Monday, March 23, 2015

Where to sleep in Seoul for less than P500.00 a night?

After a week of staying in a city outside of Seoul (where my student and his family hosted me in their upscale apartment), it is now time to move to where the action is--Seoul. For my big city fix.

Finding a cheap, safe and centrally located hostel in one of the most expensive cities in the world is a bit of a challenge.

I pick Hongdae Area in central Seoul as my base. The district is considered as budget friendly being a university belt surrounded by affordable shopping, dining and partying venues in Seoul.

My artsy hostel, located in a quiet neighborhood, is clean, convenient and comfortable. Just two blocks from Hongdae Subway Station. But it gets very noisy in the small hours when pissed drunk guests come home, bang the door and switch on the lights. So on my second night, I decide to move to another hostel.

Off I move to Myeongdong! Another shopping district and tourist trap. Based on the reviews in hostelworld, Myeongdong is my second best option. No harm in trying. So, I set my sight on a hostel that offers total privacy. A rarity in hosteling terms. The best part? I had the good fortune of scoring it for P400.00/night. Promo rate! Plus it's a highly rated hostel.

The hostel is centrally located. Just a 3 minute walk from Myeongdong Subway station. My bunk has a curtain for privacy. Inside the bunk is my own flat screen TV, reading light, electric socket, a soft pillow and a nice smelling comforter. Beside my futon, there is a little space for my carry on luggage. The locker where I stored my backpack is located just across my bunk.

The common area has a weighing scale, computers, dining tables and a common kitchen/pantry with toaster, fridge, sink and water station for guests to use. Breakfast which is Shin noodles and toast (self service) is complimentary. Liquid bath soap and shampoo are also complimentary.

If you plan on staying out late, the doors are locked by 10pm and won't be opened until 9am the next day. If you don't want to be locked out, don't forget to ask for the passkey (four digits) to gain entry past 10pm. I failed to ask for the passkey on my first night! Terrible experience. Ask for it because the staff won't give it unless you ask.

This is by far my most favorite hostel in Seoul in terms of privacy, price and cleanliness. During peak season (or if you are a walk in guest during low season), the bunk bed could go as high P1,400.00 per night. The best deal, I must say, is online. Through hostelword or agoda.

Namsan Guesthouse 4
35-2 Namsandong 2(i)-ga (43 Toegye-ro 18-gil),, Myeong-dong /Namsan, Seoul, South Korea 100-042

Word of Caution:
I arrived past lunchtime and was very sure that I found the right hostel. I made research prior to coming and took the cue from the review that there are 4 properties with same name. A reviewer mentioned that for a guest to avoid the same pitfall that she experienced, one must find this so and so landmark and hostel branch number.

When I arrived, after the staff checked the system, he said that I got the wrong property and told me to go to the property up the hill. When I got to the other property, the staff checked the system and told me that my hostel is down the road. I was pissed. 

I returned to the first property and the staff met me with apologies. I was too pissed off because what I was trying to avoid happened.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Filipino backpacker in Seoul, South Korea

It's been an amazing 2-week mega city experience in Seoul!

Time to move to the equally amazing Korean countryside. Seoul Capital Area (Seoul + Incheon + Bucheon) is now my new favorite mega city. Free wifi practically everywhere, efficient mass transport system, delectable ssamgyupsal meals, well-mannered people and the museums here? They blew the top of my head! 

The downside though is that eating out is not solo traveler friendly so food here leans toward the expensive side and there's no rice in fast food restaurants (hahaha) here so 7 11 and Family Mart (CU) are my refuge for budget rice meals and familiar Korean food in between culinary adventures!

See you on the road!

*all photos during my backpacking trip in Korea and Japan are taken using iPhone5

Out-of-the-box Campus | Ewha Womans University in Korea

The design of Ewha Campus Complex (ECC) is nothing short of stunning!

The state-of-the-art ECC (dug up in the middle of the campus) has attracted tourists in droves, especially Chinese tourists who arrive in busloads. These tourists got out-of-hand--disturbing classes and taking photos of the students without their consent that university management decided to limit access to certain areas in the campus. 
Meanwhile, inside this underground complex (the largest underground campus in Korea) one can find Starbucks, movie theaters, high-end fitness gym for faculty and students, banks, bookstore, lecture rooms and performance halls. 

The buildings that surround the very modern ECC are homes to the different colleges of Ewha. Ewha is ranked 1st in South Korea in the following fields: Education, Engineering, English Language & Literature, Environmental Engineering, History, Law, Mathematics, Nutritional Science & Food Management, Physics and Sociology.

Notable alumni of Ewha include 3 of Korea's First Ladies. It has also produced the most number of Korean female executives in the country's top 100 corporations.

Just outside Ewha campus is one of the popular shopping districts in Seoul. 

How to get there:
Five  minutes walk from exits #2 & 3 of Ewha Womans University Station (Subway Line 2)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Day of Silence in Bali, Indonesia

The world has come to a full stop in Bali, Indonesia today.

I arrived in the epicenter of the Hari Raya Nyepi or the observance of Day of Silence in the island which means all windows must be shut or covered (I used newspaper) and all people must stay at home and be quiet the whole day. The mood was like arriving in Boracay on a Friday during Holy Week sans the crowd, music and electricity #throwback • Selamat Hari Raya Nyepi to all my Indonesian friends!