Travel

Annyeong! (Korea trip & everything on the side)

Let me begin by saying, this post is WAY too late a post, but here goes.

Last year, we had the lovely opportunity to escape reality and tour South Korea for ten wonderful days, mainly in Seoul, Jeonju and Daejeon area. Below is our ten-day itinerary.

Day 1. Arrival at Incheon International Airport. 

We took a Scoot (promotional!!) flight from SIN to ICN with a connecting via TPE on September 18, 2015. Our departure from SIN was around 12 noon with an arrival of around 6pm at Taipei and from there we had an hour to get some refreshments and arrive ICN at around 11pm.

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From ICN International Airport, we took a cab going to the hotel which took us about an hour. Usually, you can take buses & trains from the airport, but due to our late arrival, we had no choice but to take a cab.

Day 2. Changdeokgung Palace, Hanok Buchon Village & a dinner at a traditional Seoul Market.

Our hotel in Seoul (Staz Hotel) is located at Myeong-dong Area that is pretty accessible by MRT via the Seoul Metro which made it convenient for us while at Seoul. We went to this Palace (Changdeokgung Palace) in the morning where we joined a tour at a Secret Garden (mainly about the ancient times in Korea in that place) and went to Hanok Bukchon Village in the afternoon.

Here is the facade of the palace. Yes, it’s quite hot in September during daytime so be sure to wear comfy clothes when touring the palace!

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Hanok Bukchon Village is a cluster of old, traditional Korean houses that have become a tourist attraction over the years. On every alley, you will find signs that asks tourists to refrain from causing too much noises to the residents, because R-E-S-P-E-C-T. 🙂

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For dinner, my sister’s Korean friend treat us to a traditional Korean market where they serve the famed Korean Ginseng Chicken soup. Here we are, looking all filled but tired from the day’s touring. Sorry for the grainy photos. :/

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Day 3. Myeong-dong Shopping Street & Namsan Tower. 

One of my most favorite places from our visit in South Korea would have to be Myeong-dong Shopping Street! I’m not the ” make-up-wearing” kind of girl but I totally enjoyed scouring this place! You will find great deals that range from their famous Korean face masks to latest fashion trends to sumptuous street foods.

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Prices for popular brands like Etude House, The Face Shop and Skin Food are a lot CHEAPER than prices in Singapore. You can do bulk buying at Myeong-dong! It’s heaven for girls that loves make-up and dressing up!

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At night, we visited Namsan Tower where you can actually climb up the said tower and see the view of the whole city of Seoul from the top.

Unfortunate for us, ticketing was CLOSED for about 20 mins. (due to over-crowding at the top) just when I’m about to take my turn in the ticket booth. We decided to not take the ride up there ‘coz of the number of people queuing just to get up is quite massive. And hey, we can see the tower from below, so that’s A-OK for us.

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Day 4. Nami Island.

If you’ve seen the famous Korean drama Winter Sonata you’ll know exactly where we spend our 4th day in South Korea.

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Your Korea trip won’t be complete if you won’t visit Nami Island! Although travel time is quite lengthy compared to other places, the scenery along the way will surely take your breath away.  From Seoul, travel time via train will take about an hour plus 15 minutes ferry ride to get to the island itself.

Okay, for you who have been living under a rock and have no idea about this photo, this is the exact spot where the first kiss from the Korean drama Winter Sonata took place, hence my pout-y pose below.

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You can spend a whole day at Nami Island as it offers a lot of activities for both kids and adults.

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Day 5. Everland! 

Our whole day 5 was spent in one of Korea’s largest theme parks; EVERLAND.

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It’s mainly for kids but it’s got rides and attractions that are suitable for adults too. From Seoul, we took an hour’s ride via bus until the park’s location in Yongin area.

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Day 6. Free & Easy: SEOUL

Our last day at Seoul was spent exploring places on our own. I decided to just go to the World Cup Stadium where a huge stadium for soccer games are held and did some shopping at Myeong-dong afterwards. At night, we watched a live performance at Myeong-dong NANTA Theater called “Cookin’ Nanta Show”. It’s really just a short performance of 5-6 persons that involves singing & dancing with a little bit of chopping (real ingredients) on the side.

During the time I was scanning the streets of Myeong-dong, I came upon this small resto and braved my way in and ordered this dish which consisted of kimbap, spicy squid and kimchi raddish. Upon looking around, they are serving ONLY this dish (served with hot tea) but the place is quite packed. If you don’t love spicy food, I wouldn’t recommend it to you. But then again, most dishes in SoKor are SPICY.

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Day 7. Travel to Daejeon via KTX & Traditional Korean Market! 

The remaining days of our Korean adventure was spent at Daejeon area where our Korean friend “Oppa” stays. We met him back in the Philippines 5 years ago and decided to meet him while in Korea. We took the bullet train from Seoul to Daejeon via KTX and it took us around 45  mins to reach our destination.

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Upon reaching Daejoen, Oppa took us on a very nature-y trip on the more country side of SoKor. He even tour us in a traditional market where you get to see the hustle & the bustle of Korean trading.

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Here is one of the many parks and nature-kind of trip we had while in Daejeon.

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Day 8. Jeonju Hanok Village & Hanbok-wearing. 

The next day, we went to this popular tourist spot in Jeonju where you can wear traditional Korean dress commonly known as HANBOK. In this area, you can find shops that rents Hanbok which you can wear for 30 minutes up to an hour. You can wear it  while touring the area which is just what we did.

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Here I am, trying to figure out this traditional Korean game that was played in the old times, as told by Oppa.

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Jeonju Hanok Village is larger than the Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul. It covers Palaces and small museums, restos and shops and temples as well.

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Here is one of the temples tourist can go to and stay for as long as they want. People can go here to sleep, lie down and basically chill out.

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Day 9. Drive around Daejeon countryside. Nature Tour. 

On our 3rd day at Daejeon, Oppa decided to drive us around the places he loves to visit. He loves hiking and trekking so we took a road trip to some forest-y places in the area.

In here, I am standing on a high place and below, you can see a lake that connects various parts of SoKor. My bad I didn’t remember the name of the lake, boo-hoo me!

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We ended the day by filling our tummy with the ever-so popular samgyeopsal of Korea with soju for drinks. We had samgyeopsal in Seoul but the one we had at Daejeon is to die for! This is our last day at Daejeon as the next day will be our flight back to Singapore, hence the toast. Geonbae!

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Day 10. Quick souvenir-shopping at Dongdaemun Market & flight back. 

On our last day in SoKor, we just made some quick souvenir-shopping at Dongdaemun Market and head on straight to Incheon International Airport for our flight back to Singapore which departs at 11pm.

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To sum up our tour in South Korea, I’d say it definitely was worthwhile. Prices are cheaper as compared to Singapore and citizens are very pleasant and accommodating too.

Food was great! On every places that we visit, signs and posters of “PORK” dishes are always visible. One of the many gastronomic treats that have captured my tastebuds would have to be Gopchang! It’s pig’s intestines that is usually grilled on a hotplate with onions and garlic on the side. Here is how it looks.

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Also, if you’re a coffee-lover, SoKor is the place for you! On every alley, every street, on malls and train stations, you will find coffee shop and the aroma of coffee is always in the air. Here is one of the whole-in-the-wall coffee shops we dined in at Changdeokgung area.

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Transportation is manageable too as it doesn’t differ much from the transportation system of that of Singapore. Maps are everywhere and with the help of modern technology, navigating comes in handy.

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If you are planning on taking a trip to South Korea, ten days is enough already if you are eyeing for Seoul and nearby cities. Just take note that September is not THAT cold yet so don’t wear thick clothing and long-sleeved tops. Don’t make the same mistakes that we did, LOL! Also, most people are not fluent in English (but are REALLY nice!!) so you need to be a little patient when communicating with them.

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If I’m given the chance to go back in SoKor, I’d definitely take that chance. It’s not everyday that you get to be in a place so diverse and evolving like South Korea that you just wanna be part of it as much as possible.

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