Two of my friends went to Seoul for a five-day vacation during the Holy Week. I envy them. I sincerely wished I could have joined them because I want to see the city during spring time. But I had to beg off; I need to prioritize my mom because she is celebrating her 70th birthday. Seoul can wait.
When I visited Seoul last October, I was amazed to see the orange foliage of trees that signaled autumn has arrived. It was really momentous and I had a very “seoul-” ful experience, allowing me time to discover something new with myself and experience a soulful journey while here vacationing.
Prior to my friends’ visit, I recommended that they stayed at the Beewon Guesthouse in Insadong where Jen, friend and fellow travel blogger, stayed when we traveled to Seoul. I was actually the one who chose this place after scouting for affordable hotels at Agoda.com. Jen and I enjoyed our stay here even though it wasn’t extravagant. After all, who needs to stay in an upscale hotel in Seoul when you would be out in the streets the whole day to savor the city’s sights and famous attractions.
Actually, the main reason I chose Beewon is because of its proximity to Changdeokgung Palace (top photo). It’s only a five minute walk from the guest house and its also near Bukchon Hanok village. Our temporary abode was hard to find at first, because you have to pass through narrow streets. But shortly after being acquainted with the streets and subway we find the place easy to navigate.
At Beewon, we got acquainted with a German father whose daughter is working in Seoul, a Japanese girl (I think she’s a model or an actress), a guy I thought was French, and a Chinese national at the pantry where we have our breakfast daily. It was really fun talking to people from different races. To our excitement, we also got to talk with some Filipinos who checked-in at Beewon a day before we were supposed to go back to Manila.
I also liked the fact that we were given a spacious room at a building located at the other side of the guest house. Plus, there’s a fridge and a mini pantry where we can cook our own meals. I also liked the fact the floor was warm. It must be the “ondol” — the Korean underfloor heating system–which helped us keep warm and I felt sheltered us from the punishingly cold air outside.
There’s a nearby convenience store, a bank, a mini-mart and two nearest subway stations: Anguk and Jongno3-samga. There are also plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops just along the street. We also dropped by the Center for International Korean Food also located in this juncture. Just around the corner (going to Anguk Stn.) near the entrance to Changduk palace is a gas station, while on the other end (near Jongno3-samga) you’d find a hanbok store and a Korean music instrument shop. There’s also an obscure temple nearby which we discovered on our last day, around the time we were about to board the shuttle bus back to the airport.
Unfortunately, for my two friends whom I urged to try the place during their visit were disappointed over Beewon. The first who arrived with a friend had to sleep at a dorm-style room shared with other guests. They were told that the room they booked for is unavailable because the guest before them paid a hefty price to extend his stay. So they slept at the dormitory for two nights before they were given the room they were paid for. The only consolation is that they were refunded at least W39,000 for the two nights they lost.
A week later, another friend, went alone in Seoul and arrived there just in time for the start of spring. She experienced the same thing but at least only for one night and was also given a refund. She was given the room just near the reception area and found it was a bit small. But she was happy then because she had unlimited access to wi-fi. There’s no wi-fi at the other building.
I guess my friend and I just experienced God’s goodness and favor that we didn’t experience such kind of hitches when we made our first visit to Seoul. There were misadventures but it was altogether pleasant and FUN! Nevertheless, I hope travelers like us wouldn’t have to experience unfortunate incidents like this in the future. My friend (the one who got to stay for two nights at the dorm) told me she felt a bit dissatisfied with their Seoul-experience. But at least they were consoled by the fact that the city of Seoul has so many magical places and must-see attractions that made the misadventures still worthwhile memories to keep.
I sincerely hope I could go back to this city any time soon. There is so much to see and explore. There are other plenty of nice guest houses in Seoul which I think Jen and I will have to try.