Singapore’s Rainy Christmas / Rainy Year End

Published December 31, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Taking a Look of a Different Singapore during Christmas Eve

[Monday 2012 December 24 morning till late afternoon]

Becoming a tourist in our own country for the day. Cruising down the Singapore River, taking in the tourist attractions thru another perspective. We were lucky as December is a wet month but it didn’t rain at all although the day seems gloomy at times. After the 30 minutes river cruise, we proceed to one of the latest tourist attraction > Gardens by the Bay.

I had the intention to go for another river cruise, this time in the evening to take in the sunset view as a good end to 2012 but weather had turned even gloomy… had rained since late morning… (T_T)lll

By the way, the rain finally stopped around 2200hrs +

Happy counting down to 2013! Happy New Year!

Towards better economy / opportunities / safety (such as transportation; personal; health etc) to all!

Morning Hippo River Cruise


Gardens by the Bay

> Within Flower Dome

[] When a hibiscus blooms, it simply means that it has been a nice summer...

>Within Cloud Forest


大韓民國 in September / October 2012 – Day 10

Published November 26, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Day 10 – 이천 십이 년 시월 이 일 [화요일] 2012 October 02 [Tuesday]

Checked out of the Namsam Guest House 3 and made it on time to catch the express bus to Jeonju at 1030hrs. Not easy to be dragging our huge luggages across the train station, climbing the staircase to get to the right platform (X_x)lll            Bus journey to Jeonju was uneventful. We reached Jeonju Bus Terminal around 1320hrs. Liked the interior design of the bus terminal > I think  the designer had took in the consideration that elders and travellers might not have the extra strength to carry their luggages up the stairs, so they had designed a ramp within the building (like those multi-storey carpark) to allow the elders and travellers like us to drag or push our luggages effortlessly. Once reached the terminal, we bought our return bus tickets @ ₩19,900 per person departing on 5 October 2012 1030hrs.Stepping out of the building, we decided to take a cab to our accommodation. The first cab driver could not read the korean character on my ‘book’ and gave up his q to allow the 2nd driver to drive us to our accommodation. Going with a rough idea of the location of the accommodation, we took some mis-turns and finally found our accommodation right in the midst of Jeonju Hanok Village. Language barrier was really present in Jeonju as we guessed and tried our best to understand each other. Ilrakdang, although booked and settled payment online, didn’t seem to be ready for our arrival… The owner had actually wanted to put us in their son’s home as the room was not ready for us.

We were treated some traditional snacks while they took some time to clear their stuff in the room for us, we got our room finally and it was really nice. Personally, I think majority of the Hanok Houses in Jeonju Hanok Village are quite new… If not, then they are really very very well-preserved! After putting our luggages in the room, we left to explore Jeonju Hanok Village. Went to the tourist booth to get proper directions to both Maisan (마이산 or Hanja 馬耳山) >> 686 metres or 2,251 ft [] and Naejangsan (내장산 or Hanja 內藏山) >> 763 metres or 2,503 ft []. Finally, we settled for our tunch around 1530hrs before continuing our Slow City Walking Tour (^_^)

While enjoying our Mixed Berry Smoothie ₩8,000 each from Tomorrow Cafe and watching the sun set from the balcony, the owner of Tomorrow Cafe plucked 2 persimmon (홍시) and gave it to us! It was very fresh and sweet! As the sun set, the wind continued to blow… it got colder and we left to go back to Ilrakdang… The owner  invited us to have a drinking session with them in the courtyard… before we retreated back to our room to rest for the night.

大韓民國 in September / October 2012 – Day 9

Published November 13, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Today is 2012 November 13 Tuesday, and Singapore / Malaysia are celebrating Deepavali, popularly known as the “festival of lights,”  is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in Hindus families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. It is also a 1-day public holiday in Singapore / Malaysia.

Day 9 – 이천 십이 년 시월 일 일 [월요일] 2012 October 01 [Monday]

It was still holidays season and Koreans and tourists alike were out in crowds, especially the tourist spots! If you could enjoy quietness and peacefulness within city skyscrapers, Seoul was wonderfully calm and quiet. But things were really different once you stepped out of Seoul…

As we would be going visiting both Nami Island (南怡島, 남이섬 or Hanja 南怡섬) and Petite France (쁘띠 프랑스) on the same day, we decided to start our day early. Breakfast in Namsan Guesthouse 3 was simple… they provided cup noodle (to get from their reception area 1 cup for 1 guest), bread and coffee. Unfortunately, this morning, there was a inconsiderate family who hoarded one of the breakfast table at the common area while the remaining 2 tables are occupied. The rest of the guests had to have our breakfasts standing. Guess these people thought the breakfast area is a ‘hotel lounge’?! We left the guesthouse at 0850hrs, did a stop at the convenience store for YSL to get her T-money pass.

Then we took the subway to Gangbyeon aka. Dong Seoul Express Bus Terminal to take bus to Gapyeong. We managed to get the bus ticket from Dong Seoul to Gapyeong, which costs ₩5,900 and departed at 1005hrs. We reached Gapyeong at 1130hrs but we had missed the connecting Gapyeong Tour Bus that would bring us either to Nami Island or Petite France. (X_x)lll One of the person-in-charge at the Gapyeong Bus Terminal told us the next bus is at 1300hrs, and sensing that we were kind of lost with what to do for the next 90 minutes, he suggested us to go for our lunch and come back later. As the town seems quiet due to the holidays, we were not hopeful but we were pleasantly surprised that we could find a real decent restaurant serving really nice pork-chop with rice.

We were still undecisive whether to visit Nami Island or Petite France first when we boarded the bus. The ticket for the bus costs ₩5,000 and allowed you to hop on and hop off at each stops, just have to show the ticket again when you board the bus. But since the first stop was Nami Island, after clearing the massive traffic jam, we thought it was better to alight and covered Nami Island first, just in case we could not covered both spots due to the traffic condition.

The name of the Nami Island (南怡島, 남이섬 or Hanja 南怡섬) derives from the fact that it is home to the tomb of General Nami (1441-1469), who was appointed Minister of the Military Board at age 25 after suppressing Lee Shi-ae’s Revolt during the reign of King Sejo of the Joseon Dynasty but was later branded a traitor and executed at the age of 28. [Extracted from]. I think it should be a really beautiful island if there was lesser crowd but we could not really appreciate its beauty with the huge crowd everywhere! Entrance to Nami Island costs differently for Koreans and foreigners. It is cheaper for foreigners! ₩8,000 per person for the ferry ticket and entrance to the island.But the crowd was really making enjoying Nami Island quite an impossible task, and we took the ‘easy’ way out by taking a ride in the electric car which do a round-about trip in Nami Island. We did say to ourselves that we did not do justice to Nami Island and should be back to enjoy it at slower pace when it is out of tourists season!                  We left Nami Island in ‘record time’ and went back to take the bus to Petite France. Admission to Petite France is ₩8,000 per person <was wondering if there is a demand if Tour Agencies would consider drafting an itinerary to enjoy both Petite France and Nami Island with the option to stay 1 night either in both places>.

Bus was delayed due to the traffic conditions and there were a large crowd waiting to board the same bus towards Petite France. Journey from Nami Island to Petite France was winding and would be ideal if you could secure a seat in the bus >> really challenging at certain turns of the road. Surprisingly, there were lesser crowds in Petite France as compared to Nami Island when we reached around 1610hrs…         As Petite France was relatively small, we could cover it within 1 hour and had time to enjoy a cup of coffee before making our way back to the bus-stop to wait for our bus back to Gapyeong. * Really glad we bought the ₩5,000 day-pass bus ticket because it was the last bus of the day and priority were given to people with the day-pass. There was still quite a lot of them left ‘stranded’ as the bus could not accommodate all of us. Maybe those who drove there, could have ferried some of these fellow travelers to the nearest train station?! We were back in Gapyeong around 1905hrs, waited for a short while before taking the bus back to Dong Seoul Express Bus Terminal. We reached Dong Seoul at 2025hrs, bought our bus tickets for Jeonju at Level 2 Express Bus Counter and headed out for our dinner (2 bowls of noodle soups and 1 plate of tteokbokki for a total of ₩10,000) right outside of Dong Seoul Express Bus Terminal Building. Back to Myeongdong around 2120hrs, walked up to N Seoul Cable Station, with the intention to visit N Seoul Tower but looking at the crowd again, plus the cable station will stop its daily operation at 2300hrs, we dropped the idea and went back to our guesthouse to rest and get ready for our next day bus journey to Jeonju.

大韓民國 in September / October 2012 – Day 8

Published November 4, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Back to writing…

Day 8 – 이천 십이 년 구월 삼십 일 [일요일] 2012 September 30 [Sunday]

Today is the actual Mid Autumn Festival! Aka. Chuseok [추석]

YSL will be arriving this morning and I had arranged to meet her outside Prince Hotel but I had a surprise for her. I had asked the owner of Seoul Tower Ville yesterday night if they could send me back to Sejong Hotel this morning and they had graciously agreed to send me down, so I will meet YSL when she alighted from the airport limo. (^_^) yeah!

Woke up and finished my remaining Two Two Fried Chicken after heating it up in the microwave…  I had it for a super long dinner last night but the portion was so huge for 1 person that there was quite a lot left for my breakfast. Checked out of Seoul Tower Ville at 1000hrs sharp, reached Sejong Hotel at 1013hrs but YSL missed her earlier bus and reached around 1045hrs. We walked over to Namsam Guesthouse 3, trying our luck to see if the room would be ready for our check-in… Nope, the room was not ready. Little sidetrack > we were at the reception area of Namsam Guesthouse 3, and the staff-in-charge was really cute. YSL did a passing remark to me in Cantonese that he is cute and before I could reply, he replied he could understand and started to talk to us in Cantonese… (X_x)lll At least, we did not say anything bad… embarrassing moments

Since room was not available, we went over to MyeongDong Shopping Street to grab a light lunch. While searching for a restaurant, YSL started shopping… starting with Toly Moly, then a stall selling hats… even danced Gangnam Style with the girls tending to the hats’ stall. Finally settled for our ‘light lunch’ > one Bibimbap [비빔밥] ₩8,000 and one Pajeon [파전]  ₩10,000 around 1201hrs. We walked back towards Pacific Hotel as I had arranged for us to meet MM at 1300hrs…. Had no idea that today was turning into a long eating day from the moment we met up with MM…MM brought us to THE OFFICE to stock up our favorite skincare products, which we brought back to Namsam Guesthouse 3 before going out again.

Time was around 1530hrs and MM said we will start eating our dinner slowly! These photos does not represent all of what we had ate as Koreans like to serve their food with lots of side dishes… We started eating from 1530hrs + and stopped around 1900hrs. We had great fun catching up wih MM, lots of talking, eating and drinking… totally dead-beat towards the night that MM took a cab home while we slowly walked thru Myeongdong Shopping Street back to the guesthouse. Tomorrow will be another long day.

大韓民國 in September / October 2012 – Day 7 [Part 3]

Published October 28, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Day 7 – 이천 십이 년 구월 이십구 일 [토요일 ] 2012 September 29 [Saturday]

Part 3 >> Gwanghwamun and Cheonggyecheon

Samcheongdong was sandwiched between Gwanghwamun and Cheongwadae. Cheongwadae (청와대 or Hanja 靑瓦臺), the Blue House, is the presidential residence. According to Korea Travel Guide and some websites, there are tours conducted within Cheongwadae but reservations must be made 3 weeks in advance via online application []. However, I think the 60 minutes tour are only conducted in Korean and there are no interpretation services provided and individual tour guides are not available. Unless you are very proficient in Korean (unlike me), you would not  be able to understand / appreciate the tour. As side entrance to Cheongwadae is beside Samcheongdong, there are military guards on duties, but I did not take photos of them on duties cos not sure if it is permitted… haha, I am such a coward… *Think too much perhaps*Studying the map again, realised that Cheonggyecheon (청계천 or Hanja 清溪川) was located within walking distance from Insadong, so I backtracked towards Jonggak Subway Station. Jongno Tower was at Exit No.3 of Jonggak Subway Station, walking pass Jongno Tower, crossing Gwanggyo, you would find the staircase to walk down and walk along Cheonggyecheon.

Reached Cheongyecheon in the evening, as the day was still bright, I went down to walk along the stream towards Dongdaemun (half the distance of the entire stream). There are 22 bridges over Cheonggyecheon, near to Dongdaemun was bridge no. 15 known as Malgeunnaedari. As day turns dark rather fast, I could only turn back at bridge no. 8 Seungyo before it got too dark. Tonight also marked the last night I stayed in Seoul Tower Ville, I would be shifting to Namsan Guesthouse 3 when Julie arrived tomorrow morning. Although there was daily uphill walk from Myeongdong to get back to Seoul Tower Ville, I had enjoyed staying in the very comfortable room, excluding the inconsiderate neighbours…

大韓民國 in September / October 2012 – Day 7 [Part 2]

Published October 28, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Day 7 – 이천 십이 년 구월 이십구 일 [토요일 ] 2012 September 29 [Saturday]

Part 2 >> Samcheongdong and Bukchon
Finished my Insadong walk, verified with the Tourist Booth on the right direction to walk towards Samcheongdong and Bukchon. At the end of Insadong, crossed the ‘huge’ junction, you would see a long lane that leads you towards Samcheongdong…

Insadong, Samcheongdong and Bukchon made me feel the tradition are keeping up with the modernization… It was not left behind.

Walking around Samcheongdong / Bukchon, there is no need to follow any walking course… I didn’t… whenever, you felt you are lost, you would be rewarded with surprised finds… When I thought I had enough of Bukchon, I found these steps that leads down to Samcheongdong. At the end of these steps, I saw a PINK building on my right side…. Hello Kitty Cafe! I started to take photos and decided to have my lunch in there. Ordered a waffle and expresso, I liked the expresso as it was strong while the waffle did not match my expectation, maybe I had high expectation?! A waffle might had cost much less if not purchased from Hello Kitty Cafe. (T_T)lll

After resting in Hello Kitty Cafe, continue my walking tour. Had actually wanted to walk towards Anguk Subway Station but was attracted by the sounds and walked towards Gwanghwamun instead…

大韓民國 in September / October 2012 – Day 7 [Part 1]

Published October 28, 2012 by UsagiNoTabi

Day 7 – 이천 십이 년 구월 이십구 일 [토요일 ] 2012 September 29 [Saturday]

Part 1  >> 인사동 Insadong 仁寺洞街

Breakfast was simple.*Forgot to mention that Seoul Tower Ville does not provide breakfast…

As yesterday was caught in the rain and couldn’t enjoyed Insadong, I was back for a second visit. Although it was a weekend (and only 1 day difference), it was soooooo  quiet. Many Koreans had gone back to their hometown or their parents’ hometown to prepare for Chuseok [추석] on 30 September 2012. Chuseok is a 3-days public holiday in Korea although most of other Asian countries such as Singapore and Malaysia did not classified it as public holiday. Chuseok is known as Mid-Autumn Festival [中秋節] in Singapore and Malaysia, we celebrated by having mooncakes (traditional one are baked with lotus paste filling) with chinese tea with families and friends while children carried lanterns…

I liked the alleys in Insadong. Although quite a lot of the shops in these alleys were closed due to Chuseok, I enjoyed the opportunity to walk these alleys quietly. Enjoyed the walk so much that I decided to extend the walk to explore Samcheongdong and Bukchon. If you loved walking in the city, I think you would enjoyed this route too…