Category Archives: Korea

Seoul and Busan: Day 3

Day 3

Trickeye Museum – Hongdae area

Myeongdong to Trickeye Museum / Hongdae area

The Trickeye Museum is located in the Hongdae area, which is young and hippy with lots of cafes, lounges and shops. From Myeondong (Line 4), we took the subway Seoul Station, and transferred to City Hall (Line 1), and another transfer to Hongik Station (Line 2). It is also possible to take a more direct route – from Myeongdong to Seoul Station, then transfer to the Gyeongui Line and alight at Hongik Station.

Coming out from Exit 9 of The Hongik Station, we proceeded to locate the Hongdae Tourist Information Centre to obtain a map of the area. From Exit 9, continue walking straight up and you should pass by Citibank and TGIF on the left. Make a left turn at the junction and continue walking straight up for about 2 blocks. H&M will be on the left, and the Tourist Information Centre is right behind it. The Hongdae maps taken from  the Tourist Information Centre were extremely clear, and it was easy to communicate with the people on duty.

Trickeye Museum was an awesome choice as a respite from the heat. The only problem we faced was the jostling of space for photo taking. For maximum trickeye effect, the Museum has helped by specifying photo taking spots.  There seemed to be a queue for every single photo spot. It is a great chance for anyone with innate dramatic skills to show case his/her talent as well, since most of the photo taking scenes do require one to act to fit properly into the scene. Other than the Museum, the tickets also allows a one-time entrance into the Ice Museum. Trickeye Museum: B1 20 Seogyo Plaza, Hongik-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul; Entrance fee: 12,000 Won/ pax. Tip: The usual admission fee is 15,000 Won/pax. Prior to departure, we downloaded and printed discount coupons from http://www.vkc.or.kr/en/benefit/coupon.asp. This included a 20% discount for Petite France.  

Bumming at pet cafes

Plenty of pet cafes – both cats and dogs, are scattered around the Hongdae neighbourhood. we spent a relaxing afternoon shopping along the Hongdae streets, and visiting the cafes to get some cuddles and love from our furry friends. Note: different cafes have different rules. At some, it is compulsory to purchase at least one drink; at others, there is an entrance fee to be made – comes with a drink.  Continue reading Seoul and Busan: Day 3

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Seoul and Busan: Day 2

Day 2

Nami Island – Petite France

Seoul to Gapyeong

Having purchased the ITX tickets the day before, we made our way to Yongsan station (Line 1) early in the morning. From Myeongdong (Line 4), we took the subway towards Seoul Station, and transferred to Line 4. There were no problems finding our way to the ITX train platforms as the signages were clear. However, we could not locate the transfer machine where we were supposed to tap our T-money cards when transferring from subway to ITX (to be honest, we were so busy talking and engrossed in finding our way to the ITX platforms, we forgot about tapping and therefore were not on the look out for the transfer machines).  Accordingly, one is supposed to tap the T-money card during the transfer, since the subway leg of the journey has ended, and the correct amount can then be deducted from the card. We further made the mistake of tapping the T-money card when we exited at Gapyeong. But things were made right when we approached the station masters at Gapyeong, and they did a refund.

Seoul Station, interchange for subways, KTX and ITX trains
Seoul Station, interchange for subways, KTX and ITX trains

The ITX train was right on schedule, and arrived at Yongsan at 0800. Seats were preassigned and printed on our tickets. The train is very comfortable, and comes fully equipped with reclining plush seating, stow table, plenty of leg space, rest rooms and vending machines. It is also possible to purchase snacks on board from the crew who occasionally come pass with their snacks trolley. The 55 min journey was sufficient for us to enjoy our breakfast and coffee, and to catch up on some sleep. Tip: Bakeries can be found at all major subway stations, for one to conveniently grab their breakfasts and coffees before boarding the subway and/or train.

Continue reading Seoul and Busan: Day 2

Seoul and Busan: Day 1

Day 1

Arrival at Incheon, Sejong Hotel @ Myeondong, Banpo Rainbow Bridge Fountain

  • China Eastern airline flight: Singapore – Shanghai – Seoul. SGD$604.70/pax. Departure: Midnight; Arrival: Noon next day.
  • Purchase of T-money card from Incheon Airport’s convenience store. The cards saved us the hassle of queuing to purchase subway tickets each time. It can also be used on buses, as well as on the subways and buses in Busan. A deposit of KRW 500 is non-refundable. Tip: For Wifi connectivity on-the-go, it is possible to rent a wibro egg at the airport. We survived by using the Wifi available in hotels and Cafes.
  • Took the Airport Limousine Bus (No. 6015) from Incheon Airport to Myeongdong, where we were staying. The bus-stops for the various buses are clearly labelled and are situated at designated areas across the entire level. The route for 6015 includes Seoul Station, Namdaemun Market, Ibis Myeongdong and Sejong Myeongdong. You can find out from your hotel which bus arrives at your hotel. Duration of journey – 75 min. One way bus fare – KRW 10,000/pax
Airport Limousine Bus 6015, clear signage that shows the respective stops
Airport Limousine Bus 6015, clear signage that shows the respective stops

 

  • Sejong Hotel. Conveniently located at a corner of Myeongdong, with a subway station and entrances, and bus stop for the airport limousine bus just outside. SGD$431.50/pax for 5 nights.

Continue reading Seoul and Busan: Day 1

Seoul and Busan, 6-day itinerary

This is a snapshot of the 6-day itinerary. For full details, click on the respective itinerary of the day.

Day 1

Arrival at Incheon – Sejong Hotel @ Myeondong – Banpo Rainbow Bridge Fountain

  • China Eastern airline flight: Singapore – Shanghai – Seoul.
  • Purchase of T-money card from Incheon Airport’s convenience store.
  • Took the Airport Limousine Bus (No. 6015) from Incheon Airport to Myeongdong, where we were staying.
  • Checked in to Sejong Hotel. Conveniently located at a corner of Myeongdong.
  • Seoul Station to collect the pre-booked KR (Korea Rail) Passes, and to confirm train times/tickets to Gapyeong and Busan.
  • Banpo Rainbow Bridge Fountain. We parked ourselves at a comfortable spot at the park opposite the bridge, amongst the many locals who were enjoying their moon-light picnics.

Full details of Seoul/Busan Day 1 itinerary.

Day 2

Nami Island – Petite France

  • Hopped on to the ITX-Cheongchun train towards Gapyeong. Proceeded on to Nami Island via City Tour Bus and the Nami Island ferry.  Explored Nami Island.
  • Took the Nami Island ferry back to main land. Took the City Tour Bus to Petite France. Explored Petite France.
  • Took the City Tour Bus back to Gapyeong. Hopped on to ITX-Cheongchun train back to Seoul.

Full details of Seoul/Busan Day 2 itinerary.

Continue reading Seoul and Busan, 6-day itinerary

Adventures in Seoul and Busan, Korea

During a numbing day at work in the simmering heat of May …

(in a whisper) “Hey, during breakfast earlier on, we have decided to go Seoul in June! You wanna come along?”

And that’s how I ended up with Seoul on my ‘Next Up!’ list. Through the cartoon-ish Korean characters, the lush greenery of Nami Island, the neon billboards and buzzing crowds along Myeondong, the wonderland at Petite France, the art and culture at Gamcheon, the darkness at the Demilitarised Zone, and the world of face masks and beauty products, I found my Soul (pun intended).

Below are some of the highlights of the 6-day trip.  Details of the itinerary and places will be published soon, hopefully. For ease, I’ve listed down the highlights based on the order that we visited.

Nami Island

Older fans who had jumped onto the Korean-wave wagon, should be familiar with Winter Sonata, the film shot at Nami Island. This was one of the earlier Korean films that was popularised in non-Korea lands. This was the era of soppy, brother-sister-ly love dramas. Entering the Naminara Republic, one leaves behind cosmopolitan Seoul and is left to relax and unwind amongst the tall pine trees, white birch trees, gingko trees and maple trees. Fans of Bae Yong-joon and Choi Ji-woo (the two leading actors in Winter Sonata) will be pleased to pose with the many statues of the pair, strategically placed at scenic spots which became famous due to the film.

Nami island - Central Korean Pine Tree Lane
Nami island – Central Korean Pine Tree Lane
The Petite France
The Petite France
Petite France

One wonders why the fascination with Le Petite Prince in Korea?  I still have no idea. But Antoine de Saint-Exupery is probably one of the most worshipped French authors in Korea (heck, probably in every part of the world). The French-themed culture village is definitely worth a visit if one is in the vicinity of Gapyeong, in Gyeonggi province (both Petite France and Nami Island should be planned on a same day trip. See itinerary for more details.) Once again, K-pop fans will be pleased to know that the Petite France was the filming location for K dramas such as “Beethoven Virus (베토벤 바이러스)” and “The Man from the Stars/My Love from the Stars (별에서 온 그대) aka 来自星星的男人”. The highlights of the village include the colourful French-styled architecture, the various statues of the Little Prince, performances at the outdoor theatre, and the presence of fresh and colourful flora abundant on the grounds of the village. There were also trick shows and plays, but all in the Korean language. Continue reading Adventures in Seoul and Busan, Korea