Korea 2011 – Part 1

I finally got my wish to visit Korea this year! Having missed an opportunity last year end, I quickly confirmed with my parents about visiting Korea this spring, and we went in mid April! Just in time for the cherry blossoms, and cool weather. We took up a package tour as Mom wasn’t confident of us going free and easy, with the language barrier and all. It was good that we took up a tour as well as we managed to visit other parts of Korea, which I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t if we were to go F&E.

We took a night flight via Asiana Airlines to Incheon airport and arrived in Korea at 6.20am (KST). The flight was quite ok, only 1 noisy kiddo on board who suddenly decided not to sleep at 3-4am and wailed her lungs out. I feel sorry for the parents. Meals were served at 11pm, and had 2 choices: chicken stew and rice, or beef bibimbap. Kinda early for food because the meal should ideally be served around 3-4am. What impressed me about Seoul was how clean the airport was. The facilities and staff were top notch, and I was telling my parents that Incheon Airport is #1, even Changi Airport loses out to Incheon.

We went straight to Nami Island when we landed. It was a little tiring, to be honest, having taken a flight and then go straight into the day’s itinerary. I half expected we would be able to at least check into our hotel and wash up, have a quick change of clothes before we started traveling on the road. But oh well. We had to take a 5 min ferry ride to Nami Island, home to Winter Sonata’s film site. I wasn’t too fussed about Winter Sonata, but apparently it is within the auntie community. Lots of people taking photos with the bronze figurines of the male & female leads. I couldn’t be arsed to do that though. Too touristy for my liking. What I liked about Nami Island was the clean, fresh air, wide spaces and clear, blue sky. And lots of trees and foliage (though they were almost bare due to early spring).

Mom’s first snack on Korea land! Hoddeok (호떡), a snack that is only offered in winter. We were lucky that it’s still available when we went!

The following 3 pictures were taken by the tour’s photographer. We had to pay abt S$5 per photo, but we think they look nice… and we sorta pitied the guy cos he doesn’t earn a salary from the tour agency, solely on selling the photos.

After Nami Island, we went to Cheong Wa Dae, the president’s office. Wasn’t very interesting to me, but that’s because I have no interest in such landmarks.

We also visited Chang Deok Gung (창덕궁). It is a place with a lot of history behind it, and it was interesting to soak in the culture.

We also went shopping at Dongdaemun (동대문). Time was short though… we only had about 90mins to shop at Doota. SIANNNNNN~~ But, though we only had 90mins, I think I still emerged as shopping queen with the most trophies. Haha. My level of confidence in the Korean language was also boosted through this ‘experience’. I managed to ask for different size, different designs, the price, and still make a dig at myself (허리 없어요… translated “I don’t have a waist” (in this dress) and the salesgirl laughed), all in Korean. Dongdaemun was expensive though… similar to shopping at Bugis Junction. The green dress costs ~S$60, red checkered shirt ~S$30, grey top S$15, grey pants S$40. The cosmetics are from It’s Skin (one of my favourite Korean brands), and I only bought the eye cream, and 2 serums at the top (total ~S$30) – the rest (masks and sachets) were samples.

For dinner, we had gamjatang (감자탕) – the literal translation would be potato soup, but the more accurate name would be pork rib stew. Since I don’t eat much pork, I mainly had the potatoes and one rib. The dish reminds me of bak ku teh, but it has more flavours to it as it also had perilla leaves, crushed pepper and sesame seeds.

That night, we stayed at Best Western Premier Seoul Garden Hotel (what a long name!), previously Holiday Inn. The room was nice and cosy, and there was free internet (cabled) in the room. Extra points!!

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