Seoul Part 2

After taking a long break from blogging, it is time for me to continue blogging about my trip to Seoul. So, after the night at Namsam Seoul Tower, the following day, we went to explore the Hongdae area.To go there, just take Line 9 and alight at Hongik University Station. From exit 9, just walk along the street, you will reach the Hongdae area. This is a very popular place among the youngsters. I would recommend to go on a Saturday when there is a flea market around the corner. Just ask the people in red t-shirts or info booth for direction.

Our first stop was Trick Eye Museum and of course, you need to bring your camera along to snap some nice and funny pictures. A good timing to go will be first thing in the morning when the museum just open so that you can avoid the crowd and take as many pictures as you want. It took us about 2 hours to go through every single mural on display. When purchase the tickets, it might come with the entrance to the ice museum, which is just at the same building, same floor. The ice museum was like a playground with slides, carriage and statues that were carved out from ice and decorated with colorful lighting. It was really an enjoyable morning for me and my companion.

After the visit to the museum, we explore the nearby streets a bit and stumbled upon a long queue. There was a stall selling taiyaki with ice-cream. It looks like what Tai Parfait in Singapore is selling. As Singaporeans, when we see a long queue, we don’t ask, just queue because it means that there must be something good that makes people willing to queue for it…

After trying the taiyaki which was really very good, we visited some of the shops around as well. There is a shoe shop which sells very beautiful flats. Their flats were really very comfortable although it was a bit pricey. But the lady might give you discount if you pay cash. I bought a pair which costs around 35000won.

After walking for quite a bit, we stopped by Zoo Coffee to grab a bite. We initially wanted to go to the other outlet where the ‘Innocent Man’ drama has shot some of the scenes but it was really too far for us. Their beverages and food were okay but the decor inside the cafe was really very nice. We sat at the window seats to do some people watching. It was relaxing to me to enjoy the food, atmosphere and the view of the street from the cafe.

After resting, we continued to walk and shop as we go. As it was summer when we visited, we would enter the shops just to enjoy the air-con.

The Flea Market or they called it ‘The Free Market’ was a street with a lot of small booths that sells handmade craft works. The items there were not cheap but if you like the artwork that the person does, show some support by buying their craft work. I bought a handmade leather passport cover for a friend. It was a very unique and yet simple design, and I believe I don’t see it anywhere. The walls along the street were covered with graffiti which gave that street a very artistic and young feel.

After visiting the flea market, we went to shop a bit and have our second round of ice cream from the famous Softree. If you like the milky taste, this ice cream will suit your taste. Softree has opened a store in Singapore, 313 Somerset. The ice cream tasted the same as the one I had in Korea. For those who cannot have the chance to taste in Korea, Singapore’s store might be the next best option.

We have also visited the ‘Thanks Nature Cafe’. It was a beautifully decorated cafe with two sheep that were kept within the enclosure area. You can take some pictures with the sheep and have a feel of its soft and fluffy wool. I felt so sad for the sheep as it was really a hot summer and it was having a thick layer of wool which just made it feel hot. I heard that the owner was planning to move the sheep to another place where the temperature was cooler. Good for the sheep!

After having dessert and tea, we continued walking, trying to locate Haha’s BBQ restaurant. Not too sure was it because address was wrong or just bad luck, we could not locate it. So we decided to stop by a random BBQ which was super crowded with Koreans. With our limited Korean, we managed to order some meats and beers for ourselves. The food was extremely delicious…

After a long day of walking, we decided to return back to guesthouse to rest…

The next post will be on some palace tour and Everland.  안녕

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Seoul Part 1

Nami Island has a shape that resembles a half-moon and was named after General Nami who won a great battle against rebels during Joseon Dynasty. His grave was located at Nami Island. To travel to Nami Island, we have taken the subway to Yongsan station and transferred to ITX to Gapyeong station. From Gapyeong station, you can choose to buy a bus ticket which costs around 5000 won and it covers various places of attractions including Gapyeong Wharf and Petite France or take a cab directly to Gapyeong Wharf which costs around 3000 won. For us, we took a cab directly to Gapyeong Wharf as we were not aware of the bus service. From Gapyeong Wharf, we purchased the admission tickets for 8000 won per pax (Discounted price for foreigners) and boarded the ferry to Nami Island which took about 30 min.

Nami Island was really beautiful during the summer season. There were a lot of trees and it really reminded me of the scenes in WInter Sonata starred by Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo especially the snowmen. To visit the entire Nami Island, it will take at least two to three hours to explore that place. If i were to come back, I would like to come back during the autumn or the winter season as I am expecting the scenery to be different from the summer season.

Our next stop was Petite France. From Nami Island, we took the ferry back to Gapyeong Wharf and after checking with the information counter, we walked towards the convenience store where the bus stop was located. We bought the tickets and boarded the bus to Petite France.

The admission fee to Petite France costs about 8000 won per pax. If I remembered correctly, there were some discount vouchers available online which we have printed out and one of the vouchers entitled us some discount for admission to Petite France.

Petite France is famous as it is a filming location for quite a number of dramas like Beethoven Virus and You who came from the star. Running man has also came to Petite France before to play the Hide-and-Seek game reenact the scenes from Beethoven Virus. Petite France is like a mini French village with a lot of paintings, rooster sculptures, toys, instruments and etc.

Since the theme for Petite France is about the Little Prince or Le Petit Prince, we have to take some pictures with the Little Prince sculpture as well. Petite France is a beautiful place to visit and its European culture will give you the wrong impression that you are at France rather than at Korea. The only thing which I find it a bit sad was that some of the paintings displayed was vandalized with Chinese characters by visitors…

After spending the day at Nami Island and Petite France, we decided to travel back to our accommodation first before going out for dinner and proceed to Namsan Seoul Tower.

After dinner at Myeongdong, we decided to walk to the cable car boarding point and board the cable car up to Namsan Seoul Tower. However, we lost our way while walking and thus we asked for directions and walked all the way up to Namsan Seoul Tower instead. Although it was a long walk up to the entrance of the observatory, we get to take our time strolling and enjoying the night view from Namsan Park. It was a very tiring but satisfying experience…

4th Day @ Jeju-do (Part 2)

Hello! I am back again. Sorry for taking so long to update this blog. So, let’s continue on our journey at Jeju-do…

After visiting Micheon Cave and Illchulland, the taxi driver took us to a restaurant for lunch. If you have done your research about Jeju-do, then you will know that one of the most famous dish that you should try is black pork. When we reached there, there were a lot of tour buses parked outside the restaurant. So, I guess that place was really popular for its BBQ black pork.

The good thing about having a taxi driver was that he can helped us order the food we want and get some discounts from the restaurant owner.

The restaurant was big and there were a lot of Chinese tourists having their lunch as well. We sat at one of the corners which was quieter, waiting for our food to be served. One thing about Korean restaurants which I can’t get used to it is that people always sit on the floor having their meals. It gets very uncomfortable when your feet started to feel numb…

The taxi driver taught us the Korean way of eating….which was to use the lettuce, wrapped with meat, kimchi and other side dishes that you can find on the table, and one-shot!!! The meal was super delicious, the taxi driver will occasionally helped us top-up our side dishes like kimchi and anchovies.

After our delicious meal, we proceed to our next destination…

Along the way, we can see a lot of mini horses. Mini horses looked just like the normal horses but they have shorter legs. Mini horses were very famous in Jeju-do as its bones can be used to make into pills which can help to treat the pain coming from the joints.

So, we have to reach the Maze Land. For those who have watch the variety show, Running Man, you will remember that the Running Man cast were playing a game in the maze. One of the members will be outside the maze, shouting out directions to the rest of the team members so that they can get out quickly. We have tried the exploring the maze also and managed to get out slightly more than an hour. The maze consists of three parts, the first part is a circular maze, followed by the hanyeo or woman diver maze and the last one is the harubong maze.

It was quite fun actually and you get the sense of satisfaction for completing the maze. After taking some pictures, we proceed to the puzzle exhibition located next to the maze to enjoy the cooling breeze coming from the air-con.

The puzzle exhibition explained a bit more about the history of the puzzles and how the puzzle games evolved and changed. One of the games that I saw from the exhibition was the Snake and Ladder game.

After taking a short break, the taxi driver took us to Memorized Theme Park where we learnt a bit more about Korean history and culture.

This will be a good place to go to if you like to learn about history and culture. The place was very big, so it will take about at least two hours to explore the entire park. If the weather is not that good, this place might be an alternative for you to visit.

The next place that we went to was Seongsan Illchulbong Peak. This was one of the places that I would recommend to visit. It has the nicest scenery when viewed from the top…but it can be quite tiring to walk all the way up to the crater…so it would be better to wear track shoes for walking.

Just 10 min drive from Seongsan Illchulbong, we reached Seojipkoji. This is another must-visit place. For people who have watched All-In, this was the filming place. However, we did not get the chance to visit the drama house and gallery as it was closed for renovation. So hopefully, it will be opened the next time.

So, that is all about my 4th day at Jeju-do.

On the fifth day, because of the typhoon, we were not able to leave our accommodations to visit O Sulloc Museum and Mt. Hallasan. Disappointing~~~ We ended up watching Korean dramas to kill some time off.

So, the next upcoming post will be on Seoul~~~

4th Day @ Jeju-do (Part 1)

Our 4th day at Jeju-do was started off with a hearty breakfast provided by the owner of the BnB. Our taxi driver, whom we have communicated earlier via email and Line chat, meet-up with us at our accommodation to discuss the itinerary for the day. After the discussion, we set-off to our first destination of the day: Seongeup Folk Village.

Seongeup Folk Village was suggested by the taxi driver. It was a great place to visit if you are interested in the culture and the unique architecture. The admission is free of charge and they have tour guides around to show you around, explaining the history of this village and Jeju-do. The thing that interests me the most was the harubang, stone grandfather statues, which supposedly can grant your wishes if you touch his nose or ears. Walking along the route, you see houses surrounded by the black lava rock walls which was one of the unique feature in this village.

After the tour, you can get some of the local products such as omija extract which can be diluted with water and drink it daily. According to the tour guide, the tea has five different flavours – sweet, sour, spicy, bitter and salty. People with different health problems will experience different flavours when drinking omija tea and healthy people will taste both sweetness and sourness from the tea. Omija tea has a number of benefits to our health, so please try it if you happens to visit that place.

After getting introduced to the history and the culture of Jeju-do, our taxi driver drove us to Illchulland and Micheon Cave, one of the places where running man have visited before. Micheon Cave is a lava tube with an estimated length of 1.7 km but only part of it was opened for public viewing. Because it was a cave, we were asked to put on an extra outerwear as the temperature will drop drastically when inside the cave. The grounds were wet and occasionally water will drip from the ceiling, so slippers wasn’t recommended when visiting this place. It was interesting to see the unique rock formation as a result of the volcanic lava from Mountain Hallasan.

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Outside of Micheon Cave is Illchulland where it has a lot of stone statues lying around, waiting for you to take pictures with it. Jeju-do was well-known to have a lot of stones. So, probably that’s why you will see harubangs (stone grandfather statues) everywhere.

So, that’s all for the first half of our journey on Day 4 at Jeju-do. In the next post, I will continue to talk about our second half of journey on Day 4~~~

3rd Day @ Jeju-do

For the last two days, I saw some ‘likes’ on the last two posts I have made about my trip at Busan. It was very encouraging. Thank you everyone for the support!!!

So, this post is about my experience in Jeju-do…

From Busan to Jeju-do, we took the domestic flight, Jeju air, from Ginhae International Airport to Jeju International Airport. The trip took about 1h if I remembered correctly. For your information, they only allowed check-in baggage of no more than 15kg. So, make sure not to over-pack if you were to take the domestic flight.

Once we reached Jeju International Airport, we went straight to the information counter to find out about the bus services available in Jeju. To travel around Jeju-do, most of the people will either booked a taxi to take them around or rent a car. For us, we took bus number 600 and alight at Yeomiji Garden stop where most of the famous attractions were within walking distance from there.

After alighting at Yeomiji Garden, we walked about 5 min to get to the KTO building where they allowed tourists to deposit their luggage free of charge. You can get a map from the staffs working at KTO and asked them for directions. Most of them know how to converse in English and Chinese. Since Cheonjeyeon waterfall was only 10 min away from the KTO building, we decided to visit that place first, followed by Jusangjeolli cliff, which was around 40 min away from the waterfall.

Cheonjeyeon waterfall means ‘The pond of God’ according to the KTO webpage. It was divided into three sections where you get to see the gigantic waterfall which the water flowed downward to generate the second and the third waterfall before going to the sea.

There is also the Seonimgyo Bridge and the Cheonjeru Tower which you go to and take plenty of nice pictures. To visit that place, my advice is to dress comfortably and wear proper shoes instead of slippers because of the stairs and the wet grounds near the waterfall.

From Cheonjeyeon waterfall, we took 40 min to walk to Jusangjeolli cliff. Jusangjeolli cliff was another amazing place that I would recommend to visit. As I grew up in a city, surrounded only by tall buildings, I find this place really wonderful. You get to see the unique stone pillars along the coast which was formed naturally by the lava flowing from Mountain Hallasan to the sea of Jungmun. I would say this is a must-visit place.

Because of the lack of time, we did not spend too time much at Jusangjeolli cliff. Walking at a much faster pace, we reached the KTO building to collect our luggage since they closed at 5.30pm. After getting some directions to the Teddy Bear museum from the KTO staff, we dragged our luggage and walked about 5 min before reaching the museum.

Teddy Bear museum, as it’s name suggested, it has a wide collection of teddy bears. The teddy bears were dressed up as different characters that you know…Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee etc. Some teddy bears were around the height of an adult, so you can take pictures with it. Most of the teddy bears were protected by the glass boxes, so they were only viewing purposes. The museum also a collections of teddy bears that were displayed in a timeline fashion so that visitors get to understand how the teddy bear designs evolved.

After spending some time at the museum, it was almost time for us to grab some dinner and make our way to our accommodations.

In the upcoming post I will write a bit more on Jeju-do…please look forward to that=)

2nd Day @ Busan, Korea

On the second day, the weather was quite bad. It was raining heavily early in the morning. We waited for rain to subside before leaving Elysee Motel. It was quite easy for us to walk from our accommodation to Gukje Market and Bupyeong Market. Not too sure whether was it because of the bad weather or we were just too early, a lot of the stores at Gukje Market and Bupyeong were not opened when we were there. We went to one of the stores to have red bean porridge since that day was cold and I wasn’t feeling well that day as well.

After our first meal of the day, we walked around and bought some snacks such as seaweed. We also went to one CD shop to check out CDs and DVDs of our favorite boyband, DBSK. The price there was actually quite pricey. So, I decided not to buy anything from there. Generally, I feel that if you want to try some of the local korean street food, markets will be the best place to go. But to shop for clothes and bags, you won’t be able to find anything suitable in these markets.

We decide to walk towards Nampodong area where all the shops were and visited almost every single cosmestic shop they you know of which includes The Faceshop, Innisfree and Etude House. These were the shops to get your cosmetics at lower prices compared to Singapore. According to my cousin, certain products were priced cheaper compared to the same shop located at Seoul. But I have seen was that some of the bundle sets sold in Busan were different from Seoul and thus the different in pricing.

After a bit of shopping, the rain started to get heavier. We decided to walk back to Elysee Motel first to rest a bit before travelling to our next itinerary. And, we chanced upon Let’s Eat Alley where there were tiny little stalls set up with some transparent plastic sheets hanging above those stalls to serve as shelters. Customers can sit at those tiny stools and order Gimbap and other street foods. Because we were not very hungry, we takeway some Gimbap from one of stalls manned by an Ahjumma.

After reaching our room, I took a short nap as I was unwell in the morning. We left the motel around 2 pm and rain has already stopped. We took the subway to Haeundae station where the famous Haneudae Beach and Busan Aquarium were located at. I guess it was the rain…you don’t see a lot of people at the Haneudae Beach. We proceed to Busan Aquarium which was just next to the beach.

I feel that Busan Aquarium and S.E.A. Aquarium were very similar. Both aquariums have a corner for visitor you to touch some of the sea creatures like starfish. So, i think I will not go back to Busan Aquarium again given that S.E.A. Aquarium has similar types of fish and animals as well.

After visiting the aquarium, we have some street foods from the shops just located near the beach. Since we have some time left after filling out stomach with soondae, oden and rice cake, we decided to drop by Shinsegae Departmental Store, which was right above Centum City station, one station away from Haneudae Station. Shinsegae is just like Takashimaya where it sell clothes, household-related items, food etc. You can also get some red ginseng products although it will be slightly pricey. If you walked out of Shinsegae, there will be other shops just like Ngee Ann City’s layout. They have Gyobo Bookstore, just like Kinokuniya, but it sells mainly books written in Korean. I bought my Active Korean Book 2 from Gyobo Bookstore as well because it was so much cheaper compared to Singapore. At Shinsegae, you can also do your tax refunds if you buy anything from their stores.

After shopping, we went to Gwangalli Beach to see the diamond bridge. Not a lot of people were aware of this place but it is worth to visit during nighttime. You get to see the beautiful night view from the beach. To get to that place, we took subway and alight at Gwangan station, From there, I used Google Map to google our way there.

That’s all for our second day at Busan. The next post is about Jejudo, another beautiful place that is worth to visit.

First Day @ Busan, Korea

I have been thinking what I should post for my second post. And I decided to share a bit about my experience in Korea. So, this was actually the second time going on a trip without my family and it was the longest overseas trip taken. My cousin and I booked the Malaysia airline tickets last year January for a our trip in July. We were super excited about this trip and had read up a lot about Korea in order to decide where we wanted to visit. So, the first city that we had visited was Busan.

To go to Busan from Incheon International Airport, there were two ways. You can take KTX from Incheon directly to Busan or take AREX to Seoul Station and then from Seoul Station, take KTX to Busan. Personally, I preferred the first option as it was more convenience. You don’t have to drag that bulky luggage along to climb the stairs just to transfer to another train. But, the actual situation was that we couldn’t get the KTX tickets from Incheon to Busan directly. So, we have the dragged our tired body and our luggage to board that train from Incheon to Seoul, and transfer at Seoul. My suggestion is that booked the KTX tickets earlier via online instead of buying on the spot.

The trip from Seoul station to Busan was actually very long. If I remembered correctly, Busan should be the last stop. It took about 2h 30min to reach Busan. From Busan KTX station, we walked about 5 min to get to the subway station. Our accommodation was at Elysee Motel, located near Nampodong station. The reason that we picked Elysee Motel was because KTO (Korea Tourism Organization) recommended it on their website. Our place was very near to various markets such as Jalgachi Fish Market and Gukje Market which we visited later.

After checking in, we went to our first itinerary of the day, Taejongdae…

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If you are a scenery person and don’t really mind a bit of hiking, you might want to consider visiting this place. I think you don’t have to pay for entrance fee. There are a lot of locals like to visit this place and you don’t see a lot of tour buses around which is a good thing, I feel. It was a good place for you to relax. This place was named after King Taejong, according to KTO website and he enjoyed practiced shooting at this place.

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So after walking up and down the slopes and stairs. the sky started to turn dark. It was time to go back to Elysee Motel. Of course, before going back to our accommodation, we need to fill our stomach. The owner of Elysee Motel had recommended two places to us. One of them was a BBQ place and the other one was a seafood place. So, we decided to go to this seafood place located right at Jalgachi Fish Market. We flashed a brochure which the owner of Elysee Motel had given us to get discount. The seafood place owner served us a few courses with some side dishes to go along with it. Each person just need to pay 25,000 won.

For a 25,000 won meal, you get to experience authentic korean food, the korean way of dining and the friendliness from the locals. I think it was really worth it.

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The next post I will write more about my personal experience in Busan…