Hello dolls and pals!
Last March 20-23, 2015, I had a short vacation in South Korea. I dropped down all expectations because going there is not really in my bucket list but since I was approved a tourist visa I planned a trip and booked in a group tour via travel agency which costed me roughly around 30,000 pesos all in.
It was 12:20 in the afternoon when my group arrived in Incheon International Airport via AirAsia and had passed the immigration desk at about 1:20 in the afternoon. We had a short queue, but since the immigration officers were so tedious and strict we had to wait in line for an hour. After passing the immigration, we took a train going to the baggage carousel. At about 1:40 in the afternoon, our tour guide “Mickey” welcomed us to South Korea, yippeeee! 🙂 Temperature check, hmmm.. it was cold.
We had our first Korean lunch meal called “Bulgogi” 10 minutes away from Incheon airport. As far as I could remember, the first and the last Korean meal I had was “Chapchae” or Korean pancit and it was eight years ago. Technically, Chapchae is the only Korean food I know. When all the food were served, from the side dishes to the main courses, I was so amazed because there were plenty on the table which is very unusual for Filipinos. The dishes were overwhelming at first but I can’t bear my hungry stomach so I ate right away. Burp!
After that soothing lunch, we head straight to Nami Island which we traveled for two hours from the restaurant. Our tour guide Mickey was very kind and informative enough to tell us stories about South Korea and how its economy grew from being unknown to 1st world country. I was honestly mesmerized and moved by how Koreans patronizes their own products because it was one of the reasons why they are on top.
The temperature in the departure area is chilly so I had to wear gloves. We took a 5-minute ferry ride going to Nami Island from the dummy immigration post. The breeze was cold and the sight is misty. The island is a well-known taping set of “Winter Sonata“, a Korea novela that hit the Philippines year 2004. Walking around, there were these gigantic romantic trees serve as the welcome favor for tourists. Since it is not spring yet, brown and caramel foliage were all over the place which adds up to the calmness and laid back picturesque view of the island. Planning a romantic date? Head up to Nami Island and you will not have any single regret.
After two hours in Nami Island, finally it’s DINNER TIME! 🙂 The restaurant we went to was just across the island so there’s no need to rush and panic. We had “Korean Pork BBQ Lettuce Wrap“. We grilled the pork for 5 minutes before wrapping it with lettuce. Mickey taught us how to eat the dish. It was really,WITH ALL EXAGGERATION, good I could not stop stuffing one wrap after another inside my mouth.
We woke up 6:00 in the morning and had our complimentary breakfast in “The Class 300 Hotel” where we had our goodnight sleep. Speaking of The Class 300 Hotel, their room is spacious for two, their bathroom is very nice and roomy, there’s a bathtub and the toilet is techy and upgraded. All in, it’s a very nice hotel room aside from the bathroom blinds which I couldn’t scroll down because it’s broken and I couldn’t take a shower because my roommate could see me from the naked glass.
There were two things I found unpleasant in the hotel: FIRST, there is no WIFI connection in any of their rooms so a guest who wants to connect needs to go down the lobby for to access. SECOND: the desk officer could not understand English very well and this was based on my experience with one of their hotel housekeeper. When I asked the receptionist for a housekeeper who could fix the bathroom blinds, the housekeeper appeared with a toilet pump on his hand because the receptionist thought I reported a bowl problem. So yes, I thought hotel personnel in The Class 300 Hotel should learn English because South Korea is becoming one of the leading tourist destinations in Asia.
On our second day, we visited first Mt. Seorak which is an hour away from our hotel.
It was really cold that morning I had to wear gloves. Mickey started our tour with a story of two bears. She said that bears were very sacred to South Koreans because long time ago there is no man in Korea, only “Papa Tiger” and “Mama Bear”. The two wanted to become human so they prayed to God. God heard them and said their prayers will be granted in one condition, “THEY WILL NOT EAT ANY MEAT, ONLY BAMBOO AND GARLIC.”. After few weeks, Papa Tiger stopped eating bamboo and garlic because it is making him weak, considering he is a carnivore. So Mama Bear ate alone until the day came God made His promise. Papa Tiger came to see if Mam Bear really turned into a human. When Mama Bear stepped our of her haven, she was so thin, her fur were falling and she gradually and majestically turned into a woman. Nowadays, people, especially, women who would like to request something to Mama Bear like lovelife, child, etc. would go in Mt. Seorak and touch the statue of Mama Bear to pray for blessings.
I don’t know if the story is true, but, every country has their own folklore stories right? 😀 And yes, I prayed for graces to come, hahahaha!
Mt. Seorak or Mt. Seoraksan is said to be the tallest mountain in South Korea. We took a cable car going up (if only climbing mountains in the Philippines will be as fast and as easy as this I would gladly climb every mountain there is in our country). Atop I have seen a very beautiful scenery of South Korea, God is so awesome He created a very beautiful world! 🙂
Our next destination was, Hankbok and Kimchi making. I could not wait for that moment to happen because I really think Korean traditional costumes are really cool and will give me this Korean novela vibe and yes, I was pleased! Aside from the Hanbok experience, we also made Kimchi. For the record, Kimchi are being fermented for two years before serving. So in my case, since I’m not a fan of kimchi, I would just not eat to avoid wasting it.
Our last destination for the day is the “Everland” owned by Samsung company which is the counterpart of Disneyland.
Everland is situated in a vast land and it is not easy for a guest to walk in the entire themed park because it will be tiring. So, thank goodness for the cable cars and trains going from one station to another.
We are so lucky we were able to catch the opening of the “Tulips Festival”, oh my, the tulips are so beautiful, vibrant and inviting. Like, I was flipped into another magical world of flowers and bees and everything nice! 🙂
Our third day in South Korea has been very exciting because we went HISTORY, yey! For the record, I love history and culture because it makes me understand where people comes from and how they were developed.
We went to Daejanggeum where “Jewel in the Palace” was shoot. Inside Daejanggeum lie whole vibes of South Korean culture and history. If you are watching Koreanovelas like I do, you will really appreciate the place and you will fall for it.
Our next stop was Myeongdong shopping place! This is everybody’s favorite for it means shopping time!
What I brought home?
- Dozens of facial mask
- Korean bags
Myeongdong is a haven for all different beauty products, accessories and clothing. Everything is at bargain price and most of the beauty shops offer free items or trial packs of their products. And they also give sample packs if you will buy from them.
The crazy part was, because there are too many shops in Myeongdong you cannot exactly decide what product you really wanted to buy because there are to many to choose from.But for me, to be safe, I bought something I am really using like Tony Moly, Faceshop, Skinfood, Missha and Etude.
4th and LAST DAY
I always tell myself “There’s no goodbye, just see you again!“. Yes, our last day in South Korea is saddening. But before we leave, we had a tour in N Seoul Tower. Before reaching the tower, we did a more or less 15 minute climb/walk going to the entrance of the tower. The road is quite stiff so it is advisable to have a company to chat with to forget how hard it is to reach the entrance.
What’s inside N Seoul Tower?
- Souvenir items
- Telescope for viewing
Before going to Incheon International Airport, we had a short trip to Duty Free where we were given free Korean soap as a souvenir and a nice walk around Seoul City.