Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Budget Seoul Trip Itinerary - 7 days 6 Nights

Seoul was the first North Asia city that I visited. With the hype of Korean drama especially about the royal Korean food at that time, it is a interesting and wise destination choice. Seoul has a fascinating mix of old and new. Around the city, there are many old palaces which you can explore and I indeed spent 2.5 days just to visit all 4 major palaces in Seoul. You can purchase combination ticket with entrance to all 5 main attractions at just 10,000 Won (USD9.00). Seoul also have modern skyscrapers, mega human made river park, world's largest corporations and efficient subway systems. There are many districts which suits one interest to visit. From fashionable and young Apgujeong district to traditional and old Gwanghwamun district.

Get a T-Card if you stay a week in Seoul and plan to fully utilize their subway systems. Over the years, T-Card has integrated into many restaurant and shops around Seoul. So it can be use as cash card as well. Using T-Card provide you with convenience and you will also get discount of 100 Won on each subway ride. Seoul has become a success model in creating a cashless society.

Clean and spacious airport express train.

Changing of guards in Gyeongbokgung palace.

World famous Cheonggyecheon stream. Successful model of urban renewal.

Autumn foliage in Gyeongbokgung palace.

Busy shopping street of Myeongdong.

Cute teddy bears in Teddy Bear museum at Namsan Tower.

Seoul olympic park. They hosted the 1988 olympic games.

Trick eye museum nearby Hongik University.

Rainbow bridge fountain at Banpo Hangang Park.

Day Morning Afternoon Evening Night
Day 1 (Fri) 1. Arrival from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul via Malaysia Airlines on Boeing 777 flight. The journey takes approximately 7.5 hours.

2. Purchase T-Card from 7-Eleven located at Incheon Airport.

3. Check in at Kimchi Hongdae hostel near Hongik University Station.
1. Having eel bento set lunch at O Bento

1. Visit Gyeongbokgung the largest palace in Seoul.

2. Visit Cheonggyecheon the best model of urbal renewal. Great park to visit.
1. Dinner near Dongdaemun station. Good vegetarian bibimbap and cheap.

2. Explore around Dongdaemun area.

3. Explore Myeongdong shopping street. Many fashionable boutiques and street food stalls are available. Large crowd at night.
Day 2 (Sat) 1. Having bread as breakfast purchased from bakery from the night before.

2. Visit UNESCO world heritage palace of Changdeokgung. Historic palace with private garden.

1. Drinking shikhye drink (Korean rice fermented drink)

2. Having vegetarian bibimbap as lunch.
1. Visit Korean traditional old houses.

2. Took bus. Heading to Namsan Tower.

3. Visit teddy bear museum which is just located at ground floor of Namsan Tower. Take the combination ticket of Namsan Tower and teddy bear museum for extra savings.

1. Visit Itaewon and have handmade noodles kalguksu as dinner.
Day 3 (Sun) 1. Visit Deoksu palace for guarding changing ceremony and to view the westernized feature of the palace. 1. Visiting Jongmyo shrine and took their walking tour. You can't walk alone in Jongmyo shrine. Do follow the time of your preferred language tour.

2. Having pork chop as lunch
1. Heading to Samgakji subway station to visit The Korea War Memorial. This is the world largest war memorial with many actual planes and war ships on display. 1. Visit shopping area of Dongdaemun.

2. Chicken ginseng soup dinner at Dongdaemun
Day 4 (Mon) 1. Autumn colours view at Seoul Olympic Park

1. Yeouido Hangang park visit. You are able to view the colourful flowers in the park and the 63 building which is among the tallest building in Seoul.

1. Beef soup dinner near Seoul station.

2. Visit Seoul station Lotte Mart. This is a large Lotte Mart.

3. Night view of Cheonggyecheon river stream.

4. Late night supper of traditional Korean delicacy of haemul pajeon and makgeolli.
Day 5 (Tue) 1. Unique Trick Eye museum in Hongik University area.

1. Tried the banana milk drink.

2. National Museum of Korea visit. Many ceramics on display.
1. Visit COEX shopping mall. I don't recommend to visit this shopping mall as product are mostly high end.

2. Dinner of bibimbap at COEX Mall.

3. Check out the media poles at Gangnam area.
Day 6 (Wed) 1. Spicy pork stew breakfast. 1. Visit antique street of Insadong. 1. Visit Namdaemun market. Snacking at Namdaemun market. 1. heading to dongguk station to view Rainbow bridge fountain. This musical water fountain performance only available during autumn.

2. Tried Tteokbokki during supper.
Day 7 (Thur) 1. Going back home from Incheon airport to Kuala Lumpur via Malaysia Airlines flight.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mukbang - Paying to watch pretty girls and handsome guys eating @ Seoul

There is now a latest online trend happening in South Korea. How do you fancy eating your dinner in front of a webcam and let thousands of people watching? If they like they way you eat, the audience may pay you money by receiving stars which you can then convert it to cash. The popular channel who broadcast eating may get a few hundred dollars a night and its a craze now in South Korea. The food phenomenon is called mukbang meaning Korean word for eating (muk) and broadcasting (bang). If you are in South Korea, you may watch mukbang from Afreeca TV which is a social networking site that host many of mukbang channels. The channel allows users to buy and send virtual star balloons which can be monetized after Afreeca TV takes a 30-40% commission. The payment by viewers is voluntary and the channels can be viewed for free. Some broadcaster even invest in good camera and microphone so that the viewer can see clearly and hear the sound of full crunch and slurp while eating.

The reason why mukbang gaining such a huge popularity in South Korea is the rise of one person households in Korea. The loneliness and excessive dieting to look slim also encourage people to view such video/broadcast for self satisfaction. Huge percentage of Koreans are on smartphones with easy access to TV streaming capabilities and many are on Seoul subway network during dinner time also contribute for such popularity of mukbang.

The Diva - famous due to pretty looks, slim body and good appetite for good food.

She is like partying alone in front of camera.

Guy eating in front of camera with access to Afreeca TV network.

This is how the mukbang setup look like behind the scene.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Milk fish & braised pork rice at Taiwan Only, Delicious Only @ Ximending, Taipei

This restaurant which is located beside the famous beef shop serving good braised pork rice also known as lurou fan. Good bowl of braised pork rice should have finely chopped pork belly cooked in aromatic soy sauce with five spices. The pork should contain ample amount of pork fat in order to make the rice super delicious. The hot braised pork then laid over hot rice. Besides the rice, I also ordered milk fish dish which were delicious as well. I ordered the piggy brain soup as I never had it before and would like to try something different. The brain texture were soft almost like cooked egg texture.

Taste:9/10(Delicious. Good bowl of braised pork rice with nice fragrant and delicious. The marinated milk fish meat is tender and the fatty skin layer of the fish does melts in your mouth. The piggy brain soup were clear and the brain texture were good not overly cooked).
Price:6/10(Moderate. Marinated milkfish belly at TWD90, braised pork rice with mushroom at TWD25 for small and piggy brain soup at TWD50).

The environment inside the shop. They also have herbal soup and clam chicken soup as well.

These are all the meals that I had. Let me introduce you one by one from the photos below.

Braised pork rice with mushroom.

Marinated milk fish belly. See the layer of delicious fish fat.

Piggy brain soup. This is a high cholesterol meal. I know someone may not like this dish or feel disgusting. But as a good food critique, I should show and highlight any edible food.

The piggy brain soup portion is not that big :-)

The shop in Kunming street Taipei.

Coordinate/GPS: 25.04258,121.504798
Address: No. 89, Kūnmíng Street, Wanhua District Taipei City
Metro: 15 minutes walk from Ximen MRT station exit 6.
Phone: +8862-2381-2561

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Traditional old houses of Bukchon Hanok village in Seoul

Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses called 'hanok' that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse in Korean traditional culture. Some hanok owners are offering home stay experiences, well worth a visit if you have chance to stay one or two nights.

Traditional hanok.

Example of renovated hanok. The entrance lane is small.

Main door of one of the houses.

Korean delicacy at 2,000 Won each pack.

Small garden in front of hanok.

Small shops around the Bukchon Hanok village.

GPS/Coordinate: 37.582220, 126.982151
Address: Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Public transport: Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Exit 2.
Go straight for about 300m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Village.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Namdaemun Market @ Seoul

Namdaemun Market is the largest street market in Seoul. You can get cheaper stuff here compared to other places in Seoul. There are many variety of items here and the price of some items may differ from shop to shop. I would recommend to buy your souvenir here and there are a lot of choices here and the price is reasonable. This is also a place for you to saviour Korean street food from seafood, pork knuckles, snacks and Korean dessert. Do come here during early afternoon or late evening. You can buy most Korean items here such as Korean cookware and souvenirs. You able to purchase the black clay bowl that all shops used to serve bibimbap here. This type of clay bowl able to maintain its heat at longer period. The side alleys are great places to eat local food and most menus are in English. The street food is fantastic and I recommend going in the evening if you want to see more unique foods although it can get quite crowded.

Stalls selling underwear and clothing.

You can get cheaper souvenir in Namdaemun market compared to other markets in Seoul.

Dried food such as squid and anchovies.

Plastic items and gloves also available.

Having vegetable pork bun.

Vegetable pancakes.

Street food - fried fish fillet.

Crowded with shoppers during late evening.

Preserved vegetables and food. There are one item which is very smelly here (bottom left) but I don't know what it is.

Souvenirs. Plates, pictures, chopsticks, mask, beauty products and much more...

This shop basically just selling all the photos and pictures of famous Korean actors and singers.

Key chains, letter opener and mirrors.

Nice dolls in Korean costume.

Variety of seaweed to choose from.

Abundance of selection of winter clothing and leather jackets available in Namdaemun market. These items however are unbranded.

Pork knuckles. It looks good but I don't have chance to try it as I don't know that they also serve single portion. According to my friend who went to the same shop, she said the pork is good and worth to try.

This is the stall selling pork knuckles.

If you like seafood. Sit down and order your favourite dish.

Another street seafood stall. You may get your soju alcoholic drink here as well.

Variety of Korean street food. Mostly are seafood.

Fish Cakes: This is a great snack. Fish cakes are cooked in a rich broth. After eating two or three, you are full. Plus, the broth that is served with the cakes is nice. Price range between 500 Won to 1000 Won per cake.

Variety of fried stuff and Tteokbokki.

Just pick which screwer that you want.

GPS/Coordinate: 37.558303, 126.977190
Public transport: Hoehyeon station (Subway line 4) exit 5.


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