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gloriajames Seoul - A travel report by Gloria
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Seoul,  Korea, South - flag Korea, South -  S÷ul
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gloriajames's travel reports

Hit by Hallyu Fever

  10 votes
Page: 1 2
Never did I envisage that I would be visiting S.Korea until my best friend got hit by Hallyu Fever. She was into all things Korean thanks to "Jewel in the Palace", "Winter Sonata", and "Full House". Last autumn, I did just that.


My Best Friend & I - with Hallyu Fever
My Best Friend & I - with Hallyu Fever
[This part of my report takes you on my journey from Incheon to Nami Island to Jeonju to Naejangsan to Jeongseon to Seoul.]

I flew on Asiana Airlines, and took a mandarin-speaking package tour with 38 other Singaporeans. All of them were Chinese except me, and luckily, I am fluent in Mandarin.

I did not really know what to expect on this Korean discovery and cultural tour but was assured by my Korean guide that by the end of the trip, I would be having Hallyu Fever. And this was how the Korean wave took over me.....

Firstly, upon arrival into Incheon (airport), despite the 5½ hrs flight, it was followed by a 2 hrs ride to Nami Island located in the middle of North Han River. Nami Island is accessible by ferry and is considered a romantic getaway for couples. Why? This was the filming location of one of Korea’s most popular drama serials, “Winter Sonata”, where the leads had their first kiss. Sensing the magic, you should see how the locals and Hallyu hit fans, doing the famous pose between the rows of tall pine trees. Oh, even a Bollywood movie “Gangster” was shot on location at the peak of autumn gold season. [I was told that there were more filming locations to visit.]

Secondly, the introduction of Korean food and its secret weapon – KIMCHI!! My first meal was Korean hotplate with rice, veg and meat, you can have it either spicy or non-spicy. And guess what? The Koreans can really take their chilli. Frankly, kimchi did not go down well with me. It’s as pungent as the durian and you either love it or loathe it.

Thirdly, cultural experiences by attending the traditional culture centre for Samulnori drumming sessions, wedding session, and how to make bibimbap and kimchi.

Fourthly, the world of Korean Ginseng and Cordyceps.

Note:

Apparantly its the requirement from Korean Tourism Board that at all land tours in S.Korea, a photographer would accompany each group. Guess what? It costs about US$200 for a set of 15 pics. And we found it so difficult to say NO.

Favourite spots:
Colours of Autumn @ Naejangsan National Park
Colours of Autumn @ Naejangsan National Park
1. Naejangsan National Park

If you are around the Jeonju area, this park is really worth visiting during the late October to November period. The colours of autumn is the highlight here.

2. Sangsoo's Herbland

For an education on the different types of herbs, and lunching on Flower Rice and Tea. What is particularly funny, is the huge scuplture called 'Penis Dinosaur'. You will definitely chuckle!

3. Everland & Lotte World Theme Parks

Any package tour to Korea, will include the Big 5 tickets for both theme parks. Big 5 meaning - free entry to 5 of the most popular rides. If you are @ Everland, be sure to catch the zoo as its home to the world's only cross breed of tiger and lion and called "Liger".

What's really great:
Jeonju Hanok Village
Jeonju Hanok Village
Jeonju

What Florence is to Italy, Jeonju is to Korea.

Why? Jeonju is known as the cultural city of S.Korea and known for its fine food and home to Bibimbap. What caught my interest is the Hanok Village where there are over 800 traditional Korean houses with the roof edges bent slightly towards the sky. I noticed that many houses adopted to paint the houses in blue or white.

In the Hanok village are Jeonju Traditional Culture Centre, Jeonju Korean Traditional Life Experience Park, Jeonju Korean Traditional Wine Museum, Jeonju Traditional Craftswork Exhibition Hall, Jeonju Treasures Centre, Gyeonggijeon and Omokdae... etc. There is so much to see and learn, and to experience the traditional culture here.

At the Jeonju Traditional Culture Centre, we were escorted to a kitchen area, and our guide gave us aprons to put on. We were grouped in 4s and each group had a designated working area. There we were taught how to make BIBIMBAP. Oh what fun we had !

Sights:
location shoot of
location shoot of "Jewel in the Palace" drama serial.
The Must-dos when in Seoul are :

1. Visiting the Presidential Blue House Museum, and catching a glimpse of the blue Presidential House.

2. Exploring Gyeongbokgng Palace built on or about 1394AD during the Chosun Dynasty. Also location shooting of “Jewel in the Palace” scene based on a true story.

3. To Namsan Park, taking a cable car ride, a scene from “Full House”.

4. To Hotel Miranda as its located near the hotsprings and to soak in their Spa pools. Ok…if you rather go naturale (nude), there are two different sections for the sexes. Trust me, when they say no clothes, they really mean no clothes. You would be given a towel, slightly bigger than a hankerchief, and a locker for you to deposit all your clothes and belongings. I headed to the ladies section and soaked in my own private mineral pool. It was so refreshing! Being the only non-korean and non-chinese, I got ‘lots’ of attention! Oh, if you rather be in your swimsuit, fret not, just use the outdoor uni-sex mineral pools.

Accommodations:
sleeping on the warm heated floor @ Hanwha Resort Phoneix Park
sleeping on the warm heated floor @ Hanwha Resort Phoneix Park
1. Jeonju Riveria - a 4* hotel @ Jeonju. Nothing much to add save that it provides all your basic needs and offers a good view of the Jeonju Hanok Village.

2. Hanwha Resort Phoenix Park - a 5* ski resort, and obviously no skiing in autumn, hence the rates are cheaper, which explained why we were able to stay here. The unit is actually a 2-bedroom and one living hall, self-contained with kitchen. One room consists of the traditional bed (ie sleeping on the mattress on the heated floor, whilst the other bedroom has a queen-sized bed. As you can guess, we chose the heated floor, as its something you can never do in Singapore!

3. Lotte World Hotel in Seoul - 6* hotel and houses an indoor and outdoor amusement park. Sheer luxury and decadence for 2 nights!

Nightlife:
Drum Lessons
Drum Lessons
I had a different kind of night life (";), not the usual sort but pure educational and cultural experience instead.

Firstly,

Drumming lessons - @ any of the cultural centres

What better way to experience Korean traditional music by attending an hour long session on “Samulnori drumming” which basically means four types of percussion instruments used to create rich heavenly sound. We got so carried away that we were like in a trance! The beat simply got the better of us.

Followed by,

Nanta Show aka Cooking Show

This is a must-see 1½ hr performance show when in Korea. It’s a non-verbal performance with a combination of Korean and western performance. It’s the Stomp version. However, only pans, knives, pots, ie kitchen utensils are used.

Hangouts:
adorable korean kids striking a pose
adorable korean kids striking a pose
Well, ladies...this is for you!

Korea fashion is reasonably priced and follows the latest trends. For all your shopping needs, please head down to:-

1. Lotte Department Store - that's if you are staying at Lotte Hotel;

2. DFS - at the Incheon Airport. Really, good shopping bargains and if you like to purchase Hello Kitty stuff.

3. Dongdaeum Markets - these are wholesale markets too, and shopping malls like Dotti and Migliore. Opening hrs are from 10am to 5am! And if you shop after midnight, not only is it less busy, you get great discounts too. Trust me, you will not know where to start!

4. Duty Free Cosmetics places - usually your tour guide will bring you to the recommended places. Popular place to buy "Face Shop products".

5. Shinchon Ladies Fashion Street - just rows and rows of trendy shops dotting along the winding streets, with pretty little cafes.

6. Insa-dong for antique and art gallery shops.

Restaurants:
we did it!! Bibimbap experts (*_*)
we did it!! Bibimbap experts (*_*)
I learnt that there are many types of Korean food, and that Koreans like to eat on the floor. Food is usually consumed with metal chopsticks,long spoon and round container.

I had the following types of food:

1. Korean Hot Plate

2. Korean BBQ lunch

3. Ginseng Chicken with 50% ginseng alcohol added.

4. Abalone porridge

5. Korean breakfast

6. Korean Steamboat

7. Mini Emperor's dinner

8. Cotbap of Love ("Flower Rice")

9. Hanjeongsik (Korean full course meal)

10. Bibimbap

Kimchi accompanies all the meals!! Oh horror of horror (for me....).

I must admit....that I am now a "master chef" on making Bibimbap.

Other recommendations:
Nanta Show
Nanta Show
If you wish to get more information on Korea, best to visit the Sparking Korea (Korean Tourism Board website). What I did was to register online and then proceed to download the e-brochures. I found them to be handy. Alternatively, for a postage fee, the tourism board would be happy to send you brochures.



And if that is not enough for you, try reading the reports in Globo particularly by Bootlegga (James) and Krisek (Krys). They provide more insight into Seoul too.



Oh...this report is dedicated to Tokyomike, for being an inspiration. And also Yulianpang, for his kind words.

Published on Tuesday November 11th, 2008


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Tue, Apr 08 2014 - 07:21 PM rating by mistybleu

An interesting report, before my journey. Some useful tips.

Thu, Nov 27 2008 - 01:52 PM rating by marianne

I'd love to go there but your description is vivid enough for me to get the feeling of theplace

Tue, Nov 18 2008 - 08:44 PM rating by bootlegga

A first rate report Gloria, it brought many memories (good and bad) of my trip to Seoul. Thanks!

Thu, Nov 13 2008 - 08:42 AM rating by rangutan

A very comprehensive report, great!

Wed, Nov 12 2008 - 02:24 PM rating by tokyomike

Well, you know that being the dedicate-ee, I can't give you anything less than a 5 for fear of being labelled an ingrate. lol Thanks!!

Well, first, when it comes to that insipid-love-drama-inspired korean-fever that has also spread throughout Japan.. I can't imagine going on a tour that would take me anywhere near any of those pretty boys, but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?! (I know that women love those guys -- I'm just being a jealous Canuck. lol).

But the food. Oh, the food! How I loved it!! Everything with Kimuchi was deadly -- should have been served with a bucket of ice cubes and a roll of toilet paper -- but I couldn't get enough of it. Basically, I LOVED Korea, and I'm glad you did, too :) Thanks for sharing this report :)

Tue, Nov 11 2008 - 05:17 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Beautiful reading and pictures. I did not know about Jeonju. When I was in South Korea I did not go there, so I have to go back!

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