Little exploration of Jeju-do : 27th Oct 2015

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So the plan was to wake up really early to catch sunrise at Seongsan Ilchubong – apparently the best place for sunrise in Jeju. But of course, we didn’t proceed as planned….

So we woke up at 9 plus, missed the breakfast provided by the resort as breakfast ends at around 9.30am. I must say 9.30 am is too early to end breakfast. I mean, holiday makers are likely to sleep in right? Who wakes up at 8 am to prepare for breakfast….

So we had sighted a few Paris Baguette cafes in Jeju and the husband decided to bring us there for breakfast. There’s Paris Baguette in Singapore too; I saw one at Ion Orchard and at Bugis Junction. But I’ve never set foot in one of the chain’s cafe. So we decided to dine in at the cafe and plan the day’s journey while enjoying our breakfast.

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First time at a Paris Baguette cafe

So this time round, armed with the map containing the tel. numbers for the sightseeing places, we headed to Seongsan Ilchubong. It was some distance from Seongwipo and the journey took at least 45 mins.

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On the way, I noticed that my sneakers seem to be coming apart. I thought the shoes would be able to last for the day, but after we parked the car and started the walk towards the entrance, I realise I would not be able to go up in those shoes. There are a few souvenir shops at Seongsan Ilchubong, so I hoped that I would be able to get a pair of shoes from one of the shops. I suppose I was lucky we were in Korea, where appearances matter. This was the only reason I would think of to explain why those souvenir shops would sell shoes! And pretty nice ones too!

So I was happy with the shoes bought and we proceeded to the entrance of the Ilchubong. Entrance tickets had to be purchased first and we proceeded to climb. The climb was not very difficult, although it was probably because we had stopped at multiple points for the various photo opportunities.

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The top of Seongsan Ilchubong has a nice view; one could take in the seaview and the view of the crater. We thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the top and enjoyed what nature has to offer. As the Ilchubong is a very famous and popular tourist spot, there’s really quite a lot of people. After a while, quite a long while, we made our way down.

On our way down, there was loud sound from below and upon looking down, I realised its the haenyo showing off their unique skillset. I had wanted to bring us to watch the haenyo perform but it started to drizzle and with the wind blowing, it was rather cold. So I decided we could skip the performance this time round.

When we reached ground level, the drizzle seemed to have gone away and we decided to walk around in the area to look for food. We came by a small restaurant that sells pork noodles, which seem like a good choice on a cold rainy day. And they sell dumplings too!

 

That seems like a lot of dumplings but they are small dumplings, so it’s not too much. The pork in the noodles were a bit tough for my liking but the noodles and the soup were yummy!

After lunch, the plan was to hang around in the attractions not too far from Seongsan. So we headed towards Manjanggul cave.

Given that we stopped along the way, the journey took longer. And we were okay with that because that’s the whole point of self-drive: to be able to stop as and when we like.

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Wind turbine spotted along the way

IMG_6012Not quite sure what these are but they resemble lalang back home so shall call them ‘lalang’.

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Manjanggul cave is touted as one of the must-seen attractions on Jeju island. Some blogs said that the cave is not worth a trip but some said it was something thats quite interesting.

Be prepared to walk a fair bit in the cave to reach the end to see the lava tube. It was a rather chilly walk and luckily the attire we were dressed in served us well. Along the way, there were occasional small educational boards which mentioned about the various formations that occur as a result of lava flow.

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It was really quite a long walk and to be honest, it was not the most interesting of all walks. I was relieved when we finally reached the end and saw the lava tube. Not that I know how to appreciate it, but seeing it means we can turn back and head to more hopefully a more interesting destination.

Gimnyeong maze park was our next destination. It is located near Manjanggul cave and we thought it might be fun to engage in some form of activity.

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There was a small garden leading into the maze; there were cats playing around the garden – a rather cute sight!

We were excited about the maze! There’s hardly anything like this in Singapore and this was our first time in a maze! The goal was to go up a small wooden bridge and ring the bell to indicate success. In our first attempt, we decided to go for it together. After that, the competitive streak in us got us to compete with each other to see who would ring the bell first. The husband was surprised that I managed to get to the bell; to be honest, I was surprised by myself too!

By the time we were done with the maze, it was about 5 and time to head back as it would be a long drive back to Seongwipo. While the husband was driving, I was thinking about abalone porridge. So upon googling, it seems like we could get good abalone porridge from one of the restaurants located at the carpark at Cheongjiyeon waterfall (the place we were at last night).

There were a few restaurants and we decided on one that looked very traditional. And this turned out to the restaurant that some bloggers had recommended for abalone porridge. And what a lovely dinner we had! It was very simple as the husband was not very hungry, so we got a mackerel and abalone porridge. Seeing others eating stew made me so very tempted to get the stews too but the husband objected.

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So we got the abalone porridge to share and it was quite a big portion. The taste of it was simple but addictive. We cleaned out the bowl and very nearly ordered a second bowl!

The highlight, however, was the grilled mackerel. It was soooooo fresh and so very ‘juicy’! I have never had mackerel that was so yummy! The husband was delighted with the fish as well and between the two of us, we totally cleaned out the fish! It was so good that we considered coming back the next night again for dinner. Such a satisfying dinner and a great way to end the night!!!

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The Island called Jeju – 26th Oct 2015

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So our flight to Jeju was at 12.25 pm and we took Asiana Airlines. One tip: If you are a Krisflyer member, then you can help to the Asiana’s priority counter to check in. We only realised that on the return flight to Seoul but better late than never. With the priority check-in, the staff also provided us with better seats at the front of the plane and we could have priority boarding.

We left our big suitcase at the Grand Hotel Myeongdong hotel and took our smaller suitcase to Jeju. We took the airport bus to Gimpo and had a light lunch at the airport. There was nothing much at the airport and choices are limited. Simple kimbap can, however, be quite satisfying.

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Kimbap for brunch

This view greeted us when the plane was descending into Jeju. Such a pretty sight!

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When we landed at Jeju airport, we went to find the Hertz car rental booth. It was supposed to be easy to find but we were at the wrong end of the airport and ended up the local car rental centre which was a short walk from the terminal. Luckily, we figured out the location eventually. So after taking note of our registration, we were told to wait for the shuttle which would bring us to the Hertz car rental.

The queue was short and we got our car quickly. The main concern about the GPS unit in the car is the language. But i figured since I know a bit of Korean, it should be fine. So it was a total relief when the gentleman who showed us the car helped us change the language option to English.

It is very easy to use the GPS. You just need to key in the telephone number of the place that you are heading to and viola, you’ll be on your way.

Driving in Jeju was fine in general. Cars are mainly concentrated in the Jeju City centre but once you drive outwards, there’s significantly lesser cars. I would strongly recommend getting the car insurance with full waiver. If you do not know already, Korea has one of the highest car accidents rates in the world. And I have seen how Seoulites drive, so it’s a relief that people in Jeju do not seem to drive in the same manner, although I wouldn’t say they are still the safest drivers around.

So our accommodation is Jejueco Suites. My sister had stayed there before and it was highly ranked on AirBnB. So we gave it a try.

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Huge living space

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Bedroom

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Kitchen/ Dining area

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View from the balcony

The premises are quiet and I really liked the tranquility. If it snowed, I think the setting would be perfect. The downside to the suite is the toilet though. While it is spacious, it is however rather bare and it gets very cold in there. There is heating in the room, complete with heated flooring  (which was very welcome) but it doesn’t make the cold in the bathroom go away. And given that the few days we were in Jeju were really quite cold, we really desired for a warm cosy bathroom.

So because we didn’t have a proper lunch, we were hungry by the time we settled down (around 3plus). So we asked for recommendations for eating places. We were told that Jeju is famous for 2 things 1) seafood 2) black pork meat. We were definitely in the mood for some BBQ so we chose the latter. We got the telephone number for the GPS and made our way there.

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Almost empty restaurant with interesting piping

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Looks sinful

There’s a minimum order for the black pork belly meat. We didn’t know how big the portion would be so we stuck to the minimum order. Which was sufficient for us.

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On its way to being yummilicious food

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The meat was so fresh! So good!

We were happy with the meal and decided to take a picture of the signboard when we left.

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Childonga with its phone number

So first thing on my list is to catch the sunset at Oedolgae. Prior to the trip, I had compiled the list of phone numbers of the places of interest thinking that it would be easy to navigate with those numbers. Who knew, the numbers that I got from the tourism board brought us to the offices instead of the sights!!!! Luckily, we had wifi and after a short search, managed to find the number to key into the GPS to get us to Oedolgae. Later on, I discovered the numbers of all the sights on the tourist map. I was glad I didn’t have to trawl the internet for the numbers!

By the time we reached Oedolgae, apparently the best place for sunset in Jeju, the sun has started to set. We were late!

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Sun setting….

Still, we got a glimpse of the sunset and I must say, Oedolgae is a picturesque place. There was still some light for the husband’s SLR camera to work for us to take some nice pictures. So we lingered around for an hour. However, for some reason, the husband wore only shorts and had no jacket and it was getting quite cold. Being the baggy wife, I had to dissuade him from staying there longer. Oh, one more thing to mention, Oedolgae was one of the places where the famous Korean drama Dae Jang Geum was filmed. There is a standee of the female lead in the area for some photo opportunity.

At this point in time, I had not watched the drama Secret Garden. If I had, I would have make it a point to visit the places where the drama was filmed. I guess that would have to wait till the next time.

So it was close to dinner time and we were not hungry. But I knew we would be hungry later. So we decided to head to a supermarket to check our what we could get.

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I believe these are for making drinks, not quite jams for bread

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Snacks and drinks

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Purchases from the supermarket

We really like supermarket shopping. It’s a huge plus when the Korean supermarkets are full of things which are beautifully packaged. The husband suggested that I should take a study break to Korea and take a marketing course. I think that’s a good suggestion!

Then we headed to Cheonjiyeon Falls. I have read that it’s best to view this waterfall at night.

There’s a lot of parking places and a few restaurants near the entrance to the falls. We had to pay the entrance fee and walk to the falls. It was an easy walk but it seemed like a long walk.

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Cheonjiyeon falls with my camera

The illumination does confer some mystique onto the falls. I suppose the falls would look less interesting in daylight.

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Cheonjiyeon falls with the husband’s camera

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Saw this on our way out of the falls

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Interesting street lamps

It was interesting to see the above street lamps because the chinese characters represent double happiness, a character usually used in wedding-related items. I wonder if this character has a different meaning and usage in Korea.

It was getting really quite cold and we headed back to the suite.

While we love good food, we also appreciate instant noodles. And the instant noodles from Korea are really quite nice because the noodles are a lot more springy with a different texture. It made noodles slurping a more pleasurable affair 🙂

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Korean instant noodles

And the night ended with me repeatedly muttering “I can’t believe they killed off Glenn” #WalkingDead

Chasing Autumn -Seoul Part 1 2015

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So I really wanted to go to Korea with my husband especially after our trip in June had to be cancelled. And it seems that Korea is almost cleared of MERS. However, just 3 days before our departure, there was news of a man getting re-infected with MERS! But MERS is definitely under control and we proceeded as planned as the desire to catch autumn in full bloom was strong!

To enjoy the full benefits of the biz class tickets, I decided we could take the 8am flight instead of red-eye flight. And we took the Book The Cook option this time too!

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Lobster

When my meal was delivered, I realised I had this before. I am too consistent in my choices and this is not necessary a good thing :S

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Curry chicken

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Love sparkling water!

So our flight landed at Incheon Airport at around 3pm. And I thought we could get out of the airport by 3 pm. But I had neglected to factor in the queue at immigration. For some reason, in each of my visits to Korea, the queue at immigration is always longggggggg! And this time round, it was no exception. I think we cleared immigration in an hours time. After getting our luggage, we headed to get purchase the airport bus tickets to head to Myeongdong.

We stayed at the Grand Hotel Myeongdong, a small boutique hotel. I had chosen this place mainly because of its location. Myeongdong was a central base for the places we will be going. And the easy availability of shopping and food in the area made it a real convenient base. Rates for this hotel are not cheap though considering it is not 5-star hotel and rooms are not very spacious. But I do think the location matters especially in a big city like Seoul. Overall, this hotel works out fine for us.

Before we head out for dinner, we had to collect our wifi egg whom we had rented from someone online. It was easy to arrange for this wifi egg rental as they are really responsive and I like the idea of them meeting us at our hotel (additional cost). It costs $5000 won a day and the egg would work in Jeju too. Although we could tap into unsecured wifi throughout Seoul, such networks are not stable. Besides, the wifi would be very useful in Jeju.

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Wifi ‘egg’

So for dinner, I thought Andong Jjimdak would be a good choice. It was just a matter of being able to locate the restaurant that I had patronised on previous visits. And it turns out Myeongdong gets smaller with familiarity and with each visit. So it was easy to find Andong Jjimdak.

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It’s a simple dish – essentially chicken stew with potatoes, carrots and glass noodles. But the simplicity of the dish strikes at my heart! The dish was served on a huge plate for sharing. It’s a little spicy but it made a really good dish to have on a cold autumn night. This was really delicious, definitely one of my favourite Korean dishes.

Then we decided to just hang around Myeongdong, so it was just taking in the stalls set up along the streets and visiting the abundant cosmetics stores in the area.

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Such pretty colours

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Pomegranate juice stall

We didn’t get the cotton candy but we got the pomegranate juice. $5000 won for a packet, which is rather costly. But it sure was fresh and healthy! The packaging of drinks seems to have evolved so it felt like the juice was blood in the packets we see in medical shows.

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The next day, I had planned for us to visit two palaces – Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. The Secret Garden in Changdeokgung was much raved about and the plan was for us to head to Changdeokgung to get tickets for Secret Garden first and then we would head to Gyeongbokgung to start off with the palace visit.

As per our style, nothing goes according to plans. Because we are sleepyheads and didn’t get up early as we should have. So by the time we left the hotel, it was 10 plus and we were hungry. So we went to the famous Tosokchon for samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken soup). At least, we had followed the plan which called for lunch at Tosokchon.

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Kimchi at Tosokchon was really yummy!

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An order of the black chicken which is said to be more nourishing

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Standard white chicken samgyetang

I first tried samgyetang at a Korea restaurant in Singapore. The second time when I had it was in Seoul. I have to say, the samgyetang in Singapore was a lot more flavourful while the flavours in that in Korea is a lot more subtle and it could be even termed as bland. The samgyetang at Tosokchon was not too bland but it was not very flavourful. I suppose that is the true essence of samgyetang – subtle ginseng undertone with soup that is not MSG loaded.

I love drinking soups and the more samgyetang I have, the more I enjoy it’s subtle flavours. I especially love the glutinous rice that is stuffed into the chicken. I would definitely return to Tosokchon for its samgyetang when I’m back in Korea.

By the time we finished lunch, it was close to 1pm. So we headed to Changdeokgung to get tickets for the Secret Garden tour. The plan was to purchase the tickets for early afternoon but because we were so late, the only tickets available then were the tickets for the last English tour of the day. I guess we can’t complain because the tickets are easily sold out. So we were lucky to still be able to take part in the Secret Garden tour.

Since we had 2-3 hours before the tour starts, we decided to hang around Changdeokgung instead of heading to Gyeongbokgung.

To be honest, I cannot understand the appeal of the Korean palace. Perhaps this was because I was used to the gold and glamour of the palaces of the western world. I could not understand the bare-ness of the Korean palace. Maybe it was the lack of a tour guide or maybe it was the lack of exhibits…we were simply just wandering around, trying to pass time until the start of the secret garden tour. There is a certain serenity to the palace and the simplicity is oddly striking.

It is interesting how the colours turn our so nicely on camera though. That’s not to say the colours were dull in person, but rather in photos, the chambers look really quite pretty.

So we had about one hour to go before the start of the Secret Garden tour. The cafe within the palace was small and it was crowded. We then started to retrace our steps to find quiet spots to hang out until it was time to move on.

Finally it was time for the Secret Garden tour. There are tours in Korean, Japanese and in English. The Secret Garden tour is highly recommended wherever you read about Changdeokgung. So we had high expectations, especially in view of the autumn season.

The guide spoke very good english and had photos of the garden to show us. Essentially the garden was meant only for royalty and it took up a huge space of the palace. The garden was for the royal family to relax and enjoy nature. The architecture of the pavilions throughout the garden were designed to be “photo frames” for the royalty to enjoy the scenery.

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Not quite in full bloom

Unfortunately, the autumn colours were not in full bloom 😦

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While the guide was describing about a pavilion, I spotted a rainbow smile…

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Library within the garden – meant for leisure reading

Now, we understood why a lot of the doors in the palace and garden are so small. This is so that the officials who pass the door would have to hunker down and make themselves smaller to be able to pass through the door. This would remind officials to remain humble and as a show of respect to the king.

We enjoyed the Secret Garden tour. I’m sure when the autumn colours are in full bloom, the garden would be beautiful. I wouldn’t recommend spending a lot of time in the palace grounds though.

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Imagine the Secret Garden with full autumn colours…

After the tour, we then headed back to the hotel. And decided to have an early dinner at Yoogane at Myeongdong. I had first seen Yoogane in Singapore and there are often long queues. So rather than trying Yoogane in Singapore, why not try the one in Seoul?

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Our order at Yoogane

We were given aprons to wear at Yoogane and there’s a free-flow salad bar. The staff would come over frequently to cook the food for us and this was the finished product.

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The serving seems a little small but as we weren’t too hungry, the portion was just right. Or maybe the small portion is actually rather filling. I sneaked a peek at what other patrons ordered and it seems that rice would be nice to go along with the meat/vegetables. While the food was nice, it was not the best we had in Korea. Still, it was good to to get this “Must try Yoogane’ out of the system.

Then we decided to head to Dongdaemun for shopping. As it was winter, I didn’t expect to get a lot of clothes. However, I did want to buy a windbreaker. I came across one which I liked but it was rather expensive, even after negotiating it to half the asking price. There’s the classic burberry checker design in the interior of the sleeve which would be visible when the sleeves are folded. I guess that was the deal-breaker as I don’t fancy ‘displaying’ the imitation sleeves. But oh, it was almost the perfect windbreaker.

There was the electronic rose display at Dongdaemun and it was a must go cos it had looked so pretty on websites. It was a nice way to end the night. And onwards to Jeju tomorrow!

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Pretty and romantic

 

 

MERSified Seoul

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I was really looking forward to this work trip….because we had made arrangements for the husband to join me after my meeting and we could tour around Seoul for about a week….I had the flights, hotel accommodation, itinerary, dining places all worked out and all that was left was countdown to the day of departure. And then MERS hit Seoul. Wham bam! Just like that plans flew out of the windows….

There were about 2 weeks left to the start of my leg of the trip when MERS started. When it started, our office started to take note of the severity of the situation. The situation didn’t seem that bad in the days leading up to my departure, until 3 days before. Then we were seriously considering cancelling the meeting that we were to host in Seoul. But the scientists in us called upon the logical brains to assess the situation. Most importantly, there were no cases of sustained community transmission in Korea. But we were also aware that the week that we would be in Korea would be a critical week in assessing the Koean’s government ability to contain the virus spread. If the virus was not contained, there is a high chance that we might be quarantined in Korea for 2 weeks or so. So between us, our Korean colleagues and colleagues in the US headquarters, we finally decided that we could still proceed with our meeting in Seoul. The key factors to this decision were the fact that the Singapore government and the CDC in US did not issue any travel advisory to Korea and there is still no evidence of sustained community transmission.

So initially we were monitoring the situation as to whether the husband should still join me afterwards. I was quietly optimistic that we could proceed as planned. For some reason, I thought the Korean authorities would have a firm grip of the situation. However, about 3 days prior to my departure, it seems that the authorities in Korea might not have any grip on the situation at all! So we decided to cancel my husband’s trip and I would head home immediately after my work commitments. To be honest, I was crushed. I had really looked forward to the husband joining me and we would go and check out the My Love from Another Star exhibit before it ends in August 2015.

This is the first Korean drama that we really enjoyed

This is the first Korean drama that we really enjoyed

We only watched this earlier in the year and by then, it had finished its run on Korean tv for more than a year. I recall now that when I was in Seoul last year, there was the same exhibit at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza. At that time, I didn’t give a hoot about this exhibit. Now when I am interested, it became out of reach 😦 S.I.G.H Other plans for this trip included a visit to Petite France and the DMZ zone. Oh, and I was debating as to whether we should head to Jeju island while we were there. Oh well, MERS took care of that decision for us. However, when I was in Korea, it appears that some sights were starting to close down due to MERs and the DMZ was amongst the affected sights. Anyway, enough of whining.

So a work trip to Seoul is always not too bad as I would usually stay at the InterContinental. This time round, I stayed at the Grand Parnas Intercontinental. This hotel is just next to the Hyundai Departmental Store and is near the CoEx, which has a underground shopping mall.

Intercontinental was great as always, and I always enjoy the facilities it offers. This is the breakfast buffet.

Spacious room at Intercontinental

Spacious room at Intercontinental

Equally spacious bathroom

Equally spacious bathroom

Restaurant

Restaurant for breakfast

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Whenever I have time off from work, I would make a trip to the CoEx mall and the supermarket at Hyundai Department Store.

Typical Korean fish

Typical Korean fish

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Interesting display of fishes

Interesting display of fishes

Some guy was smiling at me at CoEx Mall

Some guy was flirting with me at CoEx Mall

A random place I found for dinner one evening

A random place I found for dinner one evening

The noodles were springy and really quite yummy!

The noodles were springy and really quite yummy!

Animal designs for masks

Animal designs for masks

So one day, we had a traditional Korean meal. If you are ever going for a traditional Korean meal, please go hungry. The amount of food is staggering!

A dish that is more like dessert

A dish that is more like dessert

Can't quite rem what this contained (since i rem to take a pic only halfway through), but it was one of the more delicious dish.

This is something like a beef stew and was really one of the more outstanding dishes!

Tiny crabs to be eaten whole

Tiny crabs to be eaten whole

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Towards the end of the our trip, the MERs situation did not get any better. In fact it got worse and seemingly out of control. So it was an understatement to say that we were relieved to board the plane to head home. Then it was 2 weeks of health monitoring to be sure we didn’t bring the virus back to our countries. Such nerve-wracking experience to never be repeated again!

Bali indulgence 2015 Part 2

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So breakfast was a similar affair as the previous morning.

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Time to get out for a walk

Time to get out for a walk

The night before, I thought it would be nice to go to Jimbaran area for a seafood meal. I remembered having a nice seafood meal on the previous trip and thought we should have one before leaving the island. But from Seminyak, it takes 45 mins to get to Jimbaran one way and we were feeling really lazy. So we decided to get a ride to Seminyak square and get lunch there.

At Seminyak square, some things have changed and others remained the same. It was a familiar place to us and as we started our walk, we remembered a great lunch we had at Chandi before. So when we stopped at in front of Chandi, we decided we would lunch at Chandi. Interestingly, Chandi was pretty empty as we were seated, the same as when we first went there. And with a sense of deja vu, we were seated at the same table as we were on our first visit.

So we first ordered drinks.

Frozen lychee drink

Frozen lychee drink

When my lychee drink came, the first thing that struck me was how visually appealing it is. And I had my first sip, I realised this was the exact same drink I had ordered on our first trip. This trip certainly reaffirmed how consistent my tastebud is! I’m always going for the same things! Read: Boring 😛

Ginger Ice tea

Ginger Ice tea

The husband had ginger ice tea.

Chicken noodles

Chicken noodles

I felt like having noodles, so I ordered the chicken noodles. To be honest, I had no high expectations for this dish. As per Chandi’s style, the food was vividly coloured. To my great surprise, the noodle dish was very tasty and flavourful! Wow, I was blown away by how such a seemingly simply dish could taste like this!

Beef rending wrap

Beef rending wrap

The husband ordered beef rendang wrap and he said he remembered how great it was the first time round and he wanted to try it again. And the verdict was it remains a great dish! Again, a very colourful dish! All these colours brighten up the day and makes me really happy!

Seafood sate

Seafood sate

The sate were served on a hot plate and one has to rotate the sticks once in a while to prevent charring. The seafood was very fresh and portion was just nice for two of us. Then we decided, we should try the desserts at Chandi. I suppose we wanted to be surprised again by what Chandi has to offer.

So I couldn’t resist the chocolate lava cake and the husband got a traditional dessert.

Black glutinous rice and coconut ice cream

Black glutinous rice and coconut ice cream

While the glutinous rice dessert is nice, but i guess having glutinous rice after a full meal is really too much.

The lava cake!

The lava cake!

So the lava cake looked really dark, but hey, it’s dark chocolate lava cake! And my, it is really a LAVA cake! It was awesome to cut into the cake and see chocolate goodness flowing out!

LAVA!

LAVA!

Bear in mind, it’s dark chocolate and this was really good and as sinful as it can get!

Then we lazed around until it was time to make a move for our facial at The Care.

I had booked to have a Clarins facial and he had a Lancome facial.

Facial stuff

Facial stuff

We had paid extra to incorporate back massage. However, the back massage felt like a full body massage. While that’s good, but we had really needed a good back massage. And I had emphasised to the masseuse to focus on the back and it seems like they misunderstood, because they seemed to avoid the back. This was not the first time when such requests were taken in the wrong manner by masseuse in Bali.

It was a good relaxing facial and we had a good rest!

And then it’s dinner time! By then, I had developed a tiny phobia of eating!

And dinner was at Sarong. I recalled Sarong being a restaurant recommended by the French lady we met years ago.And since it is located just opposite our villa, we decided to go there.

Sarong

Sarong: lovely entrance

If you want ambience, well, Sarong has plenty of it. But lightings there are way too dim for us. We got there with the little daylight that was left and by the time we were handed the menu, it was too dark and we were not provided with any lights to read the menu with. So, thanks to smartphones which can turn into torchlights, we managed to read the menu just fine.

We first tried the Indonesia crackers which serves as a typical finger appetiser. These were relatively tougher than the prawn crackers and definitely crunchy.

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So the thing about not being hungry really means you don’t known what to order. Since seafood was supposed to be on our agenda, we decided to get some seafood.

Prawn salad

Prawn salad

And you wonder just how, with the almost non-existent lighting, we managed to take photos. I have to give credit to the husband who used the ‘smartphone torch’ to great effect!

We both had fish as our mains. I got a crispy whole fish while the husband got black pepper stingray. We were both controlling the amount of spicy food we are taking and it appears that 90% of the menu have a fair amount of chilli to them. So we chose two of the ones which appeared the least spicy.

Crispy whole fish

Crispy whole fish

While this was nice, it didn’t blow me away. Tastewise, it was like something I had tried at home before. Probably the use of the sweet chilli sauce was a big contributing factor.

Black pepper stingray

Black pepper stingray

This was full of black pepper!! Which gave the dish a superbly nice aroma. I found this dish to be appetising as the black pepper appealed to the inner me who is craving for some spice. This goes really well with plain rice as it is more on the savory side. It was my first time eating curry leaves!

You can tell how greedy we are when we decided we should have desserts on our last night in Bali.

We got a sampler set, which was the worst kind of dessert for me.

Dessert

Dessert

It came with an assortment of pastries with fillings, fried banana and coconut ice cream. The fillings used were totally not to my palate; the fillings are probably along the lines of yam paste etc. Coconut ice cream would never be my choice of ice cream and the fried banana had a real tough batter. And the thick pastry skin made it really hard to stomach, so in the end, we gave up and ended our dinner.

Sarong was memorable only because of the excellent ambience for a romantic date but food wise, I still prefer the Indonesia fare served at Merah Putih.

On our last day, we finally decided not to work our stomachs too hard. So breakfast was a relatively light affair compared to previous days.

Breakfast

Breakfast

But you know what happens when you have been stuffing your stomach with so much food that when you start to have a lighter meal? You feel hungry real fast. It’s not real hunger, more like a ‘I demand to be fed/stuffed’. So at the airport, I got us something to eat. Well, more than something; sushi and two plates of noodles

Sushi

Sushi

Not very nice noodles

Not very nice noodles

It has to be said, the Bali airport is now a much nicer airport – modern with more amenities.

After an uneventful flight (I am all for uneventful flights these days!), we landed and for the first time (although we fly pretty frequently), we came across the butterfly garden at Changi airport. We have been searching for this for ages!!! And only came upon it when we were least expecting it! Serendipity!

I guess living in the concrete jungle that we do in Singapore, we always enjoy some form of nature, be it big or small, natural or man-made.

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Beautiful buttferlies

Beautiful butterflies

Beautiful butterflies

Beautiful butterflies

Beautiful butterflies

Beautiful butterflies

And so we ended our trip on a really good note!