I have finally came back from South Korea after the ‘so-called’ annual oversea trip ended. This year, we had been to South Korea for the Chinese New Year trip. We followed a tour group and not by our own because of many reasons like communication difficulties, etc. The trip is very memorable, in positive as well as in negative sides too (haha….later I will explain further).
I had just came back from South Korea yesterday night with the temperature difference of over 40 degree celsius. From over -10 degree (Seoul) to current 30 degree (Kuala Lumpur) is really something that makes us feel so uncomfortable and of course, HOT!!! After some fast unpacking and cleaning up, I only slept at 2 am midnight, but of course, woke up at 12pm today. Today is the day for me to rest, sleep, recover, and update my blog here!
Without wasting more time, let’s start my post on the journey along South Korea for the last 7 days 6 nights:
Sunday (14th February 2010)
It’s the first day of Chinese New Year. As usual, went to grandma’s house for vegetarian lunch and normal dinner. As usual again, received angpows. As usual again, got back home and rest. However, this time need to pack things for trip to Korea, but then still got time to watch some funny shows from TV.
The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul began at 12.05am midnight, means that today is not counted as one of the days of the trip. If it is counted, then it would be 8 days 6 nights. After dinner, we rushed back home to take our luggages and went to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Four of us are going, my dad, my second sister, my cousin and myself. We found our local guide, called as Jed. Nice name, but honestly, does not suits him.
Monday (15th February 2010)
Flight began, and our journey really began. We are flying on Korean Air (Korean plane) which is kinda small and uncomfortable. It is very hot in the plane and hardly to breath in there. Malaysia planes are better, if to be compared.
It is an approximate 6 hours and 40 minutes flight, the longest ever I have attempted. This caused me to feel uncomfortable and boring in the plane with no TV screen in front of each of us for us to listen to music, watch TV, play games, etc. We finally reached Seoul, at Incheon International Airport, the world best airport for fifth consecutive years.
As soon as we landed, we saw so many snow on the land including on the airport area, except for the airplane pathways which have been cleared. Everything is white, and this is what Malaysians won’t see in Malaysia. Then, we transferred for domestic flight from Gimpo Airport (nearby) to Jeju International Airport to go to Jeju Island. We met our tour leader from Korea, called as Mena.
Jeju Island is a very beautiful place, a legendary island. Eventhough it is located at southern part of South Korea, but it is still freaking cold there due to strong winds. One strong wind is enough to make you shivering, and ‘water’ coming out from your nose. We went to lunch, and we tried kimchi, the essential food in Korea. It taste no good, a little sour and spicy with cabbage smell. First place we were heading to is Yongduam Rock, a rock at the edge of the sea, on the rocky surface, standing out resembling a dragon, facing out towards the sea.
Our hands are like freezing, especially when we removed our gloves to take photographs, and the strong winds can definitely turn my hair into mess. Next, we went to Mysterious Road. This is kinda anti-gravity road, where an object will move upwards by itself on the road. This is actually a sight misperception. The road is actually inclining downwards slightly, but then the surroundings (trees, bushes, etc) make it seems to be going upwards. It can be explained by science, and there are actually many other areas around the world with this phenomena. Hence, nothing special actually. Our bus turned off engine and it seems rolling upwards too, alongside with many other objects tested by other curious people at the road.
Then, we went to Oedolgae Rock, a high outcropping created by a volcanic eruption 1.5 million years ago. There is a legendary story behind it, telling that there is a woman (wife) of a general waiting for his return to home (the island). Hence, the rock resembles the figure of the woman overlooking the sea.
After dinner, we went back to the so-called four-star hotel, called as Sun Beach Hotel. The facilities and furnitures are aweful, and it seems so old. Luckily, there are computers for us to to surf internet in the hotel, but there are only two working.
Tuesday (16th February 2010)
Today, the first place we were heading to, is Songsan Sunrise Peak, a huge cliff which is an extinct volcanic formation located on the eastern tip of Jeju Island. Due to its location, and we need to climb up to the cliff, the strong winds are really unbearable and we stopped few times in the middle to avoid the winds. The winds make you hardly breath and the whole nose is like ‘senseless’. We finally reached to the top, and it is a nice panoramic view from there. We took a lot of photographs before heading back to the bus. We managed to buy some Jeju Orange Chocolates too, famous in the island.
Then, we proceed to Sangup Folklore Village to discover the traditional lifestyle and belief by the indigenous of Korea. It is a small village with many hut-like structures. Many stone constructions were seen in the area, acting as barrier, wall, sculpture, well, etc. We were given brief by a local people there who can speak Mandarin too. She even promoted honey and some other stuff for us to buy. After that, we had lunch nearby, cooking meat from black boar. Smells bad…
The next destination is Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. It is located beyond a quiet path through the woods that leads to columns of water that rush over a cliff and splash into a pond below. Many views along the path towards the waterfall are scenic and to be appreciated as part of the journey in finding peace and harmony relationship within nature.
Next, we went to Teddy Bear Museum. The whole museum stores a huge number of collection of teddy bear displays in various styles, clothings, and themes. Some themes that amazed me are terracotta armies, disneyland, chinese street, fashion show, world map, etc. It is really incredible that they can make so many things out of only teddy bear toy. After dinner, we went back to the same hotel again for the last night here at Jeju Island. We went out for a walk at night too.
Wednesday (17th February 2010)
Today woke up very early for 9am domestic flight from Jeju back to Gimpo. When we reached airport, our tour leader gave us 12pm flight ticket. She apologized for the inconvenience and the time wasted. We had a long three hours in the airport, hence, we had lunch in the airport too.
We reached Gimpo Airport, and we proceed to Nami Island, a very long journey that took over 2 hours in the bus. The bus driver drove the bus like riding on a horse, making almost all of us to feel sick of it. Along the journey, we saw the skyline of Seoul, with Han River. Then, we travelled on small ferry to reach to beautiful and spectacular Nami Island. When we reached the island, we saw a giant ice sculpture resembling a floating hill at the entrance to the island there…marvelous work!
The island is the shooting place of the famous drama, Winter Sonata. The surrounding is very beautiful, really fantastic, with snow covering the land, and pine trees lining up to form a linear pathway. Ice sculptures, hut-like structures, bridges, frozen ponds, kiosks, gallery were seen in the island. We took a lot of photos there and we tried hot red bean pancakes there too. Delicious, maybe because it is hot, and it is nice to eat it under such a cold temperature.
At night, we proceed to Chuncheon Myeongdong, a bustling shopping district beautifully filled with shops and decorated with street lamps. We saw a plague at the entrance that shows two figures of palm of hands by both main characters in the drama, Winter Sonata. The items sold there are very expensive, because these are imported from Seoul.
Then, we went to Kensington Flora Hotel, which seems to be a real five stars hotel. The room is very nice and decorated in traditional style, and the bathroom is very huge. The hotel seems to be isolated in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snowy hills.
Thursday (18th February 2010)
In the morning, we were finally able to see snow falling. Wow…what a great sight that every Malaysians wish to see. The whole land including the roads and pathways are covered by thickening snow. Even the water droplets on the window of the bus frozen to ice. Freaking cold there…
The first destination of the day, is the Daegwallyeong Sheep Farm. There is a long path from entrance to the sheep farms, which were definitely covered by thick snow. Our bus had difficulties reaching there, but finally made it too, as the driver went out and clear the snow. We even had our hard time walking on the snow too. That area is more secluded, means that more snow are spotted there. Everything is white there!!! We fed the hungry sheeps there…lovely sheeps…but kinda smelly…
Then, we proceed to the last destination of the day, Vivaldi Park Resorts. It is a huge resort complex with ski area, ocean world (water theme park), hotels, indoor complex. Before we went for ski, we went to nearby ski shops to rent ski suites. After short lunch at Burger King, we took and wear ski equipments including ski boots. The boots are so heavy.
First time ski-ing, hence we need to learn on the basic lesson first. Then, we started to adapt ourselves on the inclining ski area. Haha…I managed to slide down with no fall for more than five times. It is really tiring to climb up again after a slide.
After ski, we proceed to the hotel (it is actually serviced apartment) withno bed. We have to sleep on the floor with mat on it to try on traditional Korean style of sleeping. We went for a walk at the indoor complex, with cafes, restaurants, marts, games room, bowling alley, table tennis room, sauna, etc.
Friday (19th February 2010)
The first destination of the day is Everland, Yongin. It is a large theme park managed by Samsung Corporation. It has some similarities with Disneyland too. Many kiosks and games centers are built in shape of famous architectural buildings around the world like Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, Moscow’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, etc.
We went for the safari ride which took over one hour (10 minutes for the ride, 50 minutes for waiting). We saw lions, tigers, white tigers, boars, and of course the main attraction, a liger (combination of lion and tiger).
Then, free own leisure time in the theme park after a gondola ride to the upper part of the park. We saw a giant rollercoaster ride, called as T Express. The waiting time is 80 minutes…too long…hence, we did not try it. Anyway, we do not dare to try it too because it is too crazy!!! We went for a walk around the park and went for 3D show of a story of Zootopia. Then, we were fascinated by the parade of the theme park.
Then, we went to Guri Blacksmith Village, a small village where weapons are created during ancient time for war and protection. The village is also the shooting place of another famous drama ‘Tai Wang Si Shen Ji’. We saw many equipments there, and even an altar.
Next, we proceed to Walker Hill Casino, a casino designated only for foreigners above 19 years of age. This is the first time I went into a casino legally…haha…the casino is so small. We just took a walk and look over the gambling tables, we did not gamble…After dinner of having ginseng chicken soup with rice and mee, almost half of the group felt into sickness including me…then, all went back to hotel, called as Coop Residence. Took medicine and then slept, but then woke up in the middle of night and vomitted…so sick and suffering…
Again…bus ride along Seoul, which is the most precious time for me to check on the skyline of Seoul again…this time, I spotted South Korea’s tallest commercial building, Plaza 63 (60 floors above ground, 3 basement floors) cladded in gold colour, striking out in a simple form. There are many bridges connecting both lands, separated by the famous Han River, which was partly frozen into ice.
Saturday (20th February 2010)
Still felt sick a bit in the morning and start to worsen in the afternoon and evening. The first destination of the day is Kimchi School, where we are given brief on kimchi, one of the five healthiest food around the world. Then, we were given opportunity to try on making kimchi on spot. I made an ugly one. Kimchi smells bad…I wonder how Koreans manage to eat it everyday! We were even given opportunity to wear traditional Korean clothes and took photos of it.
Next, we went to National Ginseng Outlet. As usual, given brief again…and my family bought nothing because no one like the taste of ginseng eventhough it is very good for health. The price is very expensive also. Next, we proceed to Duty Free Cosmetic Shop, the shop favoured by all the females. I tried on some hand creams and lotions too after given brief again.
Next, we went to Blue House, South Korea’s president official residence. There are many security personnels guarding the area. We took photographs at the square in front of the Blue House. I wonder why it is called Blue House, because it is not mainly painted in blue.
Then, we proceed to Kyongbokkung Palace, the former imperial palace of many Korean emperors. The palace is quite huge, but is uncomparable to Beijing’s Forbidden City. The pathway or basically land in the palace are of mud. There is one thing special about this palace, which is that there is an empty space below a floor at the base for ventilation and heating purpose. Here, I am amazed by the Korean palatial architecture, especially of the main court building and a giant dining building surrounded by a lake.
Next, we proceed to Insadong, a famous street for its art galleries, antique stores, and souvenir shops. I bought many souvenirs from here, including a model of the Seoul TV Tower, at quite a high price after some bargaining. There were so many people along the street, crowded…Then, we proceed to Purple Crystal Showroom…as usual, given brief again…we saw a lot of creatively-designed jewelleries here, but sold at very high prices…
Finally, we proceed to Doota, a shopping mall located at Dongdaemun. Before that, we went to Cheongyecheon, a man-made river revived from its polluted state, located right beside the mall. We went shopping in the mall, but the prices of goods sold there are very expensive. Hence, we proceed to another mall right beside it, called as Migliore. Here, goods are sold in reasonable price and we can bargain here too. Along the way, we spotted a mini concert performed by local artists (of course I don’t know who are them). Very sick at the end of the day, returned to hotel and to the small room, then sleep.
Sunday (21st February 2010)
Woke up, felt better with no more nausea. How good it is! However, it is already the last day of the trip. First destination of the day is Insert-Borne Fungi Shop. The fungi are very good in curing and maintaining the health of our liver. As usual, given brief again…then, we proceed to Korea Local Product Shop, where many local products and souvenirs are sold here, at higher prices. We bought some goods from here too. Then, we proceed for Seagull Cruise. Our bus went directly into the large ferry transporting it to the other island nearer to the Incheon International Airport.
In the ferry, we were given snacks favoured by the seagulls. Then, we threw the snacks up to the air…what amazed us is that the seagulls can catch the snacks accurately..the seagulls even fighting for the snacks…what a great experience there…then, I spotted the Incheon Bridge and took a photograph of it…cool, but it is kinda not in close distance.
Then, time to get back to Incheon International Airport for flight back home. It is the last time to take photographs together in a group, and saying thanks to our tour leader, Mena for a great job she had done. Our local guide did nothing along the trip, he is just like a useless person in the trip. We were lost in the airport after checking-in, and we went to KFC for lunch. Then, we were on board for flight back to KL…I had a hard and sick time in the plane as it is very hot and suffocating in there…many people vomitted in the plane…I almost did, but I managed to avoid it by playing on intense games in my phone…haha…(my phone is turned on flight mode with no signal which is safe in the flight..so no worry…)
Finally, back to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. I personally felt that KLIA is better than Incheon International Airport…wow…it was so hot out there at KL…the trip finally ended which costs over RM 4000 per individual.
What a memorable trip…positive side: I went to so many places in South Korea, and I am able to see Seoul’s skyline, Korean architecture, snow falling with my own eyes….negative side: sick for two continuous days in the journey which made me vomitted once.
For the full photo album which have been uploaded and separated into five parts in my facebook account containing the full 918 photos, you may go to: (that is the photo albums of my facebook account)
Anyway, it is an enjoyable and fun trip too…not to mention the unsuitable foof served to us, with kimchi forever appearing…goodbye South Korea…now I have to think which place we should go for the next year (CNY 2011) trip..haha…