South Korea: A Love Affair

I didn’t think my post about the trip will be this long. But since I can still recall the details, why not to put as much as I can.

Day 3

Place visited: Pyeongchang, Hongdae Area

Accommodation: Sis N Bro Guesthouse

Method of Transport to guesthouse from Pyeongchang: taxi to Japngpyeong, then bus to Dong Seoul Terminal (Gangbyeon), and subway to Hongik University.

The bed was so comfortable. In fact, all of us had a hard time waking up early. When we looked out from the balcony, I was amazed that we made it Pyeongchang despite the we had to face. The view was all white because of the fresh snow. My parents were excited as it was their first time seeing and experiencing snow that they could only imagine or see on TV before. We did not have sufficient time to try skiing, and my dad was too old for sledding (the upper age limit is 55). So, we just enjoyed what we could: Snow ball fight!

View from hotel room

View from hotel room

Photo Feb 07, 6 33 43 PM Photo Feb 07, 7 09 55 PM

It was heaps of fun and we were quite geared up for the snow, so no complain at all regarding the weather. I guess snow has its own magic that makes all of us young at hearts. Saying that, have you watched Frozen yet? You should if you haven’t :)

After having lunch, we had to leave Pyeongchang for Seoul. It was short, but sweet. I’m just grateful for time we as family could spend together and for the good memories we made.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

When we arrived in Seoul, it was snowing! Since the temperature in Seoul was higher, the snow just melted as it touched the ground, giving an impression as rain rather than snow. We had to go get our luggages that we left at Banana Backpackers and moved to Sis N Bro guesthouse located in Hongik University (Hongdae) area. Maybe you are wondering why we had to stay in that area. The next day all of us had to fly,  I just came across Hongdae when researching the most convenient place to stay to catch the train to the airports.

Sis N Bro Guesthouse is quite unique. It also has a heated floor, something that is apparently very common in South Korea. Even when it was during the old times, the palace, for example, already had heated flooring. At that time, the building was built on top of  a stove. To make sure they were not burning themselves, the floor was supported by stones, rather than wood. By burning firewood, the heat was transferred to floor, and the smoke was exhausted through chimneys. In the modern days, they use heated water pipes instead of flow of heat generated from burning wood. My younger brother thought the concept was awesome, and he might incorporate this idea in his future home. If that’s the case, I shall visit you often, brother!

Korean traditional fireplace to heat the floor

Korean traditional fireplace to heat the floor

The chimney to exhaust the smoke from the underground passage.

The chimney to exhaust the smoke from the underground passage.

We had some take-out food for dinner. Yep, don’t say take-away or food to-go because people there may not understand you. The word ‘take-out’ will save your night. I think we bought some fried rice and some pizza from a local shop. The pizza was so good, but from the standpoint of people who had rice continuously for three days. Rice is just everywhere in South Korea.

Spicy Chicken Pizza

Spicy Chicken Pizza

 

Day 4

Place visited: Gimpo International Airport, Jeju Island

Accommodation: Sum Guesthouse

Method of Transport in Jeju: rental car

A new day was dawning; we were set to a much awaited adventure – Jeju Island. My youngest brother had to bid goodbye first to South Korea as he had to start school. The rest of us headed to Gimpo for our flight to Jeju. We used T’way Airlines, which is a budget airlines that offers domestic route from Seoul to Jeju. We booked our tickets online and got the promotion price. The website was only in Korean, but with the help of Google translate, we somehow could manage the reservation. Jeju Air has a website in English, making the booking easier. However, at the time of the reservation, we couldn’t find any flights.

My brother also booked a car equipped with a GPS in Jeju. I forgot the company’s name, but it was affiliated with Hertz. After arriving, we were transported using a shuttle to pick up the car. For your information, you will need international driver’s license to drive in Korea. It also employs right-hand traffic just like in the US.

After settling the logistics, we headed out for lunch. Jeju is famous for its seafood and black pork. I’m not sure which place to try, but using the GPS to find the closest restaurant, we came across a place serving hotpot and BBQ with black pork. The place was called Jejujangteo Pork Restaurant (제주 장 터). When I saw the menu, I thought the price was reasonable. What I meant to order was two servings of black pork hotpot and one serving of beef BBQ for my brother. I wasn’t sure about the portion, so it was better order a bit first and we could add more later. Our demographics consisted of some young women, tons of older people who have many health concerns, and one young man. You see why now I didn’t want to go all out with food. However, the restaurant people misunderstood me. We were divided into three tables. Two tables have the hotpot, and the other has the BBQ. Then, came the food. Two huge plates of thinly sliced black pork, ready to be dipped in the boiling soup, tons of fresh veggies, and complete set of condiments. The beef plate for the BBQ was also huge. I forgot which beef part it was, but it has couple-of-centimeter-width of fat part. Sure, it’d be good, but who could finish it.

I finally understood why we had so much food. They just served us 6 servings of black pork and 3 servings of BBQ beef. The food was really good; I can’t argue with that. But I felt bad not being able to finish it. They almost served us some noodle with the hotpot, but we just declined saying we couldn’t take it anymore. The beef BBQ had a strong impression on me. Grill it, wrap it using lettuce together with some sauce and other side dishes. Super tasty, but fatty.

Black pork hotpot

Black pork hotpot

The veggies

The veggies

Fatty bbq beef

Fatty bbq beef

After very satisfying lunch, we started our adventure in Jeju with the Mysterious Road (Dokkaebi Road). We had a hard time pinpointing the exact location in the GPS, but if you are going to the right direction, you’ll find brown road signs, indicating common tourist spots. Just follow the sign, and you’ll be fine. The portion of the road that appears mysterious is only 100-meter long. Do not expect too much, because even when you walk along the road, you may not find anything special about it. OK, I’ll tell you then. The road just appears slightly inclined. So, suppose if we let a bottle roll by giving it a bit of push to start with, we will expect it to roll up a little bit, and then roll back to us. Interestingly, that is not case. The bottle keeps rolling up. Is there no  gravity there? According to the law of energy, this doesn’t make any sense.

Mysterious Road

Mysterious Road

Actually we failed with the bottle experiment. We tried using the car by shifting the gear to neutral. The car was supposed to stop if the road is inclined, but it kept going albeit very slowly. Ta-da, that was the ‘mystery’ part of the road. If you wonder why, it is caused by optical illusion. The road is actually  not inclined, but the high surroundings make it look like that. According to Wikipedia, there are apparently many places around the world that exhibit similar illusion. If you are into this kind of thing, you can start a list.

Along the road, there is only one shop selling food, putting signs in English, Chinese, and surprisingly Indonesian. One of the shop attendants can even converse in basic Indonesian. I was impressed, but that just means that the road is often visited by Indonesian tour groups.

Since it was getting colder, we opted for an indoor activity at the Trick Art Museum. There are actually many museums to visit, but I was not sure which we all would enjoy. We just ended up with that one. The admission ticket was quite pricey comparing to that for visiting palaces. If you are into taking ‘cool’ pictures, it will be a great place to visit.

Trick Art Museum

Trick Art Museum

Finishing with the museum, we then visited Jeju Folk Village. It was really windy, so nobody tried to take any pictures. We just did a quick walking around, led by a friendly Korean lady who spoke to us in Korean just because she could not speak English or Indonesian. Jeju Folk Village was used as the filming site for Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace). I didn’t know that before until the Korean lady mentioned it. Jeju island is covered in volcanic rock, so the traditional houses made use of what was abundant for the their materials. The lady ended up taking us into one room where she tried selling some cactus flower jam and some kind of tea that tasted sweet. We ended up buying the tea as a way to say ‘thank you’ for giving us the tour.

After saying good bye to the lady, we headed back to the guesthouse as the day turned dark.

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