Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Korea - Itinerary 9 Days 8 Nights, Day 9: Seoul

TRIP DATE: 20 APRIL 2017

Day 9:
  • Shopping and  head to Juno hair salon at Ewha Womans University Station
  • Breakfast/lunch/dinner at Lotte shopping supermarket
To Do:
Juno Hair Salon
Ewha Womans Univ. 7 Road 30, 3rd Floor, Junho-hae-dong Univ. 2, Daehyun-dong, Seodaemun-gu Seoul

Always wanted to try doing my hair overseas and with korean salons locally charging a premium i thought it would be better for me to try out a authentic korean salon instead. 

Service is great with lots of attention from the main hair styllst. The hair stylist will have a specific work station to work on and for general things like hair steaming or perming you will be brought to a designated area to do it. I like that they have a central area where friends can enjoy tit bits and talk to each other while the hair stylist tends to you. Prices menu is also very clear and standard. 
The hair stylist also did not push for sales and at the end of the session i was given a discount card for returning customers. It is an overall positive experience but when the bill came in Singapore dollars the price is comparable to Singapore. But then again, Juno is one of the premium hair salon in Korea so i am still getting value for the service. 
 I really like the fringe look achieved. Though i failed miserably a maintaining the fringe.

To eat: 

Lotte supermarket- 2.9 stars, budget
30 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea, Level B1

We keep trying to get to the supermarket during our time in Seoul but we keep missing the time. We usually reach our hotel room around 8-ish pm and the supermarket is closed. And the next morning we will need to go to our place of interest and the shopping mall is only opened like 10.30 or 11 am. 

We had a quick breakfast at the supermarket with some cakes and pastries and sit at the side benches. We wanted to have it at the cafe where we bought our coffee but were rejected as we have food from other stalls. 

Subsequently we found out as long as you buy within the supermarket, you can head to the food court area. One lesson learnt, don't play by the rules. As we are mainly shopping in the lotte young plaza and by the time we finish, its almost time for lunch. 

Lunch is also at lotte supermarket. Hubs choose pork cutlet for lunch. 




I finally got to drink my ox bone soup with sliced brisket. In korean, its called seolleongtang (설렁탕), a milky white soup made from ox broth.  


The soup is quite bland but that is why they pass you the salt and pepper for you to adjust the flavour to your taste. 

Summary
This is the last day of my korean trip. I was full of enthusiasm when i plan but very soon i realise that finding information is not as easy as i hoped and eventually, this shows in the trip itself. As a foodie, i'm dissappointed i couldn't sieve out as much good food as i hoped and alot of food places are inaccessible (at least to me).  

I did alot of shopping on this trip. And i was a little shocked when i see my bills as it didn't seem like i made alot of purchases. 

I am glad i went to a korean hair salon to try something different. Price wise is almost the same to korean hair salons in Singapore but you get more guaranteed results. I really love my hair but its a pain to maintain. I guess the saying that says there is no ugly woman only lazy ones is true. 

For the places of interest, the only place i truly enjoy is seoraksan. I guess i am more a nature loving person than one who likes architecture or historical sites.  And unfortunately, i planned too much of such historical sites on this trip. 

To sum up, i didn't really enjoy this trip very well. i hope for the next trip will be better. till then. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Korea - Itinerary 9 Days 8 Nights, Day 8: Sokcho - Seoraksan


TRIP DATE: 19 APRIL 2017

Day 8:
  • Seoraksan
  • Breakfast at Seoraksan, late lunch at Lotteria, Dinner at Palsaik Korean BBQ
To Do:

Seoraksan National Park
Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea


The plan is to arrive early get on the cable car and then take a hike on the Biseondae trail. Weather looks great and sunny. But the cables car doors are shuttered when we reached.
 Guess what, cable car is not opened due to strong winds expected for today. 

So we started with the Biseondae trail instead. It is a relatively mild walk to the river valley. Just that the last bit is not so gentle and there are a bit of stairs to climb but its still an easy walk. 




Its the next bit climbing up the Geumganggul that is a real killer. The steps are really steep for a 800 m walk up it took us about an hour one way. 

For the effort, we are rewarded with really stunning views of the valley and from afar the weird sharp jagged edges of mountain peaks that reminds me of chinese watercolour paintings. 




When we came down its already late and we saw that the cable car is open! So we just didn't care our hungry tummy and just head up the peak.



There is a rest area at the top of the cable car station. You can grab a bite or two but only light food served here. 

10 minutes up the mountain from the platform, you will get to the top of Gwongeumseong, which is called Bonghwadae. A lot of people went up to see the fortress but its not a fortress but just a pile of huge boulders and stones. 


5 minutes down the mountain from the platform, you will get to a small temple Anrakarm, and right beside the temple, there is a 800-year-old pine tree. Its not worth climbing down as its also a damn steep walk (my legs are giving way by  now) and the temple is closed and a little run down. There is definitely not much to see so just head up and take the cable car back down. 


To eat:

Seoraksan National Park- 2.5 stars, budget
Seoraksan-ro, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea

This is also a random shop within the national park as hubs don't feel like eating the breakfast at the hotel. 
 And we have pancake for breakfast. For lunch, we settled for Lotte burger within the grounds of the national park. 


Palsaik Samgyupsal- 3 stars, mid-range
30 Eulji-ro 43-gil, Jung-gu Mijin Building, Level 2F, South Korea


Very nearly stepped to the wrong place as upstairs is the 8 flavour porks. Lower level is for charcoal bbq. 
This place seems pretty popular with bloggers as it came up very often when i did my research. I didn't mark it as a place to eat but hubby was grumbling about my poor food choices in korea. So i let him decide our dinner. 

Intrigued by the 8 different pork flavours we decided to try this. Although hubs a bit sad that beef is not added to the mix. But if we order beef as well, we probably won't be able to finish it. 
We are presented with all the food. And the entire set looks so huge. The leaves are all different types of vegetables - mulberry lettuce and lots more.

 All 8 flavours are displayed. 

 The soup. Didn't really enjoyed it. It might look huge but actually the pot is very shallow. 
 The start cooking the lighter flavours first using the stove top. 

The food ready for consumption. Actually, i don't really get the flavouring. While there is subtle differences in taste, i prefer chinese stewed pork or cooked lightly flavoured with pepper and salt. Its good to try this place if you have no other options. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Korea - Itinerary 9 Days 8 Nights, Day 7: Sokcho - Seoraksan

TRIP DATE: 18 APRIL 2017

Day 7: 
  • Do nothing day, sleep late and slowly travel to Sokcho
  • Breakfast at Hobong at Myeong Dong, Lunch at random lunch place near bus station at Sokcho, Dinner at Kensington Hotel
  • Sokcho: Kensington Stars Hotel

To Do:


The day's plan was to visit Gangchon rail park. This is rail biking trail and its located outside of seoul. The travelling time is expected to be 3 hours and from there to head to Seoraksan from there. 

I was pretty concerned because it isn't the easiest place to navigate from a countryside to Seoraksan. Most of the blogs i read head out from Seoul to Seoraksan. But we are so tired from last night late arrival from busan and woke up late. The weather is expected to be stormy for the day. Luckily we didn't persist. It was raining from late morning and by late afternoon it is pouring. 

To Eat:

Hobong at Myeong Deong - 3 stars, budget
13 Myeongdong 9-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Since we have tried unsuccessfully to eat Isaac toast, we decide to try another local popular chain call Hobong.
When we arrive, there is literally no queue. 
Seats are also provided out front for people to eat or wait for their food. 

They do have quite an interesting menu. For this time, i ordered the bacon sweet potato toast which is sweet but kind of odd pairing. 
If you are sharing, they will also happily sliced the sandwich to half. Great service! But the bread does not really impress. Though nice, i still prefer isaac toast over hobong. The major plus that have is they serve fresh juice as well. I ordered the strawberry juice. Its so refreshing that i can drink everyday. 

Hubs ordered the steak toast. Hmmmmm.....its nice but the meat is not superb. 

Shop near sokcho bus station - 2.5 stars, budget
Ordered this just to filled up the stomach. Nothing to mention. 

Abbeyroad - 2.9 stars, mid-range
998 Seoraksan-ro, Daepo-dong, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea



This place is located at level 9 and has an outdoor area with a great view of the mountains. It was dark and raining and indoor is the best place to be. 
 This resembles the star of old times Bruce Lee. But i doubt it is as this is supposedly a british bistro.
I cannot remember what is ordered but it has been localised. My sphaghetti is hot and spicy. I have to switch the meal with hubs as i don't take spicy food. Food is average and prices are quite steep but i guess for the location why not. 

To Stay:

Kensington Stars Hotel 
 켄싱턴 스타 호텔
998 Seoraksan-ro, Daepo-dong, Sokcho-si, Gangwon-do, South Korea



This hotel is really pretty and decorated in full victorian style which is kind of odd in the middle of the wilderness. I did not read the reviews but decided to book a standard double room. 

Upon reaching the place, curiousity piqued me and i went on to do more research on the place. I understand the rooms on the lower floors needed some updating. Fortunately for us, we are staying at the upper levels at Level 7. The room is nicely decorated and new. Though there are already signs of water seepage in the ceiling of the toilet. 

Bed is great but while the air con works but it seems to stop functioning after 10 pm. Tried to open the windows but being up in the mountains its really cold and the winds are strong and the window keep swinging wide open when all i want is to open up an inch.  Its only in the morning that i figured out the window can be open alternative way through the top by then its too late. 

Bed is super comfy and pillows too. Service is great. We had the reception chasing after us to inform us that cable car is closed for the day when we arrived and wanted to go for a walk. 

We are within walking distance of Seoraksan National Park and we can head there for breakfast or dine at the hotel.