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.
or
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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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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Wifi Korea Everywhere Speed Pack Review (评介)

I was quite satisfied with the service of Wifi-Korea on my previous trip, therefore, I chose to use their service again. Me and my family stayed for 10 days this time, so I have opted for Everywhere Speed Pack pocket wifi which cost only USD 3.99 per day and it covers ALL places in Korea. (If you’re wondering, no, Seoul doesn’t have free wifi throughout the city, only very few places have)

You may select to pick up at their office at no extra cost, or pay USD $5 (each way) to enjoy the hassle free delivery service to your Korea accommodation doorstep.
Note that delivery service is only available if you book it at least 2 days in advance before your arrival.

You don’t need to provide passport details like some required, instead you only need to fill in this form and you’re done reserving the device. Rather than picking up at the airport like before, I visited them at their office, chose to pay the deposit by cash (100,000 won) and got the device on the spot!

Little cozy office, friendly staffs, it feels like meeting up with an old friend at their home. Oh, did I tell you the guys are good looking too? kkkkk.. Don’t worry about language barriers, I can assure you that they are FLUENT in English.

Located in Insadong, right across from the huge calligraphy brush sculpture, just come out from Anguk station, Exit 6 and walk straight for around 200 meter, you will see Bread & Co bakery, and look up! Spot their office on the 3rd floor!

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Arrangement slightly changed (updated on Mar’15)

So what is in the bag?

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  • Instruction manual
  • A Pocket Wi-Fi egg (ESP wifi router is in red, or dark blue)
  • Charger
  • An instruction card about having all auto-updates off, so that you wouldn’t go over the limit
  • Another instruction card on installing Eco Gate to check your data usage

I’m glad that I chose ESP pack! It is definitely the best choice that a blogger and social-network-in-need person like me have made. Besides, I wasn’t staying together with my family. Of course, a mom would always say the same thing to their kids, contact me once you reach the house! Yes m’am. This is how I stayed connected with them whenever I drop them off at their hotel and go my own way.

Signal and coverage

Running on LTE network, there’s no need to doubt its speed, and signal was great everywhere. This includes the place I stayed at, Eunpyeong-gu. As compared to the Urban Data Pack which I used in the previous trip, the signal there was very weak, but ESP gives me great coverage all day long. I even took it on a trip to the popular Nami Island and I could easily connect to my social network accounts without any disruption.

Battery Life

To charge it, plug it in to a power outlet using the adaptor provided.

My ESP router battery lasted more than 10 hours, which somehow surprised me as I had a not so good experience with the battery life on my Urban Data Pack router. I leave it on throughout the day, even on a cold snowy day in Nami Island, I thought it would had died off when I return to Seoul that evening, however, it was still on although the power level has dropped.

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Dosirak lunch box at Nami Island while updating my social network accounts.

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Chilling nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace.

What about the size?

Same size as Urban Data Pack router, a palm’s size.  Being a guide to my family, I needed a map to navigate to the place I was going, no doubt that I need to depend on wifi. I’m glad that the router isn’t a bulky one where I could easily chuck it into my bag or pockets and carry it everywhere I go.

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This is UDP version, ESP router is in red / dark blue.

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During my 9 days of using the pocket wifi, not once I am anywhere near the 500MB limit (per day), even with my mom and sis connected to it at the same time, and a heavy user of Facebook, Katalk and Whatsapp messenger, with an average usage of navigation map, I have not hit the limit. Just keep in mind to turn off ALL auto updates to prevent from exceeding the limit!

Comparison between Urban Data Pack and Everywhere Speed Pack

Urban Data Pack

Everywhere Speed Pack

Network Wibro 4G LTE
Data Limit Unlimited 700MB (more than enough)
Coverage Limited to urban areas only Anywhere in Korea
Battery Life Around 6 ~ 8 hours Around 10 ~ 12 hours
Size Palm / pocket size Palm / pocket size
Weight 75 g 105 g
Price USD 2.99 per day USD 3.99 per day

*ESP was upgraded from 500MB to 700MB few months back. UDP from 2GB to Unilimited.

Do you want DISCOUNT?

I recently visited Wifi-Korea to say Hi! and have a small chat with the guys, and guess what? They told me to share a good deal with my readers!

Everyone can get 10% discount off if they rent it through this link! Just fill in this online reservation form! But in return, can I ask a favor from you to select “Elley Jin” from the referred by column (as shown in picture below) when you make a reservation? Please?

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My thoughts on using ESP 

Good:

  • Pocket size
  • Stay connected at just any place with incredible internet speed
  • Easy to locate office in the heart of Insadong
  • Great customer service.

Not so good:

The only bad experience I had was some authentication problems where  I couldn’t connect to the router even though my ID and password are correct. But this problem only lasted for a while, it was alright later on.

Again, I would definitely recommend Wifi-Korea to my friends and family. If you were to ask for my advice, I would recommend you to go for Everyday Speed Pack as it gives you full coverage throughout Korea and battery life lasted longer, you won’t need to worry about being disconnected anywhere you go!

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My Autumn-Sonata in Nami Island

When Winter Sonata became a hit and people start noticing about Nami Island (南怡岛), I had to admit that I have yet to watch this drama, up until today. Nevertheless, being someone crazy about Korea, the words came to my ears pretty quickly. Yes, I have been to Nami Island twice, though not in the winter. Back in the year 2012 and 2013, during the same season in the Autumn, we find our way to the island by ITX train and taxi. It might sound difficult and troublesome to transit and catch a taxi, but never let these fool you. In my opinion, it’s probably the easiest place to visit out of Seoul on your own.

We woke up early that day, puffed eyes and drowsiness swarm in without hesitation. We took a subway to Cheongnyanni station and transit to ITX. Hoping to catch the first train to Nami, yet we were slightly too late, so, we bought the tickets for the next train that leaves at 8am plus.

Note to readers: Follow the ITX sign when you leave the subway train (see the walls for the signs if you couldn’t find it on the top), it will somehow lead you to the entrance for ITX, buy your tickets from the vending machine, if you aren’t really sure, you can always ask the staff whom basically stationed right beside it.

Ticket to Nami cannot be bought using T-money. You need to tap out if you’re using T-money on Seoul subway when transiting to ITX line (there’s a device beside the ITX ticket vending machine to tap out).

Camera 360 Camera 360 The train usually waits around for 15 minutes before departing right on time, not a minute late. Therefore, do your business before it arrives or you can do it on board as well. You don’t wanna miss the train you know. DSC_1124 Camera 360 Camera 360 It was a pleasant autumn morning, our eyes were drawn towards the soothing sceneries outside, running passed us, until we saw the ahjummas beside us and their seats were facing each other. We tried to look for the leveler to turn our seats around, but failed. But the ahjummas were kind enough to help us turn the seats. We thanked them and continue chowing down the snacks we bought earlier while chit-chatting throughout the way.

It felt like my fingers aren’t mine anymore, I can barely move it and when I did, it hurts so bad.

Journey took around 45 minutes before we set foot at Gapyeong station. We caught a taxi to the jetty, cost about 3,000 won as listed on the fee table that the driver showed us. I think it’s rather cheap, and also safe from being charged unfairly. DSC_1546 As usual, packed with tourists, we bought our admission tickets (8,000 won for foreigners, remember to carry your passports or ARC), hit the ferry and arrived at Nami island. It was slightly colder than it was in Seoul, so do bring gloves and wear a little more layer if you plan to visit this place on Autumn or Winter. My first experience taught me the lesson since there are not many, more like no information about this. It felt like my fingers aren’t mine anymore, I can barely move it and when I did, it hurt so bad. Can’t be happy enough that they are functioning well right now. Camera 360 wpid-dsc_1760_1.jpg Pine trees and maple trees lined neatly along the sidewalks, though not as yellowish red as the first time, but the greenish trees still carries a different aura and beauty to the whole surrounding. It has a fresher ambiance than when they changed colours. A more back-to-nature-feel. wpid-dsc_1407.jpg wpid-dsc_1384_1.jpg wpid-dsc_1332_1.jpg If you wish to see the fiery red leaves, I recommend you to go around end of October to early of November. Any earlier than that you might only see green and yellowish leaves. Trust me, since I have experienced it before, one week could make a huge difference. wpid-dsc_1872-1_1.jpg wpid-dsc_1836_1.jpg My less favorable tree, the Gingko. In my previous post, I slightly mention that it carries an awful smell. Maybe it’s just my nose being too sensitive or the scent just irritates me, but they smell like poop when the fruit is crushed! You didn’t read it wrong, it’s poop smell that makes you have to take a peek at your sole. DSC_1860 Camera 360 I can practically spend my days on this tiny island although there isn’t much here, but the serenity, calmness and everlasting beauty of this whole place makes me doesn’t want to leave forever. wpid-dsc_1459.jpg wpid-dsc_1356_1.jpg DSC_1288 wpid-dsc_1312.jpg Camera 360 DSC_1751 DSC_1556

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Spotted this lovely sky colour

As a bonus, can you guess what this lady was selling? DSC_1261

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What Autumn looks like in Seoul

Growing up in Malaysia gave me no chance to see other seasons in this country, only summer throughout the years. No cherry blossoms, no reddish leaves, nor any white Christmas.

Fall foliage, some called it. Better known as Autumn.

It’s finally past summer in Seoul, tree leaves turning reddish yellow, rain clouds cleared off revealing the clear blue sky, leaving the gloomy weather behind.

Fall foliage, some called it. Better known as Autumn. But I would rather refer it as the season of the smelly seeds.

In Korea, Autumn starts around mid – late September to mid November. Recommend to go around late October to Early November when the foliage are at their peak, especially Nami Island.

Since young, I’ve always wondered how autumn looks like? Never for once I would not be envied by someone taking pictures of the fallen red maple leaves, or wallpapers of trees lined along the sidewalks creating an awfully calm sight to look at.

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No doubt, my dream came true. Two years ago I experienced my first fall foliage, in Seoul. That’s probably one of the reason why I fell so crazily in love with this country. Deep beautiful autumn hues imprinted into my mind. They made me gasp in awe. Yes, it’s my very first autumn that I get to see in person and I’m really glad that Seoul had offered more than what we expected. Trying so hard to confine the constant “wow” and more “wow” which were struggling to escape from my mouth, I knew from then on that I would never forget how stunning the views are at Seoraksan and Nami Island.

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Too sad to be true, there are always flaws no matter how beautiful something is. I remember when we came out of the bus, the first smell that hit our nose was the poop-like smell. Of course, we checked our soles making sure we didn’t stepped on any poo until later, only that we knew it was from the Gingko. I personally think it would make a great prank tool.

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Where are you from and have you experienced fall foliage? How does Autumn looks like in your country? I would definitely be happy to see them.

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Old faithful town of Malacca

It was way past dawn with the sun tangling up high on a beautiful Sunday morning. Yet, I wasn’t woken up by the sunlight since I slept with a pillow covering my face. I was instead woken up by my overly excited mood. Once again, feeling refreshed from a cozy sleep after a crazy long night walk in search of a place that we do not know. Not even a name of the place, nor any picture of it. Though, described by one of my friend, that special place was a building located beside the lake. Thus, we took a drive along the lakeside under the dark sky, hoping it to appear by luck or magically. But it wasn’t found anyhow. Until this day, it still keeps me wondering what were we trying to find?

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Bestie looking at the awesome view outside while I tried something new.

My bestie made us a cup of Nescafe. Note to you that I don’t usually drink coffee because it could make me go hyperactive or insomnia in the night. Nevertheless, whenever I passed by a café or a coffee shop, the sweet yet bitter aroma always does the tempting, though never succeeds unless I’m on a trip or holiday. Where’s the fun when you don’t even get to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee (or a pack of instant coffee)?

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While we still have some time to spare before moving out of the hotel, rather than wasting my time rolling lazily on the bed, I took out my faithful old laptop and started typing. Little did we know that it’s already time to check out. Moving our luggage into the car, we began our journey in Jonker Walk by searching for brunch in this busy town.

The sun was glaring fiercely and merciless from atop, what worried me was I did not apply any sun lotion on my body. It’s not because I’m afraid of getting tanned, rather, I’m more afraid that my tattoo will fade out when I get back home. Too late to be worrying, we were already halfway through walking by lots of tourists and shops.

Puzzled through countless narrow asphalt alleyways.

Anyway, I tried to let it cross my mind so it wouldn’t interfere with our trip. Stopping in front of a restaurant, we decided to have some food to fill our practically empty stomach. Moments later after finishing our food, we started exploring this little city on foot, walking by shops neatly lined along both sides of the streets, puzzling through countless narrow asphalt alleyways.

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Taking in too much of the afternoon sun and our feet started to feel tired. Along the way, we grabbed couple of cups of Limau Ais (Lime juice with ice) and came across with a bicycle rental shop and rented 2 bikes where my bestie became a passenger, carried by the other friend of mine. It cost around RM3 per hour, rather cheap. Hopping onto a rusted red bike, I tried to balance myself not to fall off while cycling around this busy city. It’s not that I don’t know how to ride a bike, it’s just because I haven’t been riding it for a short while already.

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The Mamee Hotel.

Touring this town on a bicycle was my first experience. Biking from Jonker Walk to the Maritime Museum of Malacca showcasing the inner deck of what is said to be a replica of a Portuguese ship Flora de Lamar which sunk in the coast of Malacca while on its way to Portugal. Lastly not to be missed, the Taming Sari tower where it ascends up to 80 meters above sea level that get an awesome panoramic view of Malacca.

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“Alright bestie, I’m coming.”

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Replica of Flora de Lamar.

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A short getaway in Malacca – Part 1

After few months of posts about Seoul, I’ll finally be dropping a post about a place in my home country, Malacca.

Eventually it grew into an important port between trading ships.

Malacca is located south east of Kuala Lumpur, founded by Parameswara around year 1400, at the Straits of Malacca which was accessible throughout the year. Eventually it grew into an important port between trading ships that became the main reason triggering wars between the Portugis, Dutch and British.

Last month, me and 2 of my friends decided to head down to Malacca after work on Saturday and we started our journey by car at 6.40pm, it was a smooth journey, no traffic jams nor any bad weather. Approximately 2 hours later, we arrived and check in at Hallmark Inn Hotel. It was a little hard to find the hotel, trusted Waze but it seems to bring us to no where.

A couple of rounds at that area, with growling stomach eagerly waiting for food, we made a call to the hotel and was told that it’s at Jalan Bungaraya Pantai, right in front after AIA building on your left. Gosh I really hate Waze.

Anyway, for a mere USD 21 room, it’s pretty comfy and the ambiance was not too bad, most importantly the bathroom, at least it doesn’t makes me feels like running away and I can do my business comfortably. Toiletries were complete, even came with a toothbrush and toothpaste! Oh, did I mention it has bidet as well?

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Unloaded our bags, we went out to hunt for food, it’s already 10pm and yet we have not taken anything. Feeling tormented. There were so many local cuisines in this small town, especially Nyonya food. Not too long later, ok, I admit it took us way too long to realized that the place we were looking for, the UNKNOWN place, was nowhere to be found.

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The only shot I took right after we came out from the hotel, but it’s blurry…

Ended up walking blindly for a whole 3 hours, my feet starting to sore, my stomach no longer feels hungry and I was sweating profusely from all those walking. Physically and mentally exhausted, how I wish that I’m back at the hotel at that very moment. Finally we found a bunch of tricycles and decided to hire them for a price of RM30, 2 seaters. I just couldn’t continue walking anymore.

Anyway, you’ve got to love these tricycles nowadays, decorated with Hello Kitty plushie at the front, while at the back, there’s a set of huge speakers and started to blast crazy songs while you ride on it. Seriously, I felt a little embarrassed. I’m not a fan of Hello Kitties, nor I like loud noises, moreover it’s already 1am in the midnight! I kept thinking someone from upstairs shouting and pouring water onto us. Definitely wanted to find a place to hide myself.

Without any side mirror, road crossing was way too dangerous in my opinion. Without looking at the traffics, they crossed and expect the car drivers to avoid them. It nearly gave me an heart attack.

Half an hour later we managed to make it back to the hotel, and drove out for our dinner at 2am. Crazy right? Without thinking much, me and my bestie ordered Bak Kut Teh to warm our poor little stomach. Broiled with different kinds of herbs, added in with some pork, mushrooms and veges and ready to be served. The soup wasn’t that good at first, but after every sip, it makes you want to have more. Too hungry? I guess I am. The taste was light but the fragrance of the herbs were overwhelming, filling my taste buds in a matter of seconds while the warm soup makes me feel refreshed and energized, indeed what I need after that long long long walk.

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MICE for business visitors to Seoul

Good news to all business visitors that are attending large scale congress in Seoul! In an attempt of developing and pre-launching of the new “Seoul MICE Card“, something like T-money but only for business visitors, this is an electronic stored-value card that one could use it for transportation as well as shopping. Design of the card is simple yet looking stylish don’t you think?

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What makes it even more attractive and interesting are the discounts offered using MICE card. It varies according to different type of services, for example subway passengers may get a discount up to 10% off the normal price compared to normal card holders. You may save a load if you use their subway often. It’ll be a huge help if they were to come out with a normal visitor pass as well.

It was said that this card will be priced at 8,000 won with a value of 5,000 won in it ready to use. Unlike T-money, priced at 2,500 won without any credit inside. Currently, every attendees that participate in business congresses in Seoul will receive a welcome kit including a MICE card.

For more information, visit their webpage at http://webzine.miceseoul.com/tag/seoul-mice-card/.

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