Korea and Jeju - Day 1 & 2


Korea seems like a popular holiday destination among my friends this June holidays, and I've decided to jump onto the bandwagon too!

For a virgin trip to a foreign country, some research is definitely required. I figured it'll be better to go on a guided tour, and based on my family's past experiences with SA tours, it would be a safe bet. 

Prior to the trip, I was really excited over the prospects of meeting kpop stars (hah. wishful thinking), going on shopping sprees and bringing back loads of loot, and basically just chilling out and having fun!

My family signed up for the 8D Korea Discovery + Jeju tour under SA Tours, from 6 June to 13 June 2014.

DAY 1:
Technically, the first day wasn't even counted as a whole day as we took a midnight flight (Asiana Airlines Extra Flight). To save on taxi fares, for a family of 5 like us, it would be more worth it to hire the services of a limousine taxi as compared to getting two separate normal cabs or driving your own car to Changi Airport. ($35 vs 2 x $22+)

While waiting for the boarding gate to open, I was thrilled to find that Changi Airport had a snooze lounge for travellers to take a short nap reclining on the snooze chairs. Once we boarded the flight, I was dismayed to find that the plane's seats were rather cramped, probably because it was an extra flight (aka, the budget flight). I had a crick in my neck just from trying to get a decent nap. Sadly, it was impossible to sleep a wink that night. (SA ran out of air tickets for normal Asiana flights and SQ flights when we signed up for the tour package.) Thank god we still had entertainment on board, so I passed my time watching The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

The breathtaking scenery from the plane cheered me up a little. Soon, we reached Incheon International Airport.

DAY 2:
Anyunghaseyo Seoul, capital of the "Land of Modern Miracles and Ancient Traditions"!

There was a flight delay and we only managed to reach Incheon at around 8.45am. We met our tour guide, Jullie (Yun Cheong, a native Korean who speaks Chinese pretty well) and she looks way younger than her actual age! 

Summer time means blossoming flowers. Korea is a mountainous region, and I wasn't surprised to see beautiful wild flowers blooming along the expressways.

It was a long and arduous trip to Everland (almost 4 hours!). The coach ride managed to let me catch up on some sleep.

We had lunch at a chicken and pork barbecue restaurant right beside Everland.

The sizzling of the marinated pork and chicken, and the fragrance that wafted towards us made me hungry. The meat was tender, succulent and flavourful. I found the meat a little too fatty after a while, and decided to wrap it up with the fresh lettuce leaves and tuck it in with some kimchi. That made it a lot more delicious!

One good thing about Korean meals is that we get free flow of seaweed soup and side dishes, so I wouldn't have to worry about running out of kimchi! However, when entering Korean bbq restaurants, you have to leave your coats outside or they'll start stinking up after a few days. Our photographer, Sky, very kindly sprayed us all with some form of perfume right after we left the restaurant so we wouldn't be stuck with the smoky smell of bbq.

Next stop: Everland Theme Park!

I spotted a quaint looking cafe/souvenir shop right outside Everland and took my very first #ootd in Korea!

Really, I think I look like some Korean girl already. haha. Temperature there was around 20 Degrees Celsius.
Imitation butterflies hovering around.

 Entrance to Everland.
K-Pop Hologram.

We were only given 3.5 hours to explore Everland, and as it was a Saturday and a National holiday for Koreans, the place was packed. It was literally overflowing with people. A wait for a simple ride could extend up to an hour, or even longer!

I was super hyped up to ride the T-Express, the longest roller coaster in the world to be entirely made out of wood. (My friends had really RAVE reviews about it.) However, due to the crazily long queues, I had to forgo the ride.

To get from one place to another within the park, it'd be too far to walk due to Everland's sheer size, so Skyway is our main mode of transport. Have I mentioned how much I hate crowds and queues?
I thought we were able to get up close and personal to the animals in the Petting Zoo - I took it literally as "Petting" zoo. However, we were unable to touch the animals. They only had guinea pigs, sheep and rabbits. The feeding of guinea pigs come at additional costs too!

I've heard that Safari World was a great ride, but the queues were so freaking long we turned back almost immediately.

We took pictures at the Four Seasons Garden instead.

Then, we went for their Fantasy Carnival Parade, where mascots and performers are all decked out in gaudy costumes, and they danced and interacted with the children spectators. The parade is Everland's highlight so I'm glad I didn't miss it. My siblings were awed by the spinning smoke machines on the floats, but I found it average, so I think the parade mainly appeals to children.

For our entire visit to Everland, I've only managed to sit for 3 rides.

Mystery Mansion at European Adventure: It's supposed to be a haunted house, where you ride in a mini 4-seater on a track and shoot at monsters using laser guns. I waited for 45 minutes for the ride and it was boring. What a bummer.

Let's twist at American Adventure: It was a thrilling short ride where we get twirled around and spun upside down. The queue was only 10 minutes long! Thumbs up for that!

Rolling X-train at American Adventure: It was an outdoor mini roller coaster with two double loops. I waited for around 20 minutes. Quite exciting for such a small roller coaster. I wanted the ride to last longer!

One really crucial thing to note is that you have to keep your ticket with you at all times! I totally forgot about it and left my ticket, together with my bag, with my brother for the Rolling X train ride. The staff wanted me to show my ticket and I gave her an "OMG Holy Shitz + puppy dog eyes" look, and explained in English that it was down the stairs. She had very kindly agreed to let me on the ride just this once. (Yes, tourists get the special treatment. Another Korean lady tried the same thing and she wasn't allowed into the gate.)

Next, we went to Four Season Farm for some strawberry picking! 

Strawberry picking season was almost over, so all that were left for us were mini strawberries. At least they were better than nothing. We tried the farm's organic cherry tomatoes, apples, pears and watermelons. Korean fruits are really juicy, fresh and sweet!

Afterwards, we went on another long coach ride to Yong Pyong Ski Resort, at the coldest region in South Korea. I was on my way to becoming a human popsicle after getting off the coach at night! It was around 14 Degrees Celsius and I was shivering in my long coat.

We had steamboat with veggies, tofu, and fish. It was a very pleasant and clean (as in, non-oily or fattening) meal. Some people might find it bland but I think it was just right for me.

Right outside the restaurant, I spotted the salted dried fish which we had for dinner. Our tour guide, Jullie, jokingly told us that Korean ladies would lament about their husbands while beating on the fish in the kitchen as they are unable to yell in their husband's face normally (The Korean tradition of males as the head of family demanding respect still holds.)
Hotel room - Yong Pyong All Seasons Resort
Finally! A good night's rest!

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