes. It’s just outside the Chinese embassy.

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The noodles were perfect. What was better is the tempura breading when added to the noodles. They were also selling vegetable and shrimp tempura. They will prepare the noodles in front of you and it’s part of the dining experience.

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After dinner was a complete shopping exploit. I couldn’t take a picture because I have my hands full. Actually, most of the items I bought aren’t for me. Once people know or realize that you’re in Korea, they somehow manage to put on a shopping list for you. I don’t mind. As long as my luggage don’t reach the overweight limit, I’d be willing to buy for them.

What day would be complete without dessert? It’s time for bingsu. And when I think of bingsu, I think of Sulbing. There are two branches in Myeongdong. I’m more familiar with the one near Myeongdong Exit 8.

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We tried the matcha and chocolate flavor. Usually, I order one for myself. Since we’re still too full from the dinner, we decided to order one split four ways.

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I promise you, Sulbing has good presentation. It was just so good that had to dig in as soon as we received the order. Delicious and it isn’t as sweet as it looks like.

After dessert, we had to drag ourselves back to the guesthouse. It was an awesome first day back – definitely chill (literally and figuratively).

 

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Others in this series:

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 2

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 3

Spring in Seoul v.3 Day 4