It might be my first trip to the Land of the Morning Calm but i surprise myself by taking only about 3,500 photographs which was further pared to 2,500.
Personally, i feel it has something to do with my non-existent knowledge of the Korean language and the fact that in Seoul, it was mainly shopping rather than an immersion in historical / cultural sites.
Nevertheless, i shall still post a summarised itinerary on this vacation! As with my Taiwan itinerary, click the hyperlinks for more detailed postings (reviews on restaurants, hotels etc)! Bookmark this entry and check back periodically as it would likely take me months to complete everything!
Singapore - Seoul
[3.18 pm] Departed from Changi International Airport which was supposed to leave at 2.55 pm; like the land traffic / public transportation system in Singapore, you couldn't really second guess the traffic in the air!
[10.30 pm] Arrived safely at Incheon International Airport and we had to immediately rush to the Airport Railroad Express (AREX), buy a ticket and take the train to Seoul Station, where our hotel was located.
[12.20 am] After about an hour on the express train, the teo siblings, tired yet goofy, finally arrived in Seoul Station! Our ordeal had yet to end; the underground routes were a tad confusing and it took us close to twenty minutes to find Hotel Manu!
[1.00 am] Took a much needed shower and it's time to sleep!
Seoul - Jeju Island
[8.00 am] View outside our triple room; how did we manage to spend twenty minutes to get to the hotel when Seoul Station is literally right opposite us?!
[10.15 am] Left Hotel Manu to check out the surrounding after accompanying my sister to the gym! I should consider signing up for a gym membership to tone my fat-covered abs.
[10.33 am] Namdaemun Market (남대문 시장) was superbly near the hotel! I didn't know how close we were then since we walked all the way to Sungnyemun Gate before making a turn.
[11.39 am] Had an early lunch at a Korean restaurant along a street next to the hotel! Unsure about the name since I am hopeless in the hangul written script. For review and location, click here.
[12.30 pm] Left the hotel for Gimpo Airport via AREX again!
[3.13 pm] Our next destination? Jeju Island; also known as the Island of the Gods! There are quite a number of airlines traversing the domestic routes from Seoul to Jeju; i bought my tickets from Jeju Air as the website is available in English.
[4.13 pm] Landed at Jeju International Airport! The first thing i did upon collecting my luggage was to register myself at the car rental booth before taking a complimentary shuttle bus to another area to collect the rented car which i reserved two months ago!
[5.38 pm] With a lot of apprehension, double checking & triple checking (Korea practices left hand driving), we finally got to Yongduam Rock (Dragon Head Rock) (용두암)!
[6.18 pm] Time for the famous black pork street in Jeju! Said to be one of the island's specialties, we had to give it a try! Had such a full meal at Hwaro-Hyang; we swore off pork for the rest of our trip.
[9.00 pm] After roaming a short section of the Dongmun Market Place, we took to the road again and finally arrived at Galeum Guest House, our accommodation in Seogwipo district for the next few days, in one piece.
[8.00 am] An early start of the day - attempting the "easiest" yeongsil trail on Mount Hallasan (한라산) at Hallasan National Park!
[12.37 pm] Had the best ever green tea latte at OSulloc Tea Museum! Green tea fanatics would be able to indulge themselves crazy on items with green tea content, including but not limited to green tea based desserts.
[2.37 pm] Shopping at one of Jeju's notable hypermarkets; Emart! For those guys who have been through national service, this emart is different from the emart we have in Singapore and sells a wide variety of merchandise.
[4.20 pm] Oedolgae Rock (외돌개) - gained regional (or even global) recognition because it was featured in a scene of a very famous period drama; Daejanggeum (大長今).
[5.12 pm] Relaxing at Cheonjiyeon Falls (천지연폭포), had some bread and coffee at Paris Baguette cafe and checked out the illuminated Saeyeon-Gyo Bridge before returning back to the guest house. Slept at around 10-11pm!
[4.00 am] Woke up at an ungodly hour so that we can make it on time to catch the sunrise at the world famous Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (성산일출봉). Failed obviously, the sun was already at the horizon twenty minutes before we even reached the attraction's entrance.
[7.40 am] Whatever the case, it was a journey we persevered to the end and the peak was conquered after climbing for close to 40 minutes, with a break in between where i had a bottle of yummy banana milk and a few slices of egg-batter bread.
[8.16 am] It was not yet time for the Jeju Woman Diver performance but i figured it would not do the ladies any justice if i don't pay them a visit!
[10.00 am] Hiked through the chilly Manjanggul Cave (만장굴) which is one of the world's top 10 longest lava tube! We covered only about a kilometer since the rest are closed to the public.
[12.00 noon] Trick Art Museum! Singapore has one too even though you may wish to note that the ticket pricing in Jeju was only about 50% Singapore's pricing!
[2.00 pm] BANG!!! Car accident! Read about it here.
[4.38 pm] Got a new rental car and our famished tummies were finally placated by a delicious pot of abalone seafood soup and a bowl of abalone porridge at a Korean restaurant next to Cheonjiyeon Falls.
[6.30 pm] Went Emart again; after which would be back to the guesthouse to do our laundry and have a good night sleep at about 9 pm. Lesson learnt from the accident; sleep early!!!
Jeju Island - Seoul
[6.00 am] I know it's still pretty early; we didn't have much choice as instruction from the hospital was that both my sister and i would have to be back that morning to change our dressing! Given the limited time, we checked out and proceeded directly to the hospital. p.s. very pretty nurse and she was extremely gentle with us!
[9.47 am] Jeju International Airport - to board the 11.55 am plane back to Seoul! Jeju has been an unforgettable experience (for better and for worse) BUT i would love to be back again! And, i would still opt for self-drive.
[2.40 pm] An hour of plane ride and 30-minute of train ride via AREX, we were back to Hotel Manu! We got smarter this time and crossed the road from Seoul Station instead of taking the underpass.
[4.00 pm] Gwangjang Market (광장시장) - strongly recommended for those who enjoy the vibe and atmosphere of a local market! Plus point - plenty to eat!
[5.40 pm] Soaking in the atmosphere of Dongdaemun; note, unlike the nearby Gwangjang Market, this area focused more on shopping centres and wholesale markets. By the time we got back to the metro, it was around 11.30 pm! Both sisters can really shop; they actually dumped me in a cafe for an hour!
[10.00 am] Stepped into a rainy, gloomy day at Seoul! After a few days of sunshine at Jeju, this was definitely a marked difference! Mixed feelings about the weather; on one hand, i prefer the lower temperature although on the other hand, the rain was a hindrance to even acceptable photo taking!
[11.30 am] Korean fried chicken was said to be something tourists die die must try when they are in Korea; we did at Two Two Fried Chicken.
[12.33 pm] Crossed the road and Myeongdong (명동) was right ahead of us! This is the place where ladies would go crazy over the many cosmetic shops lining the streets!
[4.37 pm] Cut across Namdaemun Market on our way back to our hotel. Yes, you can walk from Myeongdong back to Hotel Manu!
[9.00 pm] Following a snack-shopping spree at Lotte Market, we were back at Myeongdong! Koreans are night owls i think; the vicinity appeared more vibrant and happening when the sun set.
[10.30 pm] Late night dinner at Yoogane Dak Galbi (유가네 닭갈비); totally didn't regret having this meal! By the way, they have a branch in Singapore!
Seoul - Singapore
[11.39 am] Hotel was fully booked that day and our request for late checkout was rejected. Preparing to check out and store our luggage at the hotel as our flight would only take off at midnight.
[2.34 pm] Split ways with the sisters after lunch at Lotte Mart food court; they shall continue their last minute shopping while i check out Insa-dong (인사동), a cultural district. Yes, it's again a rainy day. :(
[4.23 pm] Had a bowl of boiling ginseng chicken soup from a restaurant known to serve the best in Seoul; Tosokchon (토속촌).
[5.30 pm] Got lost and found this pretty little garden. I enjoy getting lost when i am overseas as it often brings nice little surprises! Note: i have been lucky so far.
[6.42 pm] Back at Seoul Station well before the time i was supposed to meet up with my sisters. Had a cup of jujube tea at a nearby cafe and took the private shuttle to Incheon International Airport at 8.00pm.
[11.40 pm] Reached in an hour's time; checked in our 86 kilograms of luggage; completed our tax refunds; shopped at the 24-hour duty free shop; took the internal shuttle train to the departure gate and it's time to board SQ603.
[5.34 am] First thing i did upon arrival at Changi International Airport - purchased dressing for the wound; a gift from Korea that would likely remain permanently etched to my skin!