“Bro, maaga ka ba nagigising?”
“Ako kasi mantika ako matulog e, pagising nalang ako pag nauna ka, gigisingin naman din ako ni Tikoy”
“Sige gisingin nalang kita”
That was the conversation Mark and I had on our first night. As a respect to my roommate, I decided to not set an alarm. Because believe me, the entire guesthouse will wake up once my phone alarms. I was not sure about what time Mark set his alarm that morning but I was up at around 6AM. I had my quick breakfast while Mark was still asleep. I took a bath and went out but Mark was still asleep. “Brad, tinalo mo pa ko! Akala ko mantika na ko matulog, medyo sebo ka pala!“. It took about an hour for us to fix everything. In all fairness to us, no matter how late we started to prepare, we can still finish earlier than the women.
About 8:45AM, the group met downstairs. I was pretty confident that my clothes will be enough — but– when we opened the door and went out, we froze. I felt the need of Tikoy’s hug 😜 haha!
Before going to the Metro, Tikoy handed us our T-Money. She said a bit of reminders and then we were off. The group noticed Stef’s equestrian boots and it became a point of conversation most of the time while we were there (especially in the Metro)😀. The short walk from the hostel was agonizing. The weather was just unbearable. Four layers of clothes but still it was painfully cold. Few meters and there we were at the station.
While waiting for the train, we had few photos and groupies. After a while, we heard a sound that took us to the wild west. Everyone suddenly looked at Stef’s boots. ✌️ That was the start of everyone staring at Stef’s boots every time we were boarding the train–even when Stef was not in boots. Haha.
I didn’t pay notice to the train stations as much as I did before–because I know Tikoy is IN CONTROL. After an x number of transfer,s we found ourselves in Gyeongbokgung Station. The weather was fine–sunny but cold, and great for taking photos.
The changing of guards is a ceremony happening three times a day. Since we arrived a bit early, we had ample time to take few snaps of the vicinity and group pictures. When we heard the drumbeat, we looked for the best place possible to get a glimpse of Korea’s culture. The ceremony lasted for just about 15 minutes. After that, we were allowed to explore the palace.
Looking from the palace facing the Seoul skyline, I can’t help but admire what Korea did, you look on your left and you see the palace, you look on your right and you see a highly urban concrete jungle. It’s a place when the old meets the new. While inside, we were able to tour the museum and the rest of the palace. The place was big, somehow comparable to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Before concluding our Gyeongbokgung Palace tour, we stopped by some places to take group photos. I liked how the photos turned out. But what surprised me most was Gayle’s K-Pop poses. Do we really have to achieve that, Gayle? And since Tikoy made it a hobby to take group shots with me being the focal point. We also did that, not just in the Palace but in the train stations as well.
After Gyeongbokgung, we had our lunch in “Hanok Restaurant” (we really didn’t know the name sorry but I bet Gayle knew that). Our meal was filling, more than enough for me, for us actually. I don’t really eat Korean food until Shiela made me try one time. It’s an acquired taste–something I thought I would not like, ever–but I did it so I think I liked it. Why would you hate your food when Tikoy prepared it for you? Hehe. Mark and I were spoiled that time. The food was fine, not my thing but fine.
The cold breeze burns. I was having chills as soon as we went out of the restaurant. I cannot quite remember what I did to keep going. Freezing was an understatement during that time (uurong talaga yung ano mo! Whatever that ano is. Hehe). After a few minutes, we arrived in Hanok Village. We just literally visited the place and were gone in no time. But it was worth it actually. I liked it when we strolled the small streets of Hanok Village, not just you get to see the traditional Korean houses but it gives you an idea on how far the simple country has gone.
It was time to go to Insa-dong after a quick trip to Hanok Village. Insa-dong is a street known for its cultural value in Seoul. Here–all in its cultural glory–we had coffee. How was that? Anyway at least I have learned that it is self-service in Korea so you need to clean up your table after you eat or drink. While in the coffee shop, Mark told me that he will just go out for a walk. But he didn’t realize that he left his gloves and something I really cannot remember(aging problems). When he got back, he told us he had a food trip. Hehe. “Yun lang pala“. That was the time “the dare thing” became an item. Mark and I both agreed to go out in the cold in sando and shorts, and eat ice cream.
Tikoy told us to meet her in Starbucks, she said “pag may nakita kayong Starbucks, akala nyo yun na yun pero hindi pa yun yun, tapos may makikita ulit kayo pero di pa yun yun. Pero isa lang ang Starbucks sa street na to.” What? That was the clearest instruction ever given by Tikoy. Hehe.
After the quick Insa-dong stop over, we were off to Namsan Tower. While in the bus, Shie and Gayle won’t stop talking to each other about Korean drama and other things Korean. I was in awe. So to break the ice whenever we wanted to jump in to the conversation, Mark and I would say “pare mabalik tayo sa O-shopping, maganda talaga yung sampayan nila e. Pero yung non-stick hindi naman non-stick talaga“. The first time we injected that, I was surprised that Shie asked me what are the products worth buying and told me that she actually ordered an item. May bumibili pala talaga sa ganun. Anyway, when we arrived at Namsan Tower, the temperature dropped further to -12C I believe (walang basis yan pakiramdaman lang 😛). We could not really contain the cold, so after a very short picture-taking around the tower and at the place where the love locks can be found, we decided to enter the tower to the observation deck.
There was nothing special in the observation deck actually. All you can do is, well–observe, hence, the word observation, buy some souvenirs, and have coffee. We stayed only for a few minutes and decided to go back outside and meet Tikoy and Phoebe. Before going down, we decided to pee. I was wowed by the comfort room. While we were peeing, we were facing the glass and it’s all transparent and we can see the entire city from up there with our toot out. Haha. I felt a bit violated. Mark and I laughed inside and wondered how the girls’ comfort room looks like. Afterwards, we joined Kath, Gayle, Stef, and Shie and went down.
Temperature continued to drop while the sun set. We waited for Bus no. 5 that will take us back to the city. When the bus arrived, everyone was happy because finally we’ll escape the cold for a little while. But when Stef was about to go inside, she couldn’t find her T-Money. All the smiles vanished on her face, what’s left was confusion. Ok na yan Stef at least hindi ikaw ang nawala. After an hour, we reached Myeong-dong. Tyx, Phoebe, Stef, Shie, Kath, and Mark decided to watch The Nanta Show, which was according to them, a musical-cooking show. Gayle and I passed and just decided to shop around. I took the chance to ask Gayle to buy some stuff a friend asked me to buy for her sister. Some of the items include Wonder pore mist, Dry shampoo and the epic, Tony Moly Kiss Kiss Lip Scrub! What the heck! How am I supposed to buy them? Good thing I was with Gayle, she paid for the items–of course I gave her money. 😄. We strolled the streets of Myeong-dong while waiting for the others. When we got tired, we settled in a Starbucks to thaw our frozen body parts. When they arrived, we all went back to the hostel.
Even in Insa-dong, we were really enticed by the smell of the waffle they were selling in there. So when we saw a stand selling waffles, some of us bought. When we were about to go to our hostel, we bumped into Shiela, I thought “uy small world dito pa tayo nagkita“. Just kidding! We were expecting her actually but the moment was just so surprising there wasn’t even a time to formally introduce everyone. I only had time to introduce her to Mark (who was our roommate, so I felt the need to introduce her).
As easy as that, a day was done. They say you don’t get the same moment twice. So when you feel that something is right, you hold on to it. Be genuinely happy, laugh hard, love harder.