Friday, June 30, 2017

Korea - Itinerary 9 Days 8 Nights, Day 5 Gyeongju


Day 5:
  • Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple and  Seokguram Grotto (UNESCO World Heritage)
  • Breakfast at hotel, Tea break with Gyeonju red bean bread, Dinner at Bonjeon Dwaeji Gugbap near Busan station
To do:
Bulguksa Temple (UNESCO)
385, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea
Admission fee: KRW 5,000

This place is outside of Busan but its a very short KTX ride about 30 - 40 mins to Singyeongju Station. 
We are glad we got the KTX pass as we are able to change our train rides at short notice. 

Singyeongju station is near to the bus stop where we waited for Bus 700 to Bulguksa Temple. There are other places of interest to visit if you're keen. 

  The above shows the route of Bus. The bus timings are shown below. 
 We didn't have to wait long for the bus to arrive but the bus ride took some time to get to the temple. 

Bulguksa Temple holds 6 of the country's national treasures:. Dabo-tap and Seokga-tap pagodas, Yeonhwa-go and Chibolgyo, Cheongun-gyo and Baegungyo, Gilt-bronze seated vairocan buddha and gilt bronze seated  amitabha Buddha, Sairira Pagoda

The main entrance of the temple, housed 2 of the national treasures, a double-sectioned staircase and bridge that leads to the inside of the temple compound. The stairway represents 33 steps to enlightenment

The lower portion, Cheongun-gyo blue cloud bridge is 6.3 m long and has 17 steps. The upper portion, Baegungyo, white cloud bride is 5.4 m and has 16 steps. The stairway leads to Mauve Mist Gate. 

With the Buddha birthday less than a month away, most of the temples we visited during this time is decorated with multi-coloured  lanterns. Some of the lanterns is tagged with the prayers and wishes of the worshippers. 

 The Dabotap pagoda one of the national treasures of the temple.
 That's us on the top of the temple. 
 The grounds of the temple.
The stacking of stones are a common sight throughout the temple. Korean worshipers has a habit of making wishes and stacking them up with stones. 
The most popular ornament in the temple will be this golden pig. This is the only place we need to wait for our turn with this golden pig. 
 A last look at the beautiful temple grounds of Bulguksa temple. 

The temple is huge with the main building and multiple auxiliary smaller buildings so be prepared to spend about 3 hours here at least. 

Seokguram Grotto (UNESCO)
873-243, Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea
Admission fee: KRW 5,000
A short distance away from Bulguksa temple is the Seokguram Grotto. Hence, the 2 attractions are frequently visited together.  

Bus timings between the 2 places are fixed at hourly frequency so timing is very crucial here. Refer to the bus timings between Bulguksa and Seokguram Grotto above. 

Right next to the bus stop at the Grotto is a huge bell pavilion and you can ring the bell for a price. 
Its a 5 - 10 minutes walk from the grounds to the Grotto. There is not much to see around here and the main highlight is the round shaped main hall with Buddha and his disciples. The Buddha statue is very serene and beautiful. 
But the viewing area is very small, access to the buddha is blocked by a glass partition and there are many people who came here just to see this. 

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed here. So we can just admire the statue. 

Here's the temple that houses the buddha and the grotto. The grotto is built into a cave. It was constructed during the Unified Silla period. According to local legends, the Bulguksa Temple is built by Chief Minister Kim Daeseong for his parents in his current while Seokguram Grotto is built for is parents in former life. 

Here's a picture of the grotto overlooking the hillside. 

Most of the scenery is kind of blocked by the trees and there is nothing much to explore except for the buddha statue so well if you're fast you can catch the next hour bus very quickly. 

To eat:
Roadside opposite Bulguksa temple2.5 stars, budget
Bulguk-ro, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea

Hubby is not too happy with the food selection and we really have no idea where else to eat. So we just have this signature bread called the red bean bread. 
 It actually more like a Kueh to me than a bread. The red bean filling is sweet and its ok just to buy a few to try. 
There is also another local signature bread called the barley bread which i didn't make buy as all the bread here has to purchase a minimum of 5 pieces. i hit my quota with 5 red bean bread.

Bonjeon Dwaeji Gugbap 본전돼지국밥- 2.5 stars, budget
1200-6 Choryang-dong, Dong-gu, Busan, South Korea

This place is known for their pork soup. Its crowded when we arrive and after we sat down and ordered the queue just got longer. Apparently, this place is extremely popular with locals.

The sides before the mains. I wondered for a moment what is the green chilli for. Apparently the local, eat the green chilli like that! 
This time i ordered something or measly pork soup while hubs ordered pork soup. I think i regretted it the moment the soup is served. My order has lots of the korean sausage that i dislike. >_<|||

Koreans like to pour all the rice and eat with the soup. To appear korean, i try to follow this way of eating but i think i am still more used to eat my soup and rice in between bites. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Korea - Itinerary 9 Days 8 Nights, Day 4 Busan


Day 4:
  • Busan: Busan Gamcheon Culture Village, Jagalchi Market
  • Bread on train to busan, Brunch at Gamcheon culture village, Lunch at Jagalchi Market, Dinner at Kyochon
  • Busan: Toyoko Inn Busan Station 1
To do:
Busan Gamcheon Culture Village
203 Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea

We are early for our first pit stop for the day due to our early train ride. We took the 6.30 am KTX train and to get to the KTX station we took a cab. We use our t-money card to pay for the cab ride. Hubby grabbed a bite at the LOTTE fast food and the train ride to Busan is nearly 3 hours. 

We dropped off our bags at hotel and head to Gamcheon culture village. Its pretty simple to get there, just take subway line one to Toseong staion, exit 6 and switch to take Bus 2 or 2-2.
You can buy or not buy the tourist map but its only KRW2,000 and it helps you plan your route. I wasn't eager to finish all the stops anyway so we just follow the main route. 
But hubby wasn't impressed with this place. I guess recent years there are too many copycats using murals as attraction for tourists. 

The most popular icon of this place is the little prince and his friend. Its almost the only place where people need to queue to take pictures. 
The village is built alongside the slopes and painted in colours. Very good for pictures and lucky for us the weather is bright and sunny today. 

Along the way there is a shop selling socks made in korea there. its cheap, cute and size is good (its bigger than the standard size selling in markets).  We left Gamcheon at 12 pm to head to our next destination. 

Jagalchi Market
52 Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea

Our 2nd stop is the Jagalchi market. Its situated next to the port.

Outside the building are numerous tents, there are also some restaurants that display their seafood out front. 
It is interesting to walk through the market and see all the live fish but we are overwhelmed by the number of stalls and the variety. Language is also a concern. 

To eat:

Busan Gamcheon Culture Village Roadside - 3 stars, budget
203 Gamnae 2-ro, Saha-gu, Busan, South Korea

This is along the walk throughout the village, you won't be able to missed it. As our train was early, we bought some bread to eat on the train. This is for our recharge or tit bits as you call it. 

Busan is famous for its fish cake so this is one of the must try food. It quite nice and taste much better than the one we tried at Busan KTX station. 

Jagalchi Market - 3 stars, luxury
52 Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea

This is supposed to be the highlight of the day! The food is freaking expensive! We spent a total KRW 162,000 on all the seafood you see below. 
Worth or not is up to individual. But we went there for the experience. 

The food is definitely fresh and we went there to choose a store randomly. Actually, we went to enquire at the customer service and she led us to this stall. Hub's like the store owner as he felt that he's honest and upfront and say that all prices in this market are similar. And we can communicate in chinese easily.

After choosing the food we are led to the dining area on 2nd floor to the stall owner's affliated cook. Cooking charges are paid separately. That's me waiting for the food eagerly. 
This is the dish i was desperately eager to try. As the tenacles are wriggling all around. I chomp on it and bite very fast for fear that the tenacles will suck on my tongue or teeth. Taste just like what sashimi is suppose to be but not overwhelming delicious.    

Here's of the video of the wriggling squid. You can hear our squeals and excitement in the background. 
Tried the abalone raw which i didn't like as its too tough to bite.  
  Steamed scallops on the house and the abalone steamed taste so much better. Its so soft and succulent. 
 Our fish sashimi from the live fish we bought. We took half the fish as sashimi and remaining is sent for grilling. The head will be used for steamboat later. 

The owner recommended local hairy crab. This is sweet and juicy. Good recommendation but the one we try as Gijang crab market is way much better. 

The Mae Un Tanng after all the meal is completed. Its really nice and sweet. The remaining sashimi fish went into the pot as steamboat. 

Gosh! I was so full from all the food we consumed. Its about time to return to hotel at 3 plus. As our train ride is so early and i am super drained, i decided to simply chill the rest of the time away till dinner.

Kyo Chon - 3.3 stars, mid-range
Busan, South Korea

This place is walking distance from our hotel. And we followed the cute little map from the hotel to get there. Of course, we also did some enquiry along the way but this place is an easy find. 
The shop front is really small with only maybe 6 tables. So if you have really big groups like 10 pax, you will be asked to pack and go. Luckily its only 2 of us. 
  A friend recommended to try the Cass beer and i dutifully tried. Its light and easy on the palate. Likey!
Here's our big plate of wings and drums. I guess you can mix up and order a half half. Too bad we didn't know that and we end up ordering one flavour only. Its still good nonethelss. 

Fried chicken and beer is something you can never go wrong. But i wonder how does Korean girls manage to remain so slim despite all the food they consume. 

To Stay:

Toyoko Inn Busan Station No. 1
12, Jungang-daero 196beon-gil, Dong-gu, Busan  48821  Korea

The location of the hotel is right next to the Busan KTX station which is a super plus since we are coming in from Seoul and with a luggage in toll. 

I like the attention to detail they put in. i.e they have a little cute hand drawn walking map that shows some recommended food places. 

This is good for those who don't do any research on the food. 

The room is a little tight but is very clean and new. The picture shown on their website is a little deceiving and may put off some potential guests but i was really surprised how impeccable everything is. The doors to the room are a little outdated as it uses a key system and guests are liable for lost of keys. 

Bed is super comfy and pillows too. Had a great night sleep and most importantly there is an air con in the room that runs independently. 

Check in times is late 4 pm and they are really strict. Even if you arrive early, they will request to check in at 4 and to leave your luggage at the luggage area. Check out time is early like 10 am.

I love the fact they have an independent air con in the room. I had the best night sleep here.