My Gate-away from Korea – Day 1 in Hue, Vietnam

I took a slightly long holiday and came back from Vietnam recently! How did I ended up visiting Vietnam? Long story cut short, me and my TA went to attend a Vietnamese friend’s wedding.

If you are planning to sleepover at Danang airport, scratch that plan right away.

We planned to sleep at the airport on the night after touching down. To our surprise, there wasn’t a single chair in the arrival hall! The only chairs were on the outside of the hall. If you are planning to sleepover at Danang airport, scratch that plan.

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Weather was hot, humid and full of mosquitoes. We unwillingly dragged ourselves up to the departure floor and finally saw some! Happy and relieved, we took a walk nearby the airport and came back since the cleaners were cleaning. Guess what, we were locked out. Sh*t.

All we could do next was to wait until 6AM on the benches outside for a guy to pick us and send us to the bus heading for Hue.

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Thanks to our Vietnamese friend who reserved the seats for us, the so called “bus” was actually a 7 seater MPV, 9 USD per person and it was very comfortable. Nothing bugged me until the 2 guys in front of us started speaking, so loudly like they were the only ones in the bus.

Anyway I slept like a guinea pig throughout the 2 hours journey. Remember that I couldn’t sleep at the airport? I was already a half zombie.

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We arrived Hue city center at 8AM local time, and headed straight to our hotel. After checking in and taking a quick rest, we went out in hope to visit the Citadel. But it started raining cats and dogs. Urgh.

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It rained very heavily that we couldn’t walk further. Imagine walking under the heavy shower while crossing roads, with the humans driving their vehicles like they own the road. Sometimes we pondered if we should cross.

There were honks coming from everywhere, every second. Every honk gives you a slight heart attack because you think you were in their way. It was quite irritating at first, but you’ll eventually get used to it.

Oh, did I also mentioned that it’s horribly humid after the rain?

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Luckily, the shower subsided as quickly as it comes. We then head off to Dong Ba Market to hunt for some food. I was basically starving to the extend that I was imagining eating every food that I saw.

We passed by many stalls, every one was shouting towards us hoping we would buy something from them. Being a not-so-friendly traveler, we ignored and continue walking until we came to a food stall, and were pulled inside to be seated down.

Everything happened next was like a dream, part nightmare. Before we could even read the hand written menu hanging on the outside of the stall, a lady came to us with 2 cups of drinks, pouring the ice into the drink and mixing it up for us.

According to Wikipedia, that drink was “Che” – a Vietnamese sweet soup made with Adzuki beans, banana and other ingredients.

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Seems like a Vietnamese feast.

Chill, it’s just a couple of drinks. Right.

While we still have no clue on what’s on the menu, another lady was bringing us all kinds of different food. Alright, we are definitely being ripped off.

Here’s a list of food that was served to us:

  • Pho noodles X 2 (20,000 VND each)
  • Skewers X 10 (10,000 VND each)
  • Hue special rice cake with dried prawn stuffing X 2 (20,000 VND each)
  • Vietnamese spring rolls X 2 (20,000 VND)
  • and more

We were just accepting the food until we could not eat anymore. Speaking English doesn’t help at all, not even the word “no” or “stop”. The only thing that they understands was hand language. Universal language!

And our bill totaled to 300,000 VND, which was 15 USD. It wasn’t as expensive as we thought and to be honest, food was good. Come to think about it, thanks to her, we get to try all sorts of Vietnamese cuisine. However, that experience, who would ever like to be pulled into a stall and being served so many food without knowing the price?

I guess this is a new experience for us and a lesson to be learn: order your food before sitting down at anywhere you are not familiar with.

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Chomping down my Vietnamese spring roll. Elegance is not my style.
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Enjoying my cup of Che (Vietnamese sweet soup) in Dong Ba Market
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Dong Ba Market, Hue

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And so, we managed to escape that scary stall and headed back to the hotel to prepare for our friend’s wedding. Oh, and to my surprise, they have quite a number of free wifi throughout the cities, which I totally did not expect.

But still it would be safer to load Google Maps before leaving the hotel.

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Busan trip – Haedong Yonggungsa Temple

This post was lo~ng overdue. It was pretty hectic for me from October and things only started to smooth out after April. Skip about myself here and let’s focus on Yonggungsa Temple in Busan. My (or our) Busan trip was in October 2015. Yes, way way overdue. Sorry guys..

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It may seems that coming here is totally out of way due to its location on the seaside cliff. Of course, I have thought so too, but hey, it’s not that hard to get here after-all! There are no subway lines connecting to Yonggungsa Temple, but there is a bus that will come here.

Once again, I apologize because it was way too long ago since I visited here, so I cannot remember the bus we took. But, I will insert the link to Korea Tourism website for the transportation!

We wasn’t sure which stop to get off and we had to ask the driver, he shouted to the back of the bus (to us) when we arrived that stop. Such a nice guy! The name of the bus stop is a long one.

Upon stepping out from the bus, I was partly in disbelief. Why? The place we landed our foot looks like a deserted place in the middle of some highway. Anyway, don’t let that awfully weird location take away your excitement. There’s a stone sign not too far from the bus stop carved with “Haedong Yong Gung Temple” on it, from there we walked for around 20 minutes more before we get a glimpse of the entrance.

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Bus stop is just right around the corner
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A quiet road that leads to the temple

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Along the way, heed my advice: watch the trees!

Nothing’s wrong with the trees, they are not whomping willows. But, if you are afraid of creepy crawlies like me, you might wanna be extra alert. There are some serious bug businesses going on around those trees. There were many, and I meant MANY giant spiders idling on the trees, and I think I even got caught on some strings of web. Yikes!

I cannot say that they are poisonous nor can I say they are safe to touch (although they look really poisonous T.T), especially when you have a kid with you.

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Finally arriving at our destination. Yonggungsa Temple. It sure doesn’t look like what I’ve seen online. The view from the entrance was nowhere near a sea nor a cliff. It was just trees and gardens. Pardon me, my impatient-ness was activated.

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My guy who loves reading, at every signs & boards.
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Buddha’s hand as a chair. It feels weird.. @@

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After walking through this “gate”, we finally saw the sea! I think I was so hyped that I left my guy following me while I took pictures.

The view was simply breathtaking, though there were some construction going on, but it wasn’t obscuring the view. FYI, my pictures couldn’t show its true beauty, you may want to visit there to be charmed by it.

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I think I will stop yapping now since I can’t remember much about the trip. T.T  I’ll put some pictures here for you guys to see what I’ve seen.

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There are quite a number of bridges in this temple, and one that caught our attention was where a flock of humans gathered while looking downwards.

Curiosity hits me (did I mention I get curious easily?), and so we went to take a look. Turns out to be a wishing area. I vaguely remember taking a 100 won coin from my guy and giving it a throw. Out of my expectation, it went in.

Though I did not expect it will go in..

Ok, maybe I did since I was aiming like I’m competing in an Olympic games. One more reason is… ahem, it’s a wishing pot, so definitely it’s for my wish to come true. Tsk.

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Mine got into the front pot with only my first throw. I challenge you to throw into the barrels at the opposite.

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Yonggungsa temple is rather huge, you can easily spend a couple or more hours here. Also, probably the majestic scenery that makes people wanting to see more of it since it’s located by the cliff. Where else would you be able to see something like this in Korea?

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Ok, these dolls somewhat looks eerie.

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Oh, if you are wondering how the bus stop looks like.. I took some pictures of them while we were leaving.

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Although Yonggungsa Temple is a Buddhist temple (and some people might not like it), still I recommend you to come here when you are in Busan. Even if you have very little time. I assure you that you will fall in love with this place. And the actual view is much better than what my pictures can show.

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Escape Seoul: Daegwallyeong Sheep Ranch

I bet my friends get annoyed since I kept saying I wanted to go to Daegwallyeong but ended up didn’t went. When they told me they wanted to bring me to there, I’m seriously exploding from happiness inside me. I’ve been eagerly-dying to visit this place ever since 2014. The reason is because, see picture below.

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Pretty view right? I was hooked by the beauty of this place. I wish I could add some emoticons here to show how much I was in love with it. Daegwallyeong is not an unfamiliar name to Koreans, but its not well known to tourists, though the numbers are slightly increasing lately.

I think it has the best view during summer and winter. In summer, you get to see scenery like the one above, green lush trees and healthy grasses. While in winter, it’d be a mountain of snow, giving it a dramatic feel. Wanna see how winter looks like? I’ll put a video at the end of this page here.

Of course, I’m so anticipating to see that greenish fields and mountain views and definitely expecting a hot sunny day since it was summer right now (July). I even wore shorts! However, as we drove up the hill, fog started to be seen everywhere, and when we were nearly at the top, its so thick that we can barely see the road. I got depressed. We came all the way here and we get to see nothing?

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Thick fog while on the way up

We came after our trip from Gangneung (blogging it soon), so it takes roughly only an hour drive. The weather was obviously cold that day, remember I wore shorts? I was lucky that I brought a windbreaker with me, or else I wouldn’t be able to walk any further.

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Entrance to sheep ranch
Entrance to sheep ranch

That depressing view.

We actually refused to go inside when we reached the entrance. I have to clarify a little that we were on a tight budget, and the entrance fee was 4,000 won per person. Since the fog was too thick that we can barely see anything, it’ll probably be a waste of money.

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But I wasn’t willing to go off, I really wanted to go in (even though I might not see anything). We came all the way here, why not just have a short walk and take a breeze inside? Ok, I managed to persuade them while keeping my happiness hidden.

Paying 4,000 won each, we were told to keep the ticket. It has another use for it, you’ll know what it’s for soon. Remember to keep your ticket!

It was supposed to look like something you get to see in New Zealand. With sheeps running freely in the vast green fields, grazing the grass, or just lying lazily on the grass. From what I knew, sheeps are let out from April to October. Since it was too foggy, they were kept inside. Not happy.

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But as we walk further into the ranch, my mood enlightens. Though the view was obscured by the fog, contrary, it actually made this peaceful place more mystically mysterious. It also helps me to get a good set of pictures. Thank you fog.

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It wasn’t as bad as we thought. At least we don’t need to walk under the hot sun, or get ourselves sticky all over due to sweats. We treat it as a getaway from the hot weather in Seoul. We do liked it, and it was really a good and quiet place to be (during that day).

Walking along the sandy trails, we went at our own pace, of course I’m the one trying to catch up with them. The boys are having their own peaceful time walking together and chatting, while me, I’m just taking pictures over pictures, having them as a subject in my photos. Sorry guys~

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See how well they fit into my pictures?

Oh, remember I told you guys to keep the entrance ticket? It’s for exchanging with a basket of hay to feed the sheeps!

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I think they were so used to humans, the hungry ones will come straight to the front waiting to be fed. What a friendly bunch! See below. One of our friend is being ever so popular among the fluffy sheeps. I wonder if he’s popular among girls.. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ He even tried to bully a couple of them! Bad bad guy.

At first, I was kinda afraid they might bite me unintentionally, but phew! They did not. It feels like they have no teeth. Haha.. They pick up the hay with their lips to be more accurate. Their wool (or fur??) are thick, but surprisingly soft to touch.

The popular guy.. haha
The popular guy.. 

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Since we went hiking the day before, thus my legs were basically breaking into pieces, but since I’m enjoying my time here, I actually forgot about the pain in my legs. Thinking about it now, it feels like magic. Cause it started hurting again right after we exited the ranch. Hmm..

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The big babies..

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Daegwallyeong Sheep Ranch was indeed a very good place to take a quiet stroll (when it’s not crowded). If I could, I seriously didn’t want to leave this place. It has a strong force that makes you want to stay here longer. Definitely will come here again…

Since I went in one of my friend’s car, thus I can’t really give the exact information on how to go to this place. However, this is a link to TraverllerElf’s blog for detailed directions there. Hopefully the next time I go, it’d be by public transportation.

My friends asked me, what makes you smile so much here in Daegwallyeong? I didn’t know how to answer. It somewhat just makes me forget about everything, giving my mind peace and calmness. What do you say?

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Travelling to Petite France with only 25,000 won

I took a day off on Monday wondering should I get out of Seoul. Laziness was lurking all around me that made me barely wants to get out of bed. But, I’m glad that I beat my evil side and head out to Petite France for a short day trip. It’s been quite a while since I’ve wanted to come to this place, and finally!

Forecast said it might rain in Seoul, so I just want to escape the rain.

Probably because of my introverted character, I tend to be paranoid of losing my way around or talking to people, or miss the transportation. And lastly, I found out that coming to Petite France wasn’t that complicated as I expected it to.

Moreover, I have only 25,000 won in my wallet. Drop dead. I need an ATM, like real bad. But failed to find any. No choice but to move on with what I have.

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Paranoia of getting lost.

Since I’m living in Yongsan area, I’ve decided to take ITX from Yongsan station (rather than the usual Cheongnyanni station), which costs me 800 won more per way. I should have just went to Cheongnyanni instead, since it’s cheaper.

I was kinda lost in Yongsan station like where to get the tickets. Fortunately they installed some ITX sign on the top and I just followed it. I bought the tickets (heading to Gapyeong) from the vending machine and waited for the 11am train to arrive. There are dozens of trains come and goes in Yongsan, just spot the ITX train and hop onto it. Check the time as well!

Upon arriving in Gapyeong, I was shocked by the number of people that exit the train. Holy crap! Will I be able to get the ticket back to Yongsan today?? Where do I stay if I’m stucked here? I can’t afford being stuck here as I need to work tomorrow. There goes ms. paranoia again. Afraid that it might run out of tickets, I hurriedly booked mine right after I passed the gates. Phew!

Since I’m short of cash, I chose to take the shuttle bus instead. I only know the taxi fees going to Nami Island is 3,000 won per trip, who knows how much it will cost for Petite France. I don’t want to risk any cents at this moment. Saw a queue right in front of Gapyeong tourist information centre, and yep, that’s the shuttle bus stop. Petite France is just the next stop after Nami Island.

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Took this when I came back from Petite France, thus, no Qs…

Road to Petite France is too winding, bring something along if you have motion sickness.

There’s no way you will miss this sign when you arrived at the place! But I missed it. I searched for it when I’m heading out. Tee hee~

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Anticipated a lot when I came down from the bus, after getting the ticket (8,000 won) from the counter, I started walking in slowly and my camera ready!

The weather that day was sizzling hot. Sizzling? Yep! It’s no joke, since I’m there at around 2pm. I’m glad I applied some erm… expired sun lotion before heading out. Especially on my tattoo!

First thing that caught my sight, it was breathtakingly beautiful. It’s not the buildings, rather it’s the nature itself. That view is enough to make you forgot how hot the weather was. Green hills, blue skies, peaceful lake… It looks so much like a sight that you might only find in New Zealand! If you omit the fact that you’re in Korea, you might really think that you’re in a suburb french village with a stunning river-hill kind of scenery.

How can you deny its beauty?

I begin exploring the village, walking through alleys, climbing stairs, taking shelters in shades that I can find. Of course, taking pictures with 3 gadgets of mine. More than a hands full.

Being submerged in my photographing mode, I climbed another stairs in order to search for more places to walk. Huh? Isn’t this the place I came by moments ago?? Oh yes, I came here moments ago indeed. Only to realized that I’m done exploring this village.

Maybe there’s a reason why they named it Petite France. This place is indeed petite compared to how it looks on TV (wonder how did they make it looks so massive in movies). I only spent an hour more to finish my expedition in this whole “village”! You can imagine how small it is…

This is basically 85% of the village itself.

Fine. But my train ticket heading back to Seoul was 6.28pm! How am I supposed to spend my 2 hours here? I don’t even have enough money to buy a Nami Island entrance ticket. No other options but to wait.

I sat in the shade and observing the visitors, couples, couples, and more couples (with selca-bong)! Oh, and there’s this one guy who plays the accordion real good. He doesn’t play long, maybe 15 minute or more, but he definitely kept me entertained during the wait.

I planned to catch the shuttle bus back to Gapyeong at 4.20pm. Waited and waited, it doesn’t come. My fear of not being able to catch the train kept growing. 4.30pm… 4.45pm… 4.50pm finally! The shuttle bus came! There goes ms paranoia again. You don’t need to buy the ticket again, just show the driver the ticket you’ve bought when you first board the shuttle bus.

So my thought about Petite France?

It’s a peceful place to spend your time at, but you’ll have to travel out of Seoul, rather tiring. I’ll come here again only if I’m going to Nami Island or other places around Gapyeong, but not visitng Petite France on it’s own.

My recommendation: Nami Island > Petite France > Garden of morning calm (depends on time)

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Is it just me or does this clown looks scary….

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And here’s my selfie!

Expenses breakdown:

Transportation (ITX) – Yongsan to Gapyeong 4,800 won (Bought with credit card)
Transportation (ITX) – Gapyeong to Yongsan 4,800 won (Bought with credit card)
Shuttle Bus 6,000 won for a day’s ride
Petite France entrance fees 8,000 won
Water 1,000 won
TOTAL 24,600 won
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The Huwon – Changdeokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung rings many bells especially tourists’ and visitors’, and I can’t deny the beauty of it. However, today I’m going to write about Changdeokgung Palace instead. Maybe more towards the Huwon.

So, why Changdeokgung?

It is true that Gyeongbokgung have stunning scenery surrounding the inner part of the palace, with refurbished architectures. However, Changdeokgung has a more Korean looking ambience preserved, so one could see the historical side of the palace.

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Changdeokgung is the second palace to be built after Gyeongbokgung under the reign of King Taejong in the year 1405. King Taejong, who settled at Changedeokgung avoided going to Gyeongbokgung because he had killed his half brothers there just to be enthroned as a King of Joseon. Later on, King Seonjo expanded the palace grounds by about 500,000 square meters, including Huwon (후원) (Rear or Secret Garden) and was listed in 1997 as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.

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CLOSE on Mondays, the main palace is accessible by anyone after purchasing an entrance ticket (3,000 won for adults, 1,500 won for kids). However, the ONE AND ONLY Huwon,will require a guided tour from the palace staff (additional 5,000 won to Huwon + tour for adults & 2,500 won for kids).

We booked the Huwon tour through this website, what’s even better is that the fees were paid only when we collected the ticket on the day itself. Since there are only a LIMITED number of visitors allowed on each session, I strongly advise you to book them in advance.

Claim your tickets 1 hour before the tour or it will be forfeited.

The 78-acre Huwon which was originally constructed for the use of the royal family and palace women. The garden incorporates a lotus pond, pavilions, and landscaped lawns, trees, and flowers which are over 300 years old.

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Which is the best season to visit? There’s no definite answer. It depends on you actually, as every season has it’s own natural beauty.

In Spring, flood your eyes with the view of blossom flowers that bloom all over the palace. In Summer, expect green bushy trees, you can also take a rest under one of these huge trees. While in Autumn, leaves starts turning yellowish red and fall, which in return creates a calming view. Last but not least during Winter, where layers of thick white snow makes everything so romantic and reminds you of those sa-geuk (historical dramas) romance drama. As for us, we went during the fall.

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Entrance to Huwon

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The Huwon tour usually takes 1 hour and you may explore it freely as you like, as long as you don’t go anywhere prohibited. Don’t try to sneak in!

We went our own way since we couldn’t catch up with the group. Tee-hee~ we were busy taking pictures while exploring the garden. It’s not only huge, it also have lots of different roads & paths, so don’t get lost! Follow the crowd if you’re lost!

One of the prohibited entry route
One of the prohibited entry route

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This peaceful building is known as Juhamnu Pavillion, a 2 storey building built in year 1776 under the reign of King Jeongjo. Lower level served as a Gyujanggak (Royal Library), while the upper level served as a King’s reading room. Those gates leading up to the pavilion are known as Eosumun, built in a unique structure, where the bigger gate was used by the King while the smaller ones used by his subjects.

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Uiduhap Pavillion was constructed by Crown Prince Hyo Myung for studying and meditating. Unlike those rich-looking buildings with fancy designs, it is rather small and simple like those houses of the citizens.

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Overall, it was a great experience during this palace visit. Being able to see how the royal chamber looks like, a real-life garden where the Queens used to walked around, and imagining the Kings of Joseon fishing at the pond… Though it would be more enticing if there were some traditional royal games which the Kings & Queens used to play duringJoseon Dynasty..

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Camera 360

Getting There:

Anguk Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 3. Go straight for 5min.
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Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 7. Go straight along Donhwamun-ro Street for 10min.

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What winter looks like in Korea?

I tend to get lots of queries about autumn in Korea, and indeed Korea’s autumn is really beautiful. I can never deny that fact. But do you know that Korea is also beautiful during the winter? Except the fact that snow get stuck on your shoes and icy winds blowing harshly at you.

I used to think that winter is filled with snow everywhere (thank you K-dramas), until I personally visit Korea and found out it’s not quite true! Depending on two factors if it piled or not, one will be if it snowed heavy, another will be if the snow stays and doesn’t melt.

When we were there, it didn’t snow a lot in the city, thus, there won’t be any white cold looking Seoul in the pictures here. Though it snowed densely when we were at Nami Island. Cough cough, it was planned.

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Pardon me, I’m fascinated by the shape of snow flakes.

Born and grew up in a tropical country, I’ve always wondered how it’s like in countries with four seasons, I’ve seen red crimson maple leaves on my first Korea trip, and it left me with unforgettable memories. But what winter’s like? How it feels to touch the snow or when it lands on my face, is it cold? How does it feel like? Is it soft?

We were supposed to head to Ski resort until we aren’t able to catch the bus. So, we planned to take a walk around DDP while waiting for the snow to fall. It was cloudy enough for a rain to fall when I suddenly spotted some flakes in the air as we turn around looking for some food. Can I assure you that the weather forecast is damn accurate?

That was my first encounter with snow. It felt as light as a feather, as cold as ice on my face (ok it IS ice), on my nose, in my mouth!! We were extremely excited. Though it is not dense enough to pile the ground with any snow.

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My niece was hyped up instantly, also influenced by Disney movie “Frozen”. She was happily enough to run in rounds, endlessly. Chasing snow flakes after snow flakes, just anywhere she could run, not even afraid of getting lost.

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A sudden snow fall in Sinchon. Look at my niece!

Me, my sister, and my mom basically stood in the open in front of Doota mall, like some crazy women, and take cover inside when it was too freezing to even bare the cold for another second.

Yes, that was our very first winter experience.

What’s worse, my winter coat has a hole at the pocket and I had to get myself a new one there.. Fortunately, it wasn’t that expensive, only costs 20,000 won (The one I’m wearing in my header image). Quite a good bargain for a winter coat, and light weighted too. Hmm!

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It wasn’t that freezing cold until the wind starts blowing, then it feels like knives piercing into your skin. Every exposed inch of it.

And though there is sunlight, but it only gives light, and no warmth. Somehow I cursed it during that very moment when I needed its warmth so badly.

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Ice pond in Gyeongbok Palace..

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Insadong in December 2015
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Winter on December 2015

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Watch out for icy paths too!
Watch out for icy paths too!

How is the winter at your place?

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Places to include in your Seoul itinerary

I’m not saying that I’m familiar-like-a-local about Seoul, but being there for a few times and also had to arrange for my so-called itinerary when I went together with my family, this is the least that I have to know.

Not to mention that numerous itinerary requests from my friends on Seoul…..

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1. Cheonggyecheon Stream & Gwanghwamun Sqaure – This place has been my all time favorite. It makes me feels relax & calm whenever I’m here, everytime. This stream is connected all the way from Dongdaemun to Gwanghwamun area. If  you feel sick (as in bored) riding a subway, you can take a slow stroll from either one of the entrance and walk to the other end while enjoying the paintings on the walls along the stream, as well as taking a rest by the stream when you feel tired.

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2. Insadong – Literally the heart of the city, from here, you can find the popular Bukchon Hanok Village nearby and after a couple hours of photo-time in the village, head down to Samcheongdong area (known for coffee street for the numbers of cafes here) for a cup of coffee. Do not miss out the famous SsamJieGil too~ This is basically my favorite place to go to whenever I’m in Insadong area, though nothing much but I like to just look at the handcraft products that are put up for sale, some items are just so creative! Don’t forgot to walk till the top.

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3. Myeongdong – Myeongdong, a shopping heaven for shopaholics! Hundreds of shops and boutiques at this one place. You can actually go there in the morning and still be there in the night, what should I say, too much to see here! Of course, prices compared to Hongdae and Edae area are still slightly high though.

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4. Hongdae, Sinchon, Edae, Hapjeong – There are 3 Korean universities in this area which are Hongik University, Sogang University and Ehwa University. That says shopping here could be much cheaper compare to Dongdaemun and Myeongdong. Located just side by side to each other where you can actually walk to these places on foot! What else? You can visit the universities too! Not only shopping, this places are foodie heaven!

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5. Nami Island – It became a craze after filming Winter Sonata, and packed with tourists ever since. Slightly an hour away from Seoul by ITX train, Nami island has some awesome scenery to offer. If you’re up for a challenge, you can take a zip wire to the island from the ferry port, or just bungee jump for the sake of some adrenaline rush!

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6. The 5 palaces – The 5 main palaces in Seoul are definitely not be missed when you visit Seoul, though I will recommend Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung to first time visitors. Both are no doubt very beautiful, however, the inside of these 2 palaces are so distinct. It’s never a regret to visit both and see the constructions of the buildings.

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7. Seoul Tower, Namsan – Not quite far from Myeongdong, easily accessible by subway and cable car, it is by far the highest spot in Seoul where you can catch the panoramic view of the city, the popularity of Seoul Tower is not just a talk, the stunning scenery from above will just caught you in awe!

8. Everland – Slightly further from Seoul, but accessible by subway and bus, Everland is an outdoor theme park much larger than Lotte World. Due to it’s an outdoor theme park, be prepared to be stunned by its breathtaking scenery. If you’re able to contain your fear, ride the famous T-express which said to be very scary!

9. Kyobo Mun-go (Gwanghwamun station) – Book worms? Then you’ll love this book store. It’s basically one of the biggest in Seoul. And if you’re looking for Korean language books, head to section E! That’s my favorite part too.

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10. Daegwallyeong Sheep Ranch – Located in Gangwon-do, Pyongchang-gun, you can visit this place with public transportation. If you love nature and small walk, Daegwallyeong is basically the best place you would ever want to be at.

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Seoul’s Sky Park – Haneul Park

I’m in a dilemma choosing between Hanuel Park and Noeul Park, both are located side by side, or should I just visit both? But I decided to go with Hanuel Park, and I have no regret visiting there.

Although, this isn’t a season for the tall silvery grass nor the season for the egoistic sunflowers to be in bloom, however, without the grass obstructing your view, you get a clear sight across the vast fields.

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I was there during March 2015, Spring was just peeking through after the cold winter, most of the grass were chopped down, though at some places you may still see Eulalia grass standing as tall as a person, but gently moving along as the wind blows.

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Wandering alone in the busy Seoul city, even though I may speak some Korean but not to the extend to engage in a full conversation, therefore I tend to depend highly on navigator maps (ie. Naver Maps for me) and wifi connection. With the rented ESP wifi device from Wifi-Korea, I made it to Haneul Park without any difficulties.

Upon exiting World Cup Stadium station, Exit 1, you will walk by Homeplus, World cup stadium, a parking lot before arriving at the zig-zag stairways, or could be call as stairway to heaven as Haneul means sky in Korean. After 200 over steps, you reach the top and walk for a slight distance (there’s only one way) before arriving in front of a cliff, walk up, and Haneul Park will appear right before your eyes.

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Oh! Did I mention that there’s an awesome panorama view of the Han River at the top and end of the park? So stunning that I didn’t want to leave from that spot.

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I apologize for not taking much pictures of the park as I was immersed in the relaxing surrounding and enjoying my alone time at this peaceful place.

I personally thinks that visitors should come on a gleeful weather in Spring or Autumn when the sun isn’t as hot as summer, while allowing the cool air to take your tiredness away from all the climbs.

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All pictures shot with Olympus E-PM2.

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Winter at Nami Island

This was my third time visiting the tourist-packed Nami Island, which is well known for its wintry white scenery! If you were to read my previous blog post, I have already been there twice during autumn, and it’s definitely a very huge difference when most of the trees became leave-less and everything became white.

Being a guide during this trip, my family were asking me why have I not bring them to Nami Island. But little did they know, I was waiting for the correct time and moment. What would it be? A snowfall, of course!

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Although weather forecast are quite accurate 2 or 3 days before the actual day, but a snowfall can be very much unpredictable, it could just snow out of a sudden or not! You’d never know! After confirming that it will snow, I made the plan to visit the island the next day and it snowed the whole day. Definitely worth a little wait.

To be honest, it’s my first time being a guide, although they are my family, I am still afraid that I will get lost somewhere. Anyhow, they easiest way to reach the island on your own is always the ITX train. Once again, we bought the tickets from Cheonnyangni Station (adult 4,000 won / child 2,000 won) and board the train to Gapyeong.

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Follow platform 1 or 2 if you are heading to Gapyeong.

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Just select the number of persons, time, station that you will be going to (for Nami Island, it will be Gapyeong station) and pay the total amount that will be shown on the screen. Remember to “tap out” your T-money if you’ve used it to head to Cheongnyanni or Yongsan station (machine just beside the ticket vending machine).

It was already snowing at the time we arrived Gapyeong Station. Since I was from a tropical country with just only 1 season throughout the year, it was quite exciting to see snow piling up on the ground.

However, it feels like I was forcing myself out of the station. Stepping out from there is like heading into a giant freezer, it was terribly cold. I have 4 long sleeved layers on me (1 cotton shirt, 1 light wool shirt, 1 knitted sweater and the winter coat), but after getting used to the cold, it feels much better except for my hands which almost turned numb.

DON’T even wear winter leggings in this kinda weather, unless you have a layer of heat tech on the inside, else you won’t be able to enjoy your winter sonata experience when you’re busy keeping yourself warm.

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We caught a taxi outside of Gapyeong station, which supposedly only cost 3,000 won, but the driver charged us extra 200 won. A new lesson learnt, always check the taxi meter when you get on.

Upon arriving the jetty, the sight that greeted us looks cold and freezy yet it was breathtaking, it was so cold that most of the water became frozen. I felt that my pictures did not do justice to that beautiful place.

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The lonely panda waiting for a train that would never come.

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Snow fall became more intense and most places became white in a short while. It was rather irritating to me since I was carrying my cameras and stuffs. And since it’s my first winter experience, I didn’t know that I would need something to cover up my camera (I thought snow wouldn’t melt that easily!).

Maybe I should carry an umbrella? Nope, imagine holding a DSLR in your hands when you need to focus your lens while holding the umbrella.

Second lesson learnt.

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During the cold seasons, people flock to this stall that sells steamed red bean bun. It only cost 1,000 won each and when you have it in your hands, especially in the winter, it just feels so warm and nice! Imagine your freezing numbed hands have something hot to hold on to. Not only that, it taste good too!

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A stall selling hot steamed bun..

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As I have said earlier, everything just looks different when the place is blooming with colors and when it was covered totally in white. Here are some pictures taken during my trip in the autumn and some during in the winter. You be the judge and say which one looks better. As for me, I would say both have its own charm.

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And here are few more pictures taken during this trip..

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This fire pit is heaven!
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Failed snowman attempt.

Do you know there is one cute little restaurant selling lunch boxes on Nami Island? If you have yet to try the food here, I’d highly recommend you to this place. They called it fried rice, but I would rather call it “shake-it-to-mix-it-rice”. Put on the glove and start shaking the lunch box until everything is all well mixed up, and bon apetite!

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While having lunch break with my family, we updated our own personal social network accounts using the rented wifi device from Wifi-Korea. Strong signal even in Nami Island, just spot the middle icon to believe. And that was how I made my friends jealous of the sights I was looking at that moment while they were sweating at their end. It’s Malaysia!

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At the end of the day, see how much snow had fallen during that few hours! Here’s a before and after shot basically at the same spot, just from a different angle.

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And last but not least, our family portrait..

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Have you been to Nami Island before, and when was that? I would definitely want to visit again during Spring and Summer too.

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