Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 3 in Korea: Seoul

Woke up in the morning just to find out that our breakfast was rice with chicken curry. Too bad, the chicken was not halal, so we told the ajhumma we were going off without breakfast. Koreans are very respectful for food especially when it comes to rice. However, after further explanation (by Nad of course), we went out and stop by at a coffee chop called Caffé Bene for breakfast. 

Interior of Caffé Bene. Almost all Korean cafés we went have splendid interior designs!

The used pager to tell their customers their order is done. 

After munching some sandwich and sipping some coffee, we went out to find Ihwa-dong art project. Based on the review, the project is about some artworks crafted on the wall. We went to Naksan park (where the arts are) and looked all over the park. We went up and down the hill, turn at every corner of the park and houses, climb up and down the stairs and after 1 hour, we reached the top of Naksan Park. But somehow, we could not find the art project at all!

View from Naksan Park

Since I don’t have any pictures, let me share a blog which has the pictures here

We went down the hill and moved on to our next location, Changdeokgung Palace. I didn’t really bother on the history behind anything, so I just went there to enjoy the beauty of the palace. Paid W3,000, we went into the palace and snap a few shots. Met a few groups of student wandering around the palace for school trips. 

Entrance of ChangDeokGung Palace

Inside the palace

Main building for the king

Interior of the palace

Using a map of the palace, we moved around the palace easily. We decided to go to the secret garden located in the heart of this palace.  There was a schedule for entrance to the garden because it is a requirement to have a tour guide (for translation purpose too). We bought a ticket at W5,000 for 1230hrs trip (which was supposed to be with Chinese translator; but we cannot wait for English session at 1430hrs as we have some other places to go). 

History of Secret garden

Pond area

Another shot..

The tour took 2 hours and it was kinda tiring. Done with it, we went out of the palace, rest for a while, munched our leftover donuts and moved on to Insadong.

Insadong is one of our favourite places in Seoul. There we lots of souvenir you can buy and can even bargain! The whole street actually sells almost same things so watch for the smallest shop, so you can bargain more~!

A shop in Insadong

Insadong Street

When we walked down the street we found a small ‘mall’ called Ssamziegil.The mall was built strangely that you can move from floor to floor without using any stairs or elevator. It kinda built like a swirl slides in playground.

Ssamziegil Entrance

Main attraction of Ssamziegil, red bean pancakes shaped like a s***

Done having fun shopping in Insadong, we went up to Namsan Mountain to Namsan Tower. We took a small elevator to the ticket counter, then purchase a ticket of W6,300 (round trip)to go up to the top of the hill by cable car. We reached the top at 1745hrs as we were told that a beautiful light show will start sharp at 1800hrs.

View from top of mountain

N Seoul Tower

As we enjoy the view from all the angles from the tower, we found massive amount of locks all over the place.

I’m not kidding.. They are uncountable!

Couple will have 2 padlocks and tie them together at the fence/tree with a note tied to it. You are free to use ANY kind of padlocks :)

They also have restaurant inside the tower, but it was kinda expensive. It would be best if you could bring something from the ground..

The menu & price.. They even have menu for proposing! Ahahahaha

When the clock stroke 1800hrs, to our surprise, the lights didn’t show up. We thought, ‘ah, maybe they are working on it’. Then we waited, and waited, and waited until it was dark and freezing cold (colder than Jeju!), but there was still no signs of light. We gave up waiting, and went to the information counter asking about it. The lady said, ‘I’m sorry, no light shows today. We have some problem’. Whaatttttttt???????? We have been waiting for almost 2 hours for nothing! With broken heart, we went down the mountain and went off to find our dinner (kebab) in Itaewon

Tiredly, we went back to Friend’s House for a good night sleep…

Tips for day 3:
1)    Tell the House owner beforehand on your meal preferences
2)      Do not bargain too much while buying souvenir. The owner might get a little bit uneasy.
3)      To go to Namsan Park, Take Subway to Myeong-dong and follow exit number 3 (I think) or just follow the exit showing anything with word ‘Namsan’. The tower can be easily found though.
4)      Ask the information counter on the lightshow beforehand. You do not want to waste your precious time in Seoul just for waiting!
5)      If you plan to do the locks, you might want to bring your own padlocks since the shops there sold them expensively.

Lots of luv, 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 2 in Korea: Jeju Island (Part 2) & Seoul

We woke up early in the morning (and I do mean EARLY – it was only 4.30am!) just to catch up the sunrise at Seongsan Ilchubong or Seongsan Sunrise Peak. From most of the reviews we heard, this is the most beautiful place to watch sunrise in Jeju Island. Hence, we drove off to Seongsan which is situated at the east of Jeju Island.

Along the way, we had our breakfast in the car, while observing the beauty of Jeju Island. Suddenly, the sky was getting brighter and brighter. We were like… Oops! The journey took about 1 hour plus (with excessive speeding.. huhu) but somehow, we did not manage to catch the beginning of sunrise.

We could see the peak a few kilometers away from the highway. Once we arrived, just at my first step out of the car, I screamed, “THIS IS FREAKING COLD!!!!” Being pure Malaysian, I can never stand long in cold area. Immediately I opened my hot pack, paste it inside my sweater and put on my fall jacket. Not to forget, my warm gloves! (I always get cold hands even in the office~)

Seongsan Ilchubong (The leftover crater from a volcano erupted 5000 years ago)

Take a look at the scenery. The real view was much more beautiful than any pictures captured by the camera! And it is true!

When I was all set, I looked up to the sky and suddenly mesmerized by the whole view. In my heart, I whispered ‘Suhanallah’. The clouds were like fluffy cotton candies, moved by the wind towards an unknown direction. The flowers danced to the rhythm of the breeze and to the sound of the waves crashing at the beach.

Each of us paid W 2000 at the entrance. We went up to the peak through the stone stairs. Regardless of how cold the weather was, we keep on climbing and climbing….


and climbing….

Snapping a shot while resting halfway..

Encountered this eerie tuff cone..

And finally….(after 40 minutes of hiking)

  Tadaaaaa!!!! The sunrise was just before my eyes! Amazing!

The peak of Seongsan was underneath my feet!

We took a LOT of pictures here like nobody business! HAHAHA! The view is too astonishing that we would (kindly enough) like to share what we see with everybody. Once the sun rose up in the sky, we went down the crater for our next destination.

Going down took half the time when we hike up.. hehehe

We stopped by at Dunkin Donut for proper brunch and had ‘light’ shopping at souvenir shop before proceeding to our next destination, Seopjikoji.

On our way to Seopjikoji we found a vast field of rape seed flowers. We quickly pulled over and went for photo-shooting at the field (there was a man waiting to collect W 1000 entrance fee per person, probably the debt collector owner). The field was decorated nicely with heart-shaped arc and some carved stones. 

A heart in the middle of millions of flowers. Romantic~ ;)

My turn~

Since we are quite in a rush, we planned to stop by at Seopjikoji (a Korean drama titled ‘All In’ was shoot here, but I never watch it) for a shortwhile since it is only on the way back. When we arrived, we saw another scenic view of Jeju. Take a look for yourself:

The huge waves crashed on the stones making such loud roars that you can barely hear yourself screaming!

There is actually a lighthouse that we can climbed to see the whole view of the ocean, but we are done with climbing, so we decided to go straight to Cheonjiyeon falls.

Trust me, Cheonjiyeon falls is another scenic place in Jeju especially during spring. Located in Seogwipo-si, it is quite easy to find with numerous of signboards leading to park. So we just follow the signs and voila, we reached the entrance of the park. With entrance fee W 2,000, we strolled down the park until we reached the falls. Along the way, flowers blooming from their trees luxuriously.

The river connecting Cheonjiyeon Falls and the sea

Cherry blossoms trees as shades for the path to the falls

The sun of spring~

Cheonjiyeon Falls

Done with the stroll, we went back to the hiking in, checked-out and drove off to AVIS car rental. By their shuttle again, we went to Jeju International Airport for departure to Seoul.
We left Jeju Island at 1750hrs and reached Seoul around 1850. We took the subway to Hyehwa for our next pit stop, Friends house. It is a traditional house where you sleep on the floor. The room rates are W90,000 per night (for 3 people) include breakfast.

Friends House rating (out of 5): 
1) Bed – 4.5/5 (the floor was very warm. They have heater installed underneath the floor! Awesome!)
2) Toilet - 5/5 (It was superbly clean! Even though we had to share toilets with other guests, it was cleaned like it was home)
3) Service - 4/5 (The two ajhumma were friendly. They had dogs living with them and luckily they were trained not to disturb guests. Tell them your needs beforehand e.g. no meat meal etc)
4) Overall rating – 4.5/5

Once we checked-in, we went out again to find a restaurant for late dinner. We managed to find an Indian restaurant where we ordered prawn briyani and vegetable samosa to fill in our grumbling empty stomachs. Late that night we went back straight to our room and dozed off~

Tips for day 2:
1.    If your travel was in early spring, try to go to Jeju first as Jeju experience spring earlier than Seoul.
2.    It is kinda hard to find halal food in Jeju. If you are going to stay for a long time, bring enough canned food / bread / instant porridge from home.
3.    Try to wake up as early as you can to catch the sunrise or consider staying nearby as an option.
4.    Make sure you know your exit from the subway station to look for accommodation. Try to get some landmarks (and updated pictures) so that you will not get lost easily. You do not want to waste your time and energy (from carrying luggages) just to find a secluded house.
5.    Halal food is expensive. However, 2 portions of it can be shared among 3 normal people. Be prepared!

Lots of luv, 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 1 in Korea : Jeju Island (Part 1)

Finally, i've set my feet in KOREA!! Wuhuuuuuuuu~~~Thanks to our tour planner, Nadiah, we managed to have a wonderful trip to Korea. Thanks also to our fun Maylin whom make this entire journey much more awesome! I'm so excited to share my experience and i know my blog feels thankful since i have not posted anything for the past few months! Let me lead you to my journey to Korea day by day..

We departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 2330hrs Malaysian Time. Our journey to Seoul took about 6 hours and 30 minutes and since the trip was in the middle of the night, we dozed off all along the way...ZzZzZzzzzzzzzzz

We arrived at Incheon International Airport around 0700hrs Korean time. The temperature for that morning is around 3oC; which means it was chilling cold, man! As per our planned itinerary (kudos again to Nad!) we took a subway to Gimpo International Airport for our flight to Jeju Island down south of Korea. 

 Take a look at the map of their subway route. Impressively complicated!

They even have wifi in Subway! And it was fast!

Our journey from Incheon to Gimpo Airport by train took roughly 30 minutes. The train ticket was 3500 Won (~RM10) per trip. We also have other options which are to take cab or shuttle bus from Incheon Airport but somehow, subway is more convenient plus you will not get lost since most of the signboards were written in English too.

We arrived at Gimpo Airport quite early so, we have to wait until the counter opened for check-in. With some breads we brought from Malaysia, we had our light breakfast to kill some time.Once checked-in, we wandered around the airport and we found this:

Cute isn't it? This is actually the only picture i had in Gimpo Airport. After this shot, we went to board our plane and took off at 1100hrs. Our journey to Jeju Island took just 1 hour but i still manage to have had my beauty sleep throughout.

Once we landed in Jeju, we quickly moved to the luggage carousel, picked up our back, and rushed to AVIS rental car counter. Million thanks to Nad once again (she even applied international license just for this trip!), the process of renting a car was so smooth. With a shuttle provided by AVIS, we went to their office to pick up our car. 

This is our car!! They even have this kind of car for rental!

Oops, this is actually our car. Do you really think we had money to rent a Volks? Dream~

After getting cozy in our car, we drove to our 1st accomodation, Jeju Hiking Inn. This place is located at Seogwipo-si (further down of Jeju) which took about 1 hour drive from the airport. The inn was so hard to find that once we found it, we realized that we had actually passed it for sooo many times!!

We paid 40,500 Won (~RM113) upon check-in for 1 night stay. Our room was located at 5th floor and there was no lift at all! (Serve us well for being cheapskate :p) Hence, we dragged our not-so-heavy luggages upstairs. 

Jeju Hiking Inn rating (out of 5): 
1) Bed - 3/5 (it has heater in the mattress which was great but the comforter is kinda dirty)
2) Toilet - 1/5 (Did not really work well. We had to wait for a few minutes until the hot water comes out of the tap. The toilet was kinda dirty)
3) Service - 3/5 (The check-in process was fast and the guy manning the counter can speak English. I think he need to improve a bit on his friendliness)
4) Overall rating - 2.33/5

Next, we went out to get our lunch. The guy at the counter told us to go to a place where  we can ask for meal without meat (since he did not know what halal is). We then went to the restaurant which was at walking distance down the street.

Our lunch of the day: Bibimbap (6000 Won)

Now our stomachs were full, we drove to Seogwipo harbour.It was almost dusk,the wind blew vigorously and of course, freaking COLD! Despite the chill that surrounded us, we still managed to stay for quite a while there for some camwhoring (photoshooting).

View from at the harbour's seaside

Seogwipo bridge

  View from Seogwipo bridge

On our way back, we found a field of rape seed flower thus we quickly pulled over at the roadside. We took out our cameras and start making the field as if it is ours.

A pose to end our 1st day...

Tips for day 1:
1) Prepare a draft for itinerary for your whole visit (especially those who did not follow any tours). At least if you know where to prioritize in case of any discrepancies e.g. weather change.
2)If you can book you flight, car rental & hotel at your own country, do it! This will save your time and ease your mind while travelling. (You do not have to bring lots of cash either since koreans prefer cash for trading)
3) Before you try to find your accommodation yourself, go to the tourist information counter, ask the nice guy / lady to mark your place on your map and ask for the signature building around it. 

Lots of luv,