Korea Day 7 (09 May 09) – Time Fillers

This is our last day in Korea, after spending about a week here. In the morning after breakfast we were driven to the airport for our flight back to Seoul. The flight was uneventful. Upon reaching Seoul some 2 hrs later, our guide gave us some options on how we wanna spend the rest of our time here before we head to the airport. Some of the folks chose Chinatown. So we were driven to the Chinatown. Well nothing much here, as this is the place where the Chinese set up business and sell stuff, the usual stuff one would see in any Chinatown around the world. However we did get a shock here. One of the members in the tour group approached this shop browsing through their merchandise, then came a woman’s voice very loudly and rudely commented in Chinese “Don’t touch if you don’t want to buy”. We were like if we don’t touch and see your products how the hell we know what to buy? Several of the group member (including my auntie) rebutted the comment and told the woman she should just close her shop if she is having a bad day. After that incident, we continue our walk around this area…. really uneventful.

Walking around Chinatown in Seoul
Walking around Chinatown in Seoul
Walking around Chinatown in Seoul
Walking around Chinatown in Seoul
Walking around Chinatown in Seoul

We were then brought to this pier where our bus was driven up a ferry (with us in it). After the driver parked the bus, we got off the bus and went to the upper decks of the ferry. This is the seagull feeding itinerary as stated in our tour package. My auntie bought a packet of fried prawn crackers and started to feed the seagulls, and so did some of the member of the tour group. Upon reaching the other side of the sea, we got on our bus and we were driven to the airport for our flight home.

Seagull feeding onboard the ferry
Crossing the channel towards Seoul
Crossing the channel towards Seoul

This is my first time to Korea, if not for the language barrier (very few Koreans can actually speak English), I would like to do a free and easy of this country and not subjected to the touristy stuffs like being pushed into a ginseng shop listening to them promoting their products and such. Korea is a vast country and gives me the impression that they are very self-sufficient, the locals are also very proud of their heritage through the preservation of some of these palaces, and also we saw locals visiting these palaces. I might return to Korea one of these days to travel abit more on this place, but this time round not in a tour group.

The bird that is gonna take us home
Korea art and craft in the airport
After immigration area in Incheon Airport
Last minute shopping in the airport
Ready to take off
Last glimpse of Korea
Last glimpse of Korea
Last glimpse of Korea
Food onboard Asiana Airlines
 
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Korea Day 6 (08 May 09) – Jeju Island

Our first stop of the day is a visit to Yongduam. This is basically a lava rock formation that resembles the head of a dragon. At first I was looking at the rock and couldn’t seem to see any dragon head. This is when my auntie described to me and suddenly I was like there it is..all along it is in front of me. Took some imagination to see it though. As we were walking around this area, we spotted some middle-aged women selling some seafood. Our guide told us that these were the famed divers in Jeju, these women would dive underwater without oxygen tank and pick seafoods like clams, abalone, sea urchins, seaweeds. Walking along the rugged coast, I was looking out into the sea. This place is very peaceful (more so if not for the tourists I guess). Listening to the waves hitting the rocks, the sea breeze gently blowing, it is a very relaxing moment. Around the corner we were shown a statue of a mermaid, no idea why this was here… my guess is to commemorate the female divers who worked like mermaids when they dive to gather the seafood.

Cute signage for toilet
Me with the guardians on Jeju Island
It says “Dragon Head Rock”
Coastline on Jeju Island
Dragon Head Rock (Well doesn’t really look like one from this angel)
Looks more like a dragon head from this angel (use some imagination)
Effects of Volcanic activity
Dragon Head Rock close up
Mermaid Statue

Our next stop was definitely breathe taking, we were driven to the eastern part of the island to visit the Seongsan volcano crater. My first impression of this place was it is full of tourists, but the scenery around it at the base is breathe-taking enough. There was a roll of Guardian statues and some stones that make out to be some calendar system. As we walk up the some 500 steps to the top, we were greeted with beautiful scenery even half way up the peak. I turned around from time to time to snap some pictures of this picturesque surroundings where one can see the emerald coloured sea and an island not too far. We were getting pretty excited by the sights that we saw and expected the peak to be even more breathe-taking. Some walk later we found we were right at the top……. well at least to me the scenery was more beautiful on our way up then at the peak. What we saw was a disappointing crater filled with soil and greenery. Maybe our expectation of seeing a volcano crater was over-hyped, or perhaps our impression of a volcanic crater should be red filled with molten lava and not green fill with soil and grass that had led to this disappointment. To me this is more like a soccer field then a crater. After snapping some “touristy” pictures, we proceeded down to the base and along the way admiring the scenery that surround us.

Driving towards Seongsan volcano crater
Seongsan volcano crater
Series of Guardian statues at the crater
World sun dial
Picture before the walk towards the crater centre
View of the surroundings
Sun dial
Traditional Korea Building Structure
Flower Blooming at the crater
View of the coastline on my way up
View of the coastline on my way up the crater
A great walk up
Half way there
Nearing the crater centre
View of the crater (the volcano has been dead for centuries)
View of the coastline from the top

Leaving the Seongsan Volcanic crater, we were drive south-westerly to Seong-eup folk village. Here we were shown the traditional homes of the locals in yesteryear. In those days, there is no lock or proper doors. We were told that the locals were so honest that doors were not necessary then. All they had was some logs placed at the entrance of their house. Different number of logs on the gate means different things (can’t really remember what the meant). We were shown the tools they used for farming and processing of the harvests as well as a black pig pen! Then we went around snapping pictures of the houses and finally we were brought to this area which seem like a living room of some sort which we were given the touristy treatment. A lesson on the Jeju honey was given followed by the selling of that product…… sighz…..

Traditional Jeju House
Some of the farm animals (more for display for tourists)
A traditional house

Leaving the Seong-eup folk village we were drive further west to our next destination -Weodolgae or lonely rock as the locals call it. This coastal rock formation is rather popular with the locals as we could see people picnicking here. This park was made famous by some Korean drama. This rock formation is a result of erosion i guess, however our guide offered a local version of the rock. It was believed that there was this old woman waiting here for her husband to return from fishing but her husband never returned. Hence she turned into this rock to continue waiting for her husband. One can see some human features on this rock, but I did not, guess I am not that imaginative to see all these…. a walk around the area looking into the sea and the crowd enjoying their day out here was rather festive as there are some locals playing Korea music and dancing around. By this time my camera is running low on battery, can’t really snap alot of pictures of this place.

Coastal feature is common on the island
The lone rock

Our next stop is a waterfall – Cheonjeyeong waterfall which is due west of the lonely rock. By this time my camera has already ran out of battery (damn…) can’t snap pictures of this area. Anyways, the bus stopped at the bus parking area, we were told that we need to do some light walking to the waterfalls. As we were walking through the parks, we can see flowers were blooming (this is the end of spring transiting into summer by the way). What greeted us next was this bridge. The red coloured metal bridge with some white coloured cement sculptures on it. This 128m arc bridge is the Seonimygyo bridge, the white sculptures are actually nymphs, 7 on each side. After crossing this bridge, a little more trek, we arrived at the waterfalls. Listening to the water hitting the rocks at the base of the fall was therapeutic and relaxing. Little time was given to us to take pictures of this place (well I thought the time given was sufficient as other then the waterfall, there is really nothing much here), we headed back towards the bus to our next and final destination of the day.

We arrived at this must-see road on Jeju Island, doubted as the mysterious road, this road is believed to go against the laws of gravity! On the way there our tour guide given us an account of how this road was discovered. Urban legend has it that there was this cabby, who had to relieve himself while driving along this road. After peeing, when we returned to his car, he found his car on top of the sloppy road. The cabby returned to tell his friends about this road and that is how this road attracted millions and millions of visitors to this road on the island. As we were approach the road, our tour guide to look at the road ahead. Yup, it did look like it is sloping upwards. Soon the bus driver turned off the engine and what we experienced was the bus moving up the slope! At the top of the slope, the driver reignite the engine and drove us to a car park. This is when we alighted took a bottle of water and see the water actually flowing upwards. There are alot of theories explaining this phenomenon we saw, well who cares… this sight just amazes me…. time to head back to town for dinner and some free time.

After dinner it is our free time my auntie, my sis and myself went shopping around the area, to look for local produce. We went to some night market and the famed underground shopping centre that we missed the night before. Did some walking around to digest the food we ate, we then head back to the hotel to do our packing as tomorrow is our last day in Korea.

Flowers on the street 
Flowers in full bloom
Downtown Jeju Island
Downtown Jeju Island
Walking around the night market
Fresh Jeju Orange

Korea Day 5 (07 May 09) – Shopping and more (boring) Shopping

Time to finally check out of this cramp hotel. We packed our luggage and met at the hotel lobby. The itinerary for today is pretty light as we have to catch an afternoon flight to Jeju Island. Our first stop (after breakfast) was the so called Woman’s shopping district. This place got its name due to the Woman’s university nearby. My sis was looking forward for a good shopping in this area. However she was disappointed when we arrived here as she commented there was really nothing much here. We were given 4 hours for our shopping, but we covered most of the shopping in barely 45 mins. We spent our remaining time in a cafe and walking around like zombies looking at the things repetitively. Indeed the shops here mostly sell the same stuff, the goods are neither unique nor cheaper then elsewhere. Feels like shopping back home. The 4 hrs was really a torture, we constantly look at our watches hoping that the time would fast forward. End up we did not buy alot of things, my sis just bought a pair of earrings, as for me, i bought nothing at all. Roaming around this area we came across some of our tour mates, they were also commenting that this area has nothing to buy and that they too are roaming around aimlessly just to kill time.

Shopping around “Woman’s Street” (got its name due to a all girl’s college in the district)
Shopping around “Woman’s Street”
Shopping around “Woman’s Street”
Shopping around “Woman’s Street”
Shopping around “Woman’s Street”
Shopping around “Woman’s Street”

After some repetitive scenes and spending longer then we would breaks in Starbucks, we finally killed the 4 hrs that was given to us. We couldn’t be happier to be able to head towards the airport for our flight into Jeju Island. This was originally planned at the beginning of our tour, however due to strong winds flights to this island was cancelled. The flight from Seoul to Jeju Island took around 2 hrs. The first thing that caught my eye as we came out of the airport terminal is a huge Volcano – Mt Hana. This is a dead volcano, but the sheer size of it just impresses me. We were driven to the hotel to check in and then to our dinner. After dinner we were told to go to one of the underground shopping centres near the hotel. By the time we finished our dinner and proceeded to the underground shopping centre, the shops are already closing. We were too tired to even bother about this and went back to the hotel for a night’s rest.

Seoul domestic airport
Getting ready for our flight to Jeju Island
One of the guardian statues on Jeju Island
Seafood hotpot for dinner
Temple across the street where we stayed on Jeju Island

Korea Day 4 (06 May 09) – Downtown Seoul

We were brought to see several highlights within Seoul this day. After breakfast we were driven to the Presidential Palace. Upon reaching near the palace grounds, we had to alight and walk up to the palace entrance and we can only see the palace from afar. Opposite the Presidential Palace was the old GyeongBokGung Palace. I find the sights within the GyeongBokGung palace more attractive then the Presidential Palace. Too bad we were not given time to explore around this ancient palace, time was given only to take pictures of the Presidential Palace.

Ancient Door
Ancient Palace Doorway
The Presidential Palace
Presidential Palace
Statue of a phoenix in front of the Presidential Palace
Presidential Palace
The ancient GyeongBokGung Palace
Ancient artwork on the ceiling of GyeongBokGung Palace
Ancient housing opposite the Presidential Palace
Part of GyeongBokGung Palace
Guard house of GyeongBokGung Palace

We then proceeded to Deoksugung Palace, a private villa built by one of the princes in 1400. This palace is right smack in the middle of downtown Seoul. We wandered around the reasonably sized villa, seeing several buildings for administration, bedroom for the queen and some more buildings. I find the structure is very close to Chinese palaces, certainly reminded me of Forbidden City in Beijing. After walking around the palace, snapping some pictures (the tourist thing to do), we were in time to witness the guard changing ceremony. The guards are still wearing their traditional costume, as this palace is now a tourist attraction. The guard changing ceremony is rather manpower intensive and was certainly fun to watch.

Entrance of Deoksugung Palace
The palace is the middle of downtown Seoul
Building structure of one of the buildings in the palace grounds
One of the buildings in the palace grounds
One of the buildings in the palace grounds
This is where the Korean Emperor once sits
Inside the palace grounds
One of the palace buildings
Inside the palace grounds
Wall inside the palace
Inside one of the buildings
This is the entrance to the queen’s bedroom
Inside the queen’s bedroom
The man who invented the Korean script
Well restored palace roof
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony
Change of guard ceremony

We then headed for our next destination within the capital city – Namsan Park. This a garden which records Chinese connections in Korea. We were told that there is a general who was so captivated by the Chinese wisdom that he ordered people to haven these words carved into stones and place them at this park. Up at this park we can see the Seoul Tower. Too bad we were not given time to even visit this tower. This place feels like a rest area for the tour guide, so he can steal some time for a rest. Other then the tower, there is really nothing much to see here…..

Seoul Towers in Namsan Park
View of part of the city
Chinese writings in the park
Chinese writings in the park
Chinese writings in the park
Chinese writings in the park

We were then brought to the Casino in Seoul. We were told that people with Korean passport are not allowed entry into the casino. Seemed like a place purely for tourists. Tried my luck in some jackpot machine, and won abit (Think about 50,000 won). This trip is a waste of time. The tour guide then brought us to the famous canal park. This place was once dirty and smelly and the Korean government decided to do something about it. So they converted the canal into a park! Walking down the pathways alongside the canal was rather unique, it is hard for me to imagine the state of this park before its transformation. Along the pathways, we saw locals strolling, jogging along the canal. We also saw some artists setting up stores trying to sell their paintings.

Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Me at Canal Park in Seoul
Walking along the canal
Canal Park in Seoul
Love how they spruce up this place
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Canal Park in Seoul
Downtown Seoul

As one of our itineraries was cancel (can’t really remember what was that), it was replaced by some break dancing show. Since there are still quite some time before the show, the tour guide brought us to this shopping area and gave us some free time to roam around. We literally roamed around this place, making use of this opportunity to do the other touristy things – buying of souvenirs. This place is really nothing much just heaps of people walking around buying things, and selling things. We then headed over to KFC for dinner and met up with the rest of the group for the break dance show. The show was entertaining and unique. After the show we went back to the hotel for rest, getting ready for Jeju Island the next day.

Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul

Korea Day 3 (05 May 09) – The Touristy Bits

This is a day where we do all the touristy rituals…. by rituals I mean the stuffs that the tour guide usually brings tourists to do, like shopping for local products, making kimchi, dressing up in their traditional hanboks and stuff… absolutely boring for me and half the time I have no idea where we are. We started off the day with a trip to strawberry farm. We were driven to this strawberry farm where we are allowed to picked and eat strawberries on the spot. However we were given limits on how many we can bring back along with us, 5! We walked around the strawberry farm looking for the biggest and not so rotten piece of strawberry. As I don’t eat strawberry, I was picking on behalf of my auntie, who loves strawberry. Not a very eventful thing though, I did not quite enjoy this bit….. it felt like a competition of who got the biggest and sweetest looking strawberry.

Strawberries!
Strawberry picking “Competition”

We were then driven to this kimchi factory where we were explained the process and subsequently given a hands on in making kimchi. Makes me wonder where do these touristy kimchi go to after each batch of tourist come and get their hands dirty in destroying these vegetables. Our teacher patiently explain and went around ensure the group did the correct method in kimchi preparations. Well this is where they sell kimchi to tourists as well. After making those kimchi, came the promotion of their house brand kimchi. We figured since we will be buying anyway, might as well buy from here. After the ordeal of making and buying kimchi, we were led to another building within this kimchi factory, where we were given a chance to don the Hanboks and take some pictures in them…. damn makes me feels like a damn tourist…. reminded me how much I hate to join tour groups.

Our Kimchi making teacher
Explaining to us the ingredients to making Kimchi
My not so appetising Kimchi
In Hanbooks

We were then driven to another ginseng factory where we were given lessons on the different types of ginseng and the values of these Korean ginseng. The most valuable ones will be 5-year ginseng which is actually insured by Samsung! After the ginseng factory we were then driven to this place where they sell some herbal medicines…. I did not really enjoy this day as it is really very touristy…… hoping that they will bring us to some place nice really soon. After the touristy ordeals, we spent the afternoon in a spa called Spa Greenland. This seem to be a popular place with the locals for a spa treatment as it was really crowded with locals. There is a rule here that we are not used to, every one who came here has to don on a cap, if not you will not be allowed into the pool. We rented some caps and started to spa hop, hopping from 1 spa to another with different waters in it. We also did what the tour guide had recommended the cold and hot “sauna” treatment. We were told to go into this hot room and then into this cold room and back into the hot room again. It seemed very popular with the locals and was believed to be good for the skin. We lazed the afternoon in this spa place running around like a kid in a playground.

Lunch Time!!
Very delicious hotpot
Spa Greenland

We were then driven into Seoul and checked into our hotel. Though the location of the hotel is great, but the hotel room is really miserable! It is very small and the toilet is small as well. It is so small that you are bound to knock onto the basin or the toilet bowl as you shower. We did some minor shopping around the hotel as it is very close to Dondaemun shopping malls. The shopping malls looks more like a consolidation of small shops within a building. There is however small stage or some sort in front of each shopping mall with the youths performing for the general public. Not too sure if there are some competition organised by each shopping malls or what, but I did enjoy the performances.

Driving into downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul
Downtown Seoul
Korean Ginseng for dinner
Downtown Seoul
Dondaemun Shopping District
Dondaemun Shopping District
Live Performances in Dondaemun Shopping District
Dondaemun Shopping District

Korea Day 2 (04 May 09) – From the coast to the mountains

The day started with an American breakfast at the hotel after a great night sleep. After breakfast, we wandered outdoors with whatever little time we have to inhale the very fresh misty air. I don’t even know when was the last time I had inhaled such fresh air, it is like the air fresheners that we found in the supermarket, except that this has less chemical in it. Our first stop for the day was a drive to the coastal market where Koreans staying around here come to purchase their fresh seafood. As we were driven towards our destination, I saw kilometers and kilometers of fences along the bench. Our guide told us there are military patrols along this bench after sunsets to prevent their northern nemesis from invading their land as this bench is very close to North Korea. We were told that there were incidences whereby the North Koreans sent their midget submarines to land along this bench. Such beautiful bench and landscape where I can distinctively see the sea stretching as far as one’s eye can see. This would be a perfect place for sunrise (as this bench is on the east coast of Korea), picturesque if not for the fences.

From the coast to the mountains
Just love the mist
Driving towards the coastal area
Scenic drive along the way
Coast line!
Coast line!

At the Sokcho seafood market, we saw shops and vendors selling their daily catches. Some of these fishes are more common then a minority few that one hardly get to see in the markets. All the fishes that were put up for sale are swimming innocently in their tank, I wonder if they know their days are numbered. There are a few shops where you can choose the fish you want and their cook will marinate on the fish on the spot and send them to dinners for them to BBQ should the dinner choose so.

 Sokcho seafood market

Sokcho Seafood Market

Fresh seafood!
Live Seafood at Sokcho Seafood Market
Live Seafood at Sokcho Seafood Market
Live Seafood at Sokcho Seafood Market

Leaving Sokcho seafood market, we proceeded inland towards the mountains. We are on our way to one of the oldest temples in Korea at Mt Sorak National Park, but before we reach there, we stopped by a teddy bear museum. This is a place where hundreds and thousands of different teddy bears were put on display. This is a pure touristy place, perhaps I am not fan of teddy bears therefore i felt this stop was totally unwarranted for. Oh well, that is what you get when you travel in a tour group.

Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum
Teddy Bear Museum

Luckily for me, the time allocated for this stop was not too long, otherwise I would be damn bored. Soon we were heading to our next stop, Mt Sorak. As we pass the ticketing office, our tour guide brought us to this bear statue. According to him, whoever touches the paw will have good luck. So as typical tourists, everyone in the group was reaching to touch it. As we were walking towards the temple, I saw some piles of small rocks. Our guide explained that these are stacked by the locals using whatever rock they can find around, the higher you are able to stack without toppling the “rock tower” over, the more successful you will be. We tried stacking…. not too bad managed to get my tower rather high. As we entered the temple, our guide began to do his job of explaining the temple, the history and the age of the temple. We were given time to wander around the temple. We came to this quiet courtyard (away from most tourists and visitors) for a rest and to appreciate the tranquility of this place. Standing in the courtyard of the temple looking at Mt Sorak National Park Ranges, appreciating the Korean architecture of the temple, it was great! As time was about up to gather for our next destination (actually not too far), we chanced upon this pool where we saw locals and tourists alike filling up their waterbottles with water. We jokingly call this the holy water.

Entrance to Mt Sorak
Mt Sorak National Park
Bear Statue at Mt Sorak
Mountain Range at Mt Sorak National Park
Me at Mt Sorak National Park
Entering Mt Sorak National Park
Buddha Statue at Mt Sorak
Temple at Mt Sorak
Inside the temple grounds
Picturesque temple grounds
Me at temple grounds
Does that stone look like a bear??
Inside the temple grounds
Temple Grounds
Inside the temple grounds
Inside the temple grounds
Just love the Korea architecture

We then proceed to the next stop within the Mt Sorak National Park –  the cable car which would bring us up to the top of the Mt Gwongeunseong. As we entered the cable car watching the cable car slowly shrinking to the size of a mere ant, we could see afar from where we were. Soon the cable car called upon the peak station, we went around the cable car station taking pictures, viewing the area from a very different perspective. From here one could almost forget all the troubles and really relax. As my sis was watching some Korean dramas before we depart for this trip, she managed to found what she has been looking for since we decided to come for this trip – the Korean Spicy New Year cake. Well according to her, the taste was blend and not as good as she would have expected it. She was disappointed. I did some walking around as I did not wanna get stuck in the cable car station where hordes of tourists gathered to snap pictures as if they are engaged in some “Who can snap the most pictures” contest. I did a 10 min walk along the walkway around the station. It was a nice and quiet walk. Well time’s up (I wish I had more time to walk further), we headed back onto the tour bus which brought us to the hotel where we can rest for the night. Although the hotel looked rather aged, what I really like is the views from our balcony. I can see acres and acres of farm land surrounded by hills and mountains, as though we had retreated into some mountain resort…. It is time to sleep……

Taking the cable car up Mt Gwongeunseong
On our way up Mt Gwongeunseong
Magnificent views on our way up
Almost can see the whole national park
One can see the coastal area afar
Nearing the top
Visitors can do light trekking up on Mt Gwongeunseong
The views up here are simply stunning
On our way down
The big Buddha is visible on our way down
Dinner time!

Korea Day 1 (03 May 09) – First Glimpse of Korea

After a tiring overnight flight from Singapore (though it is a mere 8 hr flight, but did not managed to get a proper wink onboard the aircraft), we met up in Incheon Airport for our tour group members. While waiting, we felt a little hungry. We scout around the airport for some decent looking food (well at least some Mcdonald’s breakfast – something that we are familiar with before our stomach go bonkers). Alias there is no Mcdonald’s restaurant around, we paced up and down looking for something familiar or even a food court where we can grab a bite, no such luck. All we see are a convenient 24 hr shop (we called it the 7-11 of Korea), after pacing up and down (passing that deli countless times) we finally surrender to it (seeing it is the only eatery around). Ordered some sandwich platter and some coffee…. my the coffee taste so good…

After eating we went to the group gathering place, by this time, everyone was present and we were led to the tour bus. After the night flight, most of us were rather tired and was looking forward to a good shower. However our tour guide brought us to Everland Theme park first thing. He claimed that the original date we were suppose to go happen to be a public holiday weekend and the park will be crowded with locals. Today is a better day to visit, without giving us much of an option, we were driven to the theme park. As we had arrived, the theme park was minutes from opening. We went for some toilet break, before gathering to enter the theme park. Soon it is time the park open its doors to visitors. We see the park staff welcoming visitors into the park with their ever cheerful smiles. Upon entering the theme park, we were told to head for the chair lift that would take us up to the safari within the park. The tour guide said free time would be given to us after the safari trip. So we all headed over to the safari. On our way up on the chair lift, what really caught our eye was the huge wooden roller coaster structure…. so I thought to myself… I MUST take a ride on that later.

Spring Time Flowers Blooming
Entrance of Everland
Clock tower inside Everland
Beautiful flowers inside Everland
Scenic plants inside Everland
Flowers inside Everland

Soon we were at the entrance of the safari and queuing up for our turn into the bus that would take us into the safari area. The tour guide has arranged for all of us to be on one bus with no other tourists. As we were awaiting our turn, I came upon a sign with the word “Liger”. I turned to my sister laughing at the spelling mistake. Not longer after I realise I was laughing at my own ignorant! A liger is actually a cross breed of a lion and a tiger, and there we saw the one of 2 ligers in the world lying on the rock. In the safari area we saw some tigers and lions other then the liger, and also some bears playing amongst themselves. The bus driver drove pretty close to the bears, I guess the bears were accustomed to tour buses so much so that they were minding their own business. The safari tour did not take too long, half an hour later we were free to roam around the park. Soon my sister and I were looking for the queue to the wooden roller coaster we saw as we were entering the park. Man the queue was long.. and believe it or not, we actually queued 2 hours for it! Though the queue was long, everyone in the queue waited patiently for their turn. After 2 hours, it was finally our turn! At first the roller coaster went up slowly as would other rollers coasters. Then we found ourselves at the very top, ready for the descend! As the roller coaster made its way around the bend for the descend, what greeted us was a near vertical slope! The few seconds seemed like tens of minutes down the slope, as we thought we had survived the ordeal of the roller coaster, what greeted us was another near vertical slope (though this one was shorter). Then up we were thrust along the tracks of the roller coaster and then left and right as the train made its way around the track! Boy that 7 min or so ride felt longer then it really was! At this point I turned to my sister telling her, the 2 hour queue was well worth it.  After disembarking from the roller coaster, we went around to see if there are any more rides that we would fit within mere minutes we have. Nope no such luck. We figured we might as well walk around and go grab some food. After having some food, we spent the rest of our time walking around the entrance, taking pictures (yeah it is the touristy thing to do) of the park.

Liger, a cross breed between a lion and tiger
Lioness resting on the rock
Lion resting on his rock
A bear having fun in the waters
2 bears having fun together
Fantastic Roller Coaster in Everland
Me concurred the coaster ride

We met up with the rest of the group soon after and we were ferried to our next destination, Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. We were told that they filmed some Korean TV serials here. The original fortress wall was still in great condition, not too sure if it has been restored before. However this seem to be a place where the locals come to relax by the pavilions on the fortress walls with their relatives and friends to laze the day. There are also a corner where people can learn some simple archery. We weren’t given alot of time for this place, not longer after some picture taking, some toilet breaks, we were on our way to the place where we will spend our night.

Lunch Time!!
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
One of the watch towers at Dongjangdae
Dongjangdae, the East Command Post of Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
Me taking a picture in front of Dongjangdae

The place where we spent our first night in Korea is Oak Valley Resort, operated by Samsung, the resort is a golf course in the summer, and it will be transformed into a ski resort in winter. The area is very tranquil and peaceful. Our rooms is actually a 1 bedroom apartment which comes with a balcony and a small kitchenette where we “cooked” some Korean instant noodles to fill our stomachs at night. We had a good shower and a well deserved rest after the overnight flight from Singapore and the tour agendas in the day.

Hotpot for dinner
Fogging at  Oak Valley Resort