Friends & Hang Out, My Life, Travel

Coming Back To Seoul

My first arrival to Incheon and Seoul was precisely five years ago, and here I am writing another post about Seoul after my first trip report back then – titled ‘Seoul: Shopping Spree Wonderland’. Five years ago, Seoul was not as popular as what it has become presently, where everybody now has talked about the city following the rising popularity of Korean TV drama, TV shows and actors or actresses.

The traffic of my ‘Seoul, Shopping Spree Wonderland’ post has contributed a lot for this blog’s stats activity. There used to be dozens of readers visiting this blog as they might have probably-and-randomly found that article on Google upon searching Korean tour, Seoul tour or something like that. And yes, most of those readers were dominated by young teenagers who just popped a comment saying I wish I could go there or Can you recommend me any place to stay in Seoul and what to visit as I plan to go there next month, and many other prospective comments.

I must say that I was thankful to be able to re-visit one of the most renowned Asia’s capital city, Seoul. Clearly, two weeks ago (it’s another winter time) I was assigned for a business travel to Seoul to meet the owner of my company who held an event with the most rising soccer player in Asia, Park Ji Sung. Without thinking twice I agreed to fly with a very last minute preparation.

On 9 December 2014, my plane touched down safely at Incheon International Airport. I wasn’t traveling alone, as I had several media participants that I invited to come along with me to Seoul. The cabin crew informed us the temperature dropped to negative five degrees celcius which wasn’t that different than my first arrival there back in 2009. I told my media friends to always be prepared with gloves and their coats as the temperature might have lowered every hour. Proven, the temperature dropped until negative eleven.

IMG_0322The picture above was myself upon arriving from a 6 hour 30 minutes flight from Kuala Lumpur. Got over shadowed but still happy with the picture. After we were done with immigration and custom clearance, we headed straight away to Myeong-Dong area to drop our luggage at SkyPark Hotel where we would stay for 2 nights. The journey took for about an hour and we checked in at around 11.00 am local time. My journalist colleagues had been asking what we would do then for the first free and easy morning. I said, their half day city tour had been planned and I would be their travel guide as I still remembered some areas and public transportation to get to those places.

IMG_0337Snow remnants still covered some areas in Incheon

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IMG_0355Namdaemun Gate. I didn’t get a chance to see this gate back in 2009 as it was under construction for massive renovation post fire incident

I managed to plan a short tour around Namsan area (Seoul Tower), Gyeongbokgung, Namdaemun market, Myeong-Dong market. The main reason I took them to Seoul Tower was to show them the famous love locks. Meanwhile, for Gyeongbokgung is a must-visit palace although we were a bit upset to know the palace was close for public on Tuesday.

IMG_0369Walking to Namsan Cable Car. The journey took for about 20 minutes on normal walk speed on inclining terrain.

IMG_0485My savior. Do not underestimate this thing. Bring your ultra rich moisturizers lip balm.

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IMG_0395Seoul’s city landmark. Namsan (N Seoul Tower)

IMG_0430My favorite place in Seoul. Here you cannot just enjoying breathtaking view, but you’ll get to visit numerous interesting places such as N Seoul Tower itself or Teddy Bear Museum.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe famous love locks on Namsan peak

IMG_0452The main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace from the North entrance

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Seoul always gets me on , why? I think this city has so many things to offer. The city is very vibrant and friendly. Seoul has the best nightlife ambiance in Asia. The lighting, the hype, the spirit of the locals are somewhat you will never find anywhere. If I may compare, Shibuya area in Tokyo is indeed busier and surrounded by more advanced technology than the rest of Seoul Central Business District area. However, one thing for sure, the energy of Myeong-Dong area in Seoul, especially at night is something you will never forget, as your eyes will be pampered with the presence of hundreds even thousands of beauty, ornaments, souvenirs, jewelery stores and foods stalls selling unique foods. When you are there, you will see how this area succeeds to steal every woman’s attention to give up what’s next to-do-on their tour list, as they will instantly change their minds only to shop or at least merely stopping for a thorough-observation (the paradox of window shopping) at those unimaginably cute things they might see over there.

IMG_0481If 5 years ago, my friend who heard I was going to Seoul they would just text me and say “Have a Nice Trip”, now the girls would rather text to ask for something to bring from South Korea. At least, I received more than 10 messages asking different things that precisely could not be accommodated. These nail paints were the only thing I could think of, Skin Food store located in front of my hotel, they had special sale of 1.500 Won (IDR 16.500,-) each. To save time I would just take every color on a bucket and brought them to the cashier desk.

IMG_0465My mom text just to remind me of her favorite type of strawberries. FYI, Korean strawberries are literally fat and juicy

IMG_0578Wishing you a Merry Christmas everyone! The Christmas decorations and installations here in Myeong-Dong are immaculate!

IMG_0357The giant Christmas ornaments in Seoul. I think everyone agrees with me, South Korea is always associated with love… and cosmetics *HA*

IMG_0362Just to elaborate the cosmetic craze is this exceptional corner at my hotel (SkyPark 1 Myeong Dong). The business corner which is equipped with free use of nail paint and dressing table that are perfect for ladies.

IMG_0545LINE Store at Lotte Mall Myeong Dong. This store is relatively new. Once you’re inside, I am definitely sure we won’t leave empty handed

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetPerfect winter dress. I am never comfortable to wear jumper or oversize coat. Let’s make it simple, Merino wool sweater, Velvet jacket, leather gloves and thick scarf.

IMG_0570Teenie Weenie, so far is the cutest store in Myeong Dong

Foods?

Aside to shopping, you can also find plenty foods stalls that sell cheap foods (mostly skewers just like in other Asian cities). The average price of street foods in Myeong Dong or Namdaemun cost around KRW 1,000 – KRW 5,000 (IDR 13.000,- – IDR 60.000,-) per piece. Do not worry on the foods sizes, the serve is quiet fulfilling.

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IMG_0576It is my first time to see this Strawberry wrapped by chocolate and glutinous rice. When you visit Myeong-Dong try this one!

IMG_0557Teokbokki (Rice cake with Traditional Korean sauce). When I first saw this food 5 years ago, I thought this one was made of squid or fish, but after trying then I realise this one just a rice cake with sumptuous sweet-sour sauce.

IMG_0558Snail? Yes, Koreans eat snails. Snail is believed to provide great nutrition for them such as for skins and protein in-takes. No wonder that snail is mostly used as the basic essence for *again* most of skin and beauty products.

IMG_0590 The snacks that have it all. Flavors, tastes, crunchiness blend together

After strolling around Seoul for two days, one of my old friend who turned out to be a local, called me and knew I was in Seoul. After short conversation, we ended up agreed to meet up and he said wanted to take me to a famous Korean BBQ place in Myeong-Dong called ‘Wumioke’.

Upon my first day, we actually had a lunch at a local restaurant located on the ground floor of Namsan cable car embarkation, which to me is a bit expensive. However, my friend said that Korean BBQ restaurants in Seoul mostly has similar average price in which there is an unwritten rules of minimum order for some certain type of meats such as: Syamgupsal (pork belly), pork ribs, sirloin, tenderloin etc. And believe me the tastes are apparently the same or even at some point is better at Korean BBQ restaurants in Jakarta. The average price of a set of syamgupsal may cost KRW 15.000,- – KRW 22.000,- (depends on how many set you ordered), while the beef ones are more expensive around KRW 22.000,- – KRW 25.000,- per set. Clearly, the price is including various side dishes and free drinks for everyone except rice.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetEating like a Korean

IMG_0610I completely forget the name of this dish but is perfect for dinner in winter. So warm.

IMG_0612A little corner of the restaurant. Wumioke has been visited by so many people around the globe. As to keep the memory, the restaurant owner keep each of foreign visitor through photographs taken while eating at the restaurant and displayed them on the wall.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAfter dinner, we were full and happy

To conclude this post, I would definitely encourage all of you to visit South Korea! For those first timer, spending more days in Seoul is highly recommended as this city is the center of main attraction of what South Korea has to offer. Here you can explore all that become your travel interests, you can get everything you want starts from shopping, getting closer with nature, experience the excitement of Seoul’s nightlife, until tasting the authentic delicacies. I have been here for two times and always willing to come back. So¬† I’ll see you guys next time in South Korea, or in Myeong Dong maybe? ūüôā

Oh last but not least, the proven of Park Ji Sung is right here..

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Colorful Kunming (7-11 December 2013) ; How Great Thou Art

Hi all, after being away from blogging for a while, I would like to share you some photos that might inspire you to visit a city that I recently visited, Kunming.

I flew with AirAsia to Kunming. A great experience to fly with the world’s best low cost carrier. From Jakarta, I took the first flight to Kuala Lumpur using AirAsia Indonesia (QZ), and connecting to Kunming for 2 hours with AirAsia Malaysia (AK). The schedule is very convenient, the flight arrived in the afternoon, not too late before dark.

I will not say too much here, but my photos will speak themselves, how beautiful the city is. If you guys happen to seek nature and serenity, this place is very recommended.

All pictures are taken by iPhone 5. I am a proud iPhone photographer.

Kunming is located in Southwest China, not too far from Hanoi and this city has a lot to offer. I feel so grateful to get a chance to visit this city for a 5 days trip. Colorful city, all seasons, spring weather, authentic heritage and cultural. For those who had visited Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou before might find this city a bit different. This city doesn’t have MRT only bus, and the capital Kunming is not as packed as those three cities. However, there are still some areas that can be found similar such as Dongfeng Road the shopping district (similar to Wangfujing Road in Beijing or Nanjing Road in Shanghai).

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Kunming from 20th floor, New Era Kunming Hotel.
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Besides Dong Feng area, Kunming has some night market shops that you can find around the area. What I found was strange was, I couldn’t find folding fan, and fridge magnet for souvenirs, only accessories, furniture, clothes, and foods.

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One of the souvenir shops I visited.

Apart from shopping indulgence, Kunming pleases its visitors with many natural attractions. You should complete your journey by interacting with nature. It may takes big effort for this but the experience you’ll get pays off the hassle.

Xishan (West Mountain)

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Xi Shan (West Mountain) is the closest natural site to Kunming city. Located in the west side of the city this mountain’s elevation is around 2.500 meters high. From this mountain you can take cable car, which is not the usual cable car. This thing will make you feel like flying off the mountain, and for those who have high altitude phobia are actually not recommended to take this.

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Trees Underneath.

What I wore? Asics Onitsuka Tiger Mexico Mid Runner

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Cable car track

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Finally, I reached the top end!

What I wore? Brown Wayfarer glasses: Tom Ford, Unbranded scarf, Blue Sweater : Next, Blue Jeans: Nudie, Watch: Swatch Irony

Yunnan Nationalities Village

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Colorful trees captured in Yunnan Nationalities Village in Kunming. As I mentioned earlier, Kunming is known as Spring City. It offers the best weather and you will get all season here!

When you are in Kunming, visiting Yunnan Nationalities Village is a must. This village is similar to a recreational park which showcases Yunnan’s tribes that account to 25 tribe nationalities. You will get to experience their lifestyle, visiting the mock-up of their house, watching performance, and most importantly this park is designed flawlessly gorgeous, lots of trees, lake and many more.

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The lake in Yunnan Nationalities Village somewhat makes you feel like being in Europe

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What I wore? Brown Wayfarer glasses: Tom Ford, Unbranded scarf, Blue Sweater : Next, Blue Jeans: Nudie

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Cui Hu Lake

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Cui Hu Lake Park, Kunming. This is where you could play with the seagulls. The seagulls are known to fly from Siberia to Kunming every winter, making this lake as their playground.

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Let’s see the gulls closer

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One of ancient buildings in Cui Hu Lake Park.

Stone Forest Park

I also managed to visit stone forest park, the biggest stone forest in China and probably in the world. The stone forest park is formed million years ago, when the earth moved and the sea water eroded. If there is stonehenge in the U.K, in China there is stone forest park. The stones were formed nearly thousands years ago in giant sizes. What makes it interesting, the local folks still believes in the romantic Ahei ann Ashima love story which becomes a substance of the stone forest journey experience. The tour guide says we must use our imagination in ord enjoy the stones. Your imagination will lead you to think of many unique shape that represents things around us.

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What I wore? White long sleeve Polo Shirt, St. Michael (Marks & Spencer) black sweater, Burberry Scarf, Zara black leather gloves and Brown Swatch Irony.

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There are many lake inside the forest

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They believe this is the Ashima stones. The left tip is the head and the two on the right is believed as flower bucket that she carries all the time

Jiaozi Mountain

I also got a chance to visit Jiaozi Mountain, the highest mountain in Yunnan (4.200 m below sea level or approx. 12.000 feet) which is also known as a snowy mountain. The mountain is located at Liuxijiang district, 4 hours ride from Kunming. The weather is extremely cold up there so you will need to prepare thick jackets, layered shirts and sweaters.

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The view along the way

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What I wore? Knit Blue Sweater by H&M, Knit scarf by H&M, Honey pants by H&M, Leather gloves by Zara, Suede winter boots: Unbranded

The snow is not an eternal snow, but only seasonal. The mountain isn’t covered by snow during my visit, only some areas due to the season transition from autumn to winter. Despite there is only less snow at that time, but I was still grateful to go up and see the beauty nature.

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The frozen waterfall

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Do not ever step on the ice. This one was accidentally taken right after I slipped on the ice. I asked someone to help me taking a picture of me sitting on the ice, but it turned out I slipped on the ice and hit my elbow against the rock.

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Enjoying Sunset from 3.800 meters above the sea level

Guangdu Ancient Town & Copper Palace

The two final places we visited were Guangdu Ancient Town and Copper Palace. These sites mark China’s solid culture which has been established for hundred years. The ancient town is secluded around the wall just like forbidden city or Nanshi Old Town in Huangpu, Shanghai. only the area is smaller. The district now has transformed as a shopping area selling foods, souvenirs, clothes, flowers and many more.

Just right before the old town, there is a river that occupied with seagulls. This is also a quiet interesting attraction for the tourists to feed the bird and they would fly to you.

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Siberian Seagulls at Guangdu Old town

What I wore? Grey turtleneck by H&M, Knit scarf by H&M, brown belt by Next, Leather gloves by Zara, Khakis pants by Dockers

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Guangdu Old town

What I wore? Grey turtleneck by H&M, Knit scarf by H&M, brown belt by Next, Leather gloves by Zara, Khakis pants by Dockers

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What are your 2014’s wishes?

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Reminds me of a Golden temple in Kyoto, Japan

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Conclusion

To conclude I actually very enjoyed my last trip to Kunming. I didn’t know anything about the city, but when I was assigned to visit the city, I felt so grateful and being even more thankful for my creature. China has always been a favorite destination to me, as I am a person who rather enjoys hills, mountains, and nature than beaches. I sent some of the pictures to my friends and families, they were even asking where I had been. I said Kunming and they were like “Oh? Where is it?” I said China.

Kunming is known as spring city, but it gets very cold in winter, so if you are planning to visit between December – March 2013 just prepare your thick jackets or sweater, gloves and scarf. The Jiaozi mountain isn’t covered with snow in early December, if you want to feel the snow you may visit in January – March.

In my own perspective (if I could compare this with two others like Beijing and Shanghai is still different. Kunming has less population but the city is still the central industry in Southwest China. It hasn’t any MRT or subways like Beijing and Shanghai, public bus is the main transportation. If you guys want to visit Kunming, I recommend you join local tour or commute with Taxi if you are unsure about language barriers.

In terms of shopping, in Kunming the night market offers you many products starting from clothing, accessories, home decorations, until electronics. It is cheaper here! I think due to proximity to Guangzhou, this city could sell more cheaper products.

Since the nature tourism is very important here, you should go to the outskirts city. Climb the mountain and see how the nature treats your eyes. Last but not least, Kunming is a worth city to visit!

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