23 Sep - Day 1: Departing from Singapore

The flight departed at 10.35 pm. Prior hopping into the plane, checked the website for more info on entertainment and meals available... well, no luck with Asiana...

Took the Bibimbap, the Korean meal which I did not know what it was till the meal was over... as I moved the recepticles around... There! A tiny piece of card that explained what it is and how it should be mixed (before eating). Well, well, well... next time must check everything on the set before makan!

24 Sep - Day 2: Arriving at Incheon Airport 仁川机场, Departing from Gimpo Airport 金浦机场

Seemed like the plane had to fly 'through' several turbulence areas... no good sleep throughout the night. The flight-landing experience was miserable! oh! Painful!!! How I wish I could just unpluck my ears! It's the pilot's fault, my heart was screaming! Another 30 minutes to go... counting down... quick, quick!!! It'll be a torture to undergo the same experience for another 3 more times!!! Domestic & return flights! Oh my god! Asiana for future trips??? Think twice!!!

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...

24 Sep - Day 2: Arriving at Jeju 济州

1st impression of Jeju: Lots of greenary... To be more precise, lots of agricultural fields! Yes, green & yellow colours dominate the land around. Ah! Didn't know that Korea's so rich in farming! What a discovery! Guess what's going to be on the dining table would be local produce! What pleasant surprise! Ha! We are free from mxxxx from Cxxxx :D

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...

The variety and quantity on the table looked promising! Seemed that it's standard practice for each and everyone to have one bowl of rice per meal! Ah! How to eat like a bird? Else, it's a wastage of rice! (esp when the price had increased steeply over the past few months). This was also when our 'kimchi' journey just began! Cabbage Kimchi! Steam egg!!! Hm... still preferred the Japanese style - more tasty, fragnant and more stuff to go with the egg... The fish was neatly cut into halves so neat till I thought there were 2 fishes served.

24 Sep - Day 2: Seongsan Sunrise Peak 城山日出峰,济州

Our very first item of the itinerary - an UNESCO world heritage site! Well, the foreign guide, Annie, did not mentioned that - but noticed the huge monument that says it's one of the sites - Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Peak) at the eastern end of the island.

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...

24 Sep - Day 2: Seongeup Folk Village 城邑民俗村,济州

The commentary was done by the grand-daughter of the village head (That's what she said)... A very enthusiastic lady... and her mannerism and tone's like one of our local artiste (who's a Korean 金银姬) This village belongs to the natives of the island... They practise (what I infer, from our foreign guide's inputs) a central system (er... something like communism???) when everybody does the same kind (hm... to some extent, also same amount) of work - there isn't competition... everything is distributed centrally... (So, what for do more?). Somehow complacent kind of life, I guess... oh yes, education is free for the natives, too!

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...

24 Sep - Day 2: Teddy Bear Museum 熊博物馆

This is one of the highlights! OK, known for the expensive Louis Vuitton Bear! Hm... did I see that? Think I did... hahaha... there were more interesting stuff... "Mona Lisa Bear", "The Thinker Bear", "The wedding of Prince Charles & Princess Diana", "Mother Theresa", etc... hahaha.... ridiculous, yet funny...
Oh yes, it's also the filming site of the Korean drama "Princess Hour" (again, have not watched the show).

24 Sep - Day 2: Dinner

The dinner was hotpot! A variety of vegetables thrown in and boil, boil, boil... Ah! It marked the start of the "hotpot" days! Indeed, it's one of the easiest ways to cook... just add the broth and throw everything in! That's a Korean dish!

Apart from the "permanent resident" on the table (kimchi-s....) There's the fish again (hm...ok, this is the sardine fish! We normally see part of the 'body' in the canned version only). Something looked familiar! The chinese pancake!

24 Sep - Day 2: Jeju Hotel

At last! A comfortable place to rest... After the long tired journey, what else could I ask for more?

25 Sep - Day 3: Breakfast

Here's the highlight of the day! Abalone Porridge. Search, search... where's the abalone? Hm... ok, the porridge tasted like "abalonic"... hahaha... Hm... something to warm the stomach...
OK, something that we could not run away from... slowly, grew to like 3 out of the 4 items (except seaweed)... hm... was that due to limited choices? Just wondering...

25 Sep - Day 3: Yongduam Dragon Rock 龙头岩,济州

We drove to the eastern part of the island... there, one of the unusual lava formations that looked like a roaring dragon rising from the sea into the sky - Yongduam Dragon Rock. What else to see? We also saw the horse, that I think was what we were told: a cross-breed, whose built is much smaller than the normal horse...

25 Sep - Day 3: The Mysterious Road - Dakkaebidoro 神秘之路,济州

Here, we experience the phenomenon of going uphill with the vehicle engine turned off! Haha....

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...

25 Sep - Day 3: The last stop @ Jeju 济州

It's the underground shopping street - JungAng Shopping Centre. Well, thought would see something interesting. Well, it was a disappointment! Spending about 1.5 hours there. The concept is like Citylink... Guess we were pampered with the better things... so don't appreciate this kind of shopping experience here. The shops were "old" er... something like what we saw in the Chinatown market shophouses. Moreover, because it's early (ok, about 10 am), many of the shops were not opened yet... stuffy... finished the "ritual walk" and out we went.

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?

25 Sep - Day 3: Arriving at Daegu 大邱

Daegu from mid-air... Daegu, a city in the southern part of mainland, looked industrial

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)

Along the way, there were lots of farm-lands! Basically, green dominated the entire landscape.

Ha! Minus the road, I would have mistaken it's Bhutan!

25 Sep - Day 3: Late Lunch

Lunch was at 2 pm... an 1-hour journey after 50 min flight. See what's before my eyes? The bibimbap! There's more things here (apart from vegetables)... An egg! ha.. that much... and we were warned to be careful as the stone pot was very very hot! That's why it's also known as "stone hotpot rice" 石锅拌饭! In fact, ate that once... many many moons ago... Thought that one tasted better! Well, as many people shared, the taste was normally 'modified' to suit the local's taste... Ha! They got localised!

25 Sep - Day 3: Bulguksa Temple 佛国寺,庆州

We drove in to Kyongju, an ancient city that's known to be "Museum without Walls". Well, Annie did not mention or elaborate on this... except highlighting to us the key things to see in the temple - in particular the national treasures!

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.

25 Sep - Day 3: Bomun Lake 普门湖,庆州

It was breezy... just a short distance from Bulguksa Temple. Nothing, but the lake... a man-made lake (I heard). Supposedly very beautiful during springtime to see the cherry blossum trees... But now, it's autumn... see what?

25 Sep - Day 3: Back to Daegu 大邱

5.40 pm: On our way to return Daegu. It's going to be an 1h journey. Sky is gradually turning dark. The same padi fields that we saw earlier - still very quiet - don't see a single soul in the fleld. See more vehicles on the road now. Probably because it was after work... More people making their way home now. My eyelids were getting heavier & heavier.. Ozz...

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.

26 Sep - Day 4: Breakfast

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...)

26 Sep - Day 4: Seoraksan National Park 雪岳山国立公园,江原道

According to the official Korean Guide, Mt Sorak is considered one of Korea's most beautiful mountain areas, consisting of Oeseorak (outer Seorak), Naeseorak (inner Seorak) and Namseorak (southern Seorak). This 354 square km park is famous for its lush green valleys, granite peaks, glorious waterfalls, several temples and 2 hotsprings.

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..

26 Sep - Day 4: Cheese-Making

We continued our journey to a farm to experience cheese making. Ha! Sounded exciting, right? It's a goat farm. Oh yes, here's the source of the milk we used...

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

26 Sep - Day 4: Dinner... and heading Yongpyong 龙平

Could not remember exactly what we had inside this hotpot... Hm... think it's fish? It's fish soup... It's preserved fish that they said. But definitely there were lots of dau-gua in the soup! Tasty, fragnant minus fishy smell.

This night, we put up at Pongpyong Dragon Valley, the shooting location of Winter Sonata.

27 Sep - Day 5: Winter Sonata 龙平,江原道

7 am: Not a fan of Korean movie or TV series... but that did not stop me from snap, snap, snap. Winter Sonata's billboard.

It's just one of the many... then we went up to the hill (skiing ground)... yeap, another cable car ride... This time, 1500m above sea level... it's cool up there :D
Beautiful garden at the cable car station... oh yes, many billboards on spots where you could find in the drama :D

27 Sep - Day 5: Lunchtime!

Wah! Another round of Samgyeopsal! Well, Annie forwarned us to leave our jackets in the bus before going to the restaurant... else, we'll smell "BBQ" when we moved on to the next destination - Everland!

27 Sep - Day 5: Yongin Everland 龙仁,爱宝乐园 @ Incheon 仁川, Gyeonggi-do

Everland - South Korea's version of Disneyland... that spans itself on the hill and at the valley... interesting concept... one could just move up/down via the chairlift. In fact, could sense that it tried to out-do Disneyland!
  • 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!

27 Sep - Day 5: We arrived at Decksan Spa Castle!

It was almost 8.30 pm when we arrived Decksan Spa Castle for a day's rest... Yes, entering the most relaxing item in the itinerary - we were going to spend the morning to dip into the mineral rich spring water here. Yes, the word 汤 float acrossed my eyes! Oops! Anyway, mum and myself picked something else... went for ginseng spa treatment the next morning... and... we smelled like Ginseng after that! hahaha.....

We had dinner here... what else?

But we were glad... breakfast was international buffet spread...

28 Sep - Day 6: Heading Seoul 首尔

Having seen it for almost a week... had come to a conclusion... it's really easy to prepare a decent Korean meal... regardless of breakfast, lunch or dinner (ha! they don't seem to eat supper!) - preserved food and kimchi... all could be prepared (or bought) in mass... A bowl of white rice (yes, yes... it's a must item for any Korean)... Then one pot filled with water... then dump everything in! Seems like soup is a must have! Hahaha....

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.