Wonderful Korea (Seoul, Busan, and Jeju island) – Part 1

​I went to South Korea in December 2012,  which was already quite a long time ago. It was the first time I celebrated Christmas outside Indonesia and it was also my first winter trip, so understandably I was somewhat enthusiastic about the possibility of experiencing snow during the trip hehe..
 
I was invited by a friend of mine to join the trip. It was supposed to be 6-person trip but it became 2-person trip. Two cute and adorable girls traveling around by themselves in South Korea.
 
Anyway, while traveling in winter season, your suitcase will be filled with coats, thick scarves and a lot of sweaters.  I brought with me two coats and some dresses, so I just changed the dress and the scarf, but the coat remained the same. Make sure you bring longjohns, thick socks, and appropriate shoes. And, last but not least, you should put lotion on your skin, otherwise your skin is going to be dry and hurt.
We took night flight, so we arrived at Incheon airport around 7 am in the morning. Upon arriving, we took an airport bus which drove us directly to the hotel we stayed, Ramada Hotel and Suites in Seoul. We paid around 15,000 won per person for the bus.
 
The hotel was nice since its 4-star hotel, but I couln’t recommend you to stay here because it was not really worth it.  It was expensive for a non-breakfast room and since they also didn’t have free wifi in the room, we had to go down to the lobby to access the free wifi.  Maybe they do now, so please check with them for the latest information. 
 
The room was nice and we had bathub, even though we didn’t use it during our stay there. It was around 700 meters walking distance to Seoul station and 1 kilometer to the Namdaemun market.  This is quite important information I guess hehe.. Other than the cost, their service was quite good.  They had emergency medicine stuff when I fell down and got a bruise on my knee.
 
In the morning on the day we arrived, because we couldn’t check in yet, we went to the very touristic places which were the Gyeongbokgung Palace, Folk museum, Blue house, and the surrounding areas.   This is a historical site of South Korea. The entrance fee for Gyeongbokgung Palace was only 3000 won. You could see guard changing ceremony. Well, since it was snowing, the view always looked good and interesting hehe..
After that we went to Namsangol Village. Here you could rent a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and took photo. It was a nice place, but when we were there, we got confused as to where the place that we could rent and wear hanbok was and we asked Kelly, our free guide assistant, to help us.
 
As I remembered, there were a few alternatives.  Rent only cost 10.000 won, rent plus 1 printed photo cost 15.000 won. We chose the second one. It was cold back then when we took picture outside the building, we posed and ran inside the place to warm up and repeatedly doing so until the photo session was done.
 
When we went there, there was ice carving, so we took some photos. Actually I was the one who loved taking picture, my friend hmm…  yeah so so hehe.. so sometimes she was just like “lemme take picture of you”. We hung around for a while in this place and then left.
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Handbook time!!

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anyeong ..

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with Kelly, our free guide

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They let us try another Hanbok hehe..

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ice carving

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This is what happened when you had winter trip for the first time

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Sunny day

Next destination for this two cute girls was N Seoul Tower and Teddy Bear Museum inside the building. We took bus but I didn’t remember the bus number. I didn’t use Google Maps at that time, but these days I suggest that you just check the Google Maps. We reached the place a bit late so the sky was already dark but it was still possible to take some good pictures. From the top of N Seoul Tower you could see Seoul at night. We really enjoyed the view, even though it was a little difficult to take picture without tripod. You could also visit the lock love area, which was very popular with many couples coming there.
 
In the Teddy Bear Museum, you could see many kinds of teddy bears, of course with different outfit. I think it is a must visit if you have never been there before. They are so cute.
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Golden hour

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N Seoul Tower

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Keep posed in the limited time

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cute teddy bear

I didn’t know what were we thinking about, we still continued the evening by going to Dongdaemun area. Actually, we wanted to go to Dongdaemun market, but we couldn’t find the way there and ended at a chicken soup restaurant. It was difficult for us to order the food, so we just looked at what people on the other tables ordered and ordered the same dishes. They gave us some water in a pan, turned on the fire, and put a whole chicken in the boiling water. When the chicken was well cooked, the waitress cut the chicken into pieces and taught us how to mix the sauce. The taste of the chicken and sauce was really delicious. Well, I ask my Korean friend and he said the name of this food is Dakanmari (spelled in English).  For this whole chicken we paid 22.000 Won, which was very inexpensive.
 
Time was already around 11 PM, time to go back to hotel. Luckily I kept the name card of our hotel so could give it to taxi driver to take us back.
The next day, we spent whole day for shopping at Namdaemun market. We went out from our hotel a little later than we would have liked to, maybe around 10 am, because we were so tired the previous day. It was a bit funny how we reached Namdaemun market. We walked to the Seoul station, and from Seoul station we walked again through the tunnel until we reached the exit Namdaemun market. Later, we found out that we could have walked directly to the Namdaemun and it was closer, just like triangle.
 
We did shop a lot. We bought jacket, hat, glasses, shoes, cosmetics, skin care, ginseng, and so many things.
 
We had fun here. Korean people are friendly. Most of them.  I remember when we bought stocking, my friend dropped her money when she opened her wallet. The seller saw it and told us. Can you imagine if it happened in Jakarta?  Maybe they would have pretended it were their money.
 
Some Korean people thought we were Korean based on our faces, but then they suddenly realized that we weren’t because we couldn’t respond to their words.  They were surprised that we came from Indonesia.
 
We went home at noon when we didn’t have any hand left to carry our belongings. It was winter with about -10 degrees centigrade, and I was sweating inside my coat because oI had to carry my shopping bags. We were both struggling walking back to hotel and several times my belongings fell to the ground. But what could I say, this cute girl was too charming, so there was a guy who helped me to pick up my stuff from the floor. With all the trouble I tried to take my stuff from his hand, but he said he wanted to help. I asked where he was going, and surprisingly he replied “wherever you go”, hohoho… I said I was going to the Seoul station, and he helped me carry the shopping bags there. When that guy and I walked together, I saw my friend behind me, giving me a desperate face, and said, I just left you for a moment and you already had a guy to help you. I replied by smiling. But from Seoul station to Hotel, I again had to carry that those heavy shopping bags, syiuh…
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Ready for shopping

Since it was Christmas eve, we decided to hang out around the city. We went to the Hello Kitty Café. The Café was so cute as it was designed with Hello Kitty decoration around. The wall, the coaches, the tables, and even the meal and drinks. I’m not a Hello kitty fan but I do love cute things so I just had fun taking a lot of pictures.
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street snack

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It was snowing, but can’t see in the picture.

From the Hello Kitty Café, we just walked around to enjoy the falling snow.  It was so romantic. The first snow fall in my life and it was on Christmas eve. We also went shopping at Insadong, buying shoes again hehe..
 
We walked around to enjoy the Christmas decorations at the park. When we were taking pictures for each other, there was a guy who offer us help to take our picture. We accepted his offer.  After that he tried to start conversation with us with his limited English.
 
At first, I didn’t really understand what he was trying to do. He invited us to have drink with him at nearby coffe shop, but we rejected his offer. He asked the name of our hotel and stupidly I told him. But soon I understand this guy wanted to do something bad to us, so we left him quickly. So scary. We then walk fast to the near MRT station and went back to the hotel at almost midnite.

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The third day was sightseeing day. We went to Petite France and Nami island.
Just like its the name, Petite France was a place that looked like France, including the old looking building, the wall colour, the decorations, and the room layout. The view from here was especially nice because it was winter, you can see a hill covered by snow. I guarantee you will not regret coming here. Some tips, wear colorful coat, for example red, so you will look more outstanding on the white background.
 
I couldn’t tell you how to come to this place because, first, it has been a long time ago and at that time Google Maps weren’t readily available. I remember took the MRT to a station, but I couldn’t remember the name of the station. From the station, I waited for the bus to Petite France. But when I reached the station, the timetable for the bus was in Hangul (Korean language). I tried to ask somebody there, and there was a guy who helped me to check the bus schedule. He told me to wait outside and the bus would come. After waiting around 20 minutes, the guy came back to us and told us the bus were not coming and asked us to follow him. He with his girlfriend. He couldn’t talk english fluently but he was trying to help us. I thought he just wanted to tell us to wait at the other side or show the way to Petite France and it was not far but he asked us to take taxi with them. I didn’t really understand the situation but we followed them.  We rode the taxi for around 40 minutes. Wow! It was a long way. We wanted to share the bill, but they refused. They paid all the bill. Incredibly nice of them.
 
I didn’t regret coming here because the view was amazing and I would not hesitate to come again. Walking around and taking picture. The entrance fee for this place was 8000 Won/ person.
After Petite France, we wanted to go to Nami island.  When we arrived at the bus stop, a guy told me that the bus to Nami island will depart at 3 pm, so we standby at there around 3 pm but its already full of people. We have to stand inside the bus, and I opened my coat because it was hot inside.
 
The bus took 1 hour to reach the place where we have to take boat to go to Nami island. It was a big boat and could fit a lot of people. Cost for boat is 8000 Won/ person for return ticket. The boat trip took only about 10 minutes.
 
When we arrived at Nami island it was already getting a bit dark. There was some cute decoration like igloo etc. Nami island was famous because there was a statue from the Winter Sonata film and for its neatly lined trees along its foot path. The view was very nice there and I felt so happy until I dropped my camera when helping other people to take photo. I took off my glove and my camera strap slipped down. The camera was broken and yeah you know how the rest of the day went. My friend brought another camera but the battery on that one couldn’t hold the charge for long.
 
When the sky became darker we decided to go back. We had to take the bus and MRT to get back to Seoul. But accidently, we took KTX instead of MRT. We were already sitting down even though we were confused why the layout of the train was different than usual. Then there were two guys that came to us and said we were stting on their seats. Shame on us. We stepped out of that cabin and stood in the unreserved cabin, which was the connection between cabins. Lucky us there were seats in there.
 
The guy who had the seat come to us and ask where we going, we said Seoul station and we did’t know if we took wrong train. He said we would show us the right train when we reached next station. Anyway, this guy was so handsome, just like guy you saw on Korean drama.
 
Before we reach the next station, I ask my friend, “Do you want me to ask his name? He is so handsome”. Guess what she replied? ”No, it is not polite for girls like us to ask for a guy’s name first.” I asked several times if she was sure about it.  When we reached next station, we walked with the guy and he said we would visit Jakarta in next January.  Again I asked my friend, if she wanted me to ask for his name. She looked confused haha..  At the end, we still had not find out the guy’s name and contact.
 
And when we were already separated with the guy, my friend asked, if we went back to the station, could we meet the guy again. I just hmmmm… hahaha…  Owh, I had a boyfriend at that time, and my friend was single, that’s why I offered that guy to her hahaha…
 
Tips for visiting Nami island, you better arrive earlier when the sun is still bright so you can have more time to explore because it is such a nice large area.
 
We stopped at Myeongdong station and spent the evening time there. There were a lot of night street food, like in the Korean drama haha.. Yeah, it was pretty cool being there, but you better do some research first on the food because not all of them taste good. The biggest regret was I couldn’t drink soju at that time, couldn’t drink a lot haha..
 
Myeongdong was also a heaven for girls, there were so many cosmetic and skin care shops, outfit, shoes, and etc.
The next day we were going to Busan by KTX. We already bought the ticket, so we just went directly to the KTX Gate. Cost for KTX from Seoul to Busan is 52.600 Won. It was a 3-hour trip.   We slept in the train, maybe because our lack of sleep.
 
In Busan, we bought the 1-day pass for Busan city tour. It cost 10.000 Won per person. They gave us a map. There were 2 circles that we can visit. It was like hop-on hop-off bus, you just need to wait for the bus at the bus stop. We went to Gwangali beach, Nurimaru APEC and Hyeundae beach. We enjoyed lunch at the Italian restaurant in front of the Gwangali beach. The weather was nice. It was sunny day but it was still cold, so we couldn’t take off our coat, because otherwise we will get cold.
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Gwangali beach

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Hyeundae beach

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Hyeundae beach

From Hyeundae beach we decided to go to Haedong Yonggunsa Temple. It was free to enter the temple but its not on Busan city tour list so we got a taxi. Err.. it was quite expensive hehe.. it could be reached by a bus also but we didn’t have a lot of time so we took a taxi.
 
The temple was located near the beach so the the view looked really beautiful and peaceful. When you enter the temple, there were chinese zodiak statues, you can took picture with your own chinese zodiac statue. The temple area was big so you could walk around.
Anyway, remember the camera incident? Yeah, I still brought the camera with me because sometimes it worked sometimes it didn’t. However, I didn’t have too much expectation, so I left my camera charger in Seoul.
 
We were not staying at Busan or went back to Seoul, we will heading up to Jeju island from Busan. And we don’t have charger for the camera. Yeah, it was bad idea to leave the charger in Seoul. We had to catch our flight. We needed at least 1 hour ride from the temple to the airport. In other words, we didn’t have time to buy a new charger in the city.
 
The taxi ride cost around 30.000 Won. Expensive but we had no choice given that we were in a rush.
 
The schedule was tight. I know some of my friends who have been in in a trip with me will say, “Typical Lynn’s habit” hahaha…   I thought since Jeju island was one of the most popular tourist spots in Korea so would be easy to find camera shop or electronic shop.
 
We took Jeju air from Busan to Jeju. It was cheap as I could remember, around 70.000 Won for two ways per person, Busan to Jeju and Jeju to Seoul. We arrived around 7-8 pm, and we directly went to tourist information center to ask where we could buy the battery or charger for the camera. The front desk looks a bit confused and had difficulties to find the place, but she tried to help and gave some suggestion. She told us to take bus. I couldn’t remember the number of the bus now.
 
The good thing was since we only brought one small luggage it wasn’t so difficult to catch a bus and run everywhere. At the bus, we tried to ask other people about finding a camera store. There was 1 girl who responded us. I told her that the front desk told me to go to the place and she was surprised. She said, “it is a wet market,  how could you buy camera stuff there”. And we just “#$%#%^$&^”. 

​Owh.. Curious about the ending of this problem ? Find out in the next article. Keep reading!!

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Thanks.

​Lynn.