Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Korea Trip #7 - Gyeongbokgung Palace

Location: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul

Gyeongbokgung is the largest palace from the Joseon dynasty, was destroyed in the war, but ever since has been reconstructed. One of the best thing to do here is to watch the guard-changing ceremony, and it's completely free. However, if you want to go inside the inner complex of the palace, then you will need to buy ticket. 

Check the time for the ceremony before you visit, since they only conduct it twice a day.

Korea Trip #06 - Maze Museum, Jeju

Location: Maze Museum, Jeju Island

If your definition of fun includes finding your way in real-life maze, you should head to this museum. Be warned that for people who directionally challenged, this can be a bad idea, but it will surely improve your steps count. 

Korea Trip #5 - Seongsan Ilchubong

Location: Seongsan Ilchubong, Jeju Island

This is a must see place if you're visiting Jeju Island. We were a bit worried because on the day, it was foggy, and you can't see the crater from afar. Fortunately, the fog subsides just before we do our climb. The climb (both up and down) can be done within a couple of hours. 

Korea Trip #4 - Sangumburi Crater

Location: Sangumburi Crater, Jeju Island

The location is rather far from the Jeju city centre, and while it is beautiful, it is pale in comparison to (as an example) Seongsan Ilchubong. The fact that we were there at the height of noon also make the colour a bit washed out. 

Korea Trip #3 - Osulloc Tea Museum & Innisfree House

Osulloc and Innisfree are actually sister companies, and the tea museum is just beside the Innisfree Jeju House. We paid a visit to both after we finished the submarine tour. 

Because we had not had our lunch, we decided to eat at the Innisfree Cafe, which specialised in healthy and natural food, created from only what could be found in Jeju. It was the case of either we were very hungry, or the foods were very delicious (I suspected both). The extra point? The foods looked so damn gorgeous. 

Afterwards we took a walk in the tea garden, which is very pretty and scenic, if only we can erase all the people in the background. We took an obscene amount of photos here before we moved to the Tea Museum to buy a lot of (you guessed it) tea! 

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Korea Trip #2 - Soegwipo

After a good night sleep, we visited Seogwipo to join the Submarine Tour. We took a taxi from Jeju city centre to this southern part of the island. Language is a great barrier, and we had difficulties just to explain things to our taxi driver (If you couldn't drive in Korea, getting a driver who could speak english could actually make your trip easier). It was slightly frustrating, but also add certain spice to our experience.

Our taxi driver, despite the fact that we couldn't communicate well, was trying his best to understand us, and, even with this big obstacle, manage to book us the submarine tour (it involved a lot of google translate, a call to someone who can actually speak a bit of english, and a lot of guess work). 

Seogwipo itself is a good place for a bit of hiking, however, as we have only limited time before the tour, we didn't have the chance to explore most of it.

Korea Trip #1 - Travelling Time

Waiting for the flight *yawn*

We concocted the plan to visit Korea back in 2016 with an itinerary to stay in Jeju and Seoul for 4 days each, and we just came back a couple of weeks ago (thus explain the delay between the photo editing and posting time).

This trip was quite challenging in some ways. Firstly, none of us speaks Korean, and most people don't use English here. Secondly, our knowledge of the country was quite limited. We pretty much depend on literature instead of having clear objectives of what we would like to see, taste, or experience. It was somewhat unsettling for me, but the experiences taught me to go with the flow. 

The first day of the holiday is always the dreaded travelling time. We decided to visit Jeju first before Seoul, as we heard that the latter is a haven for shoppers, and we definitely do not want to carry all the newly-purchased items in the second leg of the holiday. As such our first-day route was Changi - Incheon - Gimpo - Jeju. 

From Incheon, getting into Gimpo is a simple manner of boarding the train to Seoul, which will make a stop at Gimpo within the hour. We put a long period between our arrival in Incheon (6 am) and our departure in Gimpo (3 pm), as we were worried that we might encounter something unplanned on the road. This was really unnecessary, and we had too much time to kill at Gimpo. At least, we took some pictures near the Gimpo Lottemart. 

So for the first instalment, here are some photos that documented the dreaded first day, pictures full of bleary eyes and tired souls -__-

A Weekend in Kuala Lumpur

Even though I live just an hour flight away from Kuala Lumpur, I only visited it once before for a short getaway. The city left not much impression on me, and I didn't have any definite plan to come back to the city. However, when E had to fly to KL for a business trip and invited me to join on the weekend, I decided to do just that. 

This time around, a friend of her brought us to places that we would, on our own volition, not visit, due to the distance to the city centre, and lack of knowledge of their existence. We took a half-day trip to Putrajaya and visited 2 mosques there, the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque, and the Putra Mosque. While the former is a marvel in the modern style, the later boasts intricate design and refinery akin to the middle eastern craftsmanship.

Kawah Putih - Bandung

Kawah Putih gives a surreal feel and looks, with all the sulphuric fog that rises up from the lake. It is slightly poisonous, and therefore you shouldn't stay longer than 15-30 minutes. Once you experienced difficulty in breathing or any discomfort, just leave the location as soon as possible.

To reach Kawah Putih, we had to travel for about 2 hours from Bandung. Avoid weekend, as you might get trapped in Bandung's notorious weekend jam due to the visitors from Jakarta. Once you reached the first gate just below the Kawah Putih area, you will be able to drive up, or park your car and get on the public transport available (at a cost). If you rent a driver in Bandung, the driver will not be keen on going to the top, as a solidarity for these public transport operators.

If you have the time, it is a must-visit place, just avoid the holiday timing as best as you could.

Dusun Bambu, Bandung

Eco and family friendly style of holiday is currently the trend in Bandung. The mountainous city has enough space, which combined with its picturesque surrounding, works well in enticing families to come by and spend the whole day in their sprawling, vast venue. 

Dusun Bambu is one of them, and in one place, you would find various restaurants, families' activities, and a very laid back place to relax, rolled in one. 

It's also perhaps a more palatable alternative than trying to chain various experiences that Bandung could offer, not because of the lack of it, but more due to the punishing weekend traffic that the city could suffer from.

Shirakawa-Go Under the Snow

IMG_8134 If you want to visit Shirakawa-Go,  it is better to book your bus ticket as early as possible (which would be 30 days before your travel date). We almost missed the trip because there were no available ticket from Kanazawa. Fortunately, there were still some tickets left from Takayama, and we finally were able to visit the place.

It was snowing lightly the day before, and we arrived to a spectacular view of the Gassho-zukuri under the snow. The house's roof was designed in a way that it let the heavy snow slides down naturally. 

Strolling at Kanazawa


Kanazawa might not be as popular as Kyoto, Tokyo, or Osaka, and it really has different atmosphere compared to the big cities. However, if you one day put Kanazawa in your travelling list, there are several things that you might want to consider visiting.

Firstly is the Ohmi-cho Market. Just like every other market in Japan, it is crowded and filled to the brim with good food. We tasted some grilled squid here, and you can feel the freshness by the sweet taste and crunchy texture. The bountiful sea of Japan surely demonstrate its kindness here.

The next one should be the Kenroku-en garden. A cloudy and cold day might take the colour and beauty away, but if you come in spring, you are in for a treat. Once you are done with this vast and beautiful garden, you can opt to visit Kanazawa castle just beside it.

We chose not to visit the castle, but go straight south to visit the Ninja-dera temple, and Nishi Chaya district. Unfortunately, Ninja-dera temple can only so much people as everyone has to follow the compulsory guided tour, and they don't have any more slot to accommodate us. For your information, the tour is only conducted in Japanese.

Hiroshima, Lest We Forget

IMG_7990 This is the eve before the bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, 71 years ago. The bomb was detonated mid air, just 150 meters from the Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall, or now known as Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome. The building, designed by Jan Etzel, maintain its structural integrity, even though the bomb itself incinerated an area of 1 mile radius, killing 70,000 to 80,000 people, almost a third of Hiroshima population at the time.

The event still incites debates today, with many people doubting the necessity of dropping such bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to secure victory for the allies. The more important thing is to realise, that innocent people have always been the victim of war or act of terrorism. Here to world peace, a cry to save humanity, in hope we can accept everyone as they are, fellow human being. 

Miyajima Island


The giant torii (the red gate) at Miyajima island is world-famous, and has been the island's main attraction, but we found that the island offers so much more than just the giant torii.

When we landed, we were pleasantly surprised by the welcoming committee, the deers of the island. They are curious and will try to nibble at everything, including your paper map, so keep them stashed away. 

The giant torii itself was very crowded with throng of people trying to get the best picture of the scenery, and it was near impossible to get a clean shot. It was worsen by the short day-time of winter and we didn't get the best picture at this moment. Instead of staying too long near the torii, just have a stroll in the alley, where you can find a lot of local delicacies, such as the beef bun, and the momiji cake. 

We spent most of our evening in this alley, before getting our dinner in a local okonomiyaki store further down in the village, which that night, only served us and another local couple. The food was great, and she cooked the okonomiyaki in front of us. 

We returned in the morning for the torii, well before the first ferry arrived on the island, and we got much better view. The golden hour definitely helped the vibrancy of the colour. If we have more time, we would love to go hiking on mount Misen, but it has to wait for other opportunity in the future. 

The White Heron Castle


Japan has a wealth of great carpentry work, with craftsmanship level that maybe has no to little rival elsewhere. The Himeji castle is one of them.

Perching on top of a small hill in the city, the castle is visible from the train station, and a short walk of no more than 15 minutes will bring you to the front gate of the castle. You can imagine that in the past, all the people of the town will be able to see the structure from afar, and maybe feel a bit safe with such grand fortification looming about. 

The castle itself undergone several miraculous brush with total destruction, spared from the plan to dismantle it in 1871, the  bombing in World War 2, as well as the great Hanshin earthquake in 1995.

If you are interested in a more supernatural phenomenon, the castle also a breeding ground of the famous ghost story, the Okiku's well. Okiku was falsely accused of stealing a valuable dish from the family, and thrown to the well, people often claim that they can still hear her voice from the well, counting the dishes to make sure that nothing is missing.

Just beside the castle, there is the Kokoen Garden, that we will visit in the next post. 

Photo Credit: Edwina

Eat Till You Drop in Osaka


Osaka is a 15 minutes train ride from Kyoto (riding on a Shinkansen, that is), and we decided to only spend one day in the city, focusing our time in Dotonburi, the food street. In this area, you will find hundreds of restaurants, stalls, and souvenir shops that sell all the Osaka specialty, such as the crabs, okonomiyaki, and takoyaki.

Since I am allergic to crustacean, I leave it to E to taste the 8-legged creature. She instantly fell in ecstatic mood, and threw praises to how good it is, enough to make my mouth watery just from her description. We then sampled various food along the street, and the only limit was our stomach's capacity, which, due to age, filled quickly.

It is better to enjoy Dotonburi with a big group of friends, so that you can order, share, and taste more!

Arashiyama, Kyoto

DSCF0802 We spent a whole day in Arashiyama, and it was really cold. The December wind really rattled the bone, and at this moment, I thought the importance of having a good pair of winter gloves. Mine was purchased in Australia, and it's good enough for Australia's mild winter, I constantly looked for a hot beverage vending machine, so I could hold a warm can of coffee in my hand (and spend quite a lot of money for hot tea, coffee, and lemon drink).

Around Kyoto: Nishiki Market, Gion & Kiyomizudera

IMG_7499 A bit neglecting of the site for a while, because I was out for a short holiday on the Easter weekend, and a very busy week after that. Here are several shoots from Kyoto, mainly in Nishiki market, Gion and Kiyomizudera.

Nishiki market is a long alley of stores, filled with Kyoto amazing confectionaries and food. A must visit if you are a foodie. Try the warabi-mochi that has jelly-like texture, and taste many green-tea flavoured snacks.

Fushimi Inari Taisha


Fushimi Inari Taisha is a must-visit temple in Kyoto. The rows of thousand red torii is a sight and a beauty to behold, however that means this temple is crowded all year long, and taking a picture without people marching at the background is almost impossible. There are few ways to have a crowd-free picture. 

The first one involved some steely determination, as the temple open round the clock, you can try to visit it very early in the morning, or even late at night, so, just like I said, steely determination to wake up very early, or go home without any public transport. 

The second is something we found out first hand. Just climb to the top of the mountain, the further you go, the emptier it is. It took about one and a half hour (with our slowpoke pace) to reach the top of the mountain, and once you reached the top, you are rewarded with... almost nothing. No majestic view of Kyoto, nor a grand building/temple/palace. If you feel that spending about 3 hours of your life looking at torii is a wasteful endeavour. I suggest that you stop at the resting point, which gives you a sweeping view of Kyoto, and make a bee line to the bottom of the mountain afterwards. 

Photos by me and Edwina

The Little Prince Museum - Hakone


photos by Edwina & Me
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