Early onset of food poisoning but the show must go on!
Tuesday February 10, 2013
We hoped to get an early start to the day but we both had trouble getting out of bed. I know Chantelle wanted to sleep more but I wouldn’t let that happen haha.
Korean War Museum
The big thing I wanted to see today was the Korean War Museum. I had heard from a few people that it was huge but I really didn’t fully grasp it’s size until we got there.
Now to back track a little. My stomach was feeling a little funny in the morning but I didn’t think much of it. In my head we were supposed to take the 470 bus but now I realize that I totally recalled improperly and it should’ve been the 750A/B bus we were supposed to take to Seoul Station then subway down to Ichon station. So we’re on this 470 bus and after awhile I’m realizing that we’re nowhere the core of the city where Seoul Station should be. Chantelle asks a lady standing next to us and luckily she knew some English. She told us we are on the wrong bus, to get off at the next stop and turn around. GREAT right? So we get off at the next stop and hail a cab. Luckily the bus was still carrying us in the right direction so it wasn’t too bad of a loss. On the cab and bus ride, I was already starting to feel more and more queasy.
We get to the Korean War Museum and wow this thing is GRAND. I mean this thing looks like it was some sort of palace. It seriously dwarfs a lot of other buildings I’ve seen around Seoul. On the outside directly opposite to the main entrance there are huge monuments and statues representative of wartime and pursuit of peace. To the right of the museum is a wide array of military planes, helicopters, tanks, LVTs, APCs, rockets, gun batteries, launchers and one ship. We spent a good hour in the freezing cold checking out what was out there.
Once we got into the museum, I realized I was definitely not feeling good at all. The uneasy and queasy feeling wasn’t going away but I tried to go on. We put our stuff away in the locker (all lockers seem to be free in Korea btw) and went to the cafe to grab some food. I knew I couldn’t hold down anything heavy so I ended up just eating a blueberry muffin (they ran out of ham/cheese sandwich) plus a cup of tea. Afterwards we went up to the main museum hall. The Korean War is broken down into 3 main sections, 2 of which are on the main floor and 1 the floor above.
There was a ton of good information in this museum and really hammers home the story of how it started to how it eventually ended in a cease-fire and eventual creation of the DMZ. Chantelle and I really enjoyed this museum because it really prepped us well for the DMZ tour the next day. The Korean War truly is the “Forgotten War” because it isn’t a war often talked about since it happened so close after WWII. Well executed museum all the way through.
What wasn’t doing so hot during the museum walk-through was me. I was totally dying halfway as the food poisoning was starting to take some serious effect. After finishing the first floor, I actually ended up taking a nap for an hour on one of the benches because my back was aching so much for some reason as well. I was just a big mess. I mustered up enough energy to finish the museum and then we got outta there.
I had thought about just heading back home to sleep but thought we might as well check out Dragonhill Spa to check out what this jjimjilbang is about. We leave the museum fully prepared this time though. I used the free wifi to pull up a visitkorea page with the name of the place in Korean and the address in Korean. I mean seriously what could go wrong? SET. And then we go out to grab a cab and the first guy must’ve been blind or something because at first he was waving his arms all over the place when I showed him my phone saying it was too small. So fine I enlarge it and he looks at it finally and then he says something else and basically kicks out of the cab. What the hell! We grab the next cab and this guy is much nicer but even with all the instructions he still couldn’t figure out where the heck this was. He tried to punch it in his GPS but apparently the street it’s on isn’t an option. Great. So finally Chantelle was smart enough to say jjimjilbang in Yongsan. The guy thought about it and then he said “ah hah!” and then got us there in no time. We’ve just had the worst luck with cabs this time!!
Okay so I’m not feeling the greatest at this point but I was hoping things would settle down a bit. When you go into the spa, you pay your 10,000/each admission and they hand you your gender specific clothes (the same but basically t-shirt and shorts + towel) and an wrist band that has a key and a numbered RFID tag. Once you pass the turnstile, you take off your shoes and the first section you have to lock up your shoes in the shoe lockers according to your number. The change rooms are on gender specific floors so Chantelle took the women’s elevator up to the 3rd floor while I took a different mens elevator to the 5th floor. On the guys floor everyone was full out naked and apparently it was the same on the women’s floor. I found my locker, switched into the Dragonhill Spa gear and head back down to meet Chantelle. We were a bit hungry so we went over to the small restaurant that served basic Korean food. We tapped our RFID wrist bands to pay and got our bimbimbap and bulgogi. The food definitely wasn’t sitting too well at this point. I even popped an advil for good measure. We found the co-ed area which opened to this large hall with large chandeliers and everything. And then you look down and you just see people sprawled on the ground floor sleeping or chatting. It was kind of weird but after you realize that the floor is heated you realize it’s kind of nice to just pick your spot on the ground and lie down. They have these cushion boxes that you can use as a pillow but I found the ceramic ground to be a bit too hard to just sleep on. The unfortunate thing was that I wasn’t feeling that well and I could feel my headache getting worse and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle the heat of the sauna. We found one room that was pretty much “clean air” at room temperature so we lied down there for a bit. We also tried a clay hut room that was slightly warmer but after awhile it seemed to get progressively hotter but that might’ve just been my head. After that I didn’t think it was a good idea any longer so I just stayed out in the main foyer and sat on one of the many massage chairs that lined the walls while I let Chantelle try out the different sauna rooms. There were a set of them set up like pyramids there were 35 and 40C and a few other hut looking ones that were hotter. There was also this one that had salt stones on the floor that you could sleep on that had some special effects. Lastly there’s an ice cold one that you’re supposed to use to cool down after all the hot ones to close your pores. We also knew that there were some male-only and female-only stuff on the 5th and 3rd floors respectively so I told Chantelle to check it out. So apparently I really missed out on some good hot springs type of pools up there, with some water fragranced with different things (ginseng, flowers etc). It was too bad that I was as sick as I was. I literally tried to sleep on the massage chairs. In the end we must’ve only stayed 2 hours before we head back home. It was a pretty neat experience though. Now I understand how you could literally spend a full day there. Not only is there all that sauna/hot spring stuff, there’s an arcade area, sleeping areas, a cafeteria, 2 restaurants, spa services, theater, PC internet cafe and probably more we didn’t get to discover. Crazy right?
What really struck me with the jjimjilbang was how young the crowd was. It seemed to be a very couply thing to do with kinds coming in as young as high school it seemed. This was a weekday too mind you!
The night was one to forget. I ended up developing a fever and barfing and all that. *shudder. All I knew was that I had to be better for the next day so I could make it to the DMZ. Luckily after puking I did feel somewhat better…
- Trends –
- They’ve somehow brought back sneakers to cool again – bright neon ones with crazy patterns. People wear them with their super skinny jeans and New Balances.
- Yup they love their skinny jeans
- Girls love their oversized shirts. Like wow.
- Smoothie King is boss here. Who would’ve thought this lesser known smoothie place from the US made it that big here.
- Baskin Robbins – I wrote about this earlier.
- Jamba Juice – Some sort of
- Outback Steakhouse – Huge hit!
- Oh and remember Ho-lee-chow?
- Heated Floors – It looks like that’s how homes are heated by default. Really makes walking around the home comfy in bare feet
- Frozen Yogurt doesn’t seem to be big here….WHAT THE HELL??? The one Red Mango I went to was such a disappointment and wasn’t even it’s own full-fledged store.
Tips & Tricks
- Shoot I can’t even remember all the other tips and tricks i’ve given so far….
- Bus vs Subway – Okay if you’re not living on the subway line, you’ll notice that some of the busses that you want to take to a subway station say they’re stopping near a subway station when in fact there’s still quite a bit of a walk which I thought was a little deceptive. We learned that the hard way and realized that if sometimes it’s just a lot easier to take the bus all the way to your final destination. The trick is knowing which bus to take and that was hard part. We could ask Farrah and Joel about it the night before but with no other way of communicating with them during the day, we were usually on our own with no one else to ask. But if you can figure it out, taking the bus all the way through could be easier than taking bus -> subway (2-3x transfer)
- Yongsan Dragonhill Spa – Definitely a unique experience to try when coming to Korea. It’s not your basic sauna that’s for sure. It only costs 10,000 if you come before 8PM and 12,000 if you do come after. If you’re okay with sleeping on the warm ground this is actually a neat option as an overnight stay. It’s cheaper than a hostel and a hotel and they provide you with lockers to store your stuff. The only thing is there are no in and out privileges. Apparently Joel had to do this one night on another trip to Korea when he realized he had nowhere to stay for the night so he just went to Dragonhill Spa to spend the night.
- Korean War Museum
- Yongsan Dragonhill Spa
Addresses & Directions
- Korean War Museum (전쟁기념관)
- Address: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 용산구 이태원로 29 (용산동1가)
- [Subway] – Samgakji Station (Subway Lines 4, 6), Exit 12. It is 5min away from the station
- [Bus] – NO. 149, 150, 151, 152, 500, 501, 504, 506, 507, 605, 750A, 750B, 751, 752 (Samgakji Station)
NO. 110B, 730, 421 (Main entrance of The War Memorial of Korea)
- Hours: 9:00 – 18:00, Closed Mondays and if Monday is a holiday day, it’ll be closed on Tuesday
- Price: Free
- Address: 29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Yongsan Dragonhill Spa (용산 드래곤힐스파)
- Address: 40, Hangang-daero 21na-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 용산구 한강대로21나길 40 (한강로3가)
- Address: 40, Hangang-daero 21na-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- It seemed for us that the cabs couldn’t figure out where this was based on the name or address so try to say Yongsan Jjimjilbang and maybe they’ll figure it out
- Directions: Yongsan Station (Subway Line 1 & Jungang Line), Exit 1
- Go towards My Wedding Hall Buffet (마이웨딩홀부페).
- The sauna is located next to the buffet
- Hours: 24/7
- Price: 10,000 Won before 8PM, 12,000 after 8PM to 5AM, Weekends 12,0000, Children 6,000 all the time
Check out the next day
The food poisoning didn’t get any better but I would not dare miss the DMZ tour. Check it out here: Day 7 – Seoul – DMZ