Back to December: Seoul (and Busan) Searching

Assalamualaikum, May peace be upon you.

Alhamdulillah thumma Alhamdulillah, finally the time has come for me to touch on my trip!

20 ~ 22.12.2015

BWN → MYY → KUL

Spent the time travelling and walking around Effah’s university campus at INTI. Also briefly went to the usual places: Masjid India, KL Sentral, Nu Sentral, Time Square and Pavilion for meals (I know, right?). Actually finished reading “Paris Letters” even before I went on a plane to Korea. That was supposed to be my travel reading! Quite silly but I couldn’t stop reading D:

23.12.2015

KUL → PUS

Received my first contact of Korean hospitality by a few gentlemen just as I landed on Busan. Foolish Tiqah, thinking that she could handle a trolley of heavy luggages by herself. Believe me, the whole situation is more embarrassing and anxiety-inducing than it sounds like. They weren’t kidding about the whole “Palli palli (faster, faster)” culture! Poor usually-laidback-Bruneians (basically just me).

Our elderly taxi driver had a hard time finding our motel but finally after a few calls we reached to our destination (it was in a nearby area too)!

Accomodation (mini) experience review: Top Motel | Busan

It was my first experience with heated floors so that was the first thing I noticed! It is also fascinating to see that they provided ALL the toiletry “korean” basics with these extras: lotion, toner, hair spray, hair gel, mosquito spray etc. We were also provided with a desktop and a large flat screen TV and bed warmers. The manager had a culture shock when we asked about the air conditioner and it was hilarious! “It is winter, we don’t use aircon because it is too cold!” (We found out that the aircon remote is built in with the TV remote). Other than the very unstable Wi-Fi (Why, why, Wi-Fi??) it was comfortable for a night in.

After we freshened up, Effah and I went out to deal with the Korea Train Express (KTX) tickets for Seoul and then went around taking pictures and looking at the sights. The night life really is prominent even in Busan.

24.12.2015 | Christmas Eve

PUS → Seoul

I have previously briefed about one of the highlights of my Korean hospitality here. May Allah bless Omeoni’s family. They were such a joyful pair. Essentially, the family guided us in Seoul and also helped us reach our guesthouse safely.

Accommodation (mini) experience review: Dream Comfort Guest House | Hongdae, Seoul

There was a major hiccup that lead to us waiting out in the cold for more than an hour but the host John was really apologetic. He even gave us permission to have our linner (lunch + dinner) at the homely kitchen (not that we asked, lol sorry). Basically, the food in the kitchen are free BUT was supposedly allowed for breakfast only – which meant Effah and I unknowingly stole most of their delicious, delicious strawberries (we bought a new pack to secretly replace the eaten ones but we forgot and finished that one too. Sorry John and Lucy!)

I really appreciate the hospitality and understanding in Dream Comfort. John basically let us eat not only because he kind of owes us but because he understood that as Muslims we can’t actually eat anything willy-nilly. Alhamdulillah, may he be blessed. I loved the homely feel of the house and how near it is to the station. Although if I may suggest, it’s not the place for rowdy children since it’s not that sound proofed considering the house is made of wood and planks. Nevertheless, I’d love to come by on my own one day. The refrigerator was filled with little notes of messages and knick-knacks written by past guests from all around the world. It was really heartwarming –  we ended up writing too (on a Bruneian dollar hehe).

At about 9PM Effah and I went out and used the subway (alone! It was such a great, great experience) to go to the City Hall (Seoul Plaza) for ice-skating! It was my first time for almost a decade and it was astonishingly FUN. Effah and I weren’t the best of skaters considering our lack of practise but we managed to not fall until the last 5 minutes (in which we fell 4/5 times and were decorated with bruises for weeks). We played and laughed and cried and it was just a nice highlight of the trip. I’d like to thank the two Bruneian girls for helping us with the tickets and whatnot. We were so lost! Plus there were so many couples people around, which shouldn’t be surprising since it was Christmas Eve.

We stopped by at the nearby Starbucks on our way home to warm ourselves up. Now I understood when they said Seoul is TOO COLD. It felt like my fingers could fall off in any moment – and I was wearing gloves! Achievement unlocked: hot chocolate at -1°

25.12.2015 | Christmas

Gyeongbokgung Palace  → ???  → Myeongdong

Two words: TOO COLD. If given the chance, I’d like to come to the palace during Spring or warmer Autumn. We didn’t managed to explore the whole place because of its gigantic area  and the weather. But we did stopped by at the National Folk Museum and Children’s Museum. I’d like to go there again because I couldn’t concentrate with a 6 year old to look out for. It looked really, really interesting and the palace grounds are really exquisite with a lovable touch of a mountain, skyscrapers and modern architecture brimming the horizon as the palace’s backdrop.

We wanted to go to Myeongdong on foot and ended up HORRIBLY lost. I recommend going to Myeongdong on a day that is NOT Christmas. Too many people, too little space. We didn’t even get any shopping done because we didn’t go to any shops. Wasn’t very pleasant and didn’t really make the whole lost-on-foot thing worth it.

At night (while everyone rest up) I went to search for a particular bookstore I was keen to go to but it was sadly closed. Effah tagged along to make sure I didn’t get lost on my way which was great because I actually did get lost. I have a very bad sense of direction. Coupled with my memory loss and I am your very own Dory.

We ended up going to Y’s Plaza for their underground bookstore (which is kind of like Best Eastern but bigger) but there wasn’t any English books. WHICH WAS REALLY FRUSTRATING especially because I found Kinfolk, Cereal and other magazines I am dying for because they aren’t available in Brunei. I almost gave in and bought the Korean version. Almost. The store also had a dreamy reading corner. Think Mary Brown’s swings but with pastels and flowers and tree themes. It was really cute because there were kids and adults alike (even with suits) reading and chattering. I wish I had a picture but I was wary since they usually won’t let you.

At about 11PM or so we stopped by the Starbucks again and waited for snow. And snow it did! Although it was just a light drizzle, it was still an amazing experience. Drinking hot chocolate in the cold out on the streets and being silly is definitely a moment to remember.

 

26.12.2015

Seoul → PUS

While waiting for our train at Seoul Station, I dropped by at this tiny bookstore which had a shelf full of English medium books (YES!). I bought a satisfyingly appropriate book with a lovely cover: “Art of Travel” by Alain De Botton. I read a few pages during the 3 hour ride before inevitably sleeping throughout the journey, exhausted by yesterday’s adventure.

Accommodation (mini) experience review: Popcorn Hostel | Busan

Definitely one of my most favourite stays. 2 bunk beds and a master bed? Charming lounge (with a table made of an old door?) with games, tv area, books, desktops and even a mini beauty area where you can paint your nails if you want to! It is definitely standing up to its goal of being a hostel and creating a community with the guests (they even recommended to eat together at the kitchen). Similar to Dream Comfort Guesthouse, Popcorn Hostel had messages written by tenants –  but rather than on paper, they are chalked on the gray walls and ceilings by Seoulites, other Koreans and foreigners alike. The hallways to the rooms were no exception. The reception was really friendly and had more than sufficient English capabilities which was a plus. As the hostel is only a 5 minute walk from Haeundae beach, it had a marvelous view of the city and the ocean on the horizon.

Our initial plan was to go to the Trick Eye Museum but sadly it was a bit too far. The receptionist suggested a shopping mall that we could go and Effah and I were off! It was already getting pretty late and the nearest station leads to a more silent pathway. No that we were afraid. We were actually into the sights. During our journey we found an e-mart and were like “Hey, rather than going very far why not just go here?” So we did. Apparently, it’s actually a pretty big Hua Ho like building with not much to do. It was already too late to continue our journey but the e-mart had a cute Dog Cafe (specifically for dogs not people) and we can sit and look at them play and it was really cuuuuute.

27.12.2015

PUS → KUL

Since we had 2 hours to spare before we needed to be at the airport, we went down to the Haeundae beach. Whattaya know? An ice-skating rink at the beach! It was a heck lot pricier than the one in Seoul but we went in anyway. Purely because I couldn’t get enough of it. The ice is more uneven too but I was still having fun. We went through a market on our way back to the hostel and I finally bought souvenirs. Korea is pricey! The elderly owner even gave us freebies. Alhamdulillah, bless him.

28 ~ 29.12.2015

KUL → MYY | MYY → BWN

We didn’t stay long at Malaysia; only getting our needed rest, meals and limited shopping. I am finally relieved when we reached Miri. Which means I didn’t need to worry about my excess baggage! Tip: don’t buy heavy bags. I had little in them but they weigh a TONNE (the trouble is worth the exaggeration). I need a new bag.

I spent at Effah’s place for a few hours after we reached home soil while waiting to get picked up. My family came and we went straight to Time Square and filled our tums with Pasta Mania. Yum!

Wait, when am I going home? (Thank GOSH I showered).

Hint: I stepped into my room at 11PM.

All I can say is Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah, Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal. All Praise and Thanks to Allah in any situation. I learned a lot during this trip. Plus, one of the benefits of travelling is having fun and being able to use the local language. All those years spent learning Korean on my own seems to have paid off. Even if I weren’t actually fluent. It gave me more incentive to learn languages, not just as a hobby. Despite having more than a week, I considered the journey to be REALLY short. Don’t you think? I never thought I’d say this, but I’d like to come again In Syaa Allah. 🙂

Oh, I actually took a lot more pictures but they’re still with Effah. Maybe one day I’ll publish another post with the DSLR taken photos. I do regret not taking more with my phone though, which Effah already lectured me on because I kept snapping on Snapchat (add me: atiqahhasnan) – even after most of them are lost! Next time, photos first snap later (and download the snaps before posting).

Disclaimer: Photos taken by author (either iPhone5 or Effah’s DSLR) unless stated as @dnimtakes which includes those that are altered by author. Photos by hers are some of author’s favourites, taken from her instagram profile. Check out her page for more!

Thank you for stopping by! I appreciate it so much and I hope you enjoy. ❤ 

Read more from the Back to December series here. I’ll be posting the last installment of the series soon!

I wonder where our #teetravelog will take us to next?

 

 

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