So I’m back from my first ever solo trip to Seoul! Man, it’s so hot in Singapore. I’m headed back to work and am going to have to squeeze some time out for in the upcoming weeks to write… hope to get it all out soon while it’s fresh in my mind.
I kept a physical journal on this journey using my last Moleskine cahier. Since I was solo, it was mostly me and my thoughts and a handy pen to write them all down, I brought the markers along to sketch but will admit to being too lazy to use them even… I’ll include pix here after I’ve collated them from both iPhone and camera, and when words fail me, maybe a sketch or two from my book.
In a nutshell, travelling solo is definitely an experience. There is great freedom in being able to come and go as you wish, change your itinerary on a whim or if you just don’t feel like it, not having to wait around for other people… but it also means you have to get through everything on your own, from small affairs like deciding what to eat for lunch or getting super lost at night.
It’s also quiet, particularly when you’re in a country where you don’t speak or read the language. Your main form of communication is an apologetic smile and frantic hand gestures, so imagine my relief when I finally found a like-minded English speaking traveller to hang out with one day – it was fun making new friends.
Seoul has the vibrant metropolitan city feel down pat, so quite often I felt right at home like I was in Singapore, able to navigate the subways fairly successfully, managing to figure out shopping centres and dealing with hordes of people quite deftly. But unlike Singapore’s modern city-scape, Seoul has managed to blend its natural, older facade with its new one, making it a truly interesting place at heart.
Right in the centre of Jongno are the Joseon palaces Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, spiritual sites like Jogyesa and Jongmyo, Gwanghwamun Square and you have the Bukchon Hanok alongside Samcheongdong. My favourite find was the Cheonggyecheon, the man-made river that runs through the city, and I also enjoyed watching the Nanta and Jump shows in the evenings.
Also, the entire city is HILLY. If people wonder why all these Koreans are so skinny, or how their old people stay so fit, it’s because they have to navigate all these insane slopes, stairs and inclines everyday!
I stayed at Seoul Tower Ville, a pretty cheap but well situated apartment complex on the hill of Namsan near Myeongdong where the beauty shops are. Great central location but it is a bit of a climb to get up that slope. See my full review on Seoul Tower Ville for more. It’s the same hill where you can visit N Seoul Tower as well.
Anyway for starters, here are some of the resources I used:
- Zuji.com.sg – to book my flight. The Cathay Pacific flight was much cheaper here than via the airline website
- Visit Korea – Official Korea Tourism Organization – it’s pretty extensive and informative, and most of my practical info came from here. What I want to do is add some personal opinion so its easier for someone to decide whether to go there or not
- TripAdvisor – Seoul Activities – Quite useful in seeing suggestions on things to do and other people’s opinions