Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park

Monday, 31 October 2016

Korea 2015 : Everland

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Everland was the overcrowded bus.  We took bus no. 5002 from Gangnam station exit 5 at around 8 plus.  We didn't know it at that time but most of the crowd at the bus stand was waiting for that same bus.  By the time we got in the bus, we had to stand and squeezed in with other people.  It doesn't help that the buses in Korea do not turn on the air-con during winter even when it is packed from back to door.  It was really warm, even after we had taken off our winter jackets and sweaters.  And the journey took about 2 hours due to the morning rush hours. 
The next time we go to Everland, I would go to a bus stand way before the Gangnam stop just to get a seat and avoid having to stand. 
And go home before the closing time.  The bus stand at Everland were very crowded at closing time with people queuing for the many different buses there.  While we were queuing for bus no. 5002 at Everland bus stand, a group of tourist kept pushing the people in front.  When the bus arrived, these people didn't care that there were children in front and kept pushing forward.  My family and I were ones of the first in the queue, followed by a young Korean couple.  When they pushed forward, we almost fell off the pavement.  Luckily, we managed to grab hold of each other.  Some of the tourist tried to jump queue in front of us and were quickly followed by the others.  The Korean couple were plastered against us.  My husband then put his hands around the kids and I and held onto the bus door frame, making a barricade which enable us to get on the bus safely.   If he didn't do that, we would have fallen off the pavement as we tried to get on the bus which would have resulted in a stampede. 
So my advice is : find an alternative bus stand other than the Gangnam bus stop, go back to Seoul early or pay extra for one of those private coaches.

Everland itself was a delight although we spent most of the day at the Safari. 

View of the animals from within the Safari bus

Christmas light display at Everland

The ever famous tree which appeared in an episode of RunningMan.

 And that concludes our 2015 trip to Korea.


Sunday, 31 July 2016

Korea 2015 : Jade Garden

I have always wanted to go to Jade Garden after watching Love Rain and You're My Pet. 

We took the train to Gulbongsan station before taking the shuttle bus to Jade Garden.  The garden was beautiful even though the plants had turned brown and pale green due to the season.  I would love to see it in spring in the future. 
They have different recommended walking course and we took the one to the house that Hana and her mother stayed at in Love Rain.   Everything was fine but to reach Hana's house, we had to climb up a u-shape steep slope.  That was quite difficult. 

The schedule for the shuttle bus from
Gulbongsan station to Jade Garden.

Entrance to the garden

The house where Hana and her mother were staying at in Love Rain.
It is now a small café.

The place where Jang Gun Seok danced in You're My Pet.

It is actually the entrance / exit of the garden.  The ticket counter and gift shop
is located within the building.
After the walk at the garden, we asked the staff at the counter to call a taxi for us.  When the taxi arrived, we showed the taxi driver the name and map of Nami-ok restaurant.  If I remember correctly, it took about 15-20 minutes to reach the restaurant. 
As we had been there previously, we immediately ordered for 3 servings of the spicy chicken fried rice.  When I told the adjumma to make our food spicy, she smiled and brought a tub of ground chillis.  She kept pouring it in by the ladle until I said stop.   

After the satisfying meal, one of the staff called a taxi to take us to Gapyeong station.  When we arrived at the station, we found out that the train to Seoul would be arriving in a couple of minutes.  We rushed to buy the tickets and ran up the stairs, just in time to catch the train. 

In Seoul, we took the train and went to Myeongdong for some shopping.  And for dinner that day, we went to Taj Mahal as the other Indian restaurant we went before was no longer there.  Taj Mahal was a 5-star restaurant.  The décor was classy and the food reflect that.  It was a splurge to eat there but we were too tired to find another halal restaurant.  We didn't even finish our food but the staff kindly packed the leftovers for us.  When we reached Ann's apartment, we found that the staff had also put in extra curries and nan in the nice paper bag.

The only sign at the entrance of the restaurant.


Korea 2015 : Seoul Wall / Samcheongdong / Dongdaemun

Naksan Park / Seoul Wall
We took bus no. 271 from Hongdae to Dongdaemun station exit 4.  From there, we took another bus - Jongno-03 - to Naksan Park which was the last stop for the bus. 

Map of Naksan Park
Seoul Wall at Naksan Park

The kids had fun imagining the view of old Seoul.

After we had taken enough photos, we made our way down Daehangno before walking to Hyehwa station exit 4 for dinner.  The distance shown on Naver map was about 350 metres.  It was a short distance but because of the stairs and steep slope, it was some time before we reached the station.  Along the way, we stopped at a really cute waffle shop for some refreshments.  The leisurely walk  which took about an hour was very pleasant with quaint little shops along the way. 
From my online research, I found that there is a halal Iranian restaurant near Hyehwa station exit 4.  Upon arrival at Hyehwa station, we started to search for the restaurant based on the map I saved on my phone.  We were quite frustrated at first when we couldn't find it.  We kept turning around the area but the restaurant was not in sight.  The staff at 7-11 said she never heard of the restaurant.   But as we exit from 7-11, we saw an ethnic looking shop deep in an alleyway across the street.  We decided to go nearer and check it out. 

It was indeed the Persian Palace restaurant we were looking for.  On entering the restaurant, we find the food quite pricey and the food so-so.  However, due to our hunger, we just ate the food.

The front of the Persian Palace restaurant.
The interior of the restaurant

Before we went home, we made a stop at Sungyunkwan University for a couple of photos.  The temperature had dropped by that time and it was really freezing.

We had intended to go to the Blue House before proceeding to Samcheong-dong.  However, when we arrived the police were chasing after several protesters and had blocked the area around the Blue House.  We stood at the side and tried to take photo of the actual residence but a couple of security officer in suits stopped us and gently told us that it was forbidden to take the actual photos of the place.  Not wanting to create trouble, we thank them and quickly left the area.   
We then proceeded to Samcheongdong.  I love the shops at Samcheong-dong, the streets and alleys.   A lot of unique things inside the shops, especially those beautiful handmade items.  We spent the afternoon exploring the streets until the sky turns dark.  It was then that my 2nd child started to have fever and flu. 

At first, she convinced me that it was not so bad and that we could continue on to the skating rink at City Hall.  It was the opening ceremony of the skating rink and the kids wanted to skate there.  I looked around for a pharmacy but couldn't find any.  We had medicines at the apartment but nothing in our bags at that time.  An hour later, we felt that my daughter's temperature was too high and decided to go back.  When we arrived at the apartment, my daughter took the fever and cold medicines, put on the fever strip and went to sleep.  Luckily the next day, except for the running nose, she was feeling better. 

Seoul Station skating rink
During the last couple of trips to Seoul, we didn't really explore Dongdaemun.  So that day was the day that we really went to the nook and cranies of Dongdaemun.  We found a small shop selling all kinds of umbrellas and bought several which could open automatically at the press of a button.  At another shop, we bought a really good quality zippered rain poncho.  We also found several shops selling handmade leather bags for men.  Not to mention our stop at the usual stationery/toys alley.

And we managed to find the grill fish restaurant which some of the forumner recommended.  The owner's son could speak English which was definitely welcoming.  We had boneless grilled fish along with several other dishes.  They were really delicious. 


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Korea 2015 : Phoenix Ski Resort

We checked out of Elf Pension after 2 nights and decided to spent some time at Phoenix Ski Resort before taking the shuttle bus back to Seoul.

The night before, we requested the pension staff to call a taxi for us to go to Phoenix Hotel.  Upon entering the hotel, we found that there was a Hana Tour desk.  We asked the staff if we could leave our luggage with them as we wanted to go to the ski area.  They told us to leave the luggage with the hotel front desk.   We filled in some luggage tag with our names and contact number and left the luggage with one of the staff.  The luggage were later placed in a room behind the desk. 
We bought some tickets for the cable car and took the ride to the top.  This resort is quite small.  In comparison, Yongpyong was much larger with more facilities.  But the view at the top was still marvellous.  And there were more snow at the top.  The kids had a blast throwing snow at each other, running and falling all over themselves. 

After a few hours at the top, we went down and had lunch at Lotteria.  Right on time, the shuttle bus arrive at 3p.m.  But due to traffic jam on the expressway near Seoul, we arrived at Hongdae station almost 8p.m.  The bus did make a stop at the rest area in between but we did not buy anything.  By the time we reached Hongdae we were so hungry.  After putting our bags at Ann's, we went to Shanti for dinner.