Posts Tagged With: travel

Colours of Seoul & Busan (5 Days Itinerary)

It’s been about 5 years since my last trip to Korea. This time, I’m going by free and easy instead of a guided tour, which makes my trip more personalized and exciting.

9th Aug 2013 (Myeongdong & Dongdaemun)

Upon arriving at Incheon Airport, if you are the kind of person who likes to be connected to the world all the time, you definitely should rent the wibro egg which allows you and your friends to get connected to wi-fi at around S$10 per day (the cost can be shared among all of you who are going together). You could rent the wibro egg at the airport (Passenger Terminal 1st Floor).

However, in Seoul itself, there are many cafes which provided free wi-fi, you just need to get the password from them. Sometimes, they might even share that password on the receipt itself.

From outside the airport, we took bus no. 6015 to the hotel we are staying, PJ Hotel, alighting at Chungmuro station. After leaving our luggage at the hotel lobby, we proceeded to MyeongDong for our first day of shopping! I love Seoul so much! It’s so convenient to get to Myeongdong as there is a shuttle bus service by the hotel direct to Myeongdong or Dongdaemun. If you miss the shuttle bus timing, the Euljiro-3ga Mrt station is just 10mins walk away from the hotel.

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Our Hotel Bedroom! 3 of us shared a room. There is even a small dining area with television and coffee machine. It’s a great area for us to chill at night with some beer and chips after a long day outside.

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This is the dressing table and wardrobe

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The bathroom consisted of a bathtub towards the left side and shower room on the right side of the toilet. It’s very spacious!

PJ Hotel

73-1 Inhyeon-Dong 2-Ga, Jung-Gu, 100-282 Seoul

Tel: 02-2280-7000

Website: http://eng.hotelpj.co.kr/

Nearest Train station: Euljiro-3ga station

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Hotel shuttle bus timing and route

Arriving at Myeongdong, we almost went crazy with the Annual August hot summer sales. In Myeongdong, they sell mostly beauty products, shops like Etude House, Faceshop, Innisfree, Missha, NatureRepublic, etc are side by side. In total, we spent more than S$1000 on that day itself on beauty products and cosmetics alone. I will elaborate more on my next few posts on the things I bought from Seoul. We decided to give our tired legs some rest after the whole day of shopping by watching Nanta Cooking show at Myeongdong. The tickets could be booked online in advanced.

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The Summer sale is only held in August. Lots of freebies would be given out in Myeongdong in most of those cosmetics shops.

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Cosmetics shops line side by side in the streets of Myeongdong

After watching the show, we proceeded to eat Bulgogi dinner and more late night shopping at Dongdaemun (Exit from line 1 or 4 of Dongdaemun station). Dongdaemun sells mainly clothes and certain accessories, bags, some shoes, etc..

10th Aug 2013 (Ehwa & Hongdae)

We took the train from Euljiro-3ga station and alight at Ehwa Women’s University station (exit 2). Ehwa sells mainly clothes, accessories, bags & shoes (prices are much cheaper than Dongdaemun.) Occasionally, you will see a few shops selling beauty products. There are many cafes in Ehwa and Hongdae. You might just walk into any café for a rest before you continue your shopping spree. I will elaborate more on the cafes I went in the next post.

ehwa

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There are alot of sweet dreamy clothes and accessories shops in Ehwa. Since the prices are alot cheaper than Dongdaemun, I prefer to shop at this place.

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Rows and rows of clothes and accessories shops. There are also many cafes in Ehwa compared to Myeongdong and Dongdaemun.

After our lunch, we went to Hongdae, alighting at Hongik University Station (exit 5), Hongdae is a place with many cafes and shops selling clothes and accessories. The prices are almost as cheap as Ehwa. If you have time, you may want to visit the hair salon or do a manicure in Hongdae.

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Many cafes line the streets of Hongdae

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We came across a very special Hair salon and nail palor! Reminds me of a gingerbread house..

Our main purpose of going to Hongdae is to visit the 3D Trick eye Museum. This is a MUST go place in Seoul! It’s fun and interesting, anyone will love it. Look at the pictures below and you will know what I mean. Since we were there on a Saturday, the crowd is expected. However, I didn’t know that many young children and elderly also enjoyed going to this museum.

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There’s also the Ice museum just beside the 3D museum. They provided a small blanket before you enter the Ice museum. However, I suggest that you might want to wear more clothes before you enter this museum. For just around 10-15 minutes of viewing ice sculptures, the ice cold temperature in the museum wore me down physically and mentally as I was wearing sleeveless and shorts that day. But it was one of the experiences one will never forget.

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Some parts of the Ice museum are interactive, where you get to play on the slides and crawl into the igloo.

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At night, we went to one of the most well-known pub in Hongdae, Castle Praha; for our dinner and some drinks. The place is magnificent! They sell limited choices of western food but a wide variety of alcohol, beer, cocktails.

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The Magnificent Castle Praha. It looks beautiful during the day too.

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We ordered a simple mushroom and ham pizza and beer/ cocktail. The pizza tasted alright (nicer than a few that I’ve tried)

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The interior looks like a castle too

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Our dining area on the 2nd level

11th Aug 2013 (Busan)

On our third day, we decided to go for a 1 day trip to Busan. From Seoul station, we boarded the 6.40am KTX high speed railway train and had our breakfast in the train. You should reserve a 1-day KR Pass at the Korail website, have it printed and present it with your passport at the Travel Centre counter. The staff will check the reservation form against your passport and he/she will print a card with the date on it. With this card, you have to go to the ticketing counters located near the entrance of the Seoul Station to get your train ticket. It’s preferably that you get the return ticket as well unless you’re unsure about your return timing. The journey from Seoul to Busan takes around 3 hours.

The website where you can get your pass: http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfIndex_eng.do

 

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KTX highspeed railway train to Busan

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I love this train! A table is available for us to have our meals on board the train.
The seats are comfortable enough for us to have a short nap.

From Busan station, we took bus no. 101 from a bus stop across the road and alight at Taejongdae (태종대). From there, we took a Danubi tram to the various stops for scenery viewing, mainly; observatory deck, lighthouse and Ji Woo Photo gallery.

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The Danubi tram which took us up to view the scenery.

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The lighthouse

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beautiful cliff

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At the Photo gallery~

After some scenic views, we had a light lunch at a café and took the subway from Busan station to Toseong station (Exit 6). From Exit 6, you will be facing an intersection. Turn right at the corner and walk straight. You will see a hospital on your right. The bus stop is right in front of the hospital. Take either Bus 2 or 2-2. This will take you to Gamcheon Culture Village at top of the steep hill. This place is perfect for people who appreciates art or love bright, colourful patterned buildings. The village is surprisingly quiet though it’s supposed to be a tourist attraction. I think it’s because people are actually living in this village, therefore visitors are supposed to be quieter in order not to disturb the peace of the people living there.

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beautiful paintings on the walls and jeans potted plants!

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I love the colorful flower steps and button house

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Birds with human faces and a very cute cafe~

After exploring the village, we had our dinner in Busan before taking the 9.30pm KTX high speed railway train from Busan back to Seoul, then took a cab back to our hotel.

12th Aug 2013 (Jongno & Anguk area)

In the morning, we took the train to Jongno 3-ga station (exit 12). The Kwangjang market (광장시장) is across the street. We went there for our breakfast. This is the first time I’ve been to a Korean wet market. A must try would be the mung bean pancake (빈대떡)& mini gimbap. This market reminds me very much of those night markets in Taiwan, where lots of food stalls could be found.

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I love the mungbean pancake! I don’t see it here in Singapore.

After our breakfast, we went to Bukchon Hanok Village (Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2. Go straight for about 300m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Village.

Bukchon Hanok Village is a Korean traditional village with a long history located between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine. The traditional village composed of many alleys allowing visitors to experience the atmosphere of the Joseon Dynasty.

I love those traditional houses! There are a few shops selling clothes, shoes and bags in this area, however, they are much more expensive compared to Ehwa and Hongdae. Shoes & bags can cost up to Sgd$100 per pair (without discount). However, I personally think that the shoes and bags here are more unique and they have some nicer designs comparing to other places.

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After the tiring long walk under the hot sun and lots of photo-taking, we decided to go to the lotte supermarket to get our foodstuff. Take Subway Line 1 or 4 to Seoul Station and come out of Exit #1 or #2.

13th Aug 2013 (back to Myeongdong for last min shopping)

As our flight is at 4pm, we need to reach the airport at 2pm, therefore, we decided to go to Myeongdong for our last minute shopping in the morning, as Myeongdong is nearest to our hotel.

We checked out at 1230pm and took the hotel shuttle bus back to the Incheon airport. Remember to return the wibro egg and collect your tax rebate from the airport before you check in.

By the way, I ate as much Krispy Kreme donuts as I could before I finally leave Korea. Hoping to visit this place again soon! That’s all for my itinerary. If there’s anything about the route you are not clear about, feel free to contact me. 🙂

Categories: Korea, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

Exploring Medan – Lake Toba ~Day 1

My friends and I decided to have a short break from work and made used of the long weekend in May to go for a short trip. We initially wanted to visit Hanoi’s Halong Bay, however, May is not the right month to go Hanoi due to the weather. Therefore, one of my friend suggested going to Medan instead, to visit Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world.

We booked a private tour with New Shan Travel Service in Singapore and Four Seasons Holiday’s tour guide and driver came to fetch us at the Medan airport. We paid $523 for the 4 days tour (23-26 May) including transport, lodging & food. Our flight is via Silkair.

Upon arriving at the airport, we took a 5 hours drive up to Parapat, along the journey we passed through the rubber & palm oil plantations. It’s a pity that the car is driving too fast for us to take any clear photographs of the plantation, but the scene of the beautiful plantation had been imprinted in my head. We stopped for lunch and to buy their local products along the journey. I bought a lot of peanut candy & some Keropok (Indonesian crackers) for my colleagues and friends.

The journey up to Parapat was a tiring and bumpy one. For those who cannot withstand bumpy rides, remember to take a motion-sickness pill before the ride. The 5 hours journey was not continuous, we did stop after 1 or 2 hours for a toilet break. However, do not expect too much from their public toilets. For those who have not been to a developing country, it might be an eye opener for you. Their toilets do not come with a flush. We have to use a small container to scoop water from the ‘well’ beside the squatting toilet bowl. Mosquitoes or other insects may be flying around in the toilet. If you are ‘lucky’, you might find several mosquito larvae in the ‘well’. Therefore, be prepared with insect repellent.

Upon arriving at Lake Toba, all the tiredness would be forgotten once you see how beautiful the lake is.

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This was taken in our car

After our lunch, we took a boat ride on Lake Toba to Samosir Island, a large volcanic island on the lake. Samosir Island , is estimated to be the size of Singapore. Lake Toba and the island were formed after the eruption of a supervolcano some 75,000 years ago.

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We sat on the boat similar to the one in the picture.

The island is the centre of the Batak culture and many of the Toba Batak traditional houses remain on the island. The Batak villagers were very nice, we got to see how these villagers lead their daily lives & got a feel of their culture on this island. Most of the children we saw in Parapat were not wearing shoes, some of them would perform simple songs on our boat ride to earn a little money. 

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Ancient King’s house, Court house are being preserved for viewing

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Traditional roof houses of Batak Tobanese

After our visit to this island, we went back to Parapat to check-in at our hotel. We stayed at Niagara Hotel for 1 night. There is no air-conditioning in this hotel, as the temperature is very cold up here. I was freezing even though I had my jacket and blanket covered at night. The hotel room was simple, clean and acceptable, but more like a chalet, with tiled flooring instead of carpeted floor.

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Our room for 1 night

The view from our room’s balcony was amazing! I woke up to a beautiful sun rise, birds singing and the cool wind blowing at my face.

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This is the awesome view of sunrise we took from our room balcony

We went to the swimming pool area to take more photos of the lake. The sun rise was also beautiful from the poolside, which I could not resist allowing the warm morning rays to lick my face.

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The beautiful Lake Toba from our hotel

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Another awesome sunrise view from our hotel poolside

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However, there is one thing I do not like about this hotel. Although the hotel claims to  have free wifi at the lobby, however, none of us is able to connect the wifi to our mobile phones. I checked with the front office a few times and they said that they cannot help us because they do not know how to operate wifi on mobile and only know how to operate it on laptop. Anyway, we managed to survive one day without wifi, feels good to disconnect from this world for a while. 🙂

Hotel Niagara

Jl. Pembangunan No. 1 Parapat
North Sumatera 21174
Indonesia
Phone : +62-625-41028
Fax : +62-625-41233

Email: hotelniagara@telkom.net

Categories: Medan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Taipei (22/11/12) Day 1~

We took the 7.15am Jetstar Flight to Taipei, the cost of flight + Hotel is around $734. We arrived at Taipei around 12noon and the flight is so smooth & on time, there is no delay or whatsoever. Arriving at the airport, we met up with a driver from Swiio Hotel, which we are going to stay at for the next 4 days. Swiio Hotel is situated at Ximending. The hotel Lobby is located at the 6th floor, luckily there is a driver provided for us from Airport to hotel, if we book this hotel. Otherwise if we travel by ourselves to this hotel, it may be difficult to find. For those who take the train, you may want to look for TGIF building and go up to 6th floor to the lobby. At the first floor, there are many shops selling clothes, shoes, accessories and a hair Salon & Manicure parlour. This hotel is very convenient for shopaholic! When we arrive at the hotel around 1.45pm, they only allow us to check in at 3pm because other customers are checking out at 12noon, and they need time to clean up the rooms. However, they allow us to put our luggage at their storage lockers for free, so we handed the luggage over to the bellboy and went to shop around and have our late lunch.

We found a nearby stall selling some local food; 汤面, 滷肉,豆干,白萝卜, etc.. It’s very nice & we ate till very full! The total cost is around 120NT for 2 of us, very cheap too.. After which, we still had time, we went shopping! Spent some time at the accessories shop and I bought a pair of black tights/stockings with crystal studs for 150NT. I also bought 2 racer-back tops (背心) for 100NT each, very cheap.. We also went to Watsons to buy many facial masks, make up, etc. After shopping till around 330pm, we went back to hotel to check in.

Hotel room & lobby is very unique, I’ve never come across such a special room. Look at the photos~ I love the special waterfall faucet which is similar to one of the Toto Neorest series faucet. The Rainfall showerhead lets us relax under it after a tiring day of shopping. The only disadvantage is there is no bathtub, and the countertop basin is a little narrow, which makes washing face a bit too wet & messy..

Hotel Lobby's Lounge

Hotel Lobby’s Lounge

Our hotel Pantry~

Our hotel Pantry~

cool waterfall faucet!

cool waterfall faucet!

 

Our Room

Our Room

 

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swiio-hotel-toilet

 

After check in and freshening up, we went to have our dinner at a nearby 麻辣火锅stall, 299NT 吃到饱 buffet. The place is not too bad, quite normal looking, not much decorations. But the food is delicious; the fruits are really fresh and sweet.

Afterwards, we went to shop around and I bought a swarovski crystal leather bracelet at a stall in Ximending [西门町] (790NT).  Following, I bought a purple cardigan for 250NT. We then went to the toilet restaurant for ice cream dessert and drinks. Toilet restaurant seats are made of toilet bowl and the tables are made of bathtubs. Quite special design, however the food is not very nice & expensive, only good for taking photographs. We bought many little food stuff from those roadside stalls, including 台湾香肠, 泡泡茶。After shopping for quite some time, we went into a fish café which is one of the few café left that is still opened after 11pm. The design of the whole restaurant seems like we are in an aquarium, complete with swing seats and pebbled flooring. I ordered hot honey chrysanthemum tea, which comes in a pot. Calming my nerves for good sleep~

At the Fish house

At the Fish house

we also ordered a pot of hot chocolate at fish house!

we also ordered a pot of hot chocolate at fish house!

After a long tiring day, we head back to hotel for our  required beauty sleep.

Categories: Taiwan, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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