Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Sep 10 - Day 7 (Seoul)

Morning call at 7am and had to gathered at 8am. Saw Hanna and she asked us where we went the night before. Initially told M not to tell the truth but in the end, I ended up telling her that we went to take the cable car up to Namsan Park coz we wanted to see the night view of Seoul. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get up to the N Seoul Tower coz it was past 10:30pm by the time we reached but nevertheless, we still saw part of the night view.

Headed for breakfast outside where we ate Korean-Chinese Buffet style. After we were done, went on to the Ginseng Showroom where the lady there explained the differences between the various types of ginsengs. Apparently, ginsengs were supposed to be pale yellow and those grown in the wild were rare. Red ginsengs were ginseng treated with other herbs. The showroom sells whole ginsengs, yellow and red; ginseng capsules and ginseng essences ranging from S$200+ to S$1,000+. Before my trip, I thought I can buy a little for my aunty in Jurong but the prices were too expensive. Sis and her family don’t take ginseng so no point buying for them either.

Ginseng Showroom

Then we headed to the Amethyst Factory where the manager there told us that the Amethyst in their factory has hardness of 7.8, that of precious stones quality. They have grade A that range from 7.8 – 7.5 and grade B of 7.2 – 7.5. Grade A stones were made into jewelry of 18k gold while Grade B stones were made into jewelry of gold plated on silver. They were having promotions of 40% off sales price and just happened it was the last day the day we went. Handphone accessories made of Amethyst and can be worn as pendent were going at 8,000 Won. After listening to his explanations, we were led into the showroom to browse the selections.

Amethyst cave from the Amethyst Showroom

M and I selected a handphone accessory each and then I asked to look at the rings. They didn’t have pinky rings but the lady told me that they could resize it smaller to fit. Initially thought I would go for simpler design so that it would be cheaper but the lady recommended another which looked rather unique and so in the end got that instead. Asked M if she wanted a ring and she said she has a lot of rings at home. Then asked her about pendent and the lady brought out the latest design which looked pretty nice and so I asked M if she likes it and that I would buy that for her. So in the end, we got two handphone accessories, a ring and a pendent and I charged to my credit card in USD. Apparently in Korea, they charged foreigners in USD for credit card payment.

Then headed for lunch where we had individual portion of shabu shabu with buffet. M and I saw ddok and mini ddok and we took quite an amount of mini ddok. Ate that with my beef shabu shabu and they tasted great together! Took raw sushi, tempura and some others to share with M and drank cinnamon punch and Korean rice punch. This was by far the most enjoyable meal I had during the whole trip. As usual, the couple and the two friends had their soup turned red with kimchi and chili paste and they were so proud of it.

Mini ddok

Next stop was to Namsan Park. We almost didn’t get to go coz the four friends wanted to skip that and head for Myongdong Fashion Street straight. When Hanna asked the group again after lunch, it so happened that M and I were standing in front of her and we said to go so in the end, we went. Our coach could get us right up to Namsan Park coz of the other coaches and so we had to walk up slope for quite a distance. M and i went ahead leaving the rest behind and it was a longer climb than we had the night before.

Nevertheless, M was happy coz she got to see the place where people and couples hang their locks with special messages. Took some pictures and browsed through the various locks. A few of them used bicycle locks and one even used a chopping board to write the message. M brought her own lock but she didn’t bring material to write messages so suggested to her that we could get material from the souvenir shop. So in the end, I bought a magnet, she bought a t-shirt, a packet of hard candy and a heart-shape rubberize thingy to write her message on. Then we found a good spot to hang the heart-shape rubberize thingy with her lock.

The locks from Namsan Park

Then we walked down back to the coach and headed for Myongdong Fashion Street. Got down beside the Shinsegae Departmental Store and Hanna told us that we had to use the underpass to cross over to Myongdong Fashion Street and that Namedaemun Market was just behind the Shinsegae Departmental Store. So went ahead of the rest to Myongdong Fashion Street and looked for Skin Food shop where I bought the rest of the facial products for sis's SIL and myself. After that, crossed over to the opposite shop and headed for second floor where Everysing was. M bought a poster that her friend asked her to and then we went off. Saw Natuur Ice Cream and we bought a cup with Choco Mint flavor to share then walked further, we saw Café Bene.

Choco Mint Ice Cream from Natuur

Inside Everysing

Hunted for a music shop and found one on level three of a building. So headed up and M bought more CDs, some on behalf of friends, some for herself. After we were done getting our stuff, we looked for Café Bene to have a cuppa and along the way, we saw a street vendor selling the long, long tornado potato and we bought a stick to share. According to M, this was longer than what we have back home. Found Café Bene, ordered a cup of ice cafe mocha and a chocolate cookie to share. While drinking, M’s friend messaged her asking her to help get one auto eyebrow pencil from Etude House. So done drinking, we went to Etude House to get that and I bought more face masks since they cost only 1,000 each.

Café Bene ice cafe mocha and chocolate cookie

Tornado potato

Then went off to Namedaemun Market to take a look and along the way, bought a packet of ginseng jelly. Got to Namedaemun Market, walked through the street vendors and looked at the bags. M found a nice backpack and the first stall quoted us 35,000 Won. It was about the same price back home. So walked further and saw a similar one but the owner was on the phone. Walked on and didn't see anything interesting. As we were press for time, we went back to the second shop to try our luck. The lady was off the phone and she quoted us 15,000 Won for the bag. It was a steal and just before we confirmed our purchase, I asked M again if the lady said 15,000 Won or 50,000 Won. After confirming it was 15,000 Won, we bought a bag each. Happy with our loots, we brisk walked back to the meeting point and most of the group was already there.

During the journey, we were told that Seoul is separated into North and South by a river called Han River or Hangang. The Northern Seoul consisted of older districts and hence the housing arrangements were haphazard. Unlike the North, the Southern Seoul has better housing planning and thus was more orderly and the housing and land prices there were higher. The Government built 30 bridges to join the North and South Seoul as well as a lot of facilities along the Han River for the Public to use, such as swimming pools, fitness corners, etc.

The many highways of Seoul

One of the 30 bridges joining South and North Seoul

The housing in Seoul

Sunset in Seoul

Reached the LotteWorld hotel about 6pm and were told to gather again at 6:20pm to go over to LotteWorld. It was a couple of minutes walk and Hanna told us that we had to get in and out by the South Gate and that we could stay inside till they close around 9+pm. There were indoor and outdoor park connected by an overhead bridge. Went in and we walked around to see some of the rides before stationing ourselves near the place where the parade would take place at 7pm. The parade lasted for half an hour and it was the first time I was so close to a parade. Then walked around trying to find something to play but things looked tame compared to Everland. Went outdoor and it was the same. Was rather disappointed and so went back indoor. Didn’t want to go off without punching a hole on my ticket and so we took the monorail to tour round the premises before going to the foodcourt for dinner. By the time we were done, it was 8+pm and we took a look at the character shop before heading off.

Our tickets

South Gate of Lotte World

Some photos around Lotte World :

Our dinner :

Passed by the Angel-In-Us coffee joint and popped in to take a look. They didn’t have tiramisu for sale but found the chocolate coffee beans that were mentioned in one of the blogs I read. So bought that and another chocolate with almond to share with M. Wanted to check out the LotteWorld Departmental Store but it was already closed. So headed back to our hotel about 10+pm to wash up and do packing as well as taking photos of our loots.

Angel-In-Us Chocolate

My Loots

Thoughts: The lunch was awesome with the cute mini ddok. If only I had more beef to go with the mini ddok that would have really made my day. Going to Namsan Park was fun coz personally I enjoy nature walk and good exercise. Besides, M got to finally see the locks place and put her own lock together with the rest to commemorate her first trip.

Compared to Dongdaemun Market, Myongdong Fashion Street was more like Orchard Road coz the streets were lined with standalone shops. Skin Food, Etude House, The Face Shop and other facial products shops were everywhere together with other clothing shops like Giordano, etc. The things there were more fashionable though but so were the prices and comparing prices were tougher. Didn’t get to cover the whole of Namedaemun Market which was a shame coz we might have been able to eat some fresh seafood or ddok.

LotteWorld was a bit of a letdown. Maybe because we had experienced Everland so LotteWorld seemed mild. Comparatively, LotteWorld was smaller in size too. Nevertheless, the parade was nice and the place had a Disneyland feel in it. Maybe it was a weekday and late at night so the crowd was thinned and hence couldn't really feel the amusement park atmosphere. It was a waste that we didn’t manage to check out the LotteWorld Departmental Store coz I had wanted to check out their supermarket. Usually supermarket had more interesting food stuff.

29 Sep 10 - Day 6 (Jeju, Seoul)

Today we were to fly back to Seoul and the flight was at 11+am so didn’t have any program for the morning. Morning call was scheduled at 8am but M suggested getting up at 7am the night before. So got up at 7am and had breakfast slightly after 8am. We didn’t see the table for two and took the table for four. It was a mistake coz Cynthia joined our table automatically. It would have been a very nice breakfast coz the food was good especially the waffles. After we were done eating, M and I headed out for a stroll. When we passed by the restaurant where we had breakfast, M saw Cynthia still inside.

Gathered at the lobby by 10am and set off for Jeju Airport to take the domestic flight back to Seoul. M was hooked to the tomato juice and we asked for that again. Touched down at Gimpo Airport about 12+pm and had duck steamboat as lunch about 1+pm in Seoul. After that, we went to a Beauty Academy where we were given a lesson on skin care using the ODBO products, should be a new range by The Face Shop. Couldn’t remember the procedure, only remembered applying lots of stuff on the face. Started with the peeling gel and was it the toner or the ginseng mask next? Anyway, here are two links to the basic skin care and beauty tips of all Korean women (;

M’s face couldn't take the ginseng mask and so was developing slight rashes. So right after the lesson, she headed straight to the restroom to wash off the products. Fortunately the rashes faded soon after. Then we went to the headquarter of The Face Shop where the rest of the groups bought lots and lots of facial products. Was tempted to get the ODBO sunscreen but the price turned me off. For purchase of 500,000 Won and above, one would get a cabin bag. We counted five cabin bags for our group so you can imagine the amount of products they bought. The rest seemed surprised that we didn’t get anything from The Face Shop.

The Face Shop

 Products used during skin care lesson

Went for dinner where we had Ginseng Chicken and we drank ginseng wine. M was a good drinker and she drank three cups and added one cup to her Ginseng Chicken. I had two cups and one to my Ginseng Chicken. Food was good but as usual, the rest couldn’t survive without their chili. Hanna treated us to a melon ice cream each before going to Dongdaemun Market.

Ginseng Chicken

From my research I found out that Hello APM offered fashion more suited to M’s age at affordable prices and so we headed to that building first. We saw a 2-piece coat and I like that design very much and the owner quoted us from 120,000 Won to 90,000 Won. She kept saying it was original design but we didn’t get on the spot. Walked around the other floors and M bought a lot of stuff such as two long sleeve t-shirts, a checkered shirt with hood and a printed sweater. Headed back down to level one to get the coat and only managed to bargain till 88,000 Won and I told M that I would pay half for her.

Left Hello APM and went to the next building, Migliore. This building was still cheaper than Doota and I managed to get a leather bag here. After that, headed to Doota and after looking around level one, we decided to skip the building and went out to buy street food. Bought Bungeobbang / Ingeobang (fish shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean), Grilled Cuttlefish and Twigim (similar to tempura, fried vegetable coated with batter). Ate the cuttlefish first coz it tasted better when eaten hot. Then ate the Bungeobbang / Ingeobang and it was yummy, crispy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside.

Bungeobbang / Ingeobang
(fish shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean)

 Grilled Cuttlefish

Checked-in to Seoul Riviera at 9+pm, dumped our luggage and headed out again to try to get to N Seoul Tower for Seoul Night view. Bumped into Hanna at the lobby and asked her for direction to Cheongdam Station. Got there, asked the staff there for help on how to get to Myeongdong Station and how to buy tickets. He helped us and we were on our way to Myeongdong Station. Got out at Exit 4 and went to Pacific Hotel to ask for direction to the Cable Car Station. It was a 10min walk and we walked briskly up slope along a quiet street. M was having problem coz of the cold and she was feeling out of breathe. Finally got to the Cable Car Station and I was so afraid that she would fall sick. Fortunately she was okay after drinking some water.

The counter lady told us that we would not be able to go into N Seoul Tower coz it was already past 10:30pm but we could still take the cable car up to Namsan Park. Checked with M if she was still keen and she said okay. So bought a round trip ticket each and took the cable car up. The night view was really great. Walked around the park, took some photos and quickly took the last cable car down. Then walked back down to Myeongdong Station and in the Station, we saw two shops selling music CDs. One of the shops was already closing so went into the other where M bought the first mini album of U-Kiss. While trying to figure out how to get back in Myeongdong Station, I bought a bag of custard cakes. Finally got back to the hotel after 12 midnight and only settled down to sleep at 1+am.

N Seoul Tower at night

Thoughts: The morning in Jeju before flying back to Seoul was time wasted. Duck steamboat wasn’t very nice coz the meat was very tough. Did learn some useful tips from the beauty care lesson but the new range of products was very expensive. Ginseng chicken was nice but didn’t know if it was the authentic kind that BIL was talking about. Dongdaemun Market was a great place to shop coz easy to compare prices and was glad we visted Hello APM first. Street food were the best and if only I had more time to explore them. As for N Seoul Tower, it was a shame we didn’t manage to go up and see the night view of Seoul proper. Nevertheless, we still manage to see part of the night view of Seoul and were really glad that M didn’t fall sick from all the rushing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

28 Sep 10 - Day 5 (Jeju)

Morning call at 6:30am and we gathered at 7:30am to travel elsewhere to take breakfast. We had abalone porridge with other side dishes. We were told that the abalone was blended into the porridge so we could only see tiny bits of it. Of all the breakfast so far, this was something I like best coz it was simple. We were told that most Korean try to eat their three meals at home coz eating out is expensive. Korean eats rice for breakfast and if the wife was to cook porridge, the husband would ask, “Am I sick?”

Jeju Abalone Porridge

We then moved on to see the Mysterious Road where the road appeared to be sloping upwards yet in actual fact it was downward sloping. We did a couple of experiment where first we stopped the engine of the coach and it moved forward; another test where we pour water and saw it flowing to what we perceive was up slope. It was all due to optical illusion. Took some photos and picked up a couple of stones to keep as souvenirs.

This kind of stone statue is found everywhere in Jeju

Stone cool from volcano lava

Next stop was to O'Sulloc Tea Museum but we were early and the place didn’t open till 9:30am. Saw the tea plantation and thought we might have time to see that later so only explore the nearby park. The museum opened and it was only a very small one displaying various tea cups. Then there was another section selling the various tea leaves, tea products and food made from green tea. Most of our group members were gone and so we quickly bought the green tea ice cream that Hanna recommended and ate on the coach.

While traveling, we saw some graves with stone walls surrounding them. Hanna said to know if the dead had many or few friends, we could find out from the height and thickness of the stone wall around the grave. If the dead has many friends, the stone wall around the grave will be high and thick, the opposite is true. Some graves had square shape and some had round shape. Hanna said square shape is the normal kind and if it was round, it meant the grave was that of an unfilial son coz he died before the parents.

Went to the Teddy Bear Museum where we were given about 40min to cover four levels. So told M that we had to maximize our cameras where she took the outer rim of the displays and I took the inner rim of all the levels before heading out to the park where there were more Teddy Bear structures. Headed back in to browse the shop where M bought a guy bear wearing traditional costume and I bought nothing.

Some photos of the teddy bears in the Teddy Bear Museum :

Next was the Seongup Folk Village where we were given explanations of their culture and lives. Jeju has three ‘many’ (三多) – many women, many stones and many wind, and three ‘no’ (三无) – no beggars, thieves and no front gate. The three ‘no’ were because Jeju used to be a country itself and was self-sufficient. People didn’t have to worry about food so there were no beggars or thieves and hence no need for front gate. So instead of front gate, they only had three wooden logs as gate. When three logs were up, it meant no one’s home; if two logs were up, it meant the owner was out at work; if one log was up; it meant the owner would be back in an hour and if three logs were down, it meant owner was home and visitors were welcomed. The traditional houses were made of stones plastered with horses’ poo and the roof made of straws.

The three logs gate

The traditional houses in Jeju - This belongs to the Chief

Jeju men were fishermen and many died in the sea so left with women and children. Women, in order to survive, became divers (海女) who dive holding their breathes to catch octopus and shellfishes. Hence there were many women in Jeju. As Jeju used to have live volcano, and the lava cooled to become stones, hence many stones. Surrounding many houses and along the roads we could see stone walls and they were not stuck together using any adhesive. They were just piled up and even if it was very windy, they won’t collapse unless pushed physically coz they were stones solidify from volcanic lava. So the stones have many holes and wind jus pass through them.

As the ground in Jeju was made of the hollow lava stones, whenever it rains, water just sips through the ground. Hence, in order to save water, they tie ropes to trees and at the end of the ropes, places a big urn to let the water drip into it. And in order to prevent insects from breeding, they put frogs in the water. In the past, men didn’t have to work and women had to carry heavy jugs up to Mount Hana to collect water. They had straw woven cot where they would carry their baby boys around when they worked.

Some photos from the Seongup Folk Village :

Then we were brought to a house where the guide introduced us to their local products such as raw honey, 五味子 Honey and 灵芝 tea. Tried the fermented fruit of 五味子 and could taste sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. Most of us bought a bottle of raw honey and a bottle of 五味子 Honey each.

Was given sometime to take photos before heading for lunch where we had Heukdoeji (grilled sliced black pork) with side dishes. We were told that due to the strong wind, there might be chance of boat capsizing while sitting that to cruise the sea to see the Seongsan Sunrise Peak. So Hanna suggested taking speedboat instead where the ride would be over in 15min. Thinking that we might be able to view Seongsan Sunrise Peak proper if we took the slightly slower one with the family of three and so we opted for that. It was very windy and we had to put on raincoats and life jackets before getting into the speedboat.

Riding the speedboat

The ride was exhilarating and M was seen snapping some photos of Seongsan Sunrise Peak. After the ride was over, went to the restroom to wash up and waited for the others. The driver then drove to Seongsan Sunrise Peak where we were supposed to buy tickets to go up to view the surroundings and take photos. However, majority of the group didn’t want to go up the slope and so in the end, M and I didn’t get to go up. Only took photos at the base of the Peak.

Seongsan Sunrise Peak

Then we went to a Tangerine Orchard for a short photo taking. Tangerine was not in season so those on the trees were green. According to Hanna, they would only be ripe in mid-Oct. Ripe tangerine could be seen sold at the back of vans and these were grown indoor. The four friends bought some earlier the day and let M and I had a taste. The tangerine was really soft and sweet and seedless.

Next we headed to Yongduam Dragon Rock and we had to climb the steps down to the beach. There were many other tourists from China and Hong Kong. Hanna said we might be able to see women divers on the other side and so M and I quickly climbed up the steps and went down another one further up. We managed to see them and they were already packing up for the day. We were tempted to try the live octopus sashimi but given the limited time, we had to give up. Picked our way across the rocks and managed to get to the other side which was where we were initially and climbed the steps back up.

Women divers packing up for the day

Finally we went to the Phoenix Island which was the filming site for Boys Over Flowers. Didn’t watch that drama and according to M, Lee Min Ho was starred in it with curly hair and he became famous after that show. Walked around the place, took photos and would have like to walk further up if we had more time. We passed by a church which was the film site for another Korean drama was named All In. Ended the day with dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The food wasn’t fantastic but I enjoyed the Jajangmyeon and the stir-fry squid. While eating, M and I could hear the rest of the table complaining about the food especially the lady from the couple.

Some photos from the last few places :

Went back to the hotel by 6:45pm and since it was really early. The four friends suggested going to the shopping street nearby so we decided to gather at the lobby at 7pm. Mei Shan was late coz the lights in her parents’ room weren’t working. So M and I went ahead leaving the rest to wait for her. Checked out some shoe shops and clothing. It seemed that prices for most of the branded shops were either equivalent back home or higher for brands like Fila. Like in Tapdong Street, most of the boots were with killer heels.

Went to Lotteria to get food and saw the rest there coz they didn’t eat much during dinner. They dined there while M and I bought Shrimp Burger Set takeaway. Went to Etude House to get the Rice Collegen Handcream for sis’s SIL and the Hello Kitty Lip Balm for myself. While walking back to our hotel, we detoured to another road and saw a stall selling Teobokki so bought a box back to eat. Along the way also bought a big bottle of aloe vera drink. Settled down and started to eat our food while chatting about our group members, our thoughts about traveling and my past traveling experiences.


 Lotteria Shrimp Burger Set

Thoughts: It would be better if we had more time for the various places. Would have loved to see the tea plantation and have more time to admire the teddy bears. Got to learn more about Jeju history and the culture. Seongsan Sunrise Peak may have provided a great view but we didn’t get to see. Also it was a shame not able to try the live octopus sashimi at the Yongduam Dragon Rock and see the women divers in action. As there are many other attractions around Jeju, I hope to be able to do a trip back there again in the near future.