It’s been almost 11 years since my 3-month Korean language stint & homestay experience in Seoul. When I was deciding on my accommodation options for this long-awaited Korea spring holidays that ended about a week ago, I thought to myself, why not experience Korean homestay again through Airbnb to reminisce about the good old days?
Originally, there was no need for me to worry about my accommodation for the first night as it’d be arranged by my Korean friend. Due to some last minute changes to my itinerary, I had to scramble & search for a 1-night accommodation in Seoul just 1 week before I flew! Fortunately I managed to find this reasonably-priced private room in an apartment near Seoul Station for just S$48 a night. 🙂
The owner of this private room rental listing is a young Korean undergraduate called Kim Seong Yong (김성용) who lives with his mother in the apartment. Although the listing stated that official check-in and check-out times are 2pm and 11am respectively, they are flexible about the timing as long as you give advance notice. My queries were promptly replied to on Airbnb, and a few days before I checked in, he also provided me with the apartment address and Google map directions from Seoul Station.
I was supposed to reach the apartment before 9.00 am so that Seong Yong would be at home to orientate me but due to some hiccups upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, I arrived later than expected. Fortunately, it was easy to buy an AREX ticket from Incheon Airport B1 Express Train Information Center & the ride to Seoul Station took only 43 min (KRW 6,900 or S$8.25 with an Asiana boarding pass). Glad to find an elevator near my cabin & soon, I found exit 15 of the station, which Seong Yong had advised would be closest to his Samsung Cyber Village apartment (삼성사이버빌리지아파트).
Supposedly a 10-min walk from Seoul Station, I was unsure for a while which direction to head towards after leaving the station. With the help of Google map & a kind young Korean lady, I walked in the direction of the popular Silloam Sauna building (실로암불가마사우나) seen on the right side of the station. Then crossed the road at the traffic junction. After that, just continue straight ahead till you see the sign”삼성사이버빌리지아파트” on the left. With a big luggage in tow, it wasn’t possible to reach the apartment within 10 min, particularly because I had to walk up a long gentle slope. The apartment is actually much nearer to Chungjeongno Station (충정로역 5번 출입구 Line 2 & 5, exit 5), within 5-min walk. Good to know that there is an elevator to get to the station, located just across exit 5, separated by a small lane on the right. Furthermore, there are convenience stores, shops and restaurants conveniently located along this road (Jungnim-ro/ 종림로), including well-known brands like Paris Baguette bakery & Nolbu Bo-Ssam (놀부보쌈).
I was glad to find Seong Yong still waiting for me in his house though I arrived late. The apartment is located on a high floor and it looked exactly like the pictures he posted on Airbnb. Although the room isn’t big, it was just right for 1 person with a comfortable-looking bed, free Wi-Fi access, computer, chair, as well as several hangers to use. I could consume any food & drinks in the kitchen. The toilet was clean & well equipped with a variety of toiletries, as well as a hair dryer by the side. To my pleasant surprise, his mum also offered me a plate of big juicy strawberries (my favourite) to eat!
Both Seong Yong & his mum were friendly & would try to answer my queries to the best of their ability. Although the mum can only speak Korean, somehow I could communicate with her in my broken Korean & even earned her praise haha. At night, I even managed to strike a proper conversation with her & get to know them better while watching TV in the living room. 😛 The next morning, I had to wake up very early around 5.00 am to catch the first train & express bus out of Seoul with my Korean friends, & she was kind enough to wake up so early just to send me off.
Although I only spent a short time at the apartment, it was quite a pleasant and homely experience staying with the family. Definitely wouldn’t mind staying here again if I visit Seoul next time! 🙂