Tag Archives: South Korea

Busan – South Korea

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Busan pronounced Pusan has fast become one of my favourite Asian cities with its outgoing personality, flourishing in style and diversity. It’s the second largest in Korea with countless festivals, attractions and beaches to be enjoyed here.


Busan’s harbour view and being a port city, there’s a multitude of cruise companies which allow passengers the opportunity to step onshore and rid themselves of any shoppers’ anxieties from being on board too long.


Beach areas are plentiful for those wanting a more relaxed time before hitting the major shopping centres and markets which close late at night.


The Korea National Maritime Museum exhibits more than 12,000 maritime relics, including the Joseon Missional Ship which is the largest replica in South Korea – half the size of the actual ship! A UN Memorial Cemetery can be found along the bayside as well.


The coastline stretching from the Maritime Museum is just one of the many explorations which can be made by foot. It allows visitors to seek out the region’s attractions at their own pace. There are a total of nine walking trails which can take from five to nine hours each in duration.


Resting up a little before a big day out with a number of interesting sights to see. Make sure you wear comfy shoes and cover up a little as the sun is quite fierce here as well!


And, if you’re short on time, take the Hop On, Hop Off Bus for the day as you can eye off quite a sizeable part of the city this way. Make sure your camera is in ‘ever ready’ mode!


Busan harbour bridge-8 and just nearby on the other side is a mecca for shoppers and those who love spicy food. A plethora of restaurants, coffee shops and eateries will keep you fuelled up throughout the day.


Jagalchi Fish Market is Korea’s biggest seafood market and a must see when visiting the local area. Alight Nampo Station Line 1 (Exit 1) on the subway system.


Numerous smaller fish mongers here also offer cheaper prices to ensure all stock is bargained off by end of the day. Doors open at the crack of dawn with some amazing varieties caught from the South Sea; you’d need quite some time in Busan to try all delicacies if you love seafood.


Additionally, vegetables and fruit at any stall in the city appears to be of a very high quality. What did I particularly like about Korea’s market places? They were fresh with products seemingly tastier and a brighter colour to what’s available at home. You were able to have a hassle-free, ‘just looking’ experience without being cornered by the stall holder into buying. A big tick from me.


Is browsing within your sights? When you see this sign you’ll know you’re in the heart of one of the finest commercial strips, not just Korea but within Asia. No difficulties with hawkers here bothering you with all kinds of gigs to try and force you in through their doors. Seomyeon undoubtedly is one of the busiest and best places if you’re after anything specific. Hassle free and you can breathe easy while opening up those purse strings.


Women Only carriages operate between 7:00 to 9:00 am and 18:00 to 20:00 pm at night. A great way for ladies to feel a little safer during peak hours. A standard one-way subway fare is approximately 1,400 won per adult (A$1.70 on today’s exchange rate with AUD). Longer distances cost a little more.


 Busan Train Station is at the southern terminus of the Gyeongbu Line; being the most important railway line in the country, it links Busan with Seoul in just under three hours.


However, a First Class one-way ticket on the KTX Express Train will cost about A$121.00 dollars directly to Incheon Airport with about five stops in between (including Seoul). Considering my luggage wasn’t checked for weight, I walked straight onto the train with my seat reservation (included in the price) and I stepped off at Incheon Airport – then meandered up the escalators to the departures and check in area. Too easy!


Speeding past plenty of market gardens along the way to Incheon whereby farming in Korea is concentrated around the flatlands. Being on level land with an adequate rainfall and a decent irrigated soil, it permits the most intensive cultivation of seasonal crops.


Incheon Airport with the national carrier Korean Airlines whereby they fly directly to/from Sydney and it’s approximately an eleven-hour flight. If you’re seeking a carrier which is reliable, has spacious leg room in economy, and lo and behold, Korean children who are well behaved – this is definitely the airline for you.

Don’t forget too, if you’re a Skypass Member and have 4,000 points available in kitty, this will allow you entry into the Korean Airlines Lounge when holding a confirmed KE ticket from Seoul. Luggage allowance is 23 kilos (50 lb) in economy, Prestige Class 2 x 32 kilos and First Class a generous 3 x 32 Kilos.


Do I love Bibimbap? Undoubtedly, I will miss the spicy dishes and traditional cuisine of South Korea, but mostly it would have to be the very friendly people who had helped me throughout my journey – even when English wasn’t spoken. The younger generation are on the right track in terms of being resourceful, well-mannered and decisive which gave me the opportunity to meet some incredible people along the way.

A memorable trip South Korea – I’ll be back for sure!

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Seoul – South Korea

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If you just happen to be around in South Korea when it’s their national Foundation Day in October and Chuseok Holidays being listed on the calendar, then you’ll be lucky enough to see many of the Korean people adorned in traditional attire over the holiday period. And, they’re very happy to snap photos of each other too!


Having returned to Seoul after a couple of previous visits over the years, on this occasion I’ll be traversing a little further around the country. But for now, a view of the Changdeok Palace which is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul and is a must see as it’s one of the ‘Five Grand Palaces’ built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). There’s so much to see within this complex built on a 58-hectare site, so make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes.


Beautifully, the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the natural topography of the site instead of imposing themselves upon it. All this within the city’s boundaries and it’s easy access to transport and the Anguk subway station is within a couple of minutes walking.


My very willing model for this photo and dressed in her lovely traditional gown showing off a by-gone era.


Ahh of course, did I tell you I’d taken a liking to photographing doors? Yes of course I did! Non of which were going to escape from me on this trip either.


Not too far away is Jongno Tower which is a 33-story office building with its top floor being equipped with a restaurant/bar and famous for its views of Seoul – especially at night.


N. Seoul Tower in the distance built in 1971, it’s South Korea’s first general radio wave tower providing TV and radio broadcasting for the city and surrounds.


Some very interesting architecture within Seoul; most notably swerves, waviness and this one doing the splits … All within an easy walk around the city centre, and if you’re a photographer who likes impressive structures, then Seoul is for you.


Smoking kept within decent shelters seems like a reasonable and fair deal for all.


Sewing machines on display while window shopping along the streets. From my observation, clothing made in South Korea appears to be of a higher quality than from many other Asian countries; with fine materials and stronger threads being used and therefore lasting longer. Everything a sewer could ever possibly need can be found at the ever-popular Dongdaemun Fabric Market.


Shopping, shopping and more shopping. There is no shortage of markets and other precincts for some true retail therapy.

Myeong-dong is Seoul’s prime shopping and entertainment area in downtown which contains some of the city’s top stores and fashion boutiques. Itaewon is another notable shopping area lined with boutiques and stores especially targeted at the large foreign population in Seoul. However, my favourite is Insadong whereby at one time it was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea. The Gangnam areas often attract a more well-to-do population of wealthy young Koreans who shop at one of many luxury boutiques and department stores, as well as dining at some of the finest cafes and restaurants in the city.


You don’t have to go too far to find any kind of market, maybe just around the corner of your hotel stay.


Chestnuts are offered by street sellers and are looking very much like they’re calling my name.
While American chestnuts range in size, Korean or Asian chestnuts are slightly bigger and may not be as sweet. Instead they have a neutral, smoky flavour that makes them versatile in many other dishes.


Coffee shops abound everywhere in South Korea! Lucky me. This is one country which appreciates the good bean for its customers to enjoy, more so than any other Asian country I can think of. This little place has survived in a fast-growing metropolis and I think it deserves my patronage.


On the walk home, a stop at Tapgol Park Insadong which is historically important as the site of the origin of the March 1st Movement 1919, an important part of South Korea’s independence as the first location for the reading of the Proclamation of Independence.

Although at the time of writing this post, tensions were at a high level with North Korea’s missile testings. However, I found there wasn’t any shortage of visitors upon arrival with queues of tourists waiting to clear immigration. Obviously people weren’t prepared to ‘wait and see’ and were still willing to flock and visit this wonderful country which is filled with warm-hearted and welcoming South Koreans.

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Seoul, South Korea – Asia

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travel_gracefully-c-2016-15En route to Nepal with Korean Airlines (KE) and Crooked Compass – a small niche tour company who encourages you to experience the lesser known and immersive side of many unique destinations. ‘Follow a different path’ is their mantra and we’re about to explore with our group the alternate southern side of the country rather than heading off to Base Camp style trekking.

One of the fantastic benefits of being a Korean Airlines member is that, once you have accumulated 4,000 points redeemable, you can gain entry into one of the participating lounges around the world – provided you are holding a KE boarding pass for onward travel.

Personally I would recommend at least three nights in Seoul as it’s one of those Asian cities which connects the senses by embracing culture, art and history, even though it leads a distinctive urban lifestyle.

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And the start to a wondrous trip can’t be any easier than relaxing in the Sky Team Lounge at Sydney Airport.

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There’s a few transport options into the city from Seoul’s Incheon International Airport; the bus being one of the most convenient ways and will deliver at designated stops within its area. Check with your hotel as it could mean either the  bus or train may be the better path to their address. Additionally taxis are available and more expensive as the ride will take approximately one hour regardless.

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Entrance of Four Seasons Hotel Seoul exudes class and an undeniably stylish décor. It’s smack in the centre of all attractions in Gwanghwamun – the very heart of Seoul and not far from the Gyeongbok Palace.

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The Four Seasons Seoul being a five-star hotel, offers 317 guest rooms and luxury suites. My recommendation is to upgrade which allows entry into the Executive Club Lounge.

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Wish this was my desk everyday … And the TV, well it might have to go – too much of a distraction … not!

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Buffet lunch at the hotel cannot be missed. Endless choices from all over the world.

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And, what are some of the things we love about Korean food? It’s all those tasty condiments which go with the main dishes. So much to choose from and if you like spicy, then this is the country to visit.

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Isadong is a shopper’s dream with so much on offer – of course it’s the tourist precinct but can’t be missed.  It gained in popularity with international tourists during the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

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Games, toys and techno? It’s all here.

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Smells divine too.

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A night out with my group calls for some cool décor and a place to relax such as Hangik, a neighbourhood wedged between two Universities which has a thriving arts and indie music scene. It’s home to an array of independent clothing labels and off-the-wall vintage shops. The relaxed vibe here can be best felt in any one of the area’s clubs, bars or cafés and is the closest city area to/from the airport. Located on Seoul’s Metro Line 11 is easy to find.

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In Hongdae, we  headed towards  the Mint Bar to enjoy their signature cocktail with Tom about to tackle his and yes, you have to sip and slurp with the bottle still in the glass.

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Even if you’re not a beer drinker, you’ll enjoy these,  the Coronarita! An icey blend of corona beer and a margarita.

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Going back to Incheon Airport by train is incredibly straight forward with a plethora of stations underground which feed into the main subway and effectively take travellers to where they need to go.

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Clean, fast and comfortable the train slices through any traffic hiccups. Cost is approximately A$4.00 one way per adult.

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Back at the airport and this has to be one of the most efficient airports in the world. Have your comfy shoes on because you’ll be running a marathon to check out all the duty free shops.

Next stop Kathmandu Nepal – Namaste till next week’s blog.

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