After a short 33-min ride on the Mugunghwa train (무궁화호) from Suwon in Gyeonggi-do, I arrived at Seoul Station for the last leg of my spring holidays in South Korea. Returning back to Seoul after 5 days of adventure out of the capital city felt good as I regained my sense of familiarity. 😉
When searching for my accommodation in Seoul before the trip, I had narrowed the location to around Seoul Station as I wanted the convenience of being central to almost anywhere in the capital city. Thus, when I saw this room in Liga Apartment Blk 101 on Airbnb, I thought it was too good a deal to miss at S$199 for 4 nights, as it advertised that it was really close to Seoul Station. The host, Aunt Myounghee (명희 아주머니) responded very promptly to my queries & so, I delightfully booked the room without hesitation. Throughout the few weeks before I was supposed to “check in” to my accommodation, she kept in contact with me, advising me on whether my itinerary was workable or not & so on. But gosh, just 1 week before I was supposed to depart for the trip, she messaged me a “bomb”, because she realised she had double-booked me for the 4 nights I was supposed to stay at her apartment! If you had followed my trip posts right from the beginning about my last-minute 1 night stay in Seoul, you would have recalled that the booking was done just 1 week before my trip too! 😦 Anyway, that was a week full of surprises (the more appropriate word is “shock”), as if I wasn’t already busy enough with project deadline then. -_-
Aunt Myounghee was very apologetic about it, but she acted promptly for damage recovery too. She had already found a neighbour in the same Liga Apartment compounds, just a different block, who had agreed to help to host me, provided I’m fine with the alternative arrangement. Otherwise, I’m free to cancel the booking & get a full refund if I prefer to book some other accommodation. Upon hearing her suggestion & confirming that the room in the other block has similar amenities at the same price, I agreed to be accommodated at Liga Apartment Blk 104. Afterall, she had been providing me with excellent customer service, & within the same Liga Apartment meant that the location is still centralised. Furthermore, I already had headache trying to find a last-minute 1-night accommodation within my tight budget in Seoul, let alone 4 nights? All I could hope for in this alternative arrangement is, it would be at least of the same standard as the pictures I saw on Airbnb Aunt Myounghee’s original posting (before I stayed, Blk 104 room wasn’t listed on Airbnb).
The night when I was still in Suwon, Aunt Myounghee had already initiated a message to check the time I would arrive at Seoul Station so that she would arrange to pick me up. Technically speaking, as claimed on her Airbnb posting, the apartment is very near to Seoul Station, but because she learnt that I would be travelling for about 1 week before I arrived at her place, she thought that my luggage would be quite bulky & heavy, so she said she’d come pick me up in her car. I only realised that her apartment is actually so close to my 1st night accommodation when in her car! In fact, Liga is slightly nearer to Seoul Station & if you walk out from its basement carpark, turn left & walk straight out to the main road Jungnim-ro (종림로), Silloam Sauna (실로암불가마사우나) is just across the road. 🙂
Upon entering the apartment of her neighbour at Blk 104, the host – a friendly granny, gave me a warm welcome. Fortunately, after 6 days of conversing in (broken) Korean (out of no choice, haha), I was able to strike simple conversation with granny. Initially, Aunt Myounghee tried to speak to me in Mandarin, but later, she thought it was better to converse in Korean with the presence of granny. Glad I could understand it all, although my replies were short. 😛 I was given a piece of paper with the apartment address written on it, contact details of aunty & granny, & even instructions in Korean to the taxi driver if I need one. So thoughtful of aunty! As granny lives alone & doesn’t use internet, Aunt Myounghee also provided me with a mobile Wi-Fi (yipee!) to “compensate” me for the loss of free Wi-Fi. Granny offered to do my laundry after I asked if I could use the washing machine as I had so many days of soiled clothes! I could do it myself but granny insisted on doing it for me. 🙂
So much for the long stories. Show you how my cosy homestay looks like. 🙂
This room is more spacious than the one at Samsung Cyber Village Apartment, though some may not like because it’s an ondol room with just a thin mattress, but I’m fine with it. The CRT TV you see in the picture above is a white elephant though, it doesn’t work, but it’s alright. Because granny just let me watch whatever TV channels I wished to watch (not that I spent so much time in the apartment) on the huge flat TV screen in the airy living room, even late at night when she was already asleep, as she claimed she wouldn’t be able to hear. 😛
The other advantage of staying here was, I had the bathroom entirely to myself, & not had to share it with other flatmates if I were to stay at Aunt Myounghee’s. Granny uses the bathroom in her own master bedroom. So I didn’t have to worry about hogging the bathroom haha. There was an array of toiletries as well as a newly installed hair-dryer in the bathroom. If I had to pick on something, I guess it had to be the small towels in the bathroom. I miss those big bath towels in Hotel Foret Busan Station. Why did all the other accommodations I booked only provide small towels? 😦
Granny really treated me so well like her family, that it made me feel so at home. Upon learning that I used to study Korean & stayed in Seoul for 3 months, she was really excited & started asking me questions about where I studied, what did I do then etc, as well as shared her personal stories with me. It was a good opportunity for me to be able to practise my rusty Korean too since she was so chatty. She even prepared a scrumptious Korean breakfast for me on the 2nd morning, after I commented that what she was eating looked very tasty on my 1st morning (I had toast then) there. On my last morning, she made a special egg sandwich for me too. 🙂
Too bad she served the yummy spicy tofu soup (순두부찌개) later & I forgot to take a picture of it. The breakfast may be a simple standard fare to granny, but it was a scrumptious one for me! I especially loved the multigrain rice (잡곡밥) made with barley, black sweet rice,brown sweet rice, green peas, short grain rice, so nutritious & delicious. 😉
The apartment also has a mini park & children’s playground on its ground floor for residents to gather & relax. I went down 1 morning to check them out as well as to see the cherry blossom trees. 🙂 In addition, Blk 104 of Liga Apartment is strategically located with no obstructions by other blocks, & I could see N Seoul Tower right from my room & the living room on clear days. Everyday I explored & walked for long periods in the city, so when I returned to the apartment, I could sit back & relax on the large massage chair in the living room to cure my aching feet, while soaking in the beautiful views of the city centre. 😉 At night, if the tower lights are blue in colour, it means the weather is good for a walk that day. If it’s red in colour, it means the air condition isn’t so good. Not sure how true as this was the 1st time I’m hearing this, but that was what Aunt Myounghee told me. 🙂 I did see varied colours being lit up at N Seoul Tower for my 4 nights there. 😉
Overall, this was a really great homestay for 4 lovely nights in Seoul. In fact, I thought it was a blessing in disguise that Aunt Myounghee accidentally double-booked me, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy such a cosy & hospitable stay with granny. It may not be a hotel with modern state of the art amenities, or large comfortable bed & real bath towels like my favourite Busan stay, but it made me feel so at ease in Seoul.
After a pleasant & satisfied first guest experience for both parties, granny’s apartment is now officially on Airbnb too as she has decided to join forces with aunty (though my review is tagged to aunty’s apartment)! If you are looking for a central location with a super hospitable host to make you feel at home + you are yearning to practise speaking in Korean, I would highly recommend you to stay here! 🙂