Sunday, 5 June 2011

Find your soul in Seoul

Three months have passed, so I officially survived my first 3 months in Korea. With the help of K-pop, Korean dramas and stuff, more and more people are interested to Korea, especially Seoul as most action happens here. A friend snapped an amazing photo of me by the beach, looking like a korean star wannabe and I used it as my profile picture in facebook. Since that, I received a flood of friend requests, especially K-pop lovers. I am new to K-pop. The only K-pop group I know was 소녀시대 Girls Generation and 빅뱅 Big Bang. My K-pop loving friends share one thing in common, a dream to visit Seoul. Below is a picture of me in front of my campus in winter time.
"Seoul National University" 
Today I want to talk about Seoul. The atmosphere difference of Seoul is not very far from Kuala Lumpur. An amazing and beautiful city with its own set of specialities and its own hidden weaknesses. Let me introduce you to my new town. I will use subway stations as the reference point because the Seoul subway is almost everywhere, it stops at every important landmark in the city. 
Seoul Subway Map, an Internet source picture
The place where I live is at Boramae Station. My house is quite close to campus which is just a 40 minutes bus ride away, and is located near to Boramae Park. After 3 months living here, I set foot to the park for the first time today. The park was wonderful~
"Boramae" by Adzrin Mansor with a LG Optimus One
"Boramae Park" by Adzrin Mansor with a LG Optimus One
The place where I live is a sleepy quiet town where the sidewalks would be completely empty by midnight. The reason for it is simply because it is a large residential area without any major commercial spot such as malls and boutiques. However, there is one place that can be called our small town which is the Sillim Intersection. It is the commercial spot for this part of the city as it is the crossroad of many commuters during peak hours. It boasts a small version of Dongdaemun style mall, The Renaissance Mall and Podo Mall. This is the place where I would do my shopping if I felt too lazy to commute to the city centre.
"Podo Mall at Sillim" by Adzrin Mansor with a LG Optimus One
There is a place north from my neighbourhood which is about an hour bus and subway ride away called Itaewon. It is the town for foreigners. There is a lot of stores selling foreigner stuff such as imported foods and halal meat. The only mosque in Seoul is also in Itaewon. This photo is taken during my first week arriving in Seoul. No one knew about what was running in my mind that time. In fact, during my first month here, almost every moment I was pondering upon the reasons why I came to Korea, abandoning my family thousands of miles away. I travelled a lot before but nothing prepared me to live in a stranger county. Now I am comforted by the fact that the ground is still below my feet like at home, and the sky is also just as blue.
"Seoul Grand Mosque in Itaewon" by Adzrin Mansor with a Olympus SP5-70UZ
Mowing on, Malaysia has Low Yatt Plaza at Bukit Bintang for the centre of electronic gadgets and computers. In Seoul, it is a small city, expanding a few blocks at Yongsan Station. If I were asked about the price difference between Malaysia and Korea, it depends on the item itself. I found that most items are cheaper in Malaysia compared to here. But there are certain items that is cheaper in Korea than Malaysia. Know the price before buying...
"Yongsan Station" by Adzrin Mansor with a LG Optimus One
Talking about price, UNIQLO offers a line of Big Bang UT t-shirts for its fans. I found that it is sold at RM59.90 at Malaysia per piece, but here in Korea, it can be found with a price of 10,000 won or RM28 per piece, and 5000 won or RM14 per piece for certain designs. Clothing is a must buy item here because fashionable clothes are a bargain here in Korea. The hub of fashion in Seoul is probably Dongdaemun, where all the fashionable items gather. Migliore is a mega high rise mall with many individual stalls in it. I repeat, individual stalls, which means that we deal directly with the stall owner. So, haggling is a must. There is no price tag displayed here, and there standard answer from the stall owner when you ask the price of an item is "싸게 줄게... (Saakae julkae)" which means "I will offer a very low price."
"Migliore Mall in Dongdaemun" by Adzrin Mansor with an Olympus SP-750UZ
The mall offers three full floors for women's fashion items but only one floor for men's. Life is so unfair... The neighbourhood is full of shopping malls, and there is also an underground shopping mall dedicated for fashionable items. Talking about haggling, the procedure is usually the customer offering a price for the item and in turn, the stall owner rises the price. Then haggling starts until a mutually agreed price is reached. Be careful of paying more than what you are supposed to pay. I had an experiment where I introduced myself as a teenage tourist and there is was a guy who tried to sell some danky t-shirt with the price of a whooping 30,000 won or RM80. So it is important to know the price of the item that you want to buy.

K-pop is in the hearts of every young Korean, and they love hip hop dance big time. The malls at Dongdaemun offers these youngsters a platform to unleash their hidden talents at night. Every night (really? not so sure bout this. perhaps weekends) there will be a DJ playing R&B songs and anybody is welcomed to come up to the stage and dance. That's an amazing way to tap young talents and the mall owners can entertain customers without the need for hiring professional dancers.
'Young Talents of Dongdaemun" by Adzrin Mansor with an Olympus SP-570UZ
Another fashion concentric area called Myeongdong is famous for its narrow streets filled with branded boutiques and push-carts selling fashion items, beauty products and many other items that can make your day.
"Myeongdong" by Adzrin Mansor with a LG Optimus One
The Girls Generation collaborated with Super Junior to make their fashion line called SPAO. It is a wonderful brand for K-pop fashion lovers as we can get a Super Junior style skinny jeans for 30,000 won or RM83, which is a bargain. There is also simple coloured tees sold at 7,900 won or RM22. I like it. This is a picture of me wearing full set, SPAO tee and the skinny jeans from my previous post.
"Small Bang"
These are the places that I found interesting to visit in Seoul. Seoul was a complete stranger to me. But now as time flies I discover more and more about this amazing city just like getting to know a new friend. It is an amazing city. My K-pop loving friends share one thing in common, which is a dream to visit Seoul. With Air Asia available, the dream is closer to reach. See ya in Seoul then?


wawa awora said...

nice.. if u dont mind..put more pic plezz ;)

Adzrin Mansor said...

haha nice one love. I will make another post on sights around seoul someday.

Zeyta said...

wow...bestnya dpt blajar kat sana...South Korea is my dream vacation...;) do take a lot of pics bro...lots of beautiful places there...:)

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