Sunday, June 20, 2010

South Korea Spring/Summer Trip: Everland Resort

Unexpectedly Beautiful!
After Kimchi Museum, we then made our way to the bus stop going to Everland Resort.

There are lot of theme and activity parks inside the Everland Resort -Everland Theme Park, Carribean Bay, Home Bridge, Glen Ross Golf Club and Hoam Art Museum and Transportation museum. Our main destination for the day is only Everland Theme Park

Ranked as the 4th theme park in the world, it opened in 1976 with a themepark, a zoo and various rides together with a world-class water park, Caribbean Bay. Carribean Bay is a separate ticket and most likely have to stay for a whole day so perhaps, on our next trip, we'll try that. 
the breath-taking and terrifying rides in Everland
Feels like we were in Alice Wonderland in Everland!
We felt like kids again at Everland!
From Seoul, there are two options in going to Everland:
1. Take Bus 5800 at Gangbyeon or Jamsil Stations on Subway Line 52
2. Take Bus 5002 at the bus stop in front of WhoRu store from Exit 6 of Gangnam Station on subway line 2.

We took the 2nd option. WhoRu store is quite small for a landmark with an arrays of large establishments along that street so just look for the bus stop where bus 5002 stops. We arrived past 2PM with travel time that took almost 1.5 hrs and can't remember the fare because we're using the T-money. When we arrived, I never thought it would be too crowded on a Thursday! I read from a blog that it was advisable to visit Everland on a weekday to avoid long queue but unfortunately, there were students from all levels having their fieldtrip.

Anyways, before going inside, we took Korean hotdog first. Entrance fee is KRW 33,000 each only because i got a discount by printing a discount coupon from their website. All foreign visitors are entitled for a KRW6,ooo discount for a group of up to four persons only. 
Am I in Holland?!
Enjoyed the fun, the magic and the lights from day to night at Everland!
Everland was celebrating 25th rose Festival during our trip so only there I saw not only different types of roses but other flowers too. Anyways, Everland claimed as the world of festivals. So from June-August, they celebrate "Summer Flash" with water parades during the day and musical performance during the night. September-October is a "Happy Halloween" with expected Ghosts' special party, of course. Come November-December, they have spectacular fireworks named as "Magic in the Sky", a beautiful Christmas tree and an extraordinary magic garden of course. I can only imagine the "Avatar-rose tree" will become a magical Christmas tree. And finally, March-April, they have Tulip Festival. Rose garden will turn into Tulip garden filled with spring fragrance. I will definitely go back in March!

Everland has five theme parks - Global Fair, American Adventure, Magic Land, European
Adventure and Zoo-Topia. We were able to go through the theme parks except Zoo-Topia because of tired feet and too much pictures =) but we tried some rides like skyway, bumpcars and the dragon coaster .
Global Fair has basically the souvenir shops, booths of different knick-knacks on the street and lots of resto.
American Adventure has the most thrilling rides such as Double Rock Spin which spinning made us scream too much although we were just watching. LOL. I sympathized with those young ones who tried it but I'm sure they had conquered their fears. We tried the Skyway ride anyways.
Magic Land has lots and lots of magical attraction and rides. This is where we saw the Avatar tree of roses.
European Adventure showcases Holland, Rose Garden and the only steepest, wooden roller coaster in the world, EXPRESS. God forbids but if I know I got a day to live, will ride that one! I like this themepark, anyways, because of Holland. Even if it is only a miniature of Holland in The Netherlands, I felt being there too. Europe is my dream destination!
Zoo-topia, is one of the reasons why I need to go back to South Korea because we missed to visit this one.
Our trip made it more memorable because of the Moonlight Parade and the breathtaking spectacle of light, flames and fireworks, Dream of Laciun.

The show ended at past 10PM so we needed to walk and run to the bus terminal to catch-up the last bus to Seoul. It was 11PM when the bus to Jamsil arrived . It was full already but we need to ride it or else we won't catch the last train back to Hongdae. The traffic is terrible even on highways and the 1.5hrs ride became 3 hrs!!! Too tired, my friends sat down the bus floor (this is something that we would never do here in Manila, ever!) but funny though, many Koreans followed us. They sat on the floor too! =)

Next Blog: 
Culture,Tradition and Palaces

Saturday, June 19, 2010

South Korea Spring/Summer Trip: Yeouido Park, COEX & Kimchi

Breathing morning breeze of post Spring in Seoul..

Yeouido Park, COEX Mall and Kimchi Field Museum in just half of the day!

We woke up at 6:00AM Korea time with barely 4 hrs sleep since we arrived. That marked the start of little time to sleep and tired feet in Seoul but worth them all!

Our list of TD (to-do's) and MS (must-sees) for the day should have been ;1) Wake up call is 5AM and in the morning, we'll do some biking at Yeouido park along the 2-kms cherry blossom tree, stroll along the streets of Korea's TV channels like SBS, KBS, then Kimchi Museum. 2) After lunch at COEX, we will be going to Everland. 3) I expected to be back in Seoul by 10PM and take some walk along Seokchon Lake at the back of Lotte World.

But as part of the journey, changes can happen so with our itinerary for that day. There are factors why - long, long walk in the subway transfers, figuring out Seoul Metro exits. 
For first timers, be sure to have your feet ready for lots and lots and lots of walking so make sure you wear comfortable outfits.
Bought our T-money, familiarized the Seoul City Subway and off our 1st day in South Korea
We entered thru Exit 1 of Hongik University (just in front of our hostels' building) and bought T-money for KRW 3,000 (Php 125) at the booth. T-money is used for subway's metro and even bus transfers. There are establishments that accept T-money as long as there's enough funds in it. Funny but we really need to understand what's written on the machine and the six of us got our own T-money and even selected an option to get a receipt for souvenir and for my scrapbook, of course. After having the T-money card, we loaded it up for KRW 10,000 (Php 420) enough for the next two-three days' fare for trains and bus transfers.

Our first destination, Yeouido Park.  When we went out of Exit 2, I was expecting to see a tunnel of cherry blossoms but unfortunately, spring is already over. (Thanks God, was able to fulfill that dream in Beijing!)What I saw is a tunnel of greeny trees. So that's the cherry blossom tunnel! However, that did not bring down my excitement because we saw maple trees and other flowers like azaleas that I haven't seen before.
Directions to Yeouido Park
From Hongik Station (Line 2), transfer in Dangsan Station (Line 9) and get off in Yeouido Station.
Take Exit 2 and walk towards the front gate of the National Assembly Building.

We just walked along the park towards the National Assembly Building just killing time until the opening of COEX for our next destination. And I saw these flowers - sooooo beautiful!

After almost an hour of photo-op and it was nearly 10AM, we walked back to the subway and headed to COEX where Kimchi Museum is located.

COEX includes all - shopping mall, exhibit mall, convention place and aquarium. COEX mall caters to everybody's taste and picks with more than 260 shops, the largest underground shopping mall in Asia. The length of the mall is as long as 663 m.

So from Yeouido Stn, we transferred in Dangsan stn (Line 2) and get off in Samseong Station of the same line. We followed the directions going to COEX mall. Since it was almost 12NN already, we decided to have our lunch so we headed towards the mall's food court. Joan and I shared the lunch meal that we bought from Jeonju Bibimbap Resto composed of rice with bulgogi, mixed vegetables served in a hot pot for KRW 6,000 (Php 250). The serving is too large for one person only and all meals are served with kimchi and Korean chili paste.
How to get to COEX Mall:
Connected to Exit 5 & 6 of Samsung Station (Line 2)
I saw ARTBOX and the passion in me for notebooks and other paper products like stickers, notepads ignited!
Bought crafted notebook, funky band strips and colorful stickers that made my hand-carry luggage much heavier!
Then, we took our route to Kimchi Field Museum!
How to get to Kimchi Museum:
Inside COEX, walk towards the Megabox movie theater and take the escalator next to the ASEM Pharmacy.  Go down to the 2nd basement floor where the museum is located.  The museum is open Tuesdays thru Sundays and entrace fee is KRW3,000(Php125).
According to what I read from one of the displays in the museum, Yi Kyu Bo, a literary man in mid-Koryo Dynasty wrote about turnip kimchi. There are six kinds of vegetables: cucumber, eggplant, turnip, greenonion, mallow and white gourd. And the book also says that leaves of white raddish dipped in paste (turnip changatchi) are very good to eat during three months in summer and the salted ones (turnip changi) are endurable during winter time.

Only there where I discovered that there are so many kinds of kimchi. Good to always include museum visits in your trip. Unfortunately for me, I can't really compel myself to eat Kimchi. I'd rather eat "binagoongan". =)

South Korea Spring/Summer Trip: Arrival Incheon International Airport

We left Manila's NAIA 3 on May 19, 2010 at 15:55 via and arrived at Incheon International Airport @ 20:55 SK Time, one hour behind Manila time. Upon arrival, we took the train coach for 5-min trip to the Immigration Hall.  It was almost midnight so there were few passengers at the airport. 

Incheon International Airport
Bring with you your other government-issued IDs such as SSS, Drivers’ or PRC. The immigration officers might ask randomly. Make sure that you also know at least some places to go or better yet, familiarize your itinerary. I was told that there are random interrogations of foreigners at the Immigration office. 

We passed through the immigration smoothly. We then collected our luggages and then converted some USD to KRW (I suggest that you should bring USD rather than PHP as there’s quite difference in exchange currencyof PHP=KRW than USD=KRW. However, if you have excess KRW going back to Manila, have it converted to PHP, the exchange rate is higher. You'll have FOREX gain!! =). 

After asking for Seoul Metro Map from the Airport Tourist Information , we went out of Exit 12 and looked for Exit12A, then took Bus No 6002 going to Seoul.
one of the city lights on our way to seoul captured by Lea
We traveled for an hour and a half and arrived Seoul past 23:00.  The shimmering and glittering view from the bus at the midst of  the chilly night were fascinating and we couldn't dare to take a nap.  We got off the bus on the third stop, Hongdae. One thing I want to commend and did not expect was the  very helpful bus driver (did not experience that neither in Hongkong or Singapore). He helped us lift our luggage from the bus and put them on the curb and point to us the Hongdae building across the drop-off point where Hongdae Guesthouse is located.
along the street of hongdae
From the bus stop, we just crossed the street to Dunkin Donut’s building where Hongdae Guesthouse is located at the 3rd Floor. Mary, our landlady, was kind enough to wait for us for us even at a very late scheduled flight from Manila.

Check out my blog about Hongdae Guesthouse.

Wanderer South Korea's Amazing Race - Pre Departure

my first travel with tourist visa!

Rather than having a travel agency arranged for our tourist visa to South Korea, we made a research how to apply and did it ourselves. It was too easy. Just make sure you have the complete requirements.

1. Apply for tourist visa at least 60 days before your scheduled flight.

The requirements are as follows:
1. Fully Accomplished Korean Visa form. Download the form for your convenience and fill-out prior to your schedule of applying for the visa  at the embassy. (Note: The form can be downloaded from the embassy's website too. Click the link of the embassy below)
2. Photocopy of Passport
3. Certificate of Employment
4. Income Tax Return
5. Bank Certificate
6. 2 pcs Passport size ID pictures (Canadian Visa)

No fees for stay of less than 60 days!

Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines
122 Upper McKinley Road
McKinley Town Center
Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634
Office Hours: 08:30-12:00 and 13:30-17:30
Email Address:
Contact Nos. 
Phone number: 02-856-9210
Fax number: 02-856-9024
Extension numbers:
260 – for passport
240 – for family registration and other related documents
220 – Visa 1
230 – Visa 2
302 – Visa 3 (Filipino)

Taking C5 route, the embassy is after the Petron Gas Station
2. Research for the "Must Sees and Must Do", accommodation and weather.
  • Start with some research. Where to stay? What to do? Understand the metro subway.
  • Ask a friend/colleague of who’ve gone there already. So for me, I asked Tonee’s help who is kind enough to share her blog. From there, I got some ideas where to go and where to stay. Seoul 100 guidebook is helpful. You may refer to my blog also.
  • Prepare an initial itinerary and share with your co-wanderers. Come up with common interests.  This will make your trip more fun!
  • Check for South Korea’s weather forecast.You need to prepare clothing suitable for South Korea’s weather. 
  • Make early reservation for your accommodation. On our first 4 days, we stayed at Hongdae Guesthouse, a dormitory-style guesthouse located within Hongik University's vicinity.  Check out my blog about Hongdae Guesthouse. Then, during our last 2 days/1night in Seoul, we transferred to Bukchon Guesthouse to experience Hanok, South Korea's traditional house. 

3. Learn about their transportation system.

South Korea's transportation system is very convenient and tourist friendly.  We took airport bus from/to the airport, took shuttle bus to the tourist destinations and most of the time the subways. We never took a cab and it was a "well done" for me!!

Here's one of the helpful links about South Korea:

Sharing our actual itinerary:

Travel dates: May 20 to 24, 2010

Day 1: Thursday
AM Yeouido Park, National Assembly, COEX, Kimchi Museum
PM Everland

Day 2: Friday
AM Insadong (Skin Food), Gyeongbokgung Palace
PM Dongdaemun, Myeongdong, Namsam Park, N. Seoul Tower/Teddy Bear Museum
Day 3: Saturday
Whole day Namiseon Island
Night Night Shopping at Dongdaemun
Day 4: Sunday
AM Incheon – Sin-do/Si-Do Island (Full House Setground)
PM Anguk/ Transfer to Bukchon Guesthouse
Day 5: Monday

Whole day Nandaemun Market
Lotte Department Store
PM Flight back to Manila