FINALLY, Seoul. It was on the bucket list for the longest time and it happened. Why it took so long to happen was because the flight cost to Seoul is on the high side—all airlines. It took a while but everything into place— snagged a seat on sale (I didn’t mind spending extra for a domestic connecting flight), I was in good company, and the hotel nodded to hosting. It’s a go, said the Universe.

I’m no fan of Korean telenovelas nor I crave for cook-it-yourself meal (I’m lazy, but I love kimchi though), but Korea is on my list. This time it’s all about Asian countries. Europe may be calling but long haul flights are a bit of challenge for a traveler my age (sigh).

It was the first trip via the new Cebu airport. Yes, the new terminal was stylish but it does need sprucing up in terms of service. The place was really hot at midnight and the immigration line was snaking out the designated area with only a few counters open to accommodate a big crowd. The P950 terminal fee didn’t make sense.

Red-eye flights are no longer my thing anymore but it’s the one I had. Worse, the flight was delayed and the ride was bumpy, not thanks to the typhoon. It’s not over yet— it was raining on my arrival in Seoul. Sorry, nothing was going to dampen my mood. Besides, I was in good company.

From the airport to Novotel in Dongdaemun, everything was a breeze. What was originally an earlier arrival was pushed to check-in time, so the room was ready. Nice. My friends and I didn’t even dare sit on the bed. With no decent sleep, we knew what was at stake.

First order of the afternoon was Myeong Dong to eat at this recommended resto. Guess where? A grill-it-yourself place. But miracles do happen. I fell in love with the grilled beef. It was really tender and paired well with kimchi. We were revived and ready to tour the busiest spot in Seoul.

Myeong Dong was originally the chosen place to stay. It’s a nice spot if you ask me, but too busy. That would be the next story.

Before I close this story, let me leave a teaser. I discovered one of the best dessert places in Korea—Osulloc. It’s a tea house but its coffee shop serves the best of everything made from green tea. That too is another story.

Seoul is easy to fall in love with. Efficient. Everything is in place and tourist friendly. They even have tourist information officers visible in popular attractions ready to point you to where you want or need to be—with matching maps to give you as guides. No language barrier too, each team has Japanese, Chinese and English speaking officers. How cool can that be?

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