A Travellerspoint blog

South Korea

Seoul
We got up at 4am and caught a bus to the airport. We weren't expecting much from Air Asia (after our Bali Air Asia flights), but because the flight was an Air Asia X flight it had a lot more leg room and the 2 meals were really nice. It was 6pm when we checked in even though we had left Malaysia at 6 0'clock in the morning. We had traditional twigam which is stuffed chilli pepper and crab stick. We also had ddeokbokki which is rice and fish served in blow your head off sauce.

We caught a tube to a palace called Gyeongbokgung. The Koreans made it their capital in 1392. We saw lots of people in traditional Korean dresses called Hanbok. We saw the changing of the guard where you could take pictures of soldiers with spears, swords and bow and arrows. The palace complex was gigantic with 2 museums and a complex just for storing jars with soy sauce and chilli sauce. We went to Ghonnyeonghai Hall which was used by Empress Myeongseong, who was murdered in 1845 by the Japanese. We had really spicy squid bibimbap, cutterfish, hand made steamed dumplings and loads of unidentified side dishes. We walked up Bukchon cultural hill where we saw lots of traditional wooden houses. We saw a royal well where only kings and queens could drink. The well's water was known for being fresh and clean. We went to a museum which supposedly had an amazing piece of art which "should be better known", but what I thought was that it was just as boring as the other pictures, paintings and statues. We caught a tube back and had more twigam and crispy chicken from the street vendors.

We got up really early to catch a tour bus to the DMZ which is the Demilitarized Zone. It is a 4km gap between North and South Korea. Our tour guide was a happy and friendly man who enjoyed making jokes. We had a lovely group of people who came from Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines. We saw a train which had approximately 1000 bullet holes in it. We bought a limited edition piece of the DMZ barbed wire fence. We saw the Freeedom Bridge where the prisoners of each of the Koreas swapped back and forth. The Axe Murder Incident was where the Americans tried to cut down a tree which blocked the view of the North Koreans, but 4 North Koreans killed them with axes. So the Americans responded by sending 600 armed soldiers to cut down the tree, which was from my point of view a bit of overkill. The third tunnel was 73 metres underground and we went right under the DMZ. It was dug by the North Koreans who claimed they were looking for coal after they painted the rocks black. Although it is more likely that they were using it to invade. We went to the Dorasan Observatory Deck where we looked out over North Korea through binoculars and we saw the North Korean flag. At the observatory deck, the Koreas take it in turns to play music, although the speakers are so bad I doubt they can hear each other's music. We went to a train station which had a massive board showing all the people who were trying to see their separated relatives and had paid donations to build the train station. This was very sad. We then caught our bus back and had fish chop which was delicious, and the man was very nice to me. We then went into another palace where we saw a machine which could shoot 100 arrows at a time, and the palace's name was Deoksugung Palace.

We caught the tube to Changdeokgung Palace which was exactly the same as the other palaces, and it was just courtyards and buildings. We then walked a long way to the same restaurant as yesterday for fish chop and ice cream. We then went in the secret garden at the palace with a English tour guide who we couldn't understand because she spoke English really rapidly. The garden was just lots more of the trees and buildings.

Seoul Metro System

Seoul Metro System

Changing of the Guard, Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changing of the Guard, Gyeongbokgung Palace

Girls 'wearing hanbok', Gyeongbokgung Palace

Girls 'wearing hanbok', Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Library, Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Library, Gyeongbokgung Palace

Bibimbap, traditional Korean dish and main staple (ours had braised squid added)

Bibimbap, traditional Korean dish and main staple (ours had braised squid added)

Side dishes served with Bibimbap including kimchi (this will blow your head off with the spice level)

Side dishes served with Bibimbap including kimchi (this will blow your head off with the spice level)

Third Tunnel of Agression under the DMZ

Third Tunnel of Agression under the DMZ

What's over in North Korea?, Dorasan Observatory

What's over in North Korea?, Dorasan Observatory

Dorasan Station, railway line connects to Pyeongyang in North Korea but no trains are running

Dorasan Station, railway line connects to Pyeongyang in North Korea but no trains are running

Sokcho
We caught a first class bus to Sokcho. The bus was really nice with leather reclining seats, lots of leg room and and amazing aircon. It also stopped to let us have an ice cream and stretch our legs. We then walked to our hotel where we checked in. We then had lunch which was fish sizzled on a grill in front of us with rice and vegetables. There were 7 types of fish including squid and mackerel.
We had loads of eggs and cereal for breakfast. We caught a bus to Seoraksan National Park where we walked 5.6km. We took the waterfall trail which passed 2 gigantic waterfalls. We also climbed 850 steps to an observation deck where we looked out through binoculars at Sokcho. It took about 3 hours for us to climb up and down the waterfalls which were called Biryong Falls and Yukdam Falls. Climbing up the falls was very hard because it was very hot, although we were high up. We had pot noodle and gimbap which is seaweed wrapped around rice and chicken, beef or fish.
We had even more eggs and cereal for breakfast and caught the bus again to Seoraksan National Park. We walked to Heundeulbawi Rock which can be rocked by large groups of people even though it weighs 16 tons. we walked more than 800 steps to the top of Ulsanbawi which is a 873m granite crag. The legend has it that a North Korean giant rock fell asleep and never woke up. It was on its way home when it fell asleep on the Seorak Mountains, It came from Geumgang Mountains in North Korea. We walked a total of 7.km and it took 4 hours. We has Lotteria which is a Korean fast food brand. We had shrimp burger and maybe the reason why the Koreans aren't fat is because there is no bad option. Also, over here I am 11 because when you are born you are 1 year old.
We caught the winch ferry where you use a metal hook to pull yourself across. We caught it to Abai Island and it was 15 pence each. On the way back a Korean lady helped me pull the ferry.

Comfy seats on Korean bus to Sokcho

Comfy seats on Korean bus to Sokcho

Fish cooking over the charcoal on our table, includes squid, mackerel, flounder, saury, sailfin sandfish and yellow rockfish

Fish cooking over the charcoal on our table, includes squid, mackerel, flounder, saury, sailfin sandfish and yellow rockfish

Side dishes accompanying our fish meal including kimchi

Side dishes accompanying our fish meal including kimchi

Biryang Falls (Dragon Falls)

Biryang Falls (Dragon Falls)

View from Observatory Deck, Waterfalls Hike

View from Observatory Deck, Waterfalls Hike

Heundeulbawi (the Rocking Rock) 16 tonne boulder

Heundeulbawi (the Rocking Rock) 16 tonne boulder

Abai Island winch ferry

Abai Island winch ferry

Jeongdongjin
We caught a bus to Gangneung which was where the song "Walk on Gangneung Style" was made. We then had to wait 2 hours for the next bus to Jeongdongjin because we just missed one. We found a "Love Motel", not realising at the time that it was a Love Motel. We were expecting another bed, the but lady gave me a pillow, a Korean mat and a blanket to put on the hard wooden floor. The train staion in Jeongdongjin is in the Guiness Book of Records for being the closest to the sea in the world. There is a massive hotel shaped like a cruise ship on top of the cliff.

We changed from the motel to a hotel which had 3 beds, a kitchen and a lovely sea view. We then caught a bus to Reunification Park. We saw a wooden boat that 4 North Koreans had used to escape to South Korea. We also saw a captured North Korean submarine which somehow could fit 30 people on board. When we went on board it smelled fishy and had no kitchen, toilet or bed inside. We also went on a gigantic South Korean warship where I got to sit down on a massive gun. We saw tanks and planes and the planes used by the 1st South Korean president. We had cuttlefish stuffed with rice and vegetables, kimbap and crispy chicken for tea.

We had a day that didn't go our way. We were disappointed by breakfast because they didn't have noodles, only toast which I don't like. We caught a bus to Gangneung. The train station was just a hole in the ground because it was being rebuilt for the Winter Olympics next year. We tried to find a supermarket but the whole area was being redeveloped so we walked 2km to the bus station and had a chicken burger. Then we walked another 2km to a supermarket but it was so expensive, For example a single watermelon cost 15 pounds. We then caught a bus to Haslla Art World where we walked around the sculpture park which was rubbish. Although we did get to see cow dung art, but it was pants. We were very pleased to get back to hotel after everything that had happened.

North Korean submarine intercepted by South Korea on a clandestine mission, Gangneung Reunification Park

North Korean submarine intercepted by South Korea on a clandestine mission, Gangneung Reunification Park

Dark Destroyer 916 used in the Second World War, Korean War and the Gulf War, Gangneung Reunification Park

Dark Destroyer 916 used in the Second World War, Korean War and the Gulf War, Gangneung Reunification Park

On the deck of the 120m long destroyer, Gangneung Reunification Park

On the deck of the 120m long destroyer, Gangneung Reunification Park

Sun Cruise Hotel (ship hanging precariously from the top of a cliff)

Sun Cruise Hotel (ship hanging precariously from the top of a cliff)

Cow Dung Art (it didn't smell too good), Haslla Art World

Cow Dung Art (it didn't smell too good), Haslla Art World

Featured in the Guinness Book of Records, closest railway station to the sea, Jeongdongjin

Featured in the Guinness Book of Records, closest railway station to the sea, Jeongdongjin

Guard Post along the coast, the South Koreans have to be ever vigilant

Guard Post along the coast, the South Koreans have to be ever vigilant

Gyeongju
We walked along the beach which was very windy and had massive waves crashing down thanks to last night's storm. We killed time playing cards in the hotel's lobby room. We then caught a train with big, comfortable, swivel seats for 6 hours to Gyeongju. We checked into our hotel which had 3 beds and a computer in our room.
We got up really late, then walked around dirt shaped domes where kings and queens were buried. We then walked back because for some reason we felt really sleepy. We had my favourite meal in Korea so far which was pork katsu with vegetable curry. We then cycled to the park on bikes from our hotel. We bought a kite which we flew and it went at least 100 metres up in the air because the wind was so strong. It was like a tug of war.
We went to Tumuli Park to see Silla Dynasty burial mounds. We went inside the Tomb of Cheonmachong. It had over 12,000 artifacts when it was first discovered. The tombs were wooden boxes with gravel, stones and dirt piled on top. We then walked to the park where I was impressed by how well my tiny little drone flew. We tried traditional Korean rice cake which is like a jelly coated in powder which is horrible. We walked through the park to Gyeongju National Museum. The museum was all about the Silla Dynasty which was from 57BC to 935AD and had 56 different kings in the dynasty. I didn't find the museum very interesting because it was just gold pots and pans and had no interactive buttons to press, although I did get to strike a bell and the sound was amazing. We then walked back to a food street where we had twigam and my favourite twigam was the squid.
We cycled to the park. It was very sunny which meant it was scorching. We used the kite, but I didn't use it for very long because it was so hot. We tried to cycle to Namsan but I started to get hayfever and it was just so hot. They are restoring a bridge which is the entrance to a massive Silla tomb. It has taken them 5 years so it will be reafy for the Winter Olmpics in 2018.

Boarding the train at Jeongdongjin

Boarding the train at Jeongdongjin


Cheonmachong (Heavenly Horse Tomb)

Cheonmachong (Heavenly Horse Tomb)

Inside the burial mound, Cheonmachong (Heavenly Horse Tomb)

Inside the burial mound, Cheonmachong (Heavenly Horse Tomb)

Cycling round Gyeongju

Cycling round Gyeongju

Striking a traditional Korean bell, Gyeongju National Museum

Striking a traditional Korean bell, Gyeongju National Museum


Kite flying, Gyeongju

Kite flying, Gyeongju

Busan
We caught the train to Busan. We then caught the subway and MRT to our hotel which was a traditional Korean hotel with futon mats and a quilt instead of beds.
We spent the day exploring downtown Busan. We went to Jagalchi fish market. It is the biggest fish market in South Korea and it was full of prawns, lobsters, squid, fish, shellfish and other weird things which wern't identifiable. We went to Yongchisan Park which had loads of outdoor exercise machines which I did with the old men. We went to the Modern History Museum which was rubbish and pants because it was just boards and no interactive activities. But there were videos which were funny because the English was so bad.
We walked up an extremely steep hill to Democracy Park which had memorials to the soldiers who died in the Korean War, and we also looked out over Busan through binoculars. We walked up to Jungang Park and saw the Monument to the Fallen Heroes and there were photographs telling the story of the Koran War. We changed hotel to Busan Airport Hotel which was very nice and had a whirlpool bath which was big enough to fit all three of us in, and had 2 computers in our room. Tomorrow we have an early morning flight to Japan.

Jagalchi fish market, Busan

Jagalchi fish market, Busan

Traditional South Korean bedroom, Busan

Traditional South Korean bedroom, Busan


Exercising in Busan

Exercising in Busan


Korea's equivalent of fast food, meal from Hansot which includes kimchi

Korea's equivalent of fast food, meal from Hansot which includes kimchi


Huge whirlpool bath in a bathroom the size of our bedroom, Busan Airport Hotel

Huge whirlpool bath in a bathroom the size of our bedroom, Busan Airport Hotel

Posted by edandsuet 03:44 Archived in South Korea

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