Experiences

A Korean winter – part 2

Thus it began. Our Korean winter adventure.

Jeju Island – 17th December

Jeju

Reaching Jeju Island by Jeju Air from Busan was a breeze. It took an hour, spent pleasantly in anticipation. We found Jeju island a sleepy, laid back place with an old world charm. It was a very pleasant 6 degrees outside, not too cold yet requiring a two layer insulation and a scarf. We got a Kia 7 seater Jumbo taxi from the airport to our first hotel – a very comfortable journey costing 80,000 Korean won. Best Jeju hotel welcomed us with warm and spacious rooms. As could be expected the Japanese style bidet toilet had warmed seats – a small detail that matters much when you find yourself in a cold climate. We had taken two rooms in the hotel, which for one night cost 960,000 won. Not bad at all.

First meal in South Korea

Next on the agenda was dinner, and boy! did we enjoy our first Korean dinner! The famed and hallowed Korean barbecue truly lived up to its name. The condiments that come with the barbecue were too many to count. The ever present Kimchi, and various other picked vegetables and chilli literally filled the table. Eating is an art in Korea. You take your time, relish it, savour it, close your eyes and enter a reverie where you are one with your food. Truly delicious experience.

A walk in the cold

Nothing like an after-dinner walk in the pristine, cold night air. We had not, however, expected bone-chilling wind, which presently made us all wish to crawl back to our warmed rooms. Yet, we braved the elements and walked about 45 minutes, feeling at one with the tranquil Jeju. It is no wonder that Jeju island is a honeymoon destination. There is a certain romantic aura to this place. Our walk over, returning to our hotel, we found a pub located quire nearby, with old classical music drifting out. There was an old piano outside their door, which I thought was very incongruous, until we spotted the piano to be covered entirely by doodles of some kind.

Our first few hours in Jeju were quite magical.

(to be continued)

 

Experiences

A Korean Winter – Part 1

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The school holidays in Brunei were just around the corner. We wanted to go somewhere and have a blast. Out of nowhere came the idea that we should spend December holidays and Christmas in South Korea!

The preparations

Te preparations for the trip included planning 1) where to go in South Korea 2) How to go 3) Where to stay 4) What to see and 5) what all things to pack.

Where to go in South Korea

Swiftly, without much effort, we decided that we would go to three places in South Korea – Jeju island, Seoul city and Busan. Jeju island is known as a tourist destination, Seoul city of course is the capital and the biggest city in South Korea, and Busan is the second biggest city in South Korea.

How to go?

We decided that we would fly to Busan first, and fly to Jeju island on the same day, spend three days there, then fly to Seoul. In Seoul we decided to spend three days, and to catch a train to Busan. In Busan we decided to spend two days.

Again, swiftly, we decided that we would choose cheaper ways to travel, so that we could save on travel and maximize our spending on experiences instead. So we chose Air Asia from Miri to KL, and KL to Busan and back. From Busan to Jeju Island, we chose Jeju Air.. From Seoul city to Busan it was Korean rail.

Where to stay?

This was a difficult decision. We trusted Agoda to tell us where to stay. Eventually, we zeroed in on moderately priced hotels in all the places. In Jeju island we stayed in three hotels – Best Jeju Seongsan, Heyy Hotel and Hotel Noblesse. All three were very comfortable stays. In Seoul city however, we made a mistake and went to Top hotel, which turned out to be much below our expectations in terms of space and comfort. However, in Busan we again got a good bargain. We stayed at the comfy Shin Shin hotel. Altogether, five hotels in ten days. Not bad at all.

What to see?

A lot of family discussions were held on the best places to see in each of our destinations. We got some leaflets from the Korean embassy in Brunei which proved to be very valuable. The rest of the details were filled in by means of google searches.

What all things to pack?

Well, we knew that we had to expect sub-zero temperatures in Seoul city. So we packed enough so that each of us could wear three layers. We also took enough  moisturizer, lipbalm, hand santizer and basic medicines with us in case any of us fell ill in the unfamiliar climate. We bought the major winter jackets from Seoul itself.

(To be continued)