Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seoul Day 1: We're Back! Getting Cozy & Shopping at Lotte Mart‏

We caught a 1.30am Korean Airlines flight on Saturday as Daddy got back from overseas just a few hours earlier and needed some turnover time. Our extended family met us at the airport and after a midnight snack we braced ourselves with excitement: Seven adults & seven young kids (youngest being one year old and the oldest being 65 years old) meant an itinerary split down the middle between grown up's and kiddo places of interest. First hurdle: six hours on the plane!

It was a mix of experiences for everyone but we all agreed we managed little sleep, largely due to the 7 children. We caught bus 6015 to our apartments in Chungmuro and managed to catch a much needed nap on the 1 hour 30 minutes bus ride. The apartment building (Elcru Metropolitan Apartments) is located just a few hundred metres from the airport bus station and is located at Chungmuro subway station. A huge plus when it comes to travelling around Seoul since it is the station for 2 lines. Considering we are settling 4 families in 4 different apartments, it took us a little longer than expected to get everyone settled and comfortable. 

We've arrived in Seoul!

Regrouping before lunch! 

Our apartment at Elcru Metrocity Apartments
By the time we decided to head out for lunch around the area, it was late. Daddy went to Chungjeong to pick up his race bib for tomorrow's Seoul Challenge 10k and met us at Lotte Mart near Seoul Station after.

Bibimbap for the kids at a restaurant just round the corner from our place.

Traditional Kimchi Soup for Mummy!

Daddy gets his race bib! The Seoul Challenge 10k route will take him through the final 10 kilometres of the Seoul International Marathon route, organized by the same agency.

Lotte Mart has always been a favourite stop for Mummy as the produce is fresh and cheap. They have a good range of traditional snacks and goodies too. In short, Lotte Mart itself, is a wonderfully mixed Korean shopping cart. It opens from 9am to 12am everyday so late night shoppers would find it a pleasant place too.

Armed with our trolleys! Here we go!

We discovered something else our family especially enjoyed here: food sampling! The sales ladies were oh so obliging, and didn't mind a bit even if we returned for more after a few loops of the store. The many sale ladies scattered around Lotte Mart also advertised their 'Last minute sale!" using microphones. It made the whole place so bustling. Really helped to set the mood for more enjoyable (read: impulsive) shopping. Needless to say, it worked and we took back to the apartment all sorts of fruit, seaweed snacks and other munchies, and of course, juices to wash them down.

Cheese tasting...

Small pieces of croissant...

Cheese sausages! Yum.

Nuggets, freshly fried and still warm.

Fish crackers.

These were really nice and we got ourselves a cooked pack. You can buy the raw version as well.
Alaska Salmon anyone? Yes please!

We got to try juices too. The booths line the aisle and the drinks are dispensed into small cups for tasting.

Korea is known for their seaweed. We're trying the 'non-spicy' version here. The kids wolf these down so quickly we didn't mind getting jumbo packs.

Sampling was not limited to cooked or processed foods. Koreans take pride in some of the sweetest locally grown fruits and tasty greens. We bought ourselves packs of apples, oranges, strawberries, grapes and Jeju mandarins.

Too bad they didn't have sushi tasting. Still, it was a treat to watch the sashimi chefs carve up a whopper of a mackerel!

Peanut pancake in red-bean sauce! Sinful, but a little won't hurt.

Canned meats fried for you on the spot.

How about a small cup of noodles? This one was a little too spicy for the kids.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about food tasting in mid afternoon. The trolley ride is actually quite sleep inducing!

The fruit section in Lotte Mart is one of our favourites! We love our fruits!

After paying, some of the hand-carried items can be bound together with string or boxed up to be carried home. It's all DIY, but economical, environmentally friendly, and convenient.
We were so tired after grocery shopping we split into taxis to return to Chungmuro and settled for take out simple Korean food for dinner. The cabs were useful in that we didn't have to lug our loot back through the subway.

Shopping at the nearby CU convenience store for goodies we don't find in Singapore, such as our favourite 'Conch-Shaped Seasame Crackers'.

The kids were somewhat occupied with some art and craft packets we brought along and had fun playing together.
We visited old friends after dinner and they even cooked up a second dinner to welcome us back. We had a birthday cake from Paris Baguette Cafe to celebrate her daughter's 18th birthday, and we brought over some Kueh Lapis (layered cake) and Pandan Chiffon Cake from a Bengawan Solo outlet in Singapore. Our Korean friends love it so much that it became a must-bring whenever we visit Korea. 

A leisurely stroll through a short cut with our friends allows us to check out the night-life around our area.
Time flies quickly with all the catching up and food. Cant wait to start another day in Seoul - with more fun and exploration.


  1. Hi
    Thanks for yr email. I couldn't reply u via email. You visit Korea v often :) was it v cold?

    1. Hi Joshua & Bryant's mummy, we visit as a family about once a year, but Mummy sometimes visits a second time each year on her own. There's still a lot to explore as the place is huge. This trip, we explored Seoul, and yes, it was colder than last year's trip, with most days experiencing passing showers, and average temperatures falling below 10 degrees Celcius. Last year this time, we enjoyed mid day temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Celcius.

  2. Hi....can you share the name of the apartment in chungmuro? From where you booked that? thank you

  3. Hi,

    we usually use the site, Here, you can select from a wide range of apartments and prices. You may also email the hosts directly and they would help you with any inquiry. The apartment that we stayed in was Elcru Metropolitan Apartment. We used a few apartments from a few hosts. One of the hosts, Kate and Jason, is extremely helpful and accommodating. You can give it a try.


  4. Hi...may I know from where you get the taxi? And how much it cost from lotte mart to the apartment? Many thanks

    1. There was a taxi stand just outside Seoul Station by the road. I cannot recall how much it cost, but the taxi metre increased at a slow rate, so it definitely was not too expensive.

  5. Hi, I will be staying at Elcru Metro Officetel, is that the same as your apt? Is it the one next to T mark hotel?


  6. hi

    can you share with me how do you dress your kids in such cold weather? how many layers and where to buy for them?


    1. Hi. In March the temperature can be quite unpredictable. It can fall to zero, but usually hovers between 7-15 degrees. On colder days, we have three layers comprising a long-john base layer, pullover and an outer jacket that can be removed indoors. We go with two layers for the bottoms comprising a long-john and a thick pair of jeans. Hope this helps.