Friday, August 18, 2017

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


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


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. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Korea - Itinerary 9 Days 8 Nights, Day 6 Busan


Day 6:  
  • Haedong Yonggungsa, Gijang Market
  • Breakfast at Ops bakery near Haeundae, Lunch at Gijang Market
  • Return to Ibis Ambassador Seoul Myeong Dong

To do:
Haedong Yonggungsa
86, Yonggung-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan

Its another wet day. We took a bus to reach this place and alighted a stop earlier. So we wasted a bit of time here.

I guess the pictures speaks for itself. We spent between 1- 2 hours here. Mainly to pray and take pictures. For a temple that is built for the sea dragon palace there isn't a lot of inferences to it except for the dragon statue at the main temple hall. 

This temple is recommended as one of the few places to visit when in Busan probably because its one of the few rare temples that are built by the sea. 

Some of the highlights of the tplace is 3 story pagoda guarded by 4 lions (joy, anger, sadness and happiness). Other notable sights are the 108 stairs to the temple and the stone lanterns lining the rocky landscape.

To eat:
Ops Bakery- 2.5 stars, budget
31 Jungdong 1 ro, Jung 1(il)-dong, Haeundae, Busan, South Korea

Heard that this place has the best au pain chocolate croissant. Unfortunately, there is no chocolate croissant today. 
 There is a huge selection of things to choose from. Breads, biscuits and cakes. 
This is what we ordered. The food is not bad but not fantastically over the top. We decide to take away some bread for tonight's trip back to Seoul. It was the best decision ever! 

Roadside street food- 2.5 stars, budget
Haeundae, Busan, South Korea

The roadside stalls just outside Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. I had the hotteok while hubs had the fish cake.

I think the fish cake is one of the most unhygienic street food. One the sticks that stuck the fish cake are recycled. There use a lot of disposable cups for the soup. Upon finishing the cups are place near the table where the fish cakes are and when the wind can imagine.... Sometimes guests get refills of soup.
The hotteok of busan is slightly different as they also put a variety of seeds on top of the brown sugar filling. 

Gijang Crab Market- 4.0 stars, luxury

16 Eumnae-ro, 104beon-gil, Gijang-eup, Gijang-gun, Busan, South Korea

This is by far the best meal we have in Korea. And i kid you not. The crab was huge, tasty, sweet and succulent. Even the sides at the shop are delicious. 
I asked for a photo with a king crab and it was obliged. yay! too bad its too steamy out there cos of all the steaming of crabs. The crab weighs a ton. Watch out for the pincers!
 Korean eating style again. 
 We are offered lots of side dishes and all is yummy. 
 Sashimi is also served. 
The grand snow crab costing at 55,000 KRW. From what research i did, price is on the high side but hubs didn't want to find the cheapest just that one we are fated to eat. 
 When in korea, drink like the koreans drink. Shoyu! and you gotta shake it well. This is really nice to drink at first. Clear and smooth to the throat but seems like upon exposure to air the taste of the shoyu also change? This is one of the best shoyu brands we tried. 

The fried rice that looks so yummy on blogs but upon tasting its not bad. I'll vote for local fried rice. Ha! Still the crabs are way best. The service of the ajummas are great as well. This meal set us back by KRW90,000 but its worth absolutely every penny. 

Hint: i will opt for this and skip of jagalchi market.