Namsan Tower Without Love Padlock

After returning from Banpo Bridge in Seocho District, I immediately rushed to bed to prepare myself for tomorrow’s adventure. Tomorrow was my last chance to enjoy Seoul because the day after tomorrow I had to leave to my homeland.

Huhuhu….Sad

—-****—-

The morning sun shone through the window in the sloping wall of hotel’s room. The hour hand had passed eight number. After morning prayer, I slipped back under blanket, refusing cold morning air which was able to penetrate window pane.

Realizing that I overslept, I jumped out of the bunk bed, grabbed a toiletries bag and an orange microfiber towel, then wet my body with a warm shower of Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon. The other occupants were still asleep, continuing their respective dreams, faint light snoring could be heard from the inn corridor. Lucky me, that was an opportunity to linger in the shared bathroom.

Actually, my habit of lingering in the bathroom when traveling always has an excuse. That consistent warm showers hit my calf muscles is the most effective fatigue-relieving therapy. No need to look for the services of a masseuse to make the body fresh again.

After showering and fully dressed in winter equipments, I went down to the first floor and chose to sit for a while in the shared-lobby. Joined by some diligent tourists, they were the first to get up and ate their breakfast which they had prepared in the inn’s refrigerator. Several beautiful tourists from “Land of Red Bears” and a group of travelers from “Matador Country” looked solemn with their own homemade breakfast.

I? ….Yup, I was just a little busy opening the map and trying to make a visitation pattern that day. As soon as they finished their breakfast and started to leave the shared-lobby, I also left the inn. I didn’t know where they were going, but I had determined myself to go to the “Tower of Love”, especially if not Namsan Tower, a television transmitter tower as high as 237 meters and 52 years old.

Before entering Hongik University Station, I carried out my morning ritual, which was breakfast with the same menu formula, cup noodles and packaged white rice, bored but had no choice.

Can you afford to eat like this for four days?….Hahaha.

Repeating the habit of fighting boredom, I shouted “Kamsahamnida” to the cashier before exiting 7-Eleven. Usually I always waited for the cashier to wave before exiting convenience store’s door. Getting the wave I meant, I finally got out of the convenience store and fast stepped towards Seoul Metro Line 2 platform.

A few seconds after Seoul Metro stopped at the platform, I jumped in. The quiet morning atmosphere made the Seoul Metro line of carriages looked deserted. The iron snake began to exploring the underground passages. Station after station I quickly passed until finally I got off at Euljiro sam (3)-ga Station to change to Seoul Metro Line 3. Now my last destination was Chungmuro ​​Station.

It took almost thirty minutes to arrive at Chungmuro ​​Station. At the final destination, I exited the gate, then rushed to find a bus stop which would be passed by bus number two to get to Namsan Tower.

Not even five minutes of waiting, the bus arrived. I took a seat in the middle and in an instant dissolved following the groans of bus engines as I climbed the road about two kilometers from Chungmuro ​​Station.

Slowly but surely, the bus arrived at Namsan Tower courtyard. The bus stops at a long bus stop to share with other numbered buses.

The distance between Namsan Tower and bus stop, which was around 600 meters, must be taken with a swing of my steps. Finally I had to be willing to pant for the rest of path to Namsan Tower. In the middle of my step, I didn’t have time to feel the gasping because I often stopped and was fascinated by the scenery below which showed the beauty of Seoul from the height of Mount Namsan. I could imagine if the night comes….How beautiful.

In front of Namsan Tower or N Seoul Tower as its official name.

Climbing Namsan Tower is indeed synonymous with lovebirds’ love. At the top of tower, lovers will buy a padlock, then naming the padlock with their names, which are then marked with a red heart. Then the couple will lock the padlock on a long display case which displays various love locks from several periods of time.

Well….What should I write when I buy a padlock?

Ups….Who’s in love?

Namsan Tower in addition to presenting an aerial landscape of Seoul, also offers several well-known restaurants which might be cheap for those who are intoxicated with romance, for me it makes no difference, restaurants are still expensive items.

Visiting Namsan Tower does feel bland if you do it alone. That’s the reason why I didn’t linger on top. I decided to get off and chose to sip coffee made by G-25 minimarket across from bus stop.

Entering the mini market, brewing a cup of hot coffee, then sipping it slowly. But I continued to be filled with curiosity with every sip. I continued to observe the passing of buses with different numbers, not just the number 2 bus like the one I was riding earlier.

“Is it possible if I can find a bus which can directly go to Namdaemun Market from here without having to return to Chungmuro ​​Station”, I critically thought with curiosity.

I decided to take a sip of black coffee while walking towards the long bus stop opposite the mini market. I was so solemn ‘combing one by one the route boards attached to the bus stop.

“Yes…I get it”, I cheerfully exclaimed when I found bus number 402 which could directly take me to Namdaemun Market from Namsan Tower.

So I just had to wait for the bus while I finish my coffee………

Dinner at Banpo Bridge

The majestic Banpo Bridge straddles Han River.

Luckily I didn’t sink into a deep nap in Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon. A little past five in the afternoon I woke up. Immediately unpacking contents of my backpack, I looked for a toiletries bag and microfiber towel for my first bathing needs since 35 hours ago.

I purposely splashed myself with warm water for a long time even though I knew there was an innkeeper who knocked on the door several times as a sign asking me to hurry up and finishing my bathing soon.

After washing my socks, I got out of bathroom and smiled at a female guest from China who had been waiting all that time. Of course my warm smile was reciprocated by frown lips from her. “I’m sorry. Ms, It’s been a long time since I’ve taken a bath, I’m so sorry …..” .

After changing clothes and wearing all winter equipments, I prepared to visit Seoul again until night.

I still remembered words from my office mates who asked me to visit a bridge which was often used as a setting in famous Korean dramas. Even though I heeded them when I left, for some reason, that afternoon I had a strong desire to visit it too. My friends said, when night fallen, Banpo Bridge often had rainbow fountains, a mix of fountains and light show in both sides of bridge. “Okay, there’s nothing wrong with me to going there even though I’m not a fan of Korean dramas”, I finally decided on a goal.

From Hongik University Station, I would now head to Seoul Express Bus Terminal Station, where I first set my steps in Seoul. The feeling of fullness from a piece of Kimbab which I ate at Hongik University Station that afternoon was gone. Now my stomach was starting to loudly sound as celebrating my hunger. But due to concerned about being stuck by night at Banpo Bridge for that night, I decided to put off my desire for dinner.

I immediately walked to Hongik University Station, picked up the arrival of Seoul Metro Line 2 and headed to destination I was aiming for. I really understood Seoul Metro line because I had been staring at the map since that morning, making me aware that I had to transit in Euljiro 3 (sam)-ga Station first and had to change rode in Seoul Metro Line 3.

It took approximately half an hour to reaching Seoul Express Bus Terminal Station. Exiting gate 8-1 in the station, I walked to Banpo Hangang Park, the best side to enjoy beautiful Banpo Bridge.

It took 20 minutes to get to the park in the banks of Han River. Entering the park, which was getting dark with minimal lighting, was actually a little daunting. Luckily there was a group of Korean families who entered the park and headed for the same place. By pretending to show composure I stalked them from behind….Hahaha, you coward, Donny.

That family group who were busy walking while preparing some cameras made me believe that they were going to Banpo Bridge view point. It was true, that local family and I finally arrived at river bank together.

Yeaaa….. arrived too.

The appearance of Banpo Bridge with sparkling lights did look beautiful as it straddled Han River. I was very enthusiastic about sitting on the bank of river waiting for the moment when rainbow fountain show started. Second by second, minute by minute, even though I had volunteered to be rolled up in the cold city temperature, the show never came.

As a result, with the end that local family visitation because of same disappointment, I was forced to resign from that place. “Yes, It will bad when I have to be alone in the bank of a river that is quiet and dark like this…”, I growled while holding back hunger which had been really messing with my concentration.

Walking away from the beauty of Banpo Bridge, I was really lucky to see the existence of a small 7-Eleven outlet in other side of park. The light from inside indicated that that outlet was still open. Then without thinking long, I hastened my steps closer to it. “This will be delicious, if I eat cup noodles with rice …”, my enthusiasm came while remembering the simple way of eating that I always practiced during my visitation to South Korea.

I shouted with joy that I got it. The excitement grew even more because 7-Eleven outlet provided a tent in outside to eat food which be purchased from that outlet. Uniquely, the tent was warmed by a fan whose its blades were made from heating filaments.

Wow….

Bukchon Hanok Village: The First Destination in Seoul

“Kamsahanida……”, I loudly said to a female cashier in CU Minimarket in that corner. I have finished in eating packaged white rice and cup noodles which made my lips feel hot because of its spiciness.

“Cheonmanneyo …”, that beautiful white cashier smiled while waving when I was in front of glass door and reached its handle.

Coming out of minimarket, I quickly walked towards the gate of Hongik University Station which wasn’t far away, just to left of a bend ahead.

Descending a long escalator swooping down underground, I began to open my own printed plan, then pointed to a point of destination. “I have to go to Anguk Station,” I thought as I folded my plan sheet and put it in my back pocket.

Then I was in platform. By noon, situation in underground station was deserted. Suddenly, a street romance show at the end of platform faded my enthusiasm for waiting for Seoul Metro arrival. A pair of lovebirds seemed to be hugging each other’s waist while looking at each other affectionately. Every now and then that man kissed his girl…. “Oh God….”, my envy feeling appeared. Shows like that really didn’t surprise me because I’ve often saw them in same transportation mode belonging to Singapore or Shenzen city. “Think of it as a travel bonus …”, I thought while wryly smiling.

Their intimate embrace was released for a moment after the sound of Seoul Metro could be heard when coming from right aisle. Seoul Metro softly squeaked and stopped in front of them, they ended their romance and I as the lone that romance viewer also boarded the train.

Seoul Metro Line 2 was pushing away from Seodaemun District heading east. I would travel to Jongno District which was eight stations away and had to change to Seoul Metro Line 3 at Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station and it would take about 30 minutes.

According to the estimated time, I was now standing in front of Seoul Metro door when the announcer sound said that the train would soon be arrived Anguk Station. After a perfect stop, I jumped out of the carriage which I was already on it since several minutes ago, nothing else memorable after the romance for about half an hour ago.

Exiting Anguk Station, I was faced with Yulgok-ro Avenue. Confidently taking a step to the left led me to an intersection which was bustling with fashion, culinary and cosmetic outlets. Looked like I went to the wrong way.

I stood rooted to a side of Enso monument which was located right in a side of intersection. Enso itself is a traditional calligraphy brush native to South Korea. I observed the behavior of local people who were busy shopping. Meanwhile, several groups of tourists from Europe seemed to be conversing in Tourist Information booth which was located next to the monument. Looked like I had to go to the booth and asked for directions to my destination. I finally walked over to it.

Me: “Hello, Ms. Can I know which way that I need to choose toward Bukchon Hanok Village?”

Her: “Hi, Sir. You can go straight there and then turn left in crossroad. You will arrive in Bukchon Hanok Village with walking about 600 meters”.

Me: “Very clear, thank you, Ms”

Her: “You are welcome. And this tourism map is for you”, she smiled as she handed me a Seoul tourism map.

I immediately headed north. Relaxing a bit while enjoying the bustling streets of Bukchon-ro, I finally arrived at Bukchon Hanok Village in 20 minutes. That cultural village was located in west of the main road.

Notre Dame Education Center in Bukchon Hanok Village.

To my surprise, this was different from Gamcheon Culture Village in Busan which I visited a few days ago. Bukchon Hanok Village featured rows of Hanok (traditional South Korean houses) which were neatly arranged along the contour of pedestrian path. The wood which was part of Hanok building looked shiny and well maintained, the alleys which could only be passed by walking looked neat and clean. This was the residence of Joseon Dynasty-era nobles which were more than six centuries old and were the pride of Jongno District.

In accordance with its nickname as the “North Village”, this village was indeed located to the north of two main icons of Seoul, i.e Cheonggye River and Jongno District.

In addition to functioning as a Hanok preservation, this village also functions as a cultural center, traditional inns, restaurants and a place to drink tea together.

Walking through the interior of village, several female tourists looked elegant in Hanbok (South Korean clothing) in order to walking through this cultural village more solemnly.

A beauty that was stored in Gahoe area, I finally managed to come to it. A classic impression, serenity, silence, full of meaning and cultural majesty I felt very strongly during this visit.

Trying Seoul Metro: Heading to Hongik University Station

I tried to align my steps with Mr. Park who seemed agile for his age’s pace. Waiting for Seoul Metro at a side of station platform, we lightly chatted. I told him about my trip through East Asia. I tucked in some adventure stories in Tokyo, Osaka and Busan a few days before. Mr. Park seemed quite impressed to hear the story line that I told as short as possible.

While Mr. Park, In Chul Park his full name….Told about his daily activities as an Obstetrician and Gynecologist (Obgyn) at Myongji Hospital in Deokyang District.

“My job is to help the baby to be born”, that was how he conveyed about his daily activities.

Seoul Metro arrived….

Being at Line 6, the two of us entered in center carriage. The whole carriage looked deserted that morning. Not many workers have started their activities. The two of us sat in the middle seat and continued the conversation to next light topics, ranging from his small family to a little bit about the city of Seoul, I was flooded with valuable information that morning. I mostly acted as a good listener in our conversations.

Twenty minutes into a worthwhile shared journey with Mr. Parks. I said goodbye first, because I had to get off at Euljiro 3 (sam)-ga Station to change to Seoul Metro Line 2. Mr. Park still continued his journey through another 14 stations more to Hwajeong Station.

Getting off at Euljiro Station 3 (sam)-ga platform, I started looking for the passageway leading to Hongik University Station. Seeing me confused looking for the corridor, a fat man approached me.

He: “Hello, Where will you go?”, he started greeting with a question.

Me: “Hongik University Station, Sir. Which corridor should I choose?”

Him: “Wait…”

He also looked confused and took the initiative to intercept a Seoul Metro officer who was walking in a corridor. The two of them seemed to be conversing and the Seoul Metro officer seemed to be pointing at the other side of station building.

He: “You must steps over there!”, the nice fat man showed me a direction after a few minutes then asked the Seoul Metro officer.

Me: “Thank you very much, Sir. You are a kind man”, I really feel helped by his help.

No wonder it was hard to find, the corridor was at the end of station building with a corridor opening that was not too big. Walking down the corridor, I came to a platform. Now I was on the right platform with a green color code in each hint.

Five minutes later the Seoul Metro arrived, I immediately flowed down the underground passages of Seoul City with it. Seoul Line 2 was bustling with students. The faces of educated youth seemed to be crowded in the carriage. Didn’t get a seat, made me have to stand for 20 minutes onward journey.

Finally I arrived at Hongik University Station…..

Time to head to Kimchee Guesthouse Sinchon