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Thursday, June 23, 2016

8D7N at Seoul & Busan, South Korea Part I.

with 4 Khoos, 1 Kang, 2 Shas and a Koay.
On 1-8 May 2016

After taking so long (close to 2 months) after the family trip, I've finally decided to do it according to the itinerary that we self-invent. Heh. Free & easy is really not my kind of thing unless someone else (Rachel & Adrian) willingly take it up. Hah. Which by the way was one of their favorite thing to do.

I also found out that I am not good (at all) to navigate or see the subway trains schedule and directions. Got the family off the wrong station once and they remembered it till now. For sure for the rest of my life, they will bring this up. Till death do us part ah this memory. Hah.

This was my second time to Seoul, and it is in my every intention to make a new and wonderful memories of the place because my first time there was horrible, sort of. I didn't enjoy myself as I thought I would so that was a sad story.

Never mind that because now I get to make new ones with people I sayang tersangat.

We did not take any tour package because with Google, we all can make up our own tour package. Hah. Okay not really actually. I will always prefer to take a package so I no need to spend endless of hours researching things and places. Lazy I am, remember?

Well, not for Rachel Khoo and Adrian Koay. They both love to do research on this kind of thing and since Rachel has been there three times, she should be a pro by now. Hah. Okay, why am I repeating myself?

Earlier, we wanted to go to Taiwan because it was one of mom's must-go but later on, mom was more into Korean movie than Taiwanese movie, hence the holiday destination.

It was also at that time when Cathay Pacific decided to do a Buy 1 Free 1 promotion with Maybank credit card to Seoul, and we wasted zero time. We quickly got the tickets, and then looked for the places to stay.

That was a bit more complicated and confusing at one point because we were going to few places and we did not want to stay in hotels with separate rooms. We want to all live in one house because we're overly attached family like that. Hah.

Rachel got that covered so yay. I was told to settle the transportation part. So, I bought the air-tickets at only RM1145 per person for adults and half-price (I think) for Sha Lynn. Then, I went to do research for the Korail train that we wanted to take to go to Busan, which by the way is already posted on another update. I know you sure lazy to go search so here it is: How to Travel from Seoul to Busan with a Korail Pass. You're welcome :)

Vanessa did nothing. Hah. Actually got lah. We are obviously not going to let her off doing nothing for this trip. Heh. My parents extended their trip to another week so that they may explore Jeju Island so Vanessa's job was to do all the things they need to know about Jeju Island. So sad we could not join because no more annual leave to spend like a queen! Boo.

Can I just say that blogging about this is quite a torture? Not because there are like 220 photos to be uploaded, but because it makes me miss the place so much more that I already am. The food. The language. The weather. The food.

Anyways, here comes the daily itinerary for this Korea trip.

Enjoy yourselves, people.

FIRST OF MAY
PENANG-HONG KONG-TAIPEI-SEOUL

Penang International Airport (PEN) - Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
8:00am - 11:50am (3 hours 50 minutes)
CX5692
Breakfast on-board


Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) - Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)
2:00pm - 4:00pm (2 hours)
CX420
Refreshment on-board


Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) - Incheon International Airport (ICN)
5:10pm - 9:00pm (about 3 hours)
CX420
Dinner on-board


We arrived at Incheon International Airport (ICN) at about 9pm-ish, so by the time we clear customs and collect our luggages, most of the shops were closing already.

The first thing we looked for was food and the portable internet for rental.

Since most shops were closing, both Rachel and I walked really fast (Rachel is 6-months pregnant so no running for her thanks) across the departure hall to find one that is not closing down on us.

The first shop we went to did not want to entertain us because their working time is until 10pm only and they made it obvious that they do not wish to work extra a minute after 10. They did however pointed to the other direction (where we came from initially) that there is a 24-hours portable internet rental shop.

This time we walked slower because the pregger was out of breath and I was too hungry.

Hence, no photos of the 24-hours shop. Just ask around and you will find it okay.

The pocket wifi internet that we rented was charged on a daily basis. So, they took down our credit card details and only charge us when we return to them at the end of the day. Yes, you have to give a certain amount of deposit (I forgot how much).

For 8 days of usage in Seoul & Busan, we paid a total of RM252 for 24 hours usage. Please take note that this pocket wifi can only be used up to 4 people at one time. So, you may want to clarify and ask when you rent. Some is limitless I think.

Once we have got that covered, we walked to the subway area to catch the train to Seoul Station. But before that, of course we needed to buy some railway cards where you can store your money/credit inside and use it for every train rides.

We got into one of the convenience store (like a 7-11) and got a card for each human, except the baby girls.


The card costs about 2,000 krw (RM7) and there is no credit inside when you buy. You have to bring this card to the machine (nearby the train station) and put your money in.

Of course, first you need to navigate yourself inside Incheon International Airport (ICN) at the lower ground to the subway place.

Please grab a local and ask if you are not sure. If not, you sure walk around like a fool, only to walk back to the place originally from. Heh.


So, once you found the subway station (inside the airport), you will see a Ticket Vending Card Recharge machine to reload your subway card.

Now the question is what is the correct amount to put.

Based on experience, do not put too much of an amount as once you have no use of this card, you cannot cash-it-back out. The credit will remain in the card. However, good news is that you can use this card in the convenience store to buy things.

So, you can actually just put a big sum inside, like maybe 10,000 krw first (about RM35).

The subway rides in both Seoul & Busan are funnily the same price no matter what the distance is. Everytime we scan the card at the entrance, they will charge us 1,250 krw (about RM4.50).

Cheap but you have to know how to navigate inside the subway stations okay. It can get very confusing. We got lost a few times actually. Heh.

Again, ask the locals if unsure.

Or you can download this app called Subway Korea and it will save your life. Heh. Seriously, it;s very useful.


One thing I like about their machine is that you don't have to insert the card into any slot. You just put the card on top of the duck-faced area and they can scan it already. Pretty cool leh.

Once we have done all that, it was almost midnight. We took the train to Seoul Station (about 45 minutes). We chose to stay very near to Seoul Station because this is where the subway trains stop centrally. It's like the center point for all subway trains, even for our Seoul to Busan train rides.

So, this for us was the perfect location to be at.


It was midnight and there weren't many humans on the road (that can speak or understand English anyways) so we struggled to find the hotel that we were supposed to stay at for one night.

MK Liberty House Seoul Station
5, Cheongparo 95gil(220­3, Seogye­dong), Yongsan­gu, Jung­gu, Seoul.

It was dark and cold, and we were tired and hungry and we just needed to see the beds and take a hot shower. Not to mention we have a cranky toddler and almost 2 luggage pieces per person. It was a crazy desperate scene I tell you.

We finally found the place, with God's miracles because it was nicely hidden away along an alley opposite Seoul Station.


There were some miscommunication between Agoda and MK Liberty House because they gave us a smaller room that what Agoda charged us on. In the end, we took 2 rooms and we will deal with Agoda at the end of the trip to get back the money they over-charged us for a family room. Bleh.

The 4-persons-room was incredibly small, like to the point that we had to put all our luggage along the walkway that is obviously outside of our room.

Kah Wei, Rachel and Sha Lynn took the other room with 2-beds so the 5 of us squeezed onto the 4-bedded-room.

It was an insane scenario. We kept laughing because there were no space to do anything else except sit down and laugh about it. Hah.


I have a bed to myself because Vanessa shared with mom. It is really the smallest hotel that I have ever stayed at but please, it was one of the comfiest bed, comforter and pillow I've ever used in a small hotel like this. This kind of comfort usually can only feel on a 5-star hotel okay.

Too bad it's way too small. It's okay if you would like to stay a night before proceed to Busan the next morning like us.

SECOND OF MAY
SEOUL-BUSAN

It was one of the comfiest sleep ever. Yes I know I mentioned it already but seriously it was the nicest. It was cold and the comforter was thick and clean and comfortable. I didn't even want to get out of my bed!

The temperature outside was super cold. It was probably like 17 degrees. It was perfect!

Perfect for a hot soup kind of breakfast.

Oh oh! Happy Birthday Bobby! Finally twenty-one but still got curfew for you. Hah.

We walked out from the alley and spotted a wooden-ish restaurant that has photos of hot kimchi soup all over it. Kimchi soup it is then!

When in Korea, eat like the Koreans.

We ordered Spicy Pork Backbone Stew with Potatoes (Medium (for 4 persons) - 25,000 krw - RM87.50)  and Non-Spicy Pork Backbone Stew with Potatoes (Small (for 3 persons) - 20,000 krw - RM70)

The pork meat was soft like nobody's business. The meat was sooooo good. The soup was different. It's not kimchi stew for sure, so it tasted nothing like kimchi. Different but quite tasty.

We ate this with rice, just like the Koreans *proud*


We didn't rush the morning because we knew that the Korail train to Busan has many departure time, so we took our own sweet time. After-all, it was our first proper meal in Seoul. So, take it slow we shall :)

We went back to MK Liberty House to pack our luggage and check-out.

We have 7 adults and 1 toddler, with 9 luggage and 1 stroller. Madness.


We didn't have to walk far because we pandai stay near Seoul Station. Heh. We actually just walked across the main street and Seoul Station is there already.

Convenient to the max okay.

We did all the ticketing things which you can read it here. You are most welcome :)

While waiting, we were taking turns in using the portable wifi because onlt 4 persons can use at the same time. So downs right.

It was quite difficult to walk around and shop for food with all our luggage so I volunteered to be the watch-person next to a Japanese stall, and online.

The rest of them took off and bought back ice-cream, sushi and more food items for the road-trip. I love it when I didn't have to do all the walking to find food.

The Seoul Station is big station, with a lot of trains here and there. The amazing thing is that it looks clean for a main station this big. Have you seen our bus station Puduraya? Hmm.

They are so clean but the thing is you can never find any trash bins there. Seriously no where to be found. Do Koreans carry their rubbish in their handbag or something because it is impossible to find any trash bins out there.

Yet the place is so clean.


Three and half hours later, we arrived at Busan Station. We spent quite long trying to figure the subway station for us to catch a train back to the Airbnb place that we booked. Rachel did some findings and apparently to get there, we still need to take a taxi after the train ride.

So, we decided to take a taxi (3 taxis to be exact) and go directly to the house. Ain't nobody got the time to push all these weights around. Sha Lynn was being cranky some more. Aduhai.

Taxi it is.

Mom and Vanessa did what they do best. They go shop for more food. Mom found this shop with long queue so she joined the hype.

Apparently in Busan, you must have a taste of all these fish cakes at this shop in Busan Station. When I saw the shop and all the goodies, I became hungry again, in the span of few hours. Goodness.

It's not cheap and I would say it's totally worth it because they were really yummy.

This shop is called Samjin Fish Cake (삼진어묵 Samjin Eomuk). You will most likely not to miss this Samjin Fish Cake shop at Busan Station because of the absolutely noticeable long queue of the locals there.

I would say that this is a must try! It is so hard to control yourself when you step into the shop because everything looks good and very tempting! I kid you not. If you think you've eaten too much fish cakes in your life, you have obviously never been to Korea.

Most of their snack food is fish cake and Koreans just love it!


I cannot remember anymore how much the taxi costs us from Busan Station to our Airbnb place, but I remembered it being very worth it because we have so many carry-ons, a stroller, a very cranky and playful 3-years-old and a very pregnant woman.

The distance was about 45 minutes ride, and the road leading to our rented apartment is a steep one, so imagine our excitement when we realized that our Airbnb is going to be on top of the mountain. Lower degrees and thicker clothes please. Heh.

The Airbnb host was not around, but he gave us in-detailed instructions to the crib. The kind of lock that they use is the auto-key-in password ones. Too advanced and somehow does not feel as safe as the normal key.


The moment we all walked in, we all went 'WOW!' like ten thousand times. It was huge and the scenery was jaw-dropping amazing I tell you.

It was mind-blowing huge. Wait, did I say huge? I meant humongous! There were only eight of us but the truth is this mansion can house up to 16 humans.

That's not all. You know how amazingly cheap it is to rent this place with Airbnb, with full usage of its items, like washing machine, giant fridge, mattresses, dryer, pots and pans, stove, microwave and everything else. Oh of course the only thing that suck was the internet. Heh.

We only paid total of RM810 for 2 nights.

It's actually only RM361 per night, so after you multiply with 2, you need to add Airbnb's service fee of RM88, hence RM810 total.

Whatttttt.

So, let's say there's 10 of you and you want to rent this amazing crib for a night at Busan.

It's about RM405 per night (depending on the season you rent). You divide that between 10 people and it's about RM40 per person per night in an amazingly huge and comfortable mansion. I say this is win like no one's business.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Yes, I will for sure book this place again the next time I visit Busan. No doubt.


This mansion has 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and 1 really really big living room/dining room/party area.

Sadly, I do not have the English name for this place after checking the hotel voucher and searching it again.

Oh and one more big reason why I fell in love with this place is because of the glass windows. THEY ARE HUGE and natural lights come into the property like no one's business okay. Always a big fan of huge floor-to-ceiling glass windows like those.


We went googoo-gaagaa over the place and then settled down properly and got ourselves refreshed before heading out for a nice barbeque dinner.

We walked down this time because the air was cold and we love cold (at that moment at least).

After stopping at every bakery that our eyes can see, we started getting really cold and hungry. The roads were quiet and we were looking for barbecue restaurants to dine in but it was so dificult to find any along the main road.

We decided to go towards Haeundae Beach because it's one of the must-visit when in Busan. We thought so that restaurants near the beach would be slightly more expensive but we were so hungry so it's okay. Heh.


We found a rather-old-traditional-looking restaurant that only serves barbecue beef and went in for food and warmth time. We ordered and start eating away only to realize in the end that the portion was not enough and it was so expensive. We decided to not order anymore since the beef that they gave was so little and pricey. Street food next!

We walked along the famous Haeundae Beach in te cold cold night and we were all amazed with the tall buildings and lights surrounding it. Beautiful city it is.

It's so Penang if I may add.

I wanted to walk to the water and touch the Korean sea but nope, too cold I cannot.


Do you know that after Korea, I actually gained 5kg?

It's absolute disaster because now I have to go hiking every week hoping that I can sweat and cry away those extra kilos that do not belong in this body.

No regrets though because Korean street food is the best okay.


We didn't spend too much time outside because the night was getting colder and we wanted to celebrate Vanessa's 21st before the clock strikes twelve. Heh.

That's our rented mansion's living room overlooking the Haeundae Beach at night. So the very pretty okay.


The full squad with the most expensive birthday cake ever eaten.

Why are cakes so exceptionally more expensive in Korea? Like seriously. A simple sponge cake can costs the same as a Chocolate Indulgence from Secret Recipe.

Next time, buy a cupcake can already since not everyone will eat the cake also. Heh.


THIRD OF MAY
BUSAN

We (except the Sha Family) slept in the living room, overlooking the beach and city. It was perfect, with the natural strong cold wind. 

Despite waking up decently early in the morning, we could not head out from the apartment because it was raining heavily and the wind was strong. 

One thing bad about the area that we stayed at is the fact that you can hardly see any taxis driving nearby. You will somehow find one or two every now and then but that also you have to walk out of the area and just outside of the guard house. 

With the rain, we decided that it was difficult so we waited and cooked our breakfast at home. 

It was so sad because it was still raining (from what we see) and we wasted half a day indoor, although we loved being inside the house. 

After a while, Koay and I decided to put our many layers on and walked to town to get lunch for the family. We were so pumped up to brave the storm and cold to get food okay. 

But when we got down, it was not raining at all. Heh. 

We ended up walking all the way down and got 2 taxis to our apartment to fetch the rest of the clans. COMMUNICATION WITH THE TAXI DRIVERS WERE SO DIFFICULT because majority of them are the older generations so they do not understand English at all. 


We went to Jagalchi Market because it's another must-visit but it was closed. IMAGINE OUR DISAPPOINTMENT OKAY. 

We only got to see some of the weird sea creatures outside the main market, by the street. Why are there so many sea aliens that I have never seen before? It was so weird and alien-ish. 

Some were either over-sized or looked out of this world. How do people even eat these things? And I thought I love seafood, until I saw these things. 

I will settle for my Malaysian kind of seafood thank you very much.




We got hungry after walking for a bit and then walked down the entire row of shops to survey on which shop will attract us best for lunch. Heh.

We saw one really Korean-ish restaurants with quite a lot of locals eating inside so we decided to go in. Time for some real real local seafood.

We ordered what the next table ordered, like a Korean and waited for our fresh eel and hagfish to come.

Yes, we ordered hagfish.

WHO EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT IS.

I was watching some Youtube videos on like Top 20 bizarre food in the world and hagfish is one of them apparently. Oh wells.

THAT LUNCH WAS THE WORSE MEAL WE HAD IN KOREA.

No kidding. I don't think there was anything wrong with the dish. It was just us. It was so weird okay. The hagfish didn't taste or look like a fish. Its' texture was a lot like eating pork's intestine. Chewy like no one's business. The eel also no meat eh. It must be Korean eel or something. Literally chewed on mini bones.

It was a disturbing meal, for me at least.

Vanessa and I starved all the way through lunch. It was horrible.

It was towards the end that the Korean lady put white Korean rice on the chilli paste and we were like so overjoyed. Heh.

Never again.


Right after torture lunch, we took 2 taxis to another must-see-must-take-photos place called Gamcheon Culture Village. 

Taxi fares are pretty okay I feel. Everything is quite far away in Busan (as in the touristy places) and I don't remember seeing a lot of Subway Stations like in Seoul so taxis are really the smart option to travel around Busan.


When in Korea, eat the sweet and sour chicken, but please let me give you a golden advice. 

Do not over-eat these sweet and sour goodies because if you do, you will end up like Koay. 

His story is we ate a few times in total of eight days stay in Korea and the last night we decided to buy back like a dozen of them. As usual, we could not finish it and he helped to eat them all. No waste right?

Till now, about a month plus after the trip, whenever he thinks about the sweet and sour chicken, he would puke. Like literally feel that half-digested food inside his tummy would come out. 

It is a serious case for him. So no, we do not talk about those chickens anymore.


Gamcheon Cultural Village is like a must stop when in Busan okay. Everything is colorful. If you hate colors, then you will probably hate this place, or not since this is really a cool place. 

The wind was extra strong when we got there. Hair flying everywhere so no nice elegant photos up on the roof okay. It was so strong that we could not even stand straight or still. Always have to make sure got one foot behind to support the body. 

Crazy weather. 


We walked the entire Gamcheon Cultural Village and took taxi to the next must-visit for all young people or kaki-shopping. This is like Myeongdong of Seoul, but in Busan. 

All the good restaurants and shops are here. 

This place is called Seomyeon. It's like the most happening place at night in Busan. 

We didn't do a lot of shopping because we were pretty tired already so we decided to go into more bakeries (Heh) and enjoy the seventeen degrees. We didn't even take photos of Seomyeon. Hah. 

We walked into a barbecue restaurant called The Chef Cook mainly because we saw so many locals dining in so we buat pandai. 

We ordered away and salivating while watching our neighbors eat because it smelled so heavenly okay. Our food came, we cooked and we ate. 

It was by far the best BBQ that we've tasted and it was the cheapest meal ever for the things that we ate. It was crazy. We thought it was gonna cost quite a bit because we ordered more portions than usual but no. 

Can you believe that this entire meal is cheaper than the first beef meal that we had in Busan? INSANE.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


Stay tuned for Part II :)

Bye now. 

2 comments:

  1. All your pictures are full of smiles and enjoyment. I don't know who you are personally, and vice versa, but I you have my blessing to wherever you go next.

    Also, congrats on getting married.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yu Han! Aww thank you so much :)

      Delete

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