[SOUTH KOREA 2012] Day 7: Hongdae, King Sejong Statue, Cheonggyecheon Stream

DAY 7 (17 Nov): Hongdae, King Sejong Statue, Cheonggyecheon Stream

Morning & Afternoon
- Walk around Hongdae
- Hope and Free Market

- King Sejong statue
- Cheonggyecheon Stream - Seoul Lantern Festival 2012

We had a relatively early night (I think we slept at 11pm and forwent dinner altogether), so we got up early the next day to go for a walk in Hogdae.

Hongdae is a more urban/hip neighbourhood in Seoul, and is practically crawling with students as there is a Hongik University in the area. Apparently it's one of the more "happening" area when it comes to people looking for a fun night out. Obviously we weren't interested, but we spent half a day just walking around the area, which are basically rows and rows of shops, bars, and restaurants.

First we went for a light breakfast at one of the many coffee shops in Hongdae area - South Korea is all about coffee apparently, the cafes and boulangeries are aplenty and you're spoilt for choice.

Breakfast! A garlic bread with honey (if you can call this "light").
Don't ask.
Found a cute macaroon store, where the macaroons are actually made by a French chef and its staffs. The macaroon were good! There were a number of interesting stores, but I think we were there early in the day so a lot of the stores weren't really full with people just yet.

Stumbled upon the place which should have been the Coffee Prince cafe! Unfortunately it was under renovation :( We were so psyched to go, too. Ah well, maybe next time.

Can you see our disappointed faces?

So we walked around some more and came across an interesting store which sells lots of pins, brooches, and more importantly, bracelets & watches. Plus the guy who helped us with our purchase was so cute that we had to take a picture (the ahjummas who were visiting the store was just cooing "how cute!" when we posed for a picture. Sorry, nameless-cute-guy!)

Walked around some more until we encountered the Free Market, which is basically where all the freelancing students/business owners set up their simple stalls which sells unique things. Bought some homemade postcards and notebook here. There was also a live music show which showcases some indie bands. Worth a look around. We were interviewed by two students who were asking around on how foreigners heard about the Hope & Free Market.

After all the walking around, we found out that it was noon and decided to have an early lunch. We were so early that I think we were the first costumer, lol. We loved this shop as it served one of the best haemultang dish! (The only one which we figured we could eat, lol.) In fact we went here twice on this day (once for lunch, another time during dinner) and went back here the next day for dinner as well ha. The auntie probably recognized us at one point.

On the next night we went here, a cute couple (possibly in their 30s-40s) made some small conversation with us after we showed some difficulty with the menu (we wanted something else other than the haemultang, but it was hard to describe any other halal food with our limited vocab). The man spoke fluent English and looked a little bit tipsy haha, but otherwise we had a pleasant talk - seems he's been to Malaysia and spoke favourably of it :) Ahjussi, come to Malaysia again and we'll show you around!

Hotpot yummm.
Later on in the evening, we decided to go to the Cheonggyecheon Stream. We heard from one of the other guesthouse occupants (a German man traveling alone) that apparently the Seoul Lantern Festival was ongoing. This was serendipity at work since we didn't know anything about the event until we were told that it was held annually since 2009 and showcased some amazing lantern works.

Arrived from this subway station.
First, we had some fun at the King Sejong statue (with the Gwanghwamun Gate as a background)

Then we made our way to the entrance of the stream, where we found out that there's a loooong queue to enter the stream! Guess I shouldn't be surprised. I think we were in line close to 30 minutes before we saw the first lantern figure.

Which was a replica of the Gwanghwamun Gate!

Since it was Saturday, it was a lot more crowded than I expected - the queue was long and the procession was pretty slow. But it was worth it for one of those once-in-a-lifetime experience abroad, considering we didn't even know it was occurring during our visit. The lanterns were beautiful, truly some masterpiece artwork.