Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Seoul/Jeju, Korea - Nov '13

Day 1 - Seoul - Myeong-dong, Mt Namsan, N Seoul Tower

Sausage hotpot dinner in Time Square 

Myeong-dong - downtown shopping paradise

Street food is very popular in Seoul

This old lady is selling some very sweet snack -  malt is melted under the fire and put into a mold to make the desired design and left to cool down for the malt to harden

N Seoul Tower at Mt Namsan with a commanding view of Seoul 
It is 5 minute taxi ride from Myeong-dong - accessible by foot if one can figure out the short cut up to Mt Namsan

Day 2 
- Bukchon Hanok Village, Samcheongdong, Insa-dong, NANTA show, Seoul Lantern Festival

Bukchon - literally "North village" is a traditional residential area located in between 2 palaces. It has 600 years history - visitors can see the aesthetic charm of traditional Korean house called Hanok.

Gyeongbokgung Palace seen from Bukchon village

Delicious pancake and pork for lunch

Samcheongdong - a 3 km street lined with hanoks that have been renovated into cozy cafes, galleries and restaurants - giving this place a chic and unique vibe.
Cafe with a library

Insa-dong - a vehicle free street lined with art galleries, traditional crafts stores, antique art dealers, tea houses and restaurants

A popular shop selling ice-cream in curly cone. Customers form an orderly line going through various "stations" - paying at the cashier, collect the cone and to the ice-cream dispensing machine

Traditional Tea House

The world famous NANTA cooking show.  A non-verbal performance, using kitchen utensils as musical instruments, combined with high energy dance, acrobatic movement , humour and audience participation, the shows have been drawing crowds from all ages and nationalities since 1997.

Seoul Lantern Festival 2013

Beautiful lanterns don the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Thousands of people formed orderly queues which snaked into a few kilometres to watch the exhibits. 

 Cheonggyecheon Stream has 22 bridges and a fabulous night view - a popular attraction amongst the locals and tourists.

Korean soft tofu stew for dinner

Day 3 - Jeju
1 hour domestic flight from Seoul Gimpo airport to the beautiful Jeju Island

Very delicious noodle in downtown Jeju. So nice that we went back the next day.

The popular noodle shop - literally named "3 Generations"  is located along the Jeju "noodle street"

Unesco's world natural heritage - Manjanggul Cave
The cave is 7.4 km long and 1 km is opened to public.  It takes about an hour to walk back and forth.  The cave is not very well lit - comparing to the Jenolan caves in Australia NSW - the experience in Manjang Cave is not as fulfilling.

Another Unesco world natural heritage - Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak (Sunrise Peak).  It is one of the parasitic volcanoes in Jeju - 180 m above sea level - the peak rose from under the sea in a volcanic eruption over 100,000 years ago

It was quite a strenuous climb to the peak with many steps

"All-in House" 
Seopjikoji - Koji means small gulf in Jejudo dialect - this is the filming location for the popular Korean drama "All In".

Soju - Korea well known distilled liquor
Dinner near our hotel - Very tasty and succulent abalone and lobster soup

Day 4 - Mt Hallasan
Unesco Heritage - Mt Hallasan - 1,950 m above sea level

View from the top was rather foggy that day
There are numerous trails which lead to different level of Mt Hallasan. We took the "easiest" trail - Eoseungsaengak Trail which begins at the Visitor Centre. 1.3 km - It took us about an hour - going up and down - to the level which is 1,109 m above sea level.  We were huffing and buffing when we reached the top.  Along the way, we saw some very tough old folks climbing quite effortlessly which put us to shame.

The autumn colour was breath-taking along the scenic mountainous 516 route to Mt Hallasan

Mysterious road - A car on neutral or a bottle left on the road is supposed to look as if it is rolling up on a downhill road.  Perhaps we didn't do it correctly, the bottle we left on the road did not roll up?!

Second visit to the popular noodle shop - the dumplings are very good too.

Daheeyeon - a tea plantation with a cafe in a cave

Cave cafe 
Green tea (a little sour - does not taste like the usual green tea), green tea cake and ice-cream - all are very nice

Jeongbang Fall - a waterfall next to the sea - which is rather unusual

We wanted to go to Oedolgae rock which supposed to have beautiful sunset.  However, we lost our way and ended up at this beautify fishing port - the sunset view was stunning.

Cheonjiyeon Waterfall - lit up at night

Lotte Hotel - Jeju - famous windmills - a luxury 5 star hotel which stage the volcano show every night

BBQ Black pork and grilled pink snapper - a delicacy in Jeju

Day 5
Hyatt Jeju - overlooking the sea - beautiful view

The Jungmun Resort complex is an integrated tourism and recreation centre located at the southern tip of the island next to beautiful beaches. The complex contains numerous 5 stars hotels like Lotte, Shilla and Hyatt.

Such stone statue can be seen all over Jeju - a trademark of Jeju

Chapel next to Hyatt

Jusangjeolli Cliff Jungmun Daepo/Jisatgae Rock - amazing rock formation

Vendor selling sashimi 
Mt Sanbangsan
Mt Sanbangsan -viewed from Mt Songaksan

Mt Songaksan
The man-made cave built during the Japanese occupation was the location where the popular Korean drama Daejanggeum was filmed

Daejanggeum - a hugely popular Korean drama

Sashimi and the unforgettable Jeonbokjuk (abalone porridge) was a perfect way to round off our trip to beautiful Jeju.

A pretty traffic controller at Gimpo Airport

Tips for self-drive - Check with the car rental company whether they provide English GPS.  The car rental company we rented our car only has GPS in Korean.  Fortunately, we were able to navigate with that.  Secondly, GPS system in Jeju search destination by telephone numbers. Stand by a few numbers in the vicinity of the location you wish to go in case the no. you had is not listed in the GPS.  That was what happened to us.

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