Korea 2017 Day 5: Korea International Horticulture Festival (Goyang)

For our 5th day in Korea, we  went outside Seoul to attend the Korea International Horticulture in Goyang.

I found this event while I was planning the itinerary. I had an inkling that we’ll be arriving on a Spring-Summer transition season and there won’t be flowers anymore, so I opted to include a flower festival in the itinerary to experience that aspect of spring. 

The event was at Ilsan Lake Park, more than an hour away from Seoul via train. The good thing about this park is that it’s very near the train station, so it’s easy to find. Did I mention that it’s also a Running Man location? This is where they shot couple race episode with Girls Generation.

I enjoyed the festival very much. It’s my first time to see a lot if the plants there, since we don’t have spring in the Philippines. I loved taking photos of the tulips and different installations done for the festival. One garden had a Wizard of Oz theme. It was so cute!

Within the vicinity of Ilsan Park is a Mapo Mandu branch. For those of you who don’t know, Mapo Mandu is one of the best dimsum chains in Korea. It’s been featured on TV a couple of times including (Yes, have you guessed?) Running Man!

We tried the beef mandu for our afternoon snack and ordered 2 more sets of that for dinner. We were supposed to go to Mapo to find a Mapo Manju branch and see Digital Media City but decided to cut the day short since the next day’s itinerary was loaded. We will save that location for a future trip. 

That’s it for day 5. Annyeong!

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Korea 2017 Day 4: Our Love for Running Man

Even the rain and cold weather couldn’t stop us from pushing through our itinerary for this day, because we were scheduled to visit some Running Man shooting sites (Yehey!).

Korean Manhwa Museum entrance

When I was planning our itinerary, my sister and I made sure to squeeze in some shooting sites from our favorite variety show. One of our favorite episodes was shot at Korean Manhwa Museum, so we first headed to Bucheon.

Robot manhwa

With the famous dinosaur, Dooly.

Bucheon is one of the cities near Seoul. It’s about 1 1/2 hours travel from the place we’re staying at (Yongsan). If you think about it, it’s pretty far, but that’s okay. All for Running Man. Hahaha

Manhwa shelf

A manhwa artist’s desk

When we reached the Korean Manhwa Museum, the entrance fee was discounted (from 5,000 to 3,500 KRW) because it’s election day today. It was a happy coincidence.

Running Man theme song challenge

Running Man played hide and seek here

This is Shin from Goong. His Philippine TV name is Gian.

We got to see and took photos of the shooting areas, where Running Men played hide and seek and the theme song game. We participated in one of the activities where you get to draw a manhwa character. I drew Pororo. AIso, I saw copies and characters of my favorite manhwa, Goong (Princess Hours – it became a drama and was dubbed in the Philippines).

Drawing Pororo

Within walking distance from the Korean Manhwa Museum is another Running Man shooting location, Aiin’s World. It’s a small theme park where you will see miniature models of the world’s famous landmarks. You will literally “go around the world” in 30 minutes. Word of advise, it’s better to visit this destination at night. Landmarks look better with colored lights around.

Colosus of Rhodes, Morocco, Jordan, Mr. Kilimanjaro, Egypt

Sagrada Familia, Collessium, Acropolis, Versailles

We headed back to Seoul to visit my college batchmates, Anne, at Ehwa University. It’s one of the top universities in Korea. It’s famous for their ECC building, one of Korea’s modern architecture landmarks. Enjoyed catching-up with Anne while we toured around campus. She even brought us to the cafetria with good kimbap.

Ewha University ECC

Ewha University Admin Bldg

Ewha University pretty building HAHA

Ewha University Hanok House

That’s it for day 4! Annyeong!

Korea 2017 Day 3: Hongdae, Myeondong, Dongdaemun

We decided to have a light day after a tiring experience yesterday. Thus, we only visited shopping centers today.

Late morning at Hongdae Street

Found SHINEE again, all of them this time!

Our first stop of the day was Hongdae. This is popular amongst young people. It has unique cafes, galleries, accessory stores, fashion stores, clubs, art markets, and gourmet eateries. We basically came here to look for Running Man locations, but ended up shopping and eating as well. 

Seen on Running Man Hongdae episode

Haha’s restaurant: Loco Quan 401

Korea has cheap socks that have good quality. Bought the Sailor Moon set for myself. Hahaha

For lunch, we found a dongkatsu place near Haha’s restaurant. We went in because we saw the picture of the big dongkatsu for 6,900 KRW. Even though it’s cheap (for a restaurant), the food did not disappoint. 

The dongkatsu place!

Dongkatsu meal

Next, we came back to Myeondong to find cosmetics for my sister’s officemates and other finds. I only bought a few things but ended up with a lot of freebies because my sister was going from shop to shop to find items. We’re gonna have a round two of Myeondong because her officemate’s gonna send here more money for stuff. More freebies for me!

Myeondong

Bought aloe vera and got a lot of freebies!

At night, we came back to Dongdaemun area to eat at a Korean buffet with the family. I enjoyed the food at it has stations to make your own veggie wraps and bingsu! I also got to try dukboki, the traditional Korean rice cakes. 

Buffet place at Hyundai City Outlets, Dongdaemun

Some of the food at the buffet

Before going home, I invited the family to see the LED Rose Garden at DDP since only my sister and I have seen it. Glad we came back because the sky wasn’t too dark we got to take better photos. 

LED Rose Garden, DDP

That’s it for day 3! Annyeong!

Korea 2017 Day 2: Myeondong Cathedral, Palace Tours, K-Style Hub, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Dongdaemun Design Plaza

We started the day early and went straight to Myeondong, Seoul’s shopping street. We didn’t come there to shop yet though. We went there to attend the English mass at Myeondeong Cathedral. It was a solemn experience and very different from how we celebrate the holy mass in the Philippines.

Minho, Key, and Bo Gum at Myeondong

Myeondong Cathedral

Right after the mass, we rode a bus to Jongmyo Shrine. Jongmyo is the place of worship and venue or royal memorial ceremonies during the Joseon dynasty. Today, ceremonies are only held once a year, the first Sunday of May.

Entrance to Jongmyo Shrine

Coincidentally, that’s also yesterday, the time we visited the shrine. Though we enjoyed free entrance, We didn’t get too see much, as some buildings were closed for the event. We watched the live feed of one ceremony on a screen but decided to move on to the neighboring palace.

Changdeokgung Palace

The throne room of Changdeokgung

Located beside Jongmyo Shrine is the Changdeokgung Palace. It’s the secondary palace after Gyeonbukgung. Personally, I think this palace is more beautiful, definitely a must see.

Tea tasting event at Changdeokgung

The Changdeokgung Palace compound is divided into two. The front part houses the throne, the king, queen, and crown prince’s residences, as well as the government offices. The back part is where the Secret Garden is.

Changdeokgung Secret Garden

The Secret Garden is a shared garden between the Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces. It’s said that it’s one of the most attractive places in Korea. They’ve preserved the ponds and pavilions built in this place during Joseon. Access to this place is different, you’ll have to buy a different ticket or have a royal pass which includes an access pass here.

I have to be honest. Visiting the Secret Garden is no walk in the park. I wasn’t expecting to have an impromptu trek. If you don’t like trekking, I recommend not to push through. It’s beautiful to see but tiring to experience.

Connected to the Changdeokgung Palace is the Changgyeonggung Palace. This place was originally built as a residence for three dowager queens. In later years, it also served as residences for concubines and princesses.

The throne room at Changgyeonggung

Changgyeonggung is the simplest palace I’ve seen. The layout is practical as convenience of the residents were considered when this was being built.

Joong Ki is here!

After visiting palaces, we went to K- Style Hub. This is a new place that only opened last year (by Song Joong Ki, no less). It’s a tourist center that lets you experience Korea in a nutshell. There’s a free hanbok experience and post card painting at scheduled times. There are also cooking classes (which are not free) that you can take to learn how to make Korean food.

Korean ingredients

I enjoyed the K-Star photo booth where you can virtually take studio pics with Psy, Big Bang, and 2NE1. I also liked the food exhibit where you can learn about korean food in general, harvesting, and food preserving practices. There’s also WiFi and resting areas in the hub where you can take a break from all the touring.

Photo op with G-Dragon

After roaming K- Style Hub, we went down the Cheonggyecheon Stream to see the lantern festival. I found out about this on the internet. We’re lucky to be able to book our visit on dates with a lot of festivals happening. We waited for about an hour to see the lanterns light up. It was cold but it was worth it.

Lantern Festival

Trisha at the lantern festival

Me at the lantern festival

Finally, our last stop of the day was Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This was a stop I forced my sister to go to, as I wanted to see the shooting place of She Was Pretty.

It’s a night attraction, since it’s best to see the building with lights. Within the vicinity is an outdoor exhibit of hundreds of LED roses. I enjoyed taking photos of this place. Would det come back with a better camera and lighting equipment. Haha

At the LED Rose Garden

That’s it for day 2. Annyeong!

Korea 2017 Day 1: The Craziest Immigration Experience and Dinner at Namsan Tower

My sister and I started out trip to Korea quite chaotic. This is not Korea’s fault, of course, it’s the Philippine immigration. 

When I was young, my parents told me that I must be at the airport 2 hours before for an international flight and an hour before for local ones. All my life, I religiously followed this and it never failed me, until now.

We arrived at NAIA around 5am for our 7:10am flight. In my mind, I was thinking, “Oh, we’re early, have time to grab breakfast later, after immigration,” but nooooo. After checking in our baggage, We spent more than 1 hr and 30 min in the immigration lines. It was ridiculous! 

At 7:00am, my sister and I were begging people to let us through as our flight leaves in 10 minutes! We got through at 7:05am and ran to Gate 106, which was BTW, at the edge of the airport. 

Happy that we were able to make it to our flight.

We heard the last call for passengers of our flight and were finally able to board the plane. That was cutting it too close. Next time we’ll be at the airport 4 hours before. 

Me at Incheon International Airport

Started the day right with my favourite Korean drink!

We finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. First thing we do is of course, grab lunch. We went to the CU convenience store to buy food and refill our T-Money. 
We rode the AREX (Airport Express) train to Seoul Station and found our way to our home in Seoul. 

At the AREX

Found Captain Joong Ki at Seoul Station

Jo Jung Suk πŸ’š at Samgakji Station

After resting a bit, my sister and I went to Namsan Tower with our relatives. We took a couple of pictures and roamed around the area. I was surprised to find a lot of new attractions in the vicinity, like Hello Kitty Island and LG 3D zone. There’s also a new area for kids with lots of cute animal cartoon figures.

Mandatory Namsan photo

Had to have a photo taken here because this was seen on Running Man!

Capped the night by having dinner at Chicken and Beer, one of the restaurants at Namsan Tower. The food was super good, and it’s affordable too! Make sure to try this when you go to Seoul.

Whoa! So affordable! One bowl only ranges from 13,000-15,000 KRW!

Thank you, family, for the awesome fried chicken!

Chicken and Beer at Namsan Tower

Last group photo of the night. We’re at the Love Bridge!

Passed by Seoul Station on the way home.

Annyeong!

In Pictures: Exploring South Korea

In my teen years, the Philippine television landscape was invaded by Korean dramas. During that time, who would’ve thought that these for dramas would become so influential not just to the Philippines but to the whole world?Β Because of Korean dramas, Korea was put in the map as one of the most visited tourist destinations in Asia.

In the Philippines, a lot of Filipinos has listed Korea as part of their travel bucket list to see for themselves the not just the beauty of the country but to also visit the settings of their favorite Korean dramas. Friends, I’m one of them, and I am proud to say that I’ve finally crossed that off my list. So sit back, relax, and let me share with you some pictures of the awesome things we saw and did there! πŸ™‚

DAY 1: Arrival, Insadong, and Gyongbokgung Palace

Just arrived at Incheon Airport. Here’s a picture of me trying to create mist coming from my mouth. It’s my first time experiencing this kind of weather. It’s soooo cold! BRR

Travel Buddies: Migs, Victoria, Diane (Me), Bea, and Trisha

Travel Buddies: Tito Dennis, Tita Cosette, Lola Annie, Tita Luchi, and Tita Yen (The Oldies.. #justkidding)

This is called Hoddeok, one of the many variants of Korean pancakes. AND it’s officially my favorite Korean food!

Here’s Migs, Victoria, and me waiting for our lunch at Jaws (Insadong).

And, of course, here’s the other side of our table, Trisha, Bea, and Migs’ twin! (Haha just kidding)

This is the view from outside Jaws. There’s our empty table at the back!

Pretty flowers at Insadong

Spotted these colorful paper lanterns on our way to Gyongbokgung Palace.

Me at the Gyongbokgung Palace Gates

The steadfast guards of Gyongbokgong Palace still stood by the gate despite the rainy and freezing weather.

Gyongbokgong Palace Entrance

Statue by the bridge

Cherry Blossoms: One of my favorite flowers

Cherry blossoms just starting to bloom at the palace grounds.

On our way to the back garden.

This is the building where the throne is.

Tita Cosette, Tita Yen, and Tita Luchi at the palace grounds.

My favorite picture of the whole trip, our Happiness Picture!

DAY 2: Naminara Island

Nami Island, here we come! (View from the Ferry)

Pine tree made from recycled materials.

Naminara Island

Just arrived at Nami via ferry boat.

Nami Love

Cool sign! I only find these in Anime. Never thought I’d find one here! Hahaha

Snowmen in the middle of spring? Kawaii! πŸ˜€

Busy day at Nami Island!

Mini-house in the middle of the pond. Wonder what happened to one of the clay men’s head?

Giant caterpillars in love! ❀

Winter Sonata Shrine

Of course, you can’t miss Joon-Sang and Yoo-Jin’s First Kiss!

Trees.. Trees.. Trees..

Tito and Tita creating their own Winter Sonata moment. πŸ˜€

Here’s my “inggit” picture! Yes, I was here! Bwahahaha

I’m pointing at my Doritos! Yummy cheese flavor with sunflower something. hahaha

The sign says “Kimchi”. This where Koreans preserve their Kimchi in the past. πŸ™‚

Stage in the middle of the park

A small shrine of jars and scripts πŸ™‚

Ohhh.. More clay men displays! There’s another headless one. I bet he could pass for the headless hunt in Harry Potter! πŸ˜›

Coca-Cola products! I tried the sparkling yogurt one, yummy. πŸ™‚

Clay necklaces, I regret not buying one. huhuhu

DAY 3 & 4: Hanok Village, Han River, Namsan Tower (plus Teddy Bear Museum) and The Blue House

My favorite street!

I’m in love with this place. Too bad I can’t take it home.

A trip can never be complete without a jump shot!

Me at Hanok Village

Err.. I don’t really know where this is but we passed by this on our walk-a-ton to Han River.

This is the famous Han River, the one you see in Korean dramas! Hahaha. Next time I’ll visit in the evening so I could watch the pretty lights. πŸ˜€

Entrance to the Cable Car ride to Namsan Tower. πŸ™‚

Met this cute baby on our way up. πŸ™‚

N for Namsan πŸ˜€

We’re at Love and Locks!

Finally, the Teddy Bear Museum! This is what I have been looking forward to the whole trip. Can you guess how I found out about it? That’s right, Goong (Princess Hours), my favorite drama! πŸ˜€

Bears building the palace.

These bears reminds me of the first part of Les Miserables. haha

Musicians in the Palace

Now where can I find that book?

Meeting with the Emperor

Can you guess where this is? That’s right! Gyongbokgong Palace!!!

Reminds me of Jewel in the Palace and Jang-Geum. Hahaha

Bears bowing to the Emperor Bear.

Ready, aim, FIRE!!!!

Oppa Gangnam Style!

Awww.. Bears dating at the zoo. πŸ™‚

Rock Star Bear!

Painter Bear!

Wedding Bears

Me with Janelle and Gian, the Goong Bears!

You should not leave Korea without trying authentic Korean BBQ! I swear it is the BEST!

It’s not complete without all the side dishes! πŸ˜€

Our last stop, The Blue House.

Hope you enjoyed looking at the pictures. I’ll be back there next year to experience the Winter season and try Skiing with my cousin. Wish me luck so I won’t fall. Haha. Til next time! πŸ™‚

– Diane

P.S. Photos taken using my Nikon Coolpix L310. My best investment ever.