6 am: Just touched down. Out we went, to the immigration. What a long queue! I thought. Then, realised we queued behind the locals... Haha... Wrong queue, of course. We joined the shorter one. Oh, long wait. Why? Because the immigration officers checked the details word by word! So merticulous! So, don't play play :P
Wow! It's early! The sky had started to brighten though no sight of the sun... In fact, the morning looked gloomy... Grey was the colour. What a way to begin my 8-day trip... haiz...
Breakfast was not included... Thought will be served in-flight. No, it didn't. Were told we'll only leave for Gimpo airport at 8 am... so, 50 minutes for us to have breakfast.
A quick scan - Coffee Bean! So, can't go wrong... my daily dose of caffeine! Oh yes, breakfast for 2 - a mocha, cuppacino & a sandwich that cost us nearly 15000 won!
We departed for Jeju at 10.10 am. Well, well... an observation - the Koreans were really 'on the dot'... the gate only opened at the stipulated time - not earlier, not later. Also, it's the first time I saw a board pass that came in the form of paper receipt! Cost saving! Oh yes, it came with barcode to be scanned for "checking in". For a while, I felt as if I was a product 'sent' for QC. Nothing, except juices, was served in this 60 min flight. OK... this time, no ear pain... Yes, confirmed! It's a different pilot! hahaha...
The look & feel of the place reminded me of Paro! Especially the padi fields that were ready for harvesting! It was lunch time when we arrived at Jeju island... There we had our very first Korean meal! Our Korean journey had just begun...
We did not climb our way up to see the crater... instead, went to the other side (lower land) to view the ocean.
The story of the crate went like this... Long ago, there's a mother who had many sons, each huge and strong. To feed them, she had to cook with a large pot (ie. the crate... can imagine how much food it was!). Then one day, as she accidentally fell into the pot while cooking. Her children, after work, helped themselves with the food and eventually found her body. What sad story...
Some interesting local practices were shared... for instance, there isn't any real gate needed... There's no theft here... The gate is "so called" made up of 3 long sticks... that is to indicate if the house owner is at home or not... the 'newest' technology is having tap water! (they no longer need to fetch water from the well!)... Oh yes, the way to carry water was also pretty different! Instead of of the usual way we see (ie. placing the vessel on the head), a basket is re-designed to be carried back... let a haversack! :P
Well, it was also the very 1st 'shopping' stop - the sales of "raw honey" and "lingzhi"... Haiz.... that reminded me of Taiwan! Oh yes, it seems to be the trend that the "natives" of the countries are normally appointed to sell such stuff!
Oh yes, oh yes... before I forget... It's also the 1st filming location we saw... It's one of the filming locations for 大常今! Well, well... more to come...
In this clip, the bus had stopped its engine... and the bus moved on its own... By the way, notice there were lots of stones on along the rock side? Jeju is famous for its stones that's formed as a result of the volcanic eruption long long ago. Indeed, these stones are not 100% solid.
There, we saw people pouring water and rolling bottles to demonstrate the strange phenomenon. Well, well... scientifically, there isn't any 'strange' phenomenon. In fact, it's a result of "illusion" created by the environment... that a downhill slope seemingly had gone uphill. Well, it's just a road.
According to Annie, the locals indeed added some mysterious elements to this entire phenomenon (ha! so have selling point, you see?) that this part of the road was guarded by some mischievous spirits. There, not far from the road, we can see statues of the spirits! haha...
In fact, another attraction (that was not written in the travel guide) was snacks! hahaha... Bought a bartwheat bun, a comb of corn and a deep fried "hotdog" stick (ie. hotdog coated with flour). Oh yes, had been deprived from fried food for more than 24 hours! Oh yes, the sight excited the mind, but my tastebuds told me, "It's so-so....". Oh! Korean snacks...
This stood beside the entrance to the underground shopping centre. Well, probably it's the name of the lane? Hm... can't figure out what the "Korean" characters trying to say... however, there'll be interesting interpretation of what the place was (?) if we read the few recognisable chinese characters!
Right beside this is one of the National Treasures. Did not enter the mansion. Was snapping pictures outside, though.
There, we saw the lots of (almost all!) Chinese characters used in the naming of the buildings! This place seemed to have served as the chinese embassy in the past. Notice the chinese character 帅 on the yellow flag?
Finally, we touched down in this domestic airport that has only one conveyor belt for luggages! Ha! Can imagine how domestic it is? Well, another airport (the International one!) that had only one conveyor belt for arriving luggages was Paro airport! (OK, that was 3 years ago)
Ha! Minus the road, I would have mistaken it's Bhutan!
Accordingly to the official Korean Travel Guide, The city of Gyeongju (ie. Kyongju) was the capital of Silla from 57BC to 935AD. The city contains the remnants of the Silla kingdom as well as relics pertaining to Buddhism, the national religion at that time. 52 historical sites and artefacts are located within this UNESCO-designated area.
The Bulguksa Temple, built from AD751 till AD774, is about 1500 years old. A beautiful place... with the touch of zen... it's the architecture! It houses a few temples within the site.
Glimpses of the world heritage site...
From this point, look through the "opening", one could see the face of the Buddha very clearly... face-to-face...
Here's another familiar scene... like the one I took at Punakha Dzong, Bhutan. (Click HERE)
It's also one of the Learning Journey sites for the younger generation Koreans... We could see, not one, but a few groups of school children seated in the shade to listen to the explanation by their teachers/guides.
At last! Dinner time! Wah! This meal we had meat! At last!!! (hahaha.... sounded deprived! sounded so carnivorous! Right?) Well, probably in the midst of adjusting to the typical Korean meal that's non-oily, leafy (oh yes, lots and lots of kimchi and other preserved vegetables) and soupy - it's really a joy to see big slices of meat!
It's Samgyeopsal 五花肉烧烤 - Really tasty! Was told honey was added to marinate and it's the pork of the black pig (that we saw in Jeju). Yummy, yummy! Definitely nicer than the ones we ate at Seoul Garden!
We put up at "The Grand" hotel this evening.
This morning's breakfast is the standard international type, but of a smaller variety. Fruit juice. Smoked duck. Smoked salmon. Ah! I liked that.
This morning, we were told the bus journey would be about 4 hours, excluding lunch time, to our destination - Mt Sorak. Was 'casted' the sleeping spell... dooze off while reading on the bus...
10 am: It's almost exactly 2 hours. Reached 'break stop'. It's windy... Wah! BBQ cuttlefish on red hot stones! How could I give it a miss? Roasted chestnuts! (That reminded me of those I saw at the street of London! Buy, buy, buy :D
So fragrant! oh yes, the roasted fishy smell is not fishy but fragrant! Couldn't resist! Yeap, one packet, please! 6000 won (I think...)
We took the 1,100 m cable car-ride, from the park entrance in Seorak Dong to Gwongeumseong, an ancient mountaintop fortress of the Silla Kingdom. Count ourselves lucky - we were told the cable car did not operate the day before, because of weather condition!
From the cable car... Beautiful combination of sky, sea, land and moutain... still on our way up...
Arrived... overlooking at the faraway land, from about 850m above sea level... see the maple leaves that started turning red?
Following another 15 minutes walk (upwards...), finally... we reached... see the Korean flag?
Beautiful? You might asked... Hm... it offers a pretty good view of the top here... the faraway views where the line between the sky, land and sea were blended together seamlessly! (ha! really, can't see the lines at all!) Impressive? Hm... I thought images from the King Canyon (Darwin, Northern Australia) or the Grand Canyon (Nevada, US) sank in deeper..
First we had to bring the milk to boil as it's not pasteurized yet... That reminded the first time I boil fresh cow milk in Paro! Didn't expect that it was so unmanageable once it reached its boiling point! So, handle the boiling with care! Then followed by a few steps... reminded me of days I did the science experiments! hahaha.... Definitely, the experiments in chemistry labs were more exciting then those in the kitchen!
There's the piece of cheese our group of 6 made :D Look beautiful, right? Hahaha... notice that the Koreans really know how to package their stuff! What an achievement after about 20 minutes! Looked simple... hm... it didn't smell or taste cheesy at all... er... Was that cheese? Anyway, it's amazing to see how the fluid transformed into solid!
Learnt something new... cheese goes well with red wine! Hm... also, corn chips dipped in strawberry jam... :D
This night, we put up at Pongpyong Dragon Valley, the shooting location of Winter Sonata.
- The theme for this season was Halloween. So, orange pumpkins everywhere! Casper like spirits everywhere!
- It has 3 roller coaster rides, with one that's the world's tallest ride on wooden structure that goes as steep as 70 degrees!
- It has more than one evening parade, that's held at almost the same time at 3 thematic areas.
- There are 2 beautiful gardens - 4 Seasons Garden and the Rose Garden, which integrated some Greek elements in the design.
- It even has a small zoo "Safari"... which we drove through several enclosures to see the animals.
- There we saw lions and tigers living together - oh yes! as Annie proudly shared that here produces the cross-breed of lions and tigers - "ly-gers".
- The other one was bears! Yeap, those black bears... definitely smaller and tamer than the ones we saw at Hokkaido... these bears are intelligent! They could recognise and perform according to the words called out by the driver... of course, the driving force was their reward! Yes, the animals were conditioned - to be rewarded (for survival sake?), they have to act as was told to... Sad, isn't it? I thought, it's cruel! Isn't this something we find in our human world?
- Here's the entrance to the Safari - with the lion and tiger "roaring" to welcome the visitors.
4 pm: Saw something familiar... Churros! The 'gwei lo' fritters. Missed that. Think the last time had that was at EuroDisney. Not found in Hong Kong Disney. Sure, I had 2 pieces!
We had dinner here... what else?
But we were glad... breakfast was international buffet spread...
2.08 pm: After lunch. On our way to Seoul. Was told it's going to be a 2h journey. Traffic is smooth though road is filled with lots of vehicles. For part of the journey, the bus was on the expressway, overlooking the sea.