가자 Korea Diary 11: Shopping Spree @ Express Bus Terminal + Eating Sulbing @ CN BLUE Lee JongHyun's Sulbing Shop in Sillim


South Korea is a place where you'll find yourself falling into an uncontrollable shopping spree without knowing because everything's so cute and rather cheap! 

However, I was quite surprised that after going to all those hit places like Gangnam, HongDae, Insadong and IkseondongEwha and Sinchon, I hadn't done much damage, yet!

I was going to Busan by train at the end of my Seoul trip so no matter how tempting those sales were, I would have to limit myself and keep my rationality in check, if not I'd be dragging an insanely heavy luggage on my own. 


That being said though, there's NO way I would miss out on a good shopping spree in Seoul. My Korean friends recommended me to go to this place called Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Centre at the Express Bus Terminal  or Gosok Terminal 고속터미널 (see red arrow on map above), also known as Goto Mall.

This place houses approximately 600 shops which is an ideal place for affordable shopping. 



Once you get out of the subway, look for exit 8 and follow the signs. It's easy to spot people with huge shopping bags and you'll naturally know the direction that you should be heading towards. 





I didn't manage to take many photos because both my phone and camera were nearly dying and I had another important place to head to after this. 

All in all, you can find tonnes of things at this Gangnam Underground Shopping Mall - homewares, fashion accessories, clothing, coloured lens, makeup and skincare products and etc. 



Bought a cup of orange latte to warm myself up first before I started my shopping spree. I loved trying out all these special coffee flavours in Seoul because it's so rare to find such variety in both Malaysia and Australia. 



Take a closer look at the reflection in the mirror to see my haul!


My hands were about to break from all those thick winter/autumn outfits I got because they were quite cheap. I bought a few sweaters that were between 5000 - 10000 won (5-10 dollars). 


I'm always a smart shopper!

HEHE! 


After I finished shopping, I went to Sillim 신림역 to eat bingsu 빙수 (Korean's shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings, aka snowflake sherbets) at Sulbing 설빙.

Sulbing is a retail chain dessert cafe that has over 400 outlets throughout South Korea and it's easy to find it anywhere. In fact, Sulbing's one of the biggest reasons why shaved ice has become such a famous Korean dessert. They really did their market penetration well! 

Then why the hell would I go all the way to Sillim for that particular Sulbing outlet?!  It's because of my favourite band CN BLUE ♥ 

In my 가자 Korea Diary Part 8, I mentioned that I went to CN BLUE's drummer Kang MinHyuk's dad's restaurant for K-BBQ. The Sulbing outlet in Sillim is owned by the lead guitarist of CN BLUE named Lee JongHyun, thus I had to go there to pay tribute to my brother-in-law ㅎㅎㅎ

Shakespeare's right when he said, "love is a madness". See the things I would willingly and happily do for my loved ones! 


Here's a video of Lee JongHyun oppa in his own Sulbing cafe in "We Got Married" (a Korean variety show). So you get to know who is he exactly :p 


Take exit 6 when arriving at Sillim station, turn left when you see a street sign of Sillim-ro 65-gil (신림로 65길) then continue walking straight.

As you go straight, you will pass by Tom n Toms Coffee which is also a famous coffee chain that can be seen nearly everywhere in South Korea. Koreans love their coffee too!


JongHyun's Sulbing Cafe is right on top of Olive Young. This should be on your left.  

PS: If you happened to stumbled upon earlier blog posts before mine (I visited in late 2017), Olive Young took over Tom n Toms Coffee so don't use Tom n Toms Coffee as a landmark anymore. That really drove me insane as I kept on walking around looking for Tom n Toms as I didn't bother to use my Naver Map. 


Take the stairs by the side. 


Go up to the 2nd floor. 

도착!!! Here!!! 




The cafe's very spacious and has this contemporary interior design with the touch of dim warm lights. 


I arrived during dinner time (wtf, I actually skipped dinner just to eat sulbing) and there's nobody yet, duh! 


Place your order at the counter and the crew member will give you a buzzer. When it rings, collect your food at the counter on your own. Just like Starbucks, though Starbucks don't provide buzzers because all they do is spell your name wrongly and yell the wrong name out loud *shrugs*


Aside from its signature Bingsu (there's a huge selection of flavours), you can also find cakes, toast breads, coffee, chocolate drinks and other desserts and beverages in JongHyun's Sulbing dessert cafe. I believe other Sulbing outlets will have the same menu too.


Since it's JongHyun's Sulbing cafe, of course there were heaps of photos and posters of JongHyun himself and of CN BLUE (he's the lead guitarist , duh).








Kim Woo-bin is a famous South Korean actor and he starred in a drama called "A Gentleman's Dignity" with JongHyun. So, it's not a surprise that he gifted JongHyun this plant during the opening of his Sulbing cafe.


Found this by the counter as I was ordering my dessert.


JongHyun as the boss!


Really wanted to take JongHyun's autograph back home! 


The photo from the K-drama "A Gentleman's Dignity".









Unlike MinHyuk's dad's restaurant where nearly every single corner's full of letters from fans and posters and photos, JongHyun's cafe's "decorations" were quite minimal. 

Probably it's due to the fact that it's a franchise business, so there might be some certain contract rules in relation to the decor and interior design...Just guessing~ 


Despite freezing to death after walking from the subway station, I insisted on ordering a bowl of shaved ice instead of a hot cup of drink - what's the point of visiting a Sulbing cafe without eating shaved ice?


Totally threw my logic out of the window because the waiter recommended this Injeolmi Snowflake Sherbet (7000won, approximately 6-7 dollars). 


This Injeolmi Snowflake Sherbet's was one of the 2 earliest dishes that was introduced by the founder of Sulbing and it has remained as Sulbing's signature and must-try ever since.


It's made of shaved milk/ice, red bean, chewy rice cake and milk syrup topped with some nuts.



I didn't manage to finish eating the whole bowl of it although it's very yummy. 


Here's a happy thing that happened while I was shopping at the Express Bus Terminal. I spotted a denim jacket that's similar to something that I had been looking for a really long time but I wasn't sure if it's worth the money (it's about 50000 won, and it doesn't have a brand or anything on it and it's the very last piece) or the hassle to bring it from Seoul to Busan to Malaysia then back to Melbourne. I left the shop empty handed but eventually I gave in to that jacket and went back to purchase it. When I went back for the 2nd time, the shop owner realized that I wasn't Korean and she's so excited and gave me a bracelet as a free gift! So blessed~ 


After I came out from JongHyun's Sulbing cafe, along the way back to the subway station, I saw this small hawker stall that's selling Korean Hotdog 핫도그. This is a very famous Korean street snack which a hotdog is being coated with corn flour and deep fried till it turns golden. 

After several days in Seoul, I hadn't stumbled upon this, so I decided to grab one and eat on the go. 

To my surprise, once I placed my order in Korean, the hawker stall owner was so surprised and insisted on treating me some food. He turned to his partner (I assumed) and said, "bring a chair and I have to let this Korean-speaking foreigner try everything I made". 


He gave me a plate of spicy tteokbukki 떡볶이 (Korean rice cakes) with o-muk 어묵 (fish cakes) - FYI I'm insanely obsess with fish cakes! 


I was super grateful, still am till this day...but it didn't just end there, he gave me a kimbap 김밥 too. Kimbap is very similar to the Japanese sushi but they are not the identical.

I wrote this in 가자 Korea Diary Part 1:
Just so you know there's a difference between "sushi" and "kimbap". Google or ask Siri if you don't know. It's important.
I got you covered - you can read this article here for some fun facts. 


I had been meaning to try this for the longest time but had not plucked up enough courage to get out of my comfort zone. When this ahjussi 아저씨 (just like the word 'uncle' used to refer or call a middle aged uncle who doesn't need to be blood related to you) dropped these onto my plate, I knew the time had arrived. 

Sundae (not the McDonalds ice cream, mind you)/Soondae 순대 is a blood sausage. Ya, you read that right. It's usually made of pig/cow intestines and/or blood with some sort of glass noodles and glutinous rice. Its texture is chewy and dense.

As much as I am a fan of marshmallows and mochi, I had to wave the white flag.

When the ahjussi asked me with full enthusiasm on his face, "First time eating this ya? How is it? Do you like it? Is it good?" 

I forced out a smile while struggling to swallow the last bit of my first bite of Sundae. 

"별로야?", the ahjussi asked.
"Pyeol-ro-ya" means "not good" or "just normal". 

"아니에요, 그냥 이상해요", I replied.
"Ani-e-yo, keun-yang, yi-sang-hae-yo" means "no, it's just that it's odd". 

Everyone just burst out laughing at my very first encounter with Sundae. 

In Malaysia, it's very common to find and eat pork intestines or pork blood but me being the annoyingly picky and not adventurous kid growing up, I had never given it a single bite throughout my 23 years of life. Who would've thought that I would give that first trial a go in Seoul. But then again, because it's Seoul and I  had already survived a zip wire, what else couldn't I try?! 


I was stuffed to bursting at this point but the ahjussi didn't take no for an answer and told me to bring this tteokkochi 떡꼬치 home with me.

Tteokbukki (see above, the first dish after the Korean hot dog) and tteokkochi belong to the same family - they are both made of rice cakes. Their names are actually self-explanatory. Tteok 떡 means rice cake(s). 

Tteokbukki 떡볶이 (볶 is the word for fry/stir fry), refers to stir-fried rice cakes that are boiled till soft then stir fry in hot with tteokbukki sauce (usually topped with o-muk sometimes with hard boiled eggs and scallion or even Korean instant noodles - ramen). Few years ago, I made this at K-Wave festival with my Korean Society friends, that's why I would know. 

On the other hand, tteokkochi 떡꼬치 (the word 꼬치 means 'skewers'), refers to boiled soft rice cakes on a skewer that's then being grilled/deep fried till it's outer skin turns slightly crispy. 


It was getting late and I was really full so I had to bid goodbye to the lovely stall owner and his partner and thanked them non-stop for the insanely warm hospitality. I brought this skewer with me and finished it along the way - took me quite some time though.

♠♠

While this whole thing happened back in November 2017, I was just feeling lucky and blessed. Fast forward a year later, I've been reading quite a fair bit about spirituality, quantum physics, law of attraction...everything seems to be make sense right now. I have been loving this country for so many years, and was feeling nothing but peace and gratitude when I was there, thus the unconditional love and kindness came back to me too. 

So let me get a tad bit lecture-y for a little while: 

Everything on this planet is made of energy. Like we used to learn in school, "energy can never be created nor destroyed". Energy exists no matter you care to give a damn about it or not. Like the law of gravity which applies to everything on this planet too. Everything is sticking to the ground or will eventually have to return to the ground because of the law of gravity. Law of attraction is about energy. Whatever you give out in life will come back to you. You do not seek what you are lacking because that will attract more lack into your life. 

I didn't know this back then but I was and always am so full of gratitude, passion, love and delight whenever I come across something to do with Korea. Many of my friends went to Korea and complained that they got treated rudely by the locals, I had the best time ever in my life. If you are interested in reading my thoughts pre-learning-all-these-things from a year ago, click here (it's point #10 to be more specific, though I hope you'll read everything :p)! 

♠♠

By the time I got back to my Airbnb in Hapjeong, it was quite late and I was so tired. The owner came by to do some cleaning that night and he opened up the windows and I was being bitten so badly throughout the night and hardly got any sleep from it. The stay was pleasant overall but too bad it didn't have a good finale all thanks to those annoying mozzies. 

That night was my very last night in Hapjeong as I would be moving to another Airbnb in another area. I will blog about that in the new blog post, so stay tuned!

Here are all of the previous entries on this 가자 Korea Diary series, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them (ok, sometimes I would curse a lot when I'm editing photos, but overall, it's still fun!): 

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