Category Archives: travel

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 11& 12 LAST DAY SHOPPING

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 11 &12  LAST DAYSHOPPING

 

The ladies like shopping, though they hardly buy anything, except food, fruits and some gifts items. We went to the shopping centre around 10 am, but the complexes would open at 11 am. Apples, peaches and grapes were very sweet and of superior quality. We bought two cartons to take home. I found a book department with English books, and read for an hour, with comfortable seat. I could not stand prolonged shopping, and I went on my visit nearby.  The futuristic duplex building caught my eyes for the last few days. It was a museum, exhibition centre, MRT and shopping centre. They were selling cultural, new design products in various fields, such as fashion etc.

Dinner time, we met at Maple Tree, which was located in a basement floor, which we could descend by stairs or lift. The service here were par excellent, and the boss or manager even personally brought one of our team members to a clinic and personally checked that the medicine given were right, for they were all written in Korean. The ventilation worked so well; the basement was not smoky at all.

It was our last night in Korea, and we decided to have a good meal. We ordered big prawns, beef, pork etc. We were all very contented, despite the bill was hefty 271,000 KRW. Each of us had to empty our pockets, including the shilling to foot the bill. Of course, we kept reserve for taxi and meals the following day. We saw, Mee Chan, Singapore BBQ pork just opposite, and there was no business at all.

 

 

 

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 10 -GARDEN OF MORNING CALM, GOPYEONG & HAIKU 144

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 10 -GARDEN OF MORNING CALM, GOPYEONG & HAIKU ECHOES 144

The very minute one steps into this Garden, it’s love at first sight. There was this lingering emotion as if your soul mate meet you face to face,  after aeons of absence, with euphoric flashbacks. Prof.Han Sang-Kyung planned this horticulture Eden in 1996, and named it, Garden of Morning Calm. He was inspired by reading a poem  (“Land of Morning Calm”) by Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Laureate for Literature 1913. I could not find that poem after  searching more than 260 of his cited poetry in the web. We arrived there in the cool calm afternoon, with rare regrets in my life. This is the garden, with its inspiring fresh air, connects all visitors together; there’s no religion, politics and the agonies of outside world. One enters an internal peaceful world, where there is balance and harmony.

This is the garden with area of 30,000 sq. m , located in majestic Gapyeong county.

I penned these words for my Haiku/Senryu: Echoes 144:

calm and cool garden

lost in an enchanted world

found enriched fresh souls

It was getting dark; many exit paths were blocked. We managed to find our exit. Our van was waiting outside, but instead of taking us back to hotel, we requested him to drop us a Myun Oak at Sinsa-dong for our delicious beef ribs. The dinner cost us 70,000 KRW.

KOREAN TRIP:DAY 10 – GANGCHON RAIL PARK & HAIKU/SENRYU 142

KOREAN TRIP:DAY 10 – GANGCHON RAIL PARK & HAIKU/SENRYU ECHOES 142

Despite the sunny weather, it was quite breezy, and my hat was blown off. The first section was about 6 km , and took us an hour to pedal by feet. There were safe distances between each carriage, and there was a hand brake, if we needed an urgent stop. The more exciting part was the speed down the gradient, and entering dark tunnels with flashing lights sync with  loud Korean pop music, and out again in the open day light with beautiful sceneries of verdant hills, paddy fields, clear meandering river, and blue sky.

 

My haiku/senryu: echoes 141:

 

excite through tunnel

darkness and light co-exist

end of tunnel light

 

We paused at the transfer station for rest and toilet.  The  journey continued with a “romantic” train ride for 20 min.; not personal romance, but nostalgic romance with old train engine and deck.

 

 

 

 

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 10 – OUTSKIRTS

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 10 – OUTSKIRTS

South Korea was cleaner than Singapore. There was hardly any visible dustbins and no fine, yet there was no littering even in alleys  of market places. Toilets are clean even in remote places.

 

The hired van waited for us at the hotel. It cost us KRW 300,000 , including driver and entrance fees for Gangchon Rail Park (KRW 4000 each). The city had strange traffic flow. We cross the same river thrice, zig-zag and u turned, before hitting the main road, and at a bridge underpass, a senior lady tried to squeeze into our lane, and scratched the paint work of the new van. It took them an hour to settle such a petty accident. Our first destination was Edelweiss Swiss Theme Park, Gapyeong, located some 43 km from the city. Despite GPS, the driver had problem in finding an entry road to the park, and he drove through the same long tunnel twice. It was almost lunch hour when we arrived at the theme park. The entry fee was about 5000 KRW each. There were many colourful building and each building had a theme museum, such as, coffee, chocolate, cheese, wine making. There was a place named Interlaken; one would need powerful imagination to link that, with plastic birds and concrete sheep, and iconic love sign displayed everywhere for camera shots. What was impressive about the place was the majestic Korean countryside, with undulating green hills, otherwise it was not worthy of a visit.

 

Our next destination, Gangchon Rail Park, was exciting, and washed away part of the boredom of heat and travel. There were two sections of the Rail Ride. The first was the paddle ride, in twos or four in a carriage. It was exhilarating , and I felt as young as ever. We paddled along the old railway lines, crossing tunnels with pop music and lights. The track had great views of hills and river. (to continue)

KOREAN TRIP:DAY 9- PALACES IN SEOUL

 

KOREAN TRIP:DAY 9- PALACES IN SEOUL

There were five palaces in Seoul. One could easily visit the wrong one, if we travelled in different taxi, without any knowledge of Korean. You could also wait at different entrance of the same palace, and without WIFI, we could wait in vain. Luckily we were abled to overcome the initial problem, but a lot of walking.

We were at Deoksugung Palace, (Virtuous Longectivity) more of an official palace, with change of guards. Many of the palaces were damaged or destroyed by Japanese during their invasion in Korea.

 

We walked from this palace to Changdeokgng (Eastern Palace). Together with The Secret Garden (formerly called Forbidden Garden), this place was a UNESCO site, and the entrance fees was 8000 krw each; almost Rm30 (US $75) each. The little stone carving marked the spot (No 1 for PM) where official had to line up for kneeling to their emperor.

The Korean lady was our tour guide for The Secret Garden. She spoke excellent English, with American accent, a graduate from one of Women’s Universities. When I asked her about the students at Emha, she replied that they were just shy to speak, fear of making mistakes. Frankly I doubted that statement, for other tourists encountered the same problem.

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 8:EMHA WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY & SHOPPING.

 

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 8:EMHA WOMEN’S UNIVERSITY & SHOPPING.

Our taxi dropped us at the entrance of Emha Women’s University. A group of young girls were demonstrating at the gate. We asked what was it all about, but they could not understand a word we asked, nor replied a word in English, not even yes or no. I think there were at least ten women’s universities in South Korea.  Mary F. Scranton, an American Methodist , founded the university in 1886 and would be shocked to find her undergraduates were so poor in English. Emha was a private university, with an enrolment of 18,500 students in 2014, with at least 15 graduate schools and 67 departments, including medicine and engineering. The impressive building was the School of Engineering. Emha was supposed to have strong attraction for liberal arts. The campus was majestic, with good landscape, old buildings and old trees, and lots of slim, fair bodied damsels. The last was not the reason that my daughter planned to visit here. The location, Saedamun, was a higher end shopping centre, with lots of galleries and café. We saw lots of young students studying in these café, but majority was studying alone, rather than in group discussion or gossips.

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Nightfall, energy depleted with lots of walking, we went for our famous ginseng chicken soup, with glutinous rice, ginseng wine, and vegetable pancake.

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 8 SPICY OX TAIL SOUP

KOREAN TRIP: DAY 8 SPICY OX TAIL SOUP, JINJUJIP

After we check into our hotel, we took MRT to Nam Dae Mun Traditional Market, opened in 1964. This famous traditional market had about 10,000 stores, trading wholesales and retail in all kinds of items. Frankly it was just liked our “Sunday Market”. It was very crowded, and the vendors jammed all the way at the narrow alley and back lanes. On top of that, we witnessed one of many Korean demonstrations, with police around. They were quite peaceful and no one was disturbed at all. What attracted me was the food stores. The spicy (not spicy by our taste) ox tail  stew soup, very large tail, was really the best I had ever tasted  . We ordered 4 bowls and another two bowls of ox stomach. The meals cost 127,000 won, about Rm70 per share.