We went to Myeongdong again the next day, but this time to watch a renowned performance in Seoul called Nanta, which is basically a musical performance performed by a few ‘chefs’ who will create music through hitting of the pots and pans in their kitchen. The performance is also peppered with jokes and other cultural knowledge of Korea, as well as the tradtional Korean food. It is educational, yet interesting and interactive, and I am sure the kids will enjoy it. I was not super impressed with the performance though, since I have seen much better shows fom Broadway and other theatrical performances at the Esplanade, but I guess it is still a good eye-opener for a tourist who wishes to learn more about the korean culture in an interesting way.
After the performance, we took a slow walk and ‘hike’ up to the base of Namsan Mountain which is located near Myeongdong. Of course, with our good navigation skills, we were not lost and reached the Cable car station, where we took a ride up the Namsan Mountain to the peak, which boasted an amazing 360 degrees view of the entire city of Seoul. We chose a very good timing of evening, where we were able to see both the day and night view of the city, as well as a breathtaking sunset. Although the place was crowded, we still managed to stay comfortable at the top of Namsan Tower, (now renamed as N Seoul Tower), and watched the sunset. The night view of Seoul was even more amazing. As usual, we were treated to a great view of the bright lights of a big city with all the expressways, roads and streets as the veins winding through well-lit buildings, with never-ending traffic in all directions. All these never failed to mesmerise me.
After returning to ground level, we walked to Namdaemun for some street food. We had some great seafoodand soju, did some late night shopping before heading back to our hotel.
The entire third day of our trip was spent at Lotte World, Lotte World is a major recreation complex which consists of the world’s largest indoor theme park, an outdoor amusement park, an artificial island inside a lake linked by monorail, shopping malls, a luxury hotel, a Korean folk museum, sports facilities, and movie theaters all in one place. It is one of the best theme parks in Asia, and I got to agree with that. Although I never really dared to venture outside to the outdoor theme park, which consisted of rides which I had never taken before and will most likely not sit on them in the near future, or ever at all, (like Gyro Drop), I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I took the scariest ride i had ever taken, which was the indoor roller coaster, and I really wanted to give myself a pat on the back for successfully completing the entire track. In the evening, we went for ice-skating where the ice-skating rink is situated just right below the indoor theme park. While skating, we were treated to an amazing pyrotechnics and fireworks display, which marked a nice end to our third day in Seoul.
The next day, we visited the historic areas of Seoul, called Insadong.It represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores in Insadong specialise in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased in Korea: hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts. It has been historically a focal point for korean painters, craftsmen and art-lovers. We even managed to catch a traditional korean dance performed by youngsters. It definitely came as a pleasant surprise since anything korean that comes to my mind is either Kpop or modernity.
That night we visited Dongdaemun, which is another huge shopping district in Seoul, and offers a great variety of goods. It is really heavenly even for us Singaporeans who already have amazing shopping centers. One thing really great about shopping in Seoul is the things are really cheaper than in Singapore. Singapore’s inflation rate has been really high these few years because of the huge number of foreigners coming to Singapore, bringing up all the prices of everything you can think of, from house prices, to commodities and basic necessities. Anyway, we bought lots of things, and left for Sinchon which is a university street. It is basically a hip and cool street and the crowd is mostly university students. Sinchon is also one of the major entertainment districts with hundreds of bars, clubs and restaurants lining the streets covered in neon lights at night. We left the place, with somewhat a heavy heart, because I knew that would be the last night in such an awesome city.
On our last day, we travelled on a river cruise along Han River. It was a very cold wintry morning, but we still managed to brave the intense cold and had a great view of the river and the surroundings. Whats amazing about this river is that it cuts through the center of the city, and is filled with many historic bridges which included bridges that survived both the World War II and the Korean War.
This marks the end of our South Korea trip. Although it was just a short trip, I enjoyed myself thoroughly because it was the first time travelling with my friends only, and even more worth mentioning, was that the itinerary was planned by ourselves. Surprisingly, we did not get lost at all, even though communication was a little bit difficult for all of us who have little knowledge of Korean language. Overall, it was a very memorable experience for me as I got to enjoy my quality time with my army friends in Korea, and I really hope that I will be able to travel with my friends again, and next time maybe to even more exotic parts of the world, places where our parents will not want to visit. Yeah!