Who’d have thought I’ll be going to Korea twice in a year? Just happens that I’m getting a few weeks break in between jobs and thus have a chance to travel. Korea is the natural choice given how much fun I had on my trip there this past spring, It’s also much easier to plan a trip to somewhere one has been to before. Yup, just like the last time, I’m self-planning the trip. It’s not easy, with a million and one decisions to weigh, but so very fun!
In anticipation of future posts on the trip this time round, I started a new blog category (Autumn 2014) and commemorating it with this post 🙂
Let’s start with my itinerary. For now, only the first 3 days are more or less confirmed.
Two days after arriving in Seoul from my 4-day sojourn in Jeju, I took another side-trip, this time to Sokcho & Mt. Sorak. My days of travelling solo was coming to an end, as a friend would be joining me at Seoul Express Bus Terminal directly upon arrival from Singapore.
Sokcho City, in Gangwondo province, is the starting point for most people headed to Mt. Sorak from Seoul, as the express and intercity buses end their journey there. It is well-known for attractions such as Sokcho Beach and Abai Village (filming location for K-Drama Autumn in My Heart). Like many seaside towns in Korea, it is also a great place to get fresh seafood. By this time, I was missing the plentiful seafood in Jeju, so was looking forward to the meals on Sokcho.
In this post, I share more about how you can travel by express buss from Seoul to Sokcho, and local buses from Sokcho bus terminal to Mt. Sorak.
Not for me glitzy 5-star hotels in touristy areas. At least not on this trip, where the priority was to stretch my budget over 10 days and and reserve my funds for good food and interesting experiences. So I chose to get a single room in a youth hostel, or guesthouse, in Korean tourism lingo, costing only 40,000 won a night (about 50 SGD). The guesthouse of choice was YEHA Guesthouse (City Hall branch), located in Jeju-Si. There is another branch (Terminal) just a few minutes down the street, but the City Hall one was rated #1 out of 71 specialty lodging in Jeju on tripadvisor.
So, I’ve been taking baby-steps towards my dream of having a biking trip in Korea. Just got a new folding bicycle (a Vert V8) so I can take my bike on public transport on weekends in search of nice cycling paths around Singapore. The weather’s only cool enough to cycle in the early morning and late afternoon here, of course, and that means having to wake up early on weekends. In fact, one of the reasons I want to go to Korea (in spring/auumn) to cycle is ‘cos the weather’s much cooler, like it was in Jeju when I went in April.
Besides getting a bike, I’ve also been doing research about cycling paths in Korea. In this post, will share 2 useful videos that I’ve come across:
All grand adventures begin with a dream. My dream is to do a cycling trip in Korea. Someday. Very soon. Maybe in Spring next year?
I must confess, the dream kinda came out of nowhere. I’m not a sporty person at all, and have never cycled more than a kilometer or two at a stretch. All I am equipped with at the moment is my old Urata folding bike ( a birthday present from abt 6 yrs ago, and only used a handful of times), and my experience walking one of the Jeju olle trails (well, one of the trails…. Err, ok, only part of one of the trails). But recently I started to become interested on cycling as a way to keep fit. So why not combine it with my love for traveling? By setting the target of doing a cycling trip next year, hopefully it will spur me on to start cycling regularly and slowly build up my stamina.
So, ambitious though the dream may be, I’m going to try to hold on to it as hard as I can so that my grand adventure will become a reality. By Spring next year, I will have a cool new folded bike n racked up some experience doing cycling trips around Singapore. In between my blog posts about my trip this spring (of which I am only halfway done), I will also be posting about my prep for the grand cycling adventure next year. Stay tuned!
Update (7 Mar 16): You can now download the Jeju Olle Trail Guide in English here (pdf file).
The romance and beauty of Jeju had long been the stuff of my dreams. It was formed through several years of watching variety shows featuring Jeju, such as 1N2D, We Got Married and Family Outing. (Scroll below for some links to the relevant episodes of these shows with subtitles. You’re welcome :)). I had also watched many dramas featuring Jeju; Boys Over Flowers being one of the more famous ones. Visiting Jeju was definitely top of my list on my Korea trip.
While the evening before, I had managed to catch some glimpses of Jeju’s famous coastline, I knew that was just the tip of the iceberg and I ain’t seen nothing yet… so when Day 2 dawned, I was practically hopping with excitement to explore the island. I chose to do so partly on foot, by hiking along one of Jeju’s famous olle trails. Route 5 was my trail of choice.
Seoul is well known for its street food, as K-drama or K-variety show fans would know. Unfortunately, most of the snacks are not suitable for Muslims due to non-halal ingredients or cross-contamination with non-halal ingredients.
One of the street snacks that I really looked forward to, which I was very sure is OK to consume is hotteok. It is a deep-fried “dumpling”, with brown sugar and nuts encased in dough. Sounds yummy already right? I looked around for it over the several days I was in Seoul and finally found it one morning on a side-street along the way from our hotel to Jongno-gu 3-gil. It only cost 1000 won (around sgd 1.20) and the ahjussi uncle selling it is a smiley genial man. He must be used to tourists ‘cos even though he didn’t speak English, he guessed we didn’t know the drill and gestured to us to pick-up the folded white paper cup from in front of his stove and hand it to him to fill in the piping hot hotteok. My first bite into the pillowy soft dough, followed by the burst of flavor from the sweet and nutty filling was unforgettable.
Unfotunately, we didn’t see the ahjussi again and I didn’t manage to get more hotteok on the other days. Saw some at Namdaemun market on my last day there, but the queue was long and I didn’t have time to wait cos I only had a short time there before my flight. Recently, I came across this video at Seoulistic, and was pleasantly surprised to see the hotteok cart I’d bought from featured in it. (Ahjussi’s cart appears as the first of four hotteok places introduced)
Check out the original post on Seoulistic for maps to all the places mentioned. Ahjussi’s cart is the first on the list.