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Friday, January 27, 2012

N Seoul Tower and Lock of Love

After the refreshing walk around the city and C-Stream, we decided to finally get our N Seoul Tower fix.

After another challenging set of directions, we finally ended up in N Seoul Tower. Yay! We took the bus from the correct Myeongdong exit this time. It was like an accomplished task. We are finally going up the mountain and see the tower.

The tower had an amazing light show when we arrived. It changed colour once in a while and really looks wonderful!

Aside from the tower, there's also the lock of love where couples put locks, wish and throw away the keys to symbolise the locked love. There a lot of locks in different shapes and sizes.

It was almost December, so there's also Christmas trees around, made of the locks!

Perhaps, one day I'll place one for myself and the special someone!

Cheonggyecheon Stream

After the half day tour of DMZ and lunch at Myeongdong, our group decided to walk around the city.

Our first stop is the Cheonggyecheon Stream of C Stream for short. According to our friend Wikipedia:
"is an 8.4 km long, modern public recreation space in downtown SeoulSouth Korea. The massive urban renewal project is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development required it to be covered by transportation infrastructure. The $900 million project initially attracted much public criticism but, after opening in 2005, has become popular among city residents and tourists." 

It's a very nice sight in the middle of the bustling city. The weather is so fit for a relaxing walk along the stream. There are different things to see. There's an art exhibit, a street performer, lover, friends, children to watch and entertain you. We had fun taking photos and posing as well.

They say it's also nice to see this stream at night. I suppose there was a light show being held here as I noticed some poster about it.

The C-Stream is just a few walking distance from Myeongdong Area. You can follow thru the map if you have the Seoul Guide. At the end of the stream there is a tourist information area. They are very helpful and there wealthy of info guides you can get for free. There's also postcards! Free!

Korail and my first time ride on a Bullet Train

Like many others I'm one of those dreaming of getting that experience of riding a bullet train. Finally, that dream is no longer just a wish.

Going back from Seoul to Busan, we decided to take the Korail or bullet train.

We got our tickets quick and easy by booking the night before thru their website. It's very convenient you just need to check the schedules and pay thru credit card. I didn't even have to print as we didn't have a printer available, so I just took note of the confirmation number.

To book and check for the Korail train schedules, here's the website. More information are also available in the website.

The one way ticket from Seoul to Busan costed us 46,700 won. It was a discounted fare if you book online instead of buying right from the ticket counter.

So on our third day in Seoul, we went for a morning walk with our host in the nearby market to do some shopping and sight seeing as well. After that, we headed and took our quick lunch before leaving and going back to Busan.

Like what I have been saying, the three days in Seoul is just not enough, we all want to stay longer! It was sad to leave Seoul knowing we haven't seen everything yet.

Anyway, so our train leave at around 3pm we left around 1:30pm to give us enough time for travel. There's a bus from our host's place that stops directly at the Korail terminal.

The train seats are quite spacious. I loved it except that we are seated opposite the train's direction. It might have felt weird but we didn't notice because of the smooth ride. There are also food offered during the duration of our travel. I got coffee and bread for myself.

I also had the chance to take some nap on the way.

Overall, the bullet train was a comfortable ride. It's the quickest way to travel from Seoul to Busan unless you are not too concerned bout the price. :)

The trip back to Busan took only 2 and a half hours. We're back to lovely Busan and we are staying again with our the same hosts the first time we arrived! Can't wait to explore more of Busan!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Failed attempt at finding Myeongdong Exit 2

Part of the adventure in every travel experience is getting lost. While it does take an amount of wasted time, I'm sure our experience at getting lost may still be one of the most fun experiences of our Korean trip. And here's why Myeongdong Exit 2 has been etched deeply in our hearts. ;-)

After heading to the G-Palace on our first day out in Seoul, we decided we will head to the N-Seoul Tower. We have a guide book lent to us by our host. We need to find Myeongdong Exit 2. That's where we need to catch the bus to N-Seoul Tower. We had a couple of hits and miss finding the right way to Myeongdong Exit 2. When we were at the exit we then waited for the bus number to catch but we can't seem to find any of the buses we are supposed to board. We kind of lost our hope and thought to have some dinner first and just continue again with our quest.

We had a wonderful dinner at some random Korean resto. I had one of my favorite bibimbap.

After dinner, we decided to walk on further and maybe just check out other stuff around. We accidentally dropped by the Dongdaemun Market. We decided to head to N-Seoul tower the next day and walked through the market to shop for stuff to take back home.

It was a very lively market and there's all sorts of stuff to buy. We just got a bit of hard time haggling. But all is good, I got good stuff for souvenirs such as keychains, pens and chopsticks. Most of the stuff that I got sell for 10,000 won.

After getting tired of the walking we also went for night snacks at the food stalls in the area. We may have failed at finding the way to N-Seoul Tower, but hey it wasn't a bad day at all.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DMZ: And the hope for tomorrow

One of the tours we joined during our brief stay in Seoul is the DMZ tour. We toured around the DMZ area for half a day together with the rest of the CS Manila.

On our second day in Seoul, we left for the early train to the city and meet the group at their hostel near Euljiro line.

Around 7am we left their hostel, boarded the bus to DMZ. Although it seems an interesting trip for me, I was hoping we could have gone to the other tour that lets tourists into the meeting area with the DMZ security!

Anyway, the first stop in the DMZ tour is this bridge they call the Freedom Bridge.

We then went and walked down one of the tunnels. Cameras were not allowed.

By the way near the Freedom bridge there will be shops to buy snack. I got a spam kimbap and coffee since we haven't had any breakfast yet.

After that we went to the observatory where you can have a brief glimpse of the land across the DMZ border.

Last stop is the Dorasan Station. Supposedly the station that should connect South Korea to North Korea. It's a great hope to finally achieve this in the future.

The DMZ tour ended with a quick trip to the Amethyst factory. Then the shuttle dropped us near Myeongdong area to have our lunch.

Myeongdong is full of shopping areas and restaurants, that's why it wasn't hard for us to enjoy the area. We loved it!

Of course, it's more Fun in the Philippines!

So everyone's raving (or bashing) the new campaign slogan of Department of Tourist (DOT). Some like it, some don't, but if you ask me, I'd say: "It sounds good". And true enough, more than an adjective, it's a statement and an affirmation.

And look, it's so easy to personalise this tag line with your own experience of Philippines!

Here's one I just did :) Definitely, more fun in the Philippines

So in support of this campaign, here's my 10 reasons for saying to the world that indeed, it's more Fun in the Philippines.

1. Karaoke - I think I don't have to explain this. Every corner of the Philippines loves Karaoke or Videoke. We love to sing even if singing doesn't love us. LOL

2. Beaches, beaches and more beaches - Boracay and El Nido are just two of my most loved beaches in the Philippines. I'm sure there's lots of it I have yet to discover! Let's go!

El Nido, Palawan 2011
3. Food - Adobo, lechon, sinigang, balut etcetera etcetera. Don't get me started or this blog post won't be finished.

Tamilok, an exotic find in Palawan

Street food

Lovely noodles and soup at Bona's Palawan
4. Shopping - Oh yeah! The shopaholic me will surely love the tiangges and sprawling malls in the Metro! From Divisoria to Greenhills to Mall of Asia, it's love!

 5. Christmas, New Year, Birthdays, Weddings just about any celebration - The love for good times, family and merriment is totally something Philippines will be known for. We are even known to have the longest Christmas season!

A Birthday card from my colleagues at work
6. Commuting- Jeepneys, tricycle, habal-habal. There's a variety of choice to get you from point a to b. The adventurous me even tried the topload jeep going down the mountain of Ifugao!

7. Speech, Language and Dialects - We seem to be one of the best English speaking countries in Asia but we do have dialects in some provinces. Our Filipino language is a mix of Spanish, Malay, Chinese etc. and the Gay-linggo!

8. Water activities - Being an archipelago, the country boasts a lot of water activities such as swimming in Boracay, diving in Coron, White-water rafting in Cagayan de Oro and Surfing in Siargao!

Swimming in Nagsasa
9. History and culture - Our great historical background, from the first inhabitants to Lapu-lapu's time, Magellan, Spaniards, Japanese and American occupation, oh the story is full of action and drama all weaved together.

10. Filipinos - Yes, the people itself are fun-loving citizens of the world. We get hit by natural calamities but notice when cameras are on, people flash their smiles and wave their hands to say: "We will be fine. Everything will be alright". We are known to be warm and hospitable to visitors too.

With CouchSurfing Manila, Nagsasa Summer Ender
So hey, why do you think it's more fun in the Philippines