Wednesday, October 8, 2014

South Korea Part 1

Ahnyeong! This is going to be a late/throwback post because I traveled to South Korea with my sisters and beau last December, while we're hitting December in another 2 months! Also I went to Macau earlier this year too so another late/throwback post will be coming!

Back to my South Korea trip, we took the 8D, 6N Seoul/Jeju Island + Yongpyong Ski Resort+ Hot Spring Water Park package from Golden Destinations. The thing about traveling in a group is that you'll meet a certain people that would take advantage of the trip by sticking to the local tour guide like glue so that the guide will listen and do what ever they want. Maybe we're just unlucky that our batch has that particular group and a very biased local tour guide who's clearly full of herself and loves people with money. I would love to mention the name of the tour guide but heck, it's just going to give more publicity to someone who doesn't deserve it. Other than that, it was an ok trip, I think I should have spoken out about those occasions but anyhow, I will definitely be more alert if I ever go on group tours like these again. I'm not going to let these people ruin the trip for others for their own selfish reasons. Also, CAN LOCAL TOUR COMPANIES START HAVING ENGLISH-SPEAKING TOURS BECAUSE THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT PROFICIENT IN THE CHINESE LANGUAGE, PLEASE AND THANK YOU!

Exhausted and hungry from the traveling. I got to use my Slytherin scarf as well, finally!

Seeing snow the moment we left the airport, it was magical to us tropical folks! Along with the white smoke that comes out when you breath and speak!

Our first meal was at this restaurant and it was Dak Gal Bi which was a great start! A restaurant where different tour groups will dine at too.
 The itinerary changed because there was some protest happening in the city when we arrived so we headed to Nami Island first! Cue the Winter Sonata theme song!

Whaddup or more like whatchu lookin at! 

 There was a lot of art sculptures that you could find around the island so plenty of photo ops!

Our Winter Sonata moment under the trees! 

I don't know what this was but it looks like some fertility sculpture to me. 

When there's a wide and snowy space, you gotta try jump shots!

 After Nami Island, we visited Mt. Sorak National Park and Sinheungsa Temple but it was already dark so we didn't take much pictures but it was freezing cold! Then, we made our way to Daepohang Port before we head off to dinner.

 Sad part was we were not having dinner at these seafood stores, it was just a short pit stop. Dear tour companies, please do dinners in fisherman markets like these for us foodies sake! I really wanted to taste them fresh seafood! :( In the end, we bought some dried fish snacks that the local guide was raving about, it was good dried fish, I give her that! Toast it a little at the oven and chew on its sweetness like the samples given by the shopkeeper.

 Also opposite the wet market was this stall selling deep fried seafood and there was a long line for it so us starving people lined up in the cold just to get a taste of juicy tentacles and oysters! It was a satisfying pre-dinner meal!

 Dinner was some good ol' Korean BBQ! I think we're the only group who always ask for refills on side dishes and soup and, we always almost finish to finish our meal. Eat as much authentic food here while you can yo!

Then we made our way to our first accommodation, Seorak Pine Resort. It was a unique resort because there were no beds, just a wide, warm heated floor where you can put some thin mattresses as your bed for the night. I put like two layers of it and slept like a baby because it was pretty comfy. Also, we raided the mini mart. 

Yes, I was already stuffed from the BBQ dinner but I got hooked by the packaging. It wasn't much to rave about because it's a 'healthy' instant noodle.

Next day, we packed and then headed to Daewallyeong Sheep Ranch to try our hand in making cheese!
Add some edible flowers first in a cheese cloth covered tin. 

The lady in green was the owner of the ranch and she was really entertaining! She even gave us a bag of corn chips before we left! :)

Gotta filter the cheese from the bubbles. 

Our finished product! It was a light cheese, that went well with red wine and eaten with some corn chips with jam or just dipped in salt. 

So good!!! Cravings!!! 

Apparently, you need to pay if you want to take pictures of the sheep. -_-lll

After munching on cheese and wine, we got to check into our second hotel, Yongpyong Ski Resort, one of the famous ski resorts in the area. We stayed for a night in this cozy and I think pricey resort. Also, we had to pay for our ski equipment rentals which was not cheap.
 Can I just say, I love my rainbow pants? Picked up our gear before heading off to lunch!

Warm stew to fuel us up for our ski session! 

Here comes the ridiculous part, we only got to ski for 2 hours. Why? Cause a certain group wanted to leave early to do god knows what. Skiing is not easy, heck it took a few of us, at least an hour just to not slide down the slope without bumping into other people because it was so crowded there. It's even difficult to remove the ski shoes.

We took the cable car to the top to see the awesome views! 

After returning from our super short ski session, we were rushed again to change to get to the Yongpyong Hot Spring Water Park, which was walking distance from the hotel. Now public baths are not new to me so I was ok with going commando as long as it is gender separated spa rooms, just like the locals but a lot of them from the tour group were uncomfortable. We only have a small towel to cover the lady bits so lots of avoiding eye contact and pretending you didn't see anything. 
The water park inside was just alright, nothing to rave about because most of the slides were for kids, there's a wave pool and the water is warm. There was a few young and cute Korean lifeguards as well around the water park, much to my sister's delight. In the spa area, there was a steam room, sauna and pools with different temperatures and a bunch of shower sections. A vanity area with hair dryers and a few beauty products was provided as well. I like going to baths like these because I feel more rejuvenated and my skin will be glowing from the hot spring water. :)

It was about -10 degrees Celsius that night but it was nice to walk around the resort grounds after to feel the super cold air. 

Loads of people skiing at night as well.

The next day, we were headed to Seoul to visit Lotte World, the place is packed like sardines because of the holidays. Also we only had 3 hours to enjoy Lotte World, another ridiculous time duration given for a very packed theme park. We only managed to sit one ride and the ride took 1 and a half hour of queuing time and it only lasted for 1 minute. However, it was entertaining to see local high school girls being very vain that they hold a handheld mirror and touch their hair and face every 10 seconds. Sad to see, girls growing up in this kind of society. :(

Jajang myun! My love! So good! Our tour leader recommended us to get this from the food court and we weren't disappointed. 


So after 3 hours, we were rushed off to the 63 Building where there was Sea World, an observatory and a wax museum. Oh, the local tour guide only let us step at the entrance of  Sea World and then she pushed us to go to the observatory, which is ridiculous again, she was even annoyed when some of our tour members went deeper into Sea World because she had to go rush them out. Oh, just typing these out just enraged me.

We were one of the ones who went deeper to see more of Sea World because we paid for it.  

We're ended at the observatory which the local tour guide expected us to just breeze through the exhibition that was going on which was about The Beatles. 

 Sorry but The Beatles are a legend and they deserve time. So a few of us took our sweet time much to her and a certain groups dismay.

The wax museum was next and the wax figures there were not as good as Madame Tussauds, sadly. I think this was one of the ok looking ones there.

So that night after we had dinner, we flew on Jin Air to Jeju Island. I seriously love this plane, for one they serve a cup of tea even when the flight is only an hour, the stewardess wears a hair barrette that bears the airline's logo which is a butterfly which I wanted one too and the seats were not too crammed and there are pretty stewardess too! We checked into Jeju New Crown Hotel which we stayed for 2 nights. The rooms we got were normal twin bed rooms and breakfast was provided in the hotel the following day.
The Mysterious Road/ Ghost road because you feel like you're going uphill when the bus was actually going downhill. It has to do with the growth of the surrounding trees on the road that gives some optical illusion. 

This cute lil pup actually came to greet us before we went up the bus after looking at the Mysterious Road. So cute but too bad we couldn't bring it with us. :(

So I'll continue my Jeju adventures in the next post! Watch out for that! :)

Also, my instant white coffee gave this face today after I stirred it! Thanks for the pick me up! :P

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