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South Korea 2015 Part 12 – Seongeup Folk Village and Seongsan Ilchulbong

Published by on January 1, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

After lunch, it was quite a long drive to the eastern side of the island. All four of us were dozing off after a heavy meal and also waking up early. By the time we reach Seongeup Folk Village, it was drizzling. Which was kind of a good thing, meaning that we were the only visitors there at the village. Seongeup is a traditional folk village, where dozens of families have stayed there for generations. Part of it has been turned into a tourist attraction, in an effort to generate some income for the families. It reminded me of the Sade traditional village in Lombok we visited last year.

The tourist area consists of an open square, a welcome centre (also selling some souvenirs) and house, and a few other small buildings.

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(even the thatched roof is similar to Lombok)

This is our tour guide, can’t remember his name. He and his wife can speak decent English. He worked some years in Indonesia and has visited Malaysia before, so he can still remember some Indon / Malay phrases. He gave a very interesting and humorous introduction to traditional life on Jeju island.

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Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum) was also filmed here, and they’re are obviously proud to advertise this fact.

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The twin grandfather statues found everywhere on the island.

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Overall, I would recommend coming here for a short visit, but you need a guide to fully enjoy the experience. The guides will also try to sell you their local homemade products like 5-scented tea, honey, and horse bone pills (!).

From the village is a short drive to the easternmost point of the island, Seongsan Ilchulbong. This is a dormant volcano crater that rises from the sea right on the beach. If you are up to it, you can wake up at 3.30am and come here is ungodly hour, hike up the crater and see the sunrise. It is also a traditional custom to come here on New Year’s Day to see the annual first sunrise.

But of course, we’re not crazy enough to wake up at that godforsaken hour. Unfortunately, though, it was still raining when we got here, although not heavy. In normal weather you should take 30-40 minutes to reach the crater. But with the rain and slow climbers, it took us about 45 minutes. To fully appreciate the crater, you should google up ‘seongsan ilchulbong’ and see an aerial photograph.

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On the way up, you can see a great view of the peninsular that connects to the island on a narrow isthmus.

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We finally reach the top! Kinda hard to take a good shot here. The crater is filled with trees and vegetation and is not accessible to public except at the viewing platform at the rim of the crater.

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I would rank this place a must visit even if you come for the sunrise. The view from the top is worth the climb (although may be strenuous if you really unfit). As a bonus, if you come here during spring, you can enjoy a sea of yellow ripening canola. Makes a beautiful shot with the mountain in the background.

After Seongsan, we had actually completed our itinerary, but we still had a few hours of daylight. so our driver brought us to Seopjikoji, another natural wonder nearby.

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The volcano activity left rocks with strange formations here, for example the on right is called ‘candlestick rock’.
You can hike all the way to end of the path, there is a small lighthouse where you can climb up. The small chapel on the right is also called ‘All In House’ as it was featured in a Korea drama.

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After that, it was a long drive back across the island. Near our home, we stopped by another supermarket to buy some dinner stuff.

Dinner was instant noodles, some yummy sausages from the supermarket (2 for 1 sale) and bread.

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For desserts there was sweet hallabong plucked from our own private orchard.

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Next – Back to Seoul.

South Korea 2015 Part 11 – Jeju Island Tour

Published by on December 31, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

Gooood morning Jeju!!!

Our second day in Jeju started off early as driver was to pick us up at 9.30am. We woke up quiet early and had a simple breakfast of instant noodles and coffee. After that I took a walk outside to see our surroundings.

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Our house is surrounded by a tangerine orchard, and it looks beautiful in full bloom. The fruit is widely planted here for export, it sweet and juicy, and is often made into chocolates.

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Even though Jeju is the southernmost island in Korea, it is still pretty cold in November. It snows in winter, too, so be prepared for unpredictable weather especially in December to February.

Our house is located in the countryside away from Seogwipo, it is a quiet street with a few small houses surrounded by greenery and tangerine orchards. So early in the morning no one is up yet (or maybe they all just stay indoors). Anyway after washing up and locking the house, our driver came. Today’s driver is a different guy from yesterday. This guy drives much slower (and safer) but acts more as a tour guide, giving back stories of the local legends.

So first stop today is Jeongbang waterfall. This is a different one from yesterday’s Cheonjiyeon Falls. Jeongbang is the only waterfall in Asia that falls directly to the sea (this is mentioned in the tourism websites, but Wikipedia says there are 2 more in Asia…hmm. What gives?). The effect seen at high tide, but its better to visit at low tide so you walk up to the falls on the rocks.

The falls is very easy to access from the main road, just down some steep steps.

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Then you can see it. To get a good view, you need to walk onto the rocks. Make sure you are wearing appropriate shoes as the rocks are slick and may be loose.

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(women divers selling your daily catch for you to eat. But more on these later)

Then we went to Oedolgae. First thing we learnt from our driver is that it is pronounced ‘Woo-der-gay’. He told us the interesting legend of the two rocks, but I’ll let you figure out yourself what the rocks are supposed to look like. This spot is very popular with locals and tourists, there were many groups of students there for field trips while we were there.

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Like many places in Jeju, this place was featured in Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum). And they’re not shy to advertise this fact.

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From Oedolgae you can hike along the cliff to the end of the trail, it takes you 40 to 60 minutes and you can enjoy the pine forest and view of the cliffs.

Besides being known as a honeymoon and holiday destination with lots of theme parks, Jeju is more famously known for its natural wonders, primarily from its volcanic activity. The most popular attractions in Jeju are Hallasan mountain and Manjanggul Lava Tubes. We skipped both as climbing Hallasan takes a few hours (although I’m sure the payoff is fantastic) and my family wasn’t keen in walking in the dark and damp caves to see the lava tubes. So our itinerary are the easy to reach places, that are equally stunning.

And one of the most beautiful is Jusangjeolli cliffs, which are lava extrusions shaped in pentagons and hexagons. This is similarly to the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. But to see it yourself, waves crashing, its really breathtaking to say the least.

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Here we say another (very old) woman diver selling her catch. She’s very skillful is shucking the oysters an other strange mollusks (with her BARE HANDS). To eat it, you dip into some chilli sauce, and eat it RAW. Some Chinese tourists were eating it, we passed on it.

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According to our driver the last generation if divers are now in their 70’s, and it won’t be long before they retire and the craft is gone forever.

For lunch we had black pork BBQ, one of the dishes we were looking forward to try in Jeju. Unfortunately, our driver wasn’t familiar with this area, and he brought us to this rather touristy restaurant near the Lotte Hotel that catered mainly to Chinese mainlanders. It was rather disappointing, as the previous day’s driver told us that the best restaurants slaughter the livestock on the same day and the meat is never frozen. And this one didn’t seem like one of them.

Ah well, not to complain too much. I’d say black pork does have a distinct taste, but honestly speaking its nothing spectacular. Maybe I’ve been spoilt by Ipoh siew yoke…

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Next – Seongeup Folk Village and Seongsan Ilchulbong

South Korea 2015 Part 10 – Jeju Lotte Hotel & Dinner

Published by on December 30, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

After the tea museum, next on the itinerary was the glass castle. I really did not have any idea what this place was, I was basically following the itinerary by my friends. Glass Castle is a museum cum theme park that is centred on – you guessed it – glass items.

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They have indoor displays and a large outdoor garden, which also includes a forest walk.

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if you do a quick walk, you can see everything in just over an hour. if you plan to take pictures then it might take longer.

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All in all it was touristy but fun for the children.

After that, it was a short drive down the road to the Spirited Garden, billed as the ‘most beautiful garden in the world’. Unfortunately, it was already almost 5pm when we got there, and they were closing. Ah, too bad, maybe the next trip to Jeju, then.

We had also planned to visit Songaksan, but as it was getting dark, we couldn’t make it (it was quite a distance to drive from here). So our driver took us to Lotte Hotel, the biggest hotel in Jeju. I think resort would be a better description of the place, it reminded me of IOI Resort in Putrajaya.

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(There’s a local legend about these four mythical creatures in Jeju, they are arranged facing compass points)

The hotel is big and beautiful, but the attraction at night is there are 3 huge windmills that are lighted up at the edge of the swimming pool. I’m not sure what’s the rationale of windmills in Jeju, but it does look spectacular.

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En route to the next stop, we dropped by E-mart to do some shopping for breakfast tomorrow.

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From there we went to Cheongjiyeon waterfall. This place is open until 8pm, as it is best viewed at night when it is lighted up.

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Then it was dinner time. Our driver recommended seafood hotpot, one of the 4 must-try dishes in Jeju (the other 3 being black pork, pork noodles and hairtail soup).

The first restaurant we went was closed for the day (it was past 8pm, businesses close rather early in Jeju). The second was open but getting ready to close. They were glad to accommodate us, thankfully. The main dish they served was a small hotpot soup loaded with clams, oysters, abalones, scallops and kind of cute mini-lobster.

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(as usual the meal comes with side dishes and cold water)

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(abalone)

An old man working with the shop was watching my wife struggle with the mini lobster, he taught her how to twist the tail off and poke the flesh out from the shell.

After dinner, we bought some hallabong from an old lady selling on the sidewalk. Hallabong is a local type of tangerine, with a noticeable bump at the top where the stem is.

After dinner we finally made it to our home. Its a small cabin somewhere outside Seogwipo, booked through Airbnb. The owner was holidaying in Thailand, so his brother graciously waited for us.

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This cosy home has 2 rooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom with washing machine. But the big surprise was outside the home. But you’ll see it in the next post when its daylight…

Next – Jeju Island Tour.

South Korea 2015 Part 9 – Jeju!

Published by on December 29, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

On Day 4 of our trip we flew from Seoul to Jeju for a 2D/2N stay. I booked my flight through EastarJet online, flying out from Gimpo. Getting to Gimpo from Myeongdong was quite easy, we took the Airport Limo Bus. We were actually running a little late, we did not realize the bus stopped at the international terminal. We had to take another feeder bus to the domestic terminal.

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We finally made it to the check-in counter just in time, but fortunately the flight was delayed an hour. Gimpo international terminal is really busy with both locals and tourists.

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So while waiting for our delayed flight, we went to the convenience store get our breakfast. We had a simple breakfast in our hotel in Myeongdong, but it was far too early in the morning. In the airport we bought some bulgogi French toast sandwich (top right), plain buns (left) and gimbap (bottom).

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Flying to Jeju takes just under an hour. I booked a driver & car for both days and the guy was waiting for me at the arrival hall. For our 2 day trip in Jeju I really packed a lot of places to see, and our driver on day 1 (I think his name was Kim) was a really good and friendly driver.

We didn’t spend anytime in Jeju city, just passing through from and to the airport. From what I can see, it is a big city, but obviously not as big as Seoul. It is more laidback and not as compact.

From my online research, you can spend 7 days in Jeju and not see all the attractions worth seeing. So for our 2 days I concentrated more on the natural sights, and skipped most of the theme parks. On the first day we spend on the west side on the island, and the east side would be on the second day.

First stop on the itinerary was Dragon Head Rock, it was about 10 minutes from the Airport. At this point, it was drizzling quite heavily, and windy. Our driver prepared umbrellas for us, and dropped us right at the entrance to avoid getting wet. But it was quite a challenge to get a good shot while holding an umbrella in the wind.

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Next up was Mysterious Road. You can google up this place, its a road with an optical illusion that makes you feel like the car is moving uphill while the engine is switched off.

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(The locals call it devil Road, hence the statues)

Lunch time, our driver brought us to this fabulous pork noodles place. Its slices of 3 layer pork in a rich broth with noodles. You add sliced seaweed to it and the noodles come with all the side dishes like peanuts and kimchi. The broth was really rich and tasty, and we thoroughly enjoyed our first meal in Jeju. Unfortunately, I don’t know what’s the name of the restaurant (the sign is in Korean) but there are a few similar restaurants in Seogwipo’s Noodle Street.

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Next up was OSulloc Tea Museum. The main attraction to come here is to try the green tea ice cream, but the building and tea museum is also worth the drive here.

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(the museum architecture is impressive)

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(diorama showing how tea is harvested and processed)

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(the acclaimed green tea ice-cream and rolls. Tastes fantastic)

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(beautiful architecture, peaceful surroundings)

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(They plant their tea in rows, unlike in clumps like they do here)

So far Jeju has been really wonderful. Next up, Jeju Lotte Hotel & Dinner.

South Korea 2015 Part 8 – Shopping in Myeongdong & Andong Jjimdak

Published by on December 29, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

After a long day of going to N Seoul Tower, Ewha Woman’s University, and Seoul Lantern Festival, it was 8 something at night and we hadn’t had our real dinner yet. Naturally, we went back to Myeongdong, where it was near our hotel, and had plenty to eat.

Disembarking from Myeongdong station, you can go through the Myeongdong Underground Mall. Quite a few malls around Seoul have underground malls for the convenience of the commuters. Seoul Station probably has the most impressive one.

Generally, stuff in Myeongdong is pricey, so we didn’t shop much. But we saw this shop selling K-Pop merchandise.

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(Generally, put K-pop pics on anything, you can sell it)

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We bought some souvenirs for my daughter’s friends. Then onward to dinner.

Myeongdong is really happening at night. the streets are lined with snack stalls, and its packed with tourists and shoppers.

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I planned to eat Jjimdak, a famous stewed chicken and seafood dish. In Myeongdong there are two famous restaurants serving jjimdak, Bongchu and Andong. I’ve read that Bongchu is the more famous of the two, but Andong was easier to find (Bongchu did not have English or Chinese words outside their shop). So we went in search of Andong Jjimdak. Turned out I needed directions from a bunch of nice office guys having a smoke after dinner. One of the guys even offered to take me there (it was just around the corner).

Anyway, with some directions, it is easy to find the shop. Its on a lane off Myeongdong street, and its the 3rd or 4th shop at the start of the street, opposite an OSulloc tea shop. There is a big sign in Korean and Chinese.

Andong Jjimdak serves chicken and seafood jjimdak, you can also opt to have a mixed dish. We opted for the mixed dish. Basically, its stewed and braised chicken (or seafood) in dark sauce served over glass noodles.

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This serving was more than enough for the 4 of us (they only serve one size), and it was a good thing we didn’t order rice. The restaurant is very popular with tourists due to its location, and the staff can speak Mandarin. We really enjoyed our meal, very hearty and tasty, and very fulfilling after a long, long day of walking and shopping.

After dinner we took a short walk back to the hotel. We saw a few more jjimdak restaurants, but not as popular as the one we visited.

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There’s also a Hello Kitty in Myeongdong, besides the more famous one in Hongdae. However, this one was already closed for the day.

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Finally, before reaching the end of Myeongdong, we found this large K-Pop shop. It probably started out as a shop selling cassettes and CDs in the 80’s and now they’re selling mostly K-pop paraphernalia and souvenirs.

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En route back to our hotel, we saw the beautiful Christmas lights at Shinsigae shopping centre

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Next – Jeju!

South Korea 2015 Part 7 – Cheonggyecheon Stream & Seoul Lantern Festival

Published by on December 28, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

After a long day of shopping, we returned to the hotel for a rest. In the early evening, we went out to Cheonggyecheon Stream to see the Seoul Lantern Festival. The stream is a revitalized urban project, where you can walk along the river and see art installations, murals depicting historical events and water cascades. On normal days lots of tourists walk along the 5.8km river, especially near the centre of the city.

But every year at the end of autumn, the Seoul Lantern Festival is also held here, so if you come at night, you can see many floats lighted up on the river.

We took a bus to the stream. if you going there, its best to start near the Gwanghwamun Station and walk east ward.

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(There are Paris Baguette outlets all over Seoul, this one is the Signature branch with more dining options)

Before going down to the stream, time to get some dinner from the street food stalls.

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(cute jelly snacks)

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(long queue for this kebab snack)

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(some snacks before dinner. the other one is pancake with fillings of some sort)

Then onward along the stream. I think there were more than 100 floats, each section has a theme, like cartoon characters, monuments, war scenes, etc. We alternated walking below and above street level. Along the way there are many steps to go up or down, especially near the bridges.

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Under this particular bridge, is the center of the Lantern Festival celebrations. Young people write messages or wishes on strips of paper and hang it up on the lantern.

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Or you can float it along the river.

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There were some stalls selling toys, souvenirs, or you can get your caricature done.

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I think we covered more than 4km of walking one direction.

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These Pororo floats were very popular.

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At the end of the lantern festival we took a subway back to Myeongdong foor our dinner.

Next – Shopping in Myeongdong & Andong Jjimdak

South Korea 2015 Part 6 – Shopping Around Ewha Womans University

Published by on December 15, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

I just checked their official website, that IS how you spell the name, ‘Womans’. I guess they didn’t have google to spellcheck for them back then.

After the morning trip to Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower and lunch in Myeongdong, we took a subway to Ewha Womans University. This is a very popular shopping district here. The area is very large, spread out across 3 subway stations – Ewha Womans University Station, Sinchon Station and Hongik University Station. The area around Hongik is also called Hongdae, and is a specialized shopping district by itself. The 2 universities for women here means the shopping here is geared to the young market – cheap, very trendy and competitive. In our experience, this was the area for the best and cheapest clothes shopping compared to other areas. Prices go for as low as KRW 5,000 for a top or dress, and the variety available here definitely makes it the best place to shop.

If you have the time, you can disembark on any of the 3 stations and walk towards the other 2 stations to enjoy the shopping experience. But in actual fact, I think this would be too much especially if you are serious shopper. The distance between the 3 stations is slightly over 1 km, but if you need to factor in the side streets and hilly terrain.

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(Ewha is actually a busy business district. Lots of media companies based here)

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I realized I didn’t take many photos of this area, maybe because the family was too busy shopping for a cardigan / blouse for someone in this area.

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I saw a cat café in one of the side streets. On our first day here, I had visited a different one in Insadong. I’m not a cat person, but I thought I should visit one for the experience since I saw some fun videos posted by vloggers. Basically, you pay the cover drink charge and you can play with the many cats inside. But you know cats being cats, they’re mostly sleeping or too disinterested unless you buy the food and feed them.

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After shopping for a few hours we were at the parallel main street and there were quite a lot of cosmetic shops just like in Myeongdong. We were tired and needed a toilet break, so we found a café with a toilet.

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(I don’t really fancy churros but the name of the shop attracted me, being a Haruki Murakami fan)

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(very nice décor. I should try this at home)

On the way back to the café, we bought a pork croquette from this stall. It was one of the best street food I had in Korea! After the café stop we wanted to go back to get more on the way to the subway, but the lady manning the stall was not in… too bad. Anyway if you are in the area, please check it out. it is opposite a Subway outlet.

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We didn’t actually make it to the another subway station, we basically shopped around Ewha station. After we weren’t really the shopping type, but it was definitely a great experience here.

Next – Cheonggyecheon Stream and Seoul Lantern Festival.

South Korea 2015 Part 5 – Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower

Published by on December 15, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

Day 3 started early as we went down to the nearby Ediya Coffee for quick breakfast. Yesterday, we had bought breakfast the night before from Paris Baguette, the bakery that’s a bit like Delifrance and is found on almost every street in Seoul. Ediya is like their local Starbucks, and at 8 something in the morning, it is surprisingly quiet here. So we had a peaceful breakfast listening to Christmas music on the sound system.

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That’s a cream filled chocolate bun, waffle with cheese spread and the small long box is a cheesecake.

Today we are going to N Seoul Tower atop Namsan Park in the morning, and shopping in Ewha Women’s University area in the afternoon and visit the Seoul Lantern Festival along the Cheonggyecheon River.

First up, N Seoul Tower. it is walking distance to from our hotel, so we took a slow walk, taking in the scenery along the way.

This is the Bank of Korea, with the European style stone façade.

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Traffic at peak hour is nothing like here, the roads are relatively clear even right in the city centre.

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(Sun rising behind Namsan Hill)

If you are walking from Namdaemun, you can take a free funicular tram up to the cable car station.

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(funicular tram from a distance)

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(tram station)

The tram is actually very small but you can take the stairs or wait for a bus to take you up to the cable car station above.

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(view from the tram while going up)

The Namsan Hill cable car is popular, so there is always a long line of people waiting. Buy the ticket at the counter (keep the stub if you’re buying return ticket) and take the stairs about 2 floors up. The line started on the stairs up into the waiting area.

There are two lines of cable cars running, but each have a capacity of only 30 people so the line moves slowly. But if you get into the car, try to go for a side spot if you want to snap pics. Alternatively if you don’t want to take the cable car, you can hike up Namsan Hill for a scenic view. There are a few routes, it can take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours.

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(cable car!)

Getting to the top of Namsan Hill is worth the wait. The park above is actually quite big, it affords many different levels of panoramic view of the city around it.

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There are also thousands of locks left behind by tourists and lovers latched onto the railings and metal frames. We lost our luggage bag lock during the flight here, so we bought a pink heart lock from the souvenir shop. it cost KRW 8,000 and it comes in a nice cardboard box, matching key and a complimentary sharpie pen (to write your message).

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Atop the hill there is an old beacon station, back in the days of the empire they’d light the beacon and send smoke messages to the other stations far away to warn of enemies attack. Every day there is a symbolic ceremony where these pretty boy guards come, march around a bit, and light the beacons (I suspect they use cigarette lighters). You can rent hanboks for free and take photos with the guards.

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(seriously, don’t you think the guard looks like a boyband member?)

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(lighting the beacon at 11am everyday. This beacon system won’t work in Malaysia due to the haze)

After that we bought our tickets and went up N Seoul Tower. If you are inclined to, there are many things to see and do in the Tower. There is a Chinese and Italian restaurant, a teddy bear museum (Koreans seem to like this very much), and even a trick eye museum. But if you want to just go to the observation deck, just the basic ticket.

N Seoul Tower is much like the KL Tower and other towers they have in other cities like Hong Kong, Gold Coast, etc. This tower isn’t very high, but it has an advantage of being on a high hill to start with.

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(view from the observation deck)

Atop the tower you can buy lots of souvenirs and also send a postcard (like on the Eiffel Tower). Anyway we were hungry so it was time for lunch. The queue for the descending cable car was much shorter (thankfully). From the station, we planned to take a free shuttle bus to Myeongdong, but the information counter told us it would be faster to walk downhill. So we followed the crowd and walked. It wasn’t really very near, but apparently Koreans are used to walking much more than Malaysians.

After passing to side lanes packed with small hotels (a good place to stay if you want to be near Myeongdong), we reached somewhere near Prince Hotel. We were really hungry by then, we picked one BBQ restaurant for our lunch. the reason why I chose this one was because I saw some construction workers having lunch inside, always trust hungry construction workers for cheap, local food.

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Lunch was really good.

Next up – Shopping Around Ewha Womans University
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South Korea 2015 Part 4 – Namdaemun and Gwangjang Market

Published by on December 14, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

After our morning visit to Noryangjin Fish Market, we went back to our hotel awhile. then just after lunch time, we decided to make visit somewhere near, so we went for Namdaemun Market. Namdaemun Market is the largest traditional markets in Seoul, and is pretty old, open since 1964. Actually, our hotel was very close to the market and is walking distance. The actual Namdaemun Gate is just outside our hotel. in the old days there were four gates in Seoul, located at the cardinal points of the compass, naturally if you understand Chinese, Namdaemun is the Southern Gate.

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(Namdaemun Gate seen from near my hotel)

When we got to the market it was drizzling slightly and quite early in the afternoon, so there weren’t many shoppers there. If you visit it at night, the place is quite packed with food stalls open along the walkways making it very congested.

Namdaemun Market is primarily a clothes market, but you can find other stuff like food, souvenirs, kitchenware, bags, shoes, etc. But primarily this is the place to shop for clothes if you are a woman above 40. Contrasting to this place is the Ewha Women’s University / Hongdae which is targeted to the younger, 20 to 30 year old women shoppers (more on that on a later post).

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(suggested walking route around the Market. As you can see, its pretty big)

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(our yummy dinner)
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As the drizzle started to get a little heavier, we decided to rest in a roadside coffeeshop for some latte and hot chocolate. After warming down, we went into one of the malls surrounding the market. Inside, the were floors and floors of shops selling – you guessed it, women’s fashion. But strangely, though, this particular mall closes at 5pm sharp.

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(poor large-nosed Joseon king tired standing outside the mall since morning)

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(This deep fried fish shaped cake filled with red bean is quite popular around here)

We bought some souvenirs in the market for our friends, and got some snacks from the stalls. After the market we decided to take a bus to Gwangjang market, with some help from a local to locate the right bus stop.

Gwangjang Market is a very vibrant food market, so much so we ended up visiting it twice during our stay in Seoul. But for this first visit, we didn’t really know what to expect. The outer fringes of the market were mainly stalls selling dried / salted seafood, fresh meat, etc. But once you reach the centre of the market then you can see that it is a really happening place. the centre area is packed with stalls selling local delicacies like different types of haemul pajeon (seafood pancake made of mung beans), tteokbokki (rice cakes in spicy sauce), seafood, dumplings, etc. Each stall has wooden benches in front of them, but seats are quite tough to find especially near the popular stalls.

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(Gwangjang market is popular with Koreans of all ages to have dinner with colleagues after work)

We really wanted to try the haemul pajeon (we love to eat in the local Korean BBQ restaurants in Malaysia) so squeezed our way around the market until we met this elderly ahjumma who kept waving to us and gesturing to us to sit down at her stall. Not really knowing what to do, we just sat down. Some of the other stalls and restaurants had queues of customers waiting for tables. There was another group of elderly men dressed in work clothes eating haemul pajeon and drinking soju at this stall, so I guess it can’t be THAT bad, right?

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(Ahjumma making our dinner. Group of elderly Koreans on other side of stall)

How it works here is that you choose what you want to eat, or in our case when we can’t speak Korean and don’t know what the heck we are ordering, the ahjumma will choose for you. She will then do a quick fry of the stuff (to make it hot and crispy again) and cut it up and serve it on a tin foil plate for you. There was a different variety of pajeon and some sausages thrown in, and they all tasted really good (we skipped the deep fried whole fish).

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(waiting for our food)

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(our yummy dinner)

Dinner came up to be very cheap, I think it was around KRW 5,000. We weren’t full yet, so we bought a different kind of haemul pajeon from this very popular stall right in the centre of the market. The girls running the stall could speak Mandarin.

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(you can see the people waiting for their pajeon. Sometimes it’s best to go with the crowd).

We bought the pajeon to go so we didn’t have to wait for a seat. we also saw this stall selling gimbap (Korean sushi rolls) that was featured in a few TV shows including Running Man.

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(can see image cap of Yoo Jaesuk, Gary and Ji-Hyo)

So we bought some gimbap for supper. SOMEONE also suggested we should try Korean soju, so we bought a bottle from a store in the market, this was the first time I got coins in change as the price did not come to an even KRW100.

We took a bus back to the hotel, and our supper of gimbap, haemul pajeon and soju at the hotel café. The soju was pretty strong stuff, we gave our unfinished bottle to the hotel guys.

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So our very long Day Two in Seoul came to an end. Next up – Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower.

South Korea 2015 Part 3 – Noryangjin Fish Market

Published by on December 6, 2015

This is part of an ongoing travelogue, to start at the beginning click here.

Second day in Seoul! Yesterday, since we arrived in the morning, we took things a little easy, with a shorter itinerary and turning in early. Today, we are going to Noryangjin Fish Market. I’m not actually a fan of fish markets or seafood in general (except maybe sushi), but this was a huge tourist attraction. Besides, Mark Wiens of Migrationology highly recommended it, and if Mark says its good, I’m taking his word for it. And since I’ll probably never get to go to Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Noryangjin is the next best thing.

Noryangjin is actually across the river to the south, where Gangnam and Sinsadong is. The market is just outside the subway station, but you need to walk under the rail line via an underpass.

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(turn right when you exit the Noryangjin subway station. Monday morning traffic looks subdued here)

All along the underpass you will start to see old ladies selling fresh vegetables and dried seafood. I actually did not know what to expect of the market.

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Noryangjin is a huge indoor market set in a large warehouse-like building. The stalls are set in maybe 5 or 6 rows stretching all along the building. one side is selling dried and salted goods, but most of the rows are for live seafood.

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(I’m pretty sure i see Cthulhu’s cousin somewhere there)

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(Market workers having a pep rally of some sort.)

Just like most tourist places in Seoul, some stall owners speak good Mandarin. However, I didn’t see many tourists here, mostly elderly Koreans doing their regular marketing here. The market isn’t very clean by Korean standards, but still a notch better than our local ones. It is wet and slippery, but at least it doesn’t have that unfresh smell.

We bought some dried cuttlefish and anchovies here.

The attraction here is for you to buy the fresh seafood, and bring it up to the restaurants on the first level to cook it for you. However, if you are like me, are unable to converse in Korean (and therefore not able to bargain), you can just order off the menu. The restaurants get their seafood fresh from downstairs anyway. However, some stall downstairs sell plastic wrapped sashimi plates for you to bring upstairs.

Since we were quite early for lunch (it was about 10.30am, we were having brunch) all the restaurants were quite empty. We chose this one for no better reason other than the lady was very friendly.

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You can check out their menu before going in the restaurant. Since there were four of us, we chose this set meal costing KRW 100,000. It may seem like the price of an upmarket Chinese restaurant dinner here in Malaysia, but believe me, the food is a lot and it was the best seafood meal I’ve had in my life. The sashimi alone is top notch, fresher than anything you get here.

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As much as the food was, we managed to finish it all (except for maybe the soup) because it was simply amazing. I would highly recommend eating here. if you are not used to sitting on the floor, the restaurants in the back row have normal tables and chairs (although sitting crosslegged for more than an hour can test anyone’s endurance).

In addition the usual kimchi and side dishes, they also serve fish soup and desserts and coffee.

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(first time i see guys advertising for beer)

After a slow and satisfying meal, we took a slow walk back to station and to our hotel for a rest. En route, i stopped at the GS25 to get some ice coffee and banana milk drink. This drink is very popular in Korea and comes in different fruit flavours. I tried it for the experience, didn’t particularly liked it.

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In conclusion, Noryangjin is definitely worth a visit to see the many different seafood you’ll otherwise wont get to see here. If you have the budget, eat there, it will probably be one of the best seafood meals you’ll have.

Next – Namdaemun and Gwangjang market.

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