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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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.

Entrance to Huwon
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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Things I know after living in Korea

Hell has been let loose, and I’ve fulfilled my dream to stay in Seoul. Do I like it? I couldn’t say no, but I can’t say yes confidently too.

It’s been 3 weeks since I lived in Seoul, and being around something new is what I need to adapt myself to. It’s true that I’ve dreamt of being around Koreans, surviving in between them, ride the bus, take the subway just like them. But me, as an introvert living in another country is like struggling hard to control myself not to freak out in all these new situations which I need to cope with. All the people around me are like bombs that I’m afraid they might explode right beside me anytime.

I still need to say thanks to all my friends cum co-workers for helping me and taught me so many things while I’m here. And these are the very few things that I have found out after living here.

  1. Anyone can sign on your behalf when paying with credit / debit card – Yep. ANYONE!
  2. Actual signature is not required for credit / debit card – I only draw a line.
  3. Wet tissues are for cleaning, except dishes and cloths.
  4. Housemates doesn’t sleeps until it is 1am or later – They will think I’m in depression mode if I sleep early.
  5. You pay for garbage. Wait, what? You need to buy garbage bags, with correct DISTRICT printed on it. You can’t just use those you got from markets.
  6. Bus is better than subways – At least I have a place to sit everyday.
  7. Daiso and/or E-mart is your life saviour, things are pretty cheap at these marts.
  8. Free wifi is hard to get – Everyone knows this… So use Wifi-Korea! Sounds like I’m promoting them too hard.. 😛 But they are reliable though.. 🙂
  9.  It’s way too hard to find oats in Korea, except in Cotsco.
  10. Rain in Korea is annoying. It just rains, erm, more like drizzles the whole freaking day! Most times!
  11. Creepy crawlies are just even uglier – They need plastic surgeries badly.
  12. Watching movies in Seoul is EXPENSIVE – It’s 10,000 won for a movie (exclude pop-corns & drinks), which I can watch at least twice back in Malaysia!)
  13. If you see Korean girls (or guys) scream when they see pigeons, like they came in contact with a T-rex, don’t freak out. They say pigeons are the dirtiest animal in the world. Seriously?
  14. Sam-so – It’s short for Sam gyup sal + Soju. Soju is a must when eating sam gyup sal.
  15. When you expect to cool your body heat in the subway station after a LONG HOT walk in the sun……… They got no central aircond system in there. Duh!
  16. Winds just came from nowhere, every directions, out of a sudden. I hate it when I’m with an umbrella.
  17. Koreans brush their teeths after EVERY meal. Even in the office. Hmm…..
  18. Even if you don’t pay electricity, you still can use it, with limited capacity. In Malaysia, it’d be dark until you paid the bill.
  19. Deposit for houses starts from 1 million won, and rental will depends on the deposit. For 1 million won, monthly rent will be around 500,000 won. Rent reduce if deposit is more.
  20. Electricity & water bills are bank transferred to an account specifically for that unit.

This is just my personal experiences and opinions.

 

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Thoughts about MERS in Seoul

I was excited when I came to Korea on the 27th May but after a couple of days arriving in Seoul, MERS epidemic has popped out of no where when some guy came back from the Middle East and fell sick, naturally those came in contact with him got the virus.

As the time I wrote this post, it has been confirmed that 4 deaths had been arisen and 50 people has been confirmed to have transmitted with the disease. However, those who passed away are quite elderly and had previously diagnosed with respiratory problems.

Update as at 01/07/2015 – Confirmed cases: 182, deaths : 33, discharged from hospital: 97. There has been NO new cases reported for the pass 4 days and virus obviously stabilized.

Update as at 20/6/2015 – 0 new cases & 0 new deaths (death toll 24) as of this date. Virus is subsiding.

Update as at 15/6/2015 – Confirmed cases increased to 150, while death toll rise to 16 (mostly elderly).

It is true that the virus spread at a relatively quick pace throughout Korea and there’s at least 1 death everyday due to MERS, as of now they are all 50 years and above. It can be seen that there are a few more Koreans who have their masks on recently compared to when the virus first spread. However, it is still not as scary as medias reported. Although the amount of Koreans having masks on increased slightly, it is still a very small number (5% maybe) compared to those who don’t have it on. MERS is actually not air-borne, as per experts.

As an evidence, the guy who first caught with MERS traveled back to South Korea in a plane, and if it was spread by air, he should have already transmitted the virus to all the passengers on board. But as of today, it can clearly be seen that the virus are spreading through the hospitals and not by air and public.

I first thought that the virus spread fast due to Korean’s common food sharing culture. But it is a fact that it did not spread through this method.

However, my advice is still not to share food with people and keep your hands cleans.

Of course if you felt threaten by the virus, you could always put on a mask. Note that mask are really expensive now in Korea, and most of the place are out of stock. Please bring your own so that you don’t need to struggle finding for masks.

Update 15/6/2015: MERS did not spread publicly as of today and only spread through hospital visitors and patients, and some of their family members had it too. Avoid HOSPITAL at all cost.

The number of people infected are increasing quite rapidly, however, the government is barely doing anything to actually try prevent the virus from spreading even more. Try avoiding hospitals too if possible as many of these confirmed cases are spread through hospital visits.

Update 15/6/2015: Government had been disinfecting the subways every now and then.

Due to this outburst, business in Seoul took a direct hit as well when people starts cancelling trips and bookings they have made prior to the outbreak. From a report from Korean Tourism Organisation, 7,000 people are said to have cancelled their trips to Korea, while visitors who are in Korea during this period too have decided to shorten their trip and return to their country earlier.

Visitors to Insadong and Myeongdong can be seen to have decreased by a huge number too.

If you’re wondering, it is actually STILL SAFE to visit Korea, though my advice is to anyhow keep a hand sanitizer with you at all times, and wash your hands before eating. You can also visit the MERS map website for MERS affected areas in Korea (Korean only though).

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What NOT to do in Korea

Hundreds, or not thousands of “what-to-do-in-Korea” posts one could find out there but less about “what not to do” or any negative stuffs about a place or products. Humans are born curious, while most of the times, curiosity arouses towards things they didn’t know about. That says, me included.

Though I’m not a Korean local, however, curiosity had successfully led me towards loads of researching, K-dramas as well as countless visits to Korea, with that, I exposed myself to their cultures to the extend that I could basically call myself a local? No… I’ll just be my humble self and reject that statement, yet, many Koreans would tell me that when I’m with them.

I tend to think of when travelling to one’s country is literally like taking a visit to someone’s home. Thus, utilizing my knowledge, I’d like to share some of my insights on what you should try to AVOID in Korea.

  • Do not flush toilet papers into the toilet bowl.

Korea has narrower piping systems compare to most countries, so it gets easily jammed up if you’d do that, and that’d be gross, if you get what I mean. Always throw in the bin that they provided instead.

  • Do not pour a drink for yourself if you’re drinking with others. I meant alcohol.

Koreans are heavy drinkers, colleagues get along together every week or month to drink, probably to release stress? However, pouring a drink for yourself is a big NO NO! Maybe it relays the meaning of “being lonely”?

Remember to ALWAYS accept a drink with both hands!

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  • Do not talk loudly or talk back, disrespecting an elderly.

I hate to say this but I think Korean cultures are still kind of conservative. Of course, respecting an elderly is something people should be doing, but in Korea, talking back or shouting (unless they have hearing impairment) at the old folks, it’s consider as disrespectful.

  • Do not tip.

Tipping in most countries are a norm, however it is NOT in Korea, some restaurants even banned customers for tipping their staffs. I remember once a Korean girl told a vendor to keep the change and walked away, the store owner was actually furious and swearing non-stop at her. Hmm..

  • Do not reject a drink if being offered, unless it’s a stranger.

I personally thinks that Koreans are a sociable group of people when you get along well with them. When being offered a drink, just take a couple of sips even if you can’t drink much instead of rejecting them directly. It makes you more sociable and friendly in my opinion.

  • Do not start eating before the eldest of the group starts first. (Remember, respecting an elder.)

As in point #3, respecting an older person is a culture that every Koreans bare on their minds. Therefore, it’s normal for an older person to start eating first before the younger one does. To them, this is a form of respect.

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  • Do not talk too loud even in public places (I meant other than in subways or buses).

I remember once that a friend of mine talking ever so loudly and got HUSH! by an ahjumma. It’s an open space and I’m very sure it’s not a closed space! So my advice is that you better keep your volume a little low as it might irritates the Koreans (especially the older people).

  • Do not ask the restaurant staff for utensils until you have searched under the table.

Usually, if you couldn’t find utensils on the tables, it’s most likely stored in a slide out drawer beneath the table, along with tissues, or serviettes if you call it that way. It’s a smart move in my opinion, clean and tidy.

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  • Do not talk loudly in cafes.

It’s true that there are hundreds of cafe all over Korea, but there are even more students in the whole Korea. Korean students are basically known as hardcore students as they tend to study day and night during exam periods, even in cafes. Make sure you keep it low when you are chatting with your companies or you might get caught in those killer glares. It’s gonna be awkward you know.

  • Don’t dress inappropriately.

Inappropriately as in too overly “exposed” of your body, especially girls wearing something that shows too much of your cleavage. If an older person saw you in that shirt, you’re gonna get nagging (not sure about scolding and yelling yet though) from them. Even if they didn’t know you personally. (Bikini is ok, just don’t walk around the city wearing it.)

  • Do not pay money back to your Korean friend if they treat you for a meal.

Instead, pay them back with a cup of coffee! I think this is a way that they stay in contact with each other, when a Korean treat you a meal, you treat them with a cup of coffee or something to drink in return. But I don’t think I’m able to adapt myself with this culture though.

  • Try to avoid eating on the go.

The reason: It’s hard to find garbage bin on the sidewalks! It’s really inconvenient to hold your trash and walking all around with it, especially if you’re a photography enthusiast like me! Though lack of bins, you hardly find trash anywhere on the roads though, and that makes Korea looks really clean.

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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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