Introduction

I have never been to South Korea and this blog describes my first trip to the country. I am impressed by South Korea’s scenic areas, climate, culture, the South Koreans’ hospitality, and more interestingly, their fascination with the world of fashion and beauty.

Through a series of photographs, I hope that I am able to provide some insights into the country as well as some of my travelling experiences. It is an interesting experience for me, both during the photo-taking sessions as well as just being in the country itself. I hope that after viewing the photos and reading this blog, it will give you the same amount of inspiration (to visit the country, hopefully).

Jeju Island (“Island of the Gods”) 

Jeju Island – also known as the “Island of the Gods” is my first stop during my travels in the country. The island is idyllic and scenic by nature, which is probably how it got its nickname. In addition, most of the island’s soil is derived from volcanic soil that is of a certain quality that makes them suitable to be used as building materials, as well as growing certain types of crops (yes, apples are grown on the island!). Mystical both in form and structure, it is a popular honeymoon haven for newly-wed Koreans.  What makes it more interesting is the fact that Jeju Island – as the name implies – is a separate island that lies at the southern tip of South Korea, and takes about an hour’s flight to reach there – from a domestic airport in mainland Korea. This ideal location further increases the island’s attractiveness as an exotic resort for newly-weds, photographers and avid travellers.

What’s interesting about the island is that the entire island is filled with a mystical deity. According to my tour guide, the statue is commonly interpreted as Tu3 Di4 Gong1 by the Chinese, an auspicious deity that protects and blesses the island.

Let us get to know the island a little better through a series of photos below.

Flaf of Jeju

FLAG OF JEJU : Being a self-governing province, the inhabitants of Jeju Island take great pride in taking care of themselves and others, particularly in the area of healthcare. When I first landed on the island, the first person who greeted me is a friendly lady who has subsequently invited us to place our hands into a machine with a round cavity in the middle . Most travellers are hesitant at first but we soon realised that the machine is merely a sterilising machine whereby one’s hands are sterilised when placed inside. Being an island that is separated from mainland South Korea by an ocean, I figure it’s crucial that the residents take measure to ensure that the H1N1 virus is kept out of the island. And it’s great to know that during my times in the island, there seems to be no sign of any outbreak of the flu virus.

JEJU MAP: Jeju Island is a rather large island and it takes almost an hour to travel in each directions. Because of the large land area, I believe that there are many attractions that I could have missed during the course of my trip and thus I will like to make my way back to the island sometime.

JEJU MAP: Jeju Island is a rather large island and it takes almost an hour to travel in each of the four directions. Because of the large land area, I believe that there are many attractions that I could have missed during the course of my trip. Thus, I will like to make my way back to the island sometime.

DU DI GONG: This is a statue that is commonly seen throughout the island in different sizes and materials, be it in houses, outside shops, at road junctions, souvenirs and in shopping malls.

TU DI GONG: This is a statue that is commonly seen throughout the island in different sizes and materials, be it in houses, outside shops, at road junctions, souvenirs and in shopping malls. Signifying auspiciousness and fertility (if a couple wish to have a son, touch the nose. If they want to have a daughter, touch the ear). This is the degree of faith that the island’s residents have in this statue. When you are in South Korea, take note of the noses and ears of the statues in the island. The ones at the more prominent locations in the island probably have worn noses and ears due to constant touching by faithful residents and curious travellers.

GODDESS OF FORTUNE: Besides the Du Di Gong statue, this statue of a lady with a container on her back is also commonly seen on the island, although it is fewer in numbers. I do not have the opportunity to find out the background behind the significance of this statue but I remember the tour guide mentioning that many years ago, it's primarily the ladies that join the workforce on the island. Thus, I figure that this status is create to remember and appreciate the effort of the working female population of Jeju Island.

GODDESS OF FORTUNE: Besides the Du Di Gong statue, this statue of a lady with a container on her back is also commonly seen on the island, although it is fewer in number. I do not have the opportunity to find out the background behind the significance of this statue but I remember the tour guide mentioning that many years ago, it’s primarily the ladies that join the workforce on the island. Thus, I figure that this status is created to remember and appreciate the effort of the working female population of Jeju Island. There is a history to the water-pouring act by the woman. I will talk more about that in the “Korean Native Village” section below.

Chicken Ginseng

CHICKEN GINSENG: As I have reached Jeju in the afternoon, the tour guide brought us to one of the chicken ginseng restaurants on the island. It’s interesting how the South Koreans eat the chicken ginseng (which I will elaborate further in the “Korean food” section below). What’s interesting about the layout of the restaurants and food outlets in Korea is that the dining area are usually in an open area and there are few if not no private dining areas. This probably reflects the openness of the South Koreans in the areas of dining.

GINSENG: One thing that South Korea is renowned for is ginseng. There are a large variety of ginseng for sale in South Korea and each is given a unique name. A better photo to illustrate this will be in the ginseng shop but due to restrictions on photo-taking in the premises, I have chosen to use this photo to illustrate the variations of ginseng in South Korea. Ginseng is a recognised for its benefits to our health and South Korea provides quite a wide variety and supply for this product.

GINSENG: One thing that South Korea is renowned for is ginseng. There are a large variety of ginseng for sale in South Korea and each is given a unique name. A better photo to illustrate this will be from a ginseng shop but due to restrictions on photo-taking in the premises, I have chosen to use this photo to illustrate the variations of ginseng in South Korea. Ginseng is recognised for its benefits to our health and South Korea provides quite a wide variety and supply for this product.

RESTAURANT: Most of the restautants in South Korea are usually situated in 1-2 storey shophouses but commercialised dining outlet usually has a certain architectural style, font types and design, as illustrated by the photo above.

RESTAURANT: Most restaurants in South Korea are usually situated in 1-2 storey shophouses but commercialised dining outlet usually has a certain architectural style, font types and design, as illustrated by the photo above.

KOREAN STREET FASHION: Afternoon, the tour guide brought us to Tapdong Street, a well known shopping district in Jeju Island. This is the place where I first set my sights on Korean fashion. Apparently, the South Koreans are way ahead in fashion than the rest of the world.

KOREAN STREET FASHION: In the afternoon, the tour guide brought us to Tapdong Street, a well known shopping district in Jeju Island. This is the place where I first set my sights on Korean fashion. Apparently, the South Koreans are way ahead in fashion than most of the rest of the world.

THEFACESHOP: This is the first THEFACESHOP outlet I have came across in South Korea, in Jeju Island. The price for face masks are reasonable, and they come in all varieties, from ginseng to aloe vera to dangui. The prices vary accordinly to the ingredients but on the whole, they are reasonable. By the way, for the Korean fans, it's interesting to note that Bae Yong Joon is the ambassador for THEFACESHOP at the time of my visit.

THEFACESHOP: This is the first THEFACESHOP outlet I have came across in South Korea, in Jeju Island. The prices for face masks are reasonable, and they come in all varieties, from ginseng to aloe vera to dangui. The prices vary according to the ingredients used but on the whole, they are reasonable. By the way, for Korean drama fans, it’s interesting to note that Korean actor Bae Yong Joon seems to be the ambassador for THEFACESHOP at the time of my visit.

ETUDE HOUSE: This is the second cosmetic outlet I have came across, both in South Korea and on Jeju Island. It seems that both ETUDE HOUSE and THEFACESHOP are common outlets in South Korea. One of the cosmetics consultant that we met has mentioned that because of the fact that South Koreans have a strong interest in beauty and fashion, beauty products are usually affordable in the country.

ETUDE HOUSE: This is the second cosmetic outlet I have came across, both in South Korea and on Jeju Island. It seems that both ETUDE HOUSE and THEFACESHOP are common outlets in South Korea. One of the cosmetics consultants that we met has mentioned that because of the fact that South Koreans have a strong interest in beauty and fashion, beauty products are usually affordable in the country.

TEDDY BEAR SOUVENIRS: Tiny teddy bear souvenirs are also available for sale in Tapdong Street. It seems that the South Koreans have a fascination and love for teddy bears. If you do not believe me, you can check out the "Teddy Bear museum" section below and see for yourself.

TEDDY BEAR SOUVENIRS: Tiny teddy bear souvenirs are also available for sale in Tapdong Street. It seems that the South Koreans have a fascination and love for teddy bears. If you do not believe me, you can check out the “Teddy Bear museum” section below and see for yourself.

SMILING METAPHORS: I have chanced upon this cute display at Tapdong Street as well. On more than one occasion, I have seen statues and dolls with happy faces throughout Jeju Island. It almost seems that the residents of Jeju Island has a love for happiness and uses physical objects to act as a form of metaphor to symbolise this.

SMILING METAPHORS: I have chanced upon this cute display at Tapdong Street as well. On more than one occasion, I have seen statues and dolls with happy faces throughout Jeju Island. It almost seems that the residents of Jeju Island has a love for happiness and hence use physical objects to act as a form of metaphor to symbolise this.

KOREAN ARCHITECTURE: It's interesting to observe Korean architecture, which are mostly buildings of not more than five storeys high. This is usually the case in Jeju than mainland South Korea where high-rise builings and skyscrapers are rather common. Electrical cable can still be seen in most part of Jeju running across the road, and this kind of give Jeju Island a certain nostalgic feel of days gone by. Some old car models can still be seen in Jeju Island, especially for the smaller vehivcles.

KOREAN ARCHITECTURE: It’s interesting to observe Korean architecture, which are mostly buildings of not more than five-storey high. This is usually the case on Jeju Island than mainland South Korea where high-rise buildings and skyscrapers are rather common for the latter. Electrical cables can still be seen in most part of Jeju running across the roads, and this kind of give Jeju Island a certain nostalgic feel of days gone by. Some old car models can still be seen in Jeju Island, especially for the smaller vehicles.

PHONE BOOTH: The phone booths in Korea also gives a somewhat nostalgic feel to visitors. Interestingly, some phone booths are entirely in blue, such as the one shown in the photo, with a photo directory attached to it.

PHONE BOOTH: The phone booths in Jeju Island also gives a somewhat nostalgic feel to foreign visitors. Interestingly, some phone booths are entirely in blue, such as the one shown in the photo, with a photo directory attached to it.

KOREAN'S PASTTIME: For those of us who have watched numerous Korean dramas, we would have known that golf seems to be one of South Korean's pasttimes. When I am in Jeju Island, I have chanced upon this man playing golf within a confined area near the beach. I have seen more South Koreans playing golf in subsequent days, which further serves to reinforce my perception that golf is popular among South Koreans, especially the more mature ones.

KOREAN’S PASTTIME: For those of us who have watched numerous Korean dramas, we would have known that golf seems to be one of South Korean’s pasttimes. When I am in Jeju Island, I have chanced upon this man playing golf within a confined area near the beach. I have seen more South Koreans playing golf in subsequent days, which further serves to reinforce my perception that golf is popular among South Koreans, especially the more mature ones.

WINDMILL: For korean drama fans, this is the filming site of the drama "All In". It is situated in Lotte Hotel and here, I have provided a photo taken during the late evening.

WINDMILLS: For korean drama fans, this is one of the filming sites of the drama “All In”. It is situated in Lotte Hotel and here, I have provided a photo taken during the late evening.

During my times in Jeju, I have realised that the Jeju statues (Tu3 Di4 Gong1) are not only placed in various locations throughout the island but that various versions of its caricatures are also sold as souvenirs to tourists.  Below are some photos of these caricatures:

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

JEJU SOUVENIRS

Jeju Island:  Cheonjeyeon Falls (“The Pond of God”)

It will indeed be regretful if we did not pay a visit to Cheonjeyeon Falls (a 3-tier waterfall) while we are in Jeju. Like most tourists, I have made my visit to the falls during the day, which is good. However, I believe that capturing a picture of the falls in the late evening will be great. There are many other attractions besides the falls in this area, as shown below. Indeed, there are many scenic areas for photo-taking sessions, such as the Seonimgyo Bridge of the Seven Nymphs, the Pond of Five Blessings, Cheonjeru Tower etc. It is said that the seven nymphs would often descend from the heavens to take a bath in this place, and this is signified and celebrated by the South Koreans during the Chilseonyeo Festival (held on every even year in May).

CHEONJEYEON FALLS: This is the next destination that we are being brought to. While the exterior of the place is not impressive, the waterfall itself is a remarkable sight, as we shall see later.

CHEONJEYEON FALLS: This is the next destination that we are being brought to. While the exterior of the place is not impressive, the waterfall itself is a remarkable sight, as we shall see later.

SURROUNDINGS OF CHEONJEYEON FALLS: Once I enter the interior of Cheonjeyeon, I did not reach the falls immediately. There is a perimeter around the falls with scenic landscapes which are ideal for photo-taking. This photo merely encapsulates one aspect of the beautiful place.

SURROUNDINGS OF CHEONJEYEON FALLS: Once I enter the interiors of Cheonjeyeon, I did not reach the falls immediately. There is a perimeter around the falls with scenic landscapes which are ideal for photo-taking. This photo merely encapsulates one aspect of the beautiful place.

GARDEN LANDSCAPING: There are man-made gardens around the vicinity which are beautiful. Greenery is everywhere and the place is rich is flora and fauna. As we will see later, Cheonjeyeon Falls is not the only place rich in greenery.

GARDEN LANDSCAPING: There are man-made gardens around the vicinity which are beautiful. Greenery is everywhere and the place is rich in flora and fauna. As we will see later, Cheonjeyeon Falls is not the only place rich in greenery.

SEVEN NYMPHS CARVING: As I go deeper into the garden, there seems to be a white wall at the foot of an ancient Oriental building. Upon a closer look, I noticed that it's not a white wall with detailed carvings of the seven nymphs on it.  It's indeed an interesting sight.

SEVEN NYMPHS CARVING: As I go deeper into the garden, there seems to be a white wall at the foot of an ancient Oriental building. Upon a closer look, I noticed that it’s a white wall with detailed carvings of the seven nymphs on it. It’s indeed an interesting sight.

ENTRANCE TO BUIDLING: When I access the interior of the building, I realised that it is very spacious and the place is used mainly as a shelter for visitors when it rains. When we take the stairs to the higher level, we get a good view of the scenie landscape that lies before us.

ENTRANCE TO BUIDLING: When I access the interior of the building, I realised that it is very spacious and the place is used mainly as a shelter for visitors when it rains. When we take the stairs to the higher level, we get a good view of the scenic landscape that lies before us.

BUILDING INTERIOR: This is the interior of the building. For some reasons, there is not indoor lighting, so it appears to be rather dark inside. Thus, I am only able to capture an image using backlit lighting. Hence the dimness in the ceiling.

BUILDING INTERIOR: This is the interior of the building. For some reasons, there is no indoor lighting, so it appears to be rather dark inside. Thus, I am only able to capture an image using backlit lighting. Hence the dimness in the ceiling.

PORTRAITS OF THE SEVEN NYMPHS: This photo is taken from the ceiling of the ancient building in Cheonjeyeon Falls Most of the images consist of gods and deities but I like this image because it shows the seven nymphs, the main focus of this place and where the myth first originates from.

PORTRAITS OF THE SEVEN NYMPHS: This photo is taken from the ceiling of the ancient building in Cheonjeyeon Falls. Most of the images consist of gods and deities but I like this image because it shows the seven nymphs, the main focus of this place and where the myth first originates from.

FOUNTAIN OF FIV BLESSINGS: Returning to the base of the building, I have chanced upon this Fountain of Five Blessings. The tour guide has encouraged us to throw a coin into the lucky pouch in the middle. Each animal provides to the thrower. Depending on which animal you have chosen, stand in front it and throw the coin. If the coins land in the pouch, the coin-thrower will be blessed in that particular area. The areas that these animals bless the coin-thrower are as follows: Tortoise (longevity), Boar (wealth), dragon (honour), Mandarin Duck (love, good for singles!) and Carp (children, good for married, childless couples). I remember this to the best of my knowledge so I seek your pardon if there's any mistakes. But there's a board that explains the different blessings in front of the statue, so you might like to take a look before throwing the coins. Oh, and my tour guide has told us that if the coins land on top of the pouch but did not go in, it is still considered as a blessing.

FOUNTAIN OF FIVE BLESSINGS: Returning to the base of the building, I have chanced upon this Fountain of Five Blessings. The tour guide has encouraged us to throw a coin into the lucky pouch in the middle. Each animal provides a different blessing to the coin-thrower. Depending on which animal you have chosen, stand in front it and throw the coin. If the coin lands in the pouch, the coin-thrower will be blessed in that particular area. The areas that these animals bless the coin-thrower are as follows: Tortoise (longevity), Boar (wealth), dragon (honour), Mandarin Duck (love, good for singles!) and Carp (children, good for married, childless couples). I remember this to the best of my knowledge so I seek your pardon if there’s any mistakes. But there’s a board that explains the different blessings in front of the statue, so you might like to take a look before throwing the coins. Oh, and my tour guide has told us that if the coins land on top of the pouch but did not go in, it is still considered as a blessing.

BRIDGE OF SEVEN FAIRIES: About 20-30 metres away from the Fountain of Five Blessings lie the Bridge of the Seven Nymphs. I am not satisfied with the angle of this photo as a better image can be captured if one steps about 5-15 steps to the right. However, this is not possible since a steep slope and a very deep ravine lies before me to the right. Thus, this is the best photo that I am able to capture.

BRIDGE OF SEVEN FAIRIES: About 20-30 metres away from the Fountain of Five Blessings lie the Bridge of the Seven Nymphs. I am not satisfied with the angle of this photo as a better image can be captured if one steps about 5-15 steps to the right. However, this is not possible since a steep slope and a very deep ravine lies before me to the right. Thus, this is the best photo that I am able to capture.

CHEONJEYEON FALLS: And finally, Cheonjeyeon Falls! Haha! I really love the sight of this waterfall as it's majestic, even though it's only seen from a distance. I believe a photo of it captured in the late evenin will be even more beautiful (provided that there's some spotlights shining on it during the evening).

CHEONJEYEON FALLS: And finally, Cheonjeyeon Falls itself! Haha! I really love the sight of this waterfall as it’s majestic, even though it’s only seen from a distance. I believe a photo of it captured in the late evening will be even more beautiful (provided that there’s some spotlights shining on it during the evening).

CHEONJEYEON FALLS (CLOSE-UP VERSION): I am not satisfied with a distant image of Cheonjeyeon Falls (having travelled so far, after all), so I have included in this blog a somewhat close-up image of the waterfall. Enjoy!

CHEONJEYEON FALLS (CLOSE-UP VERSION): I am not satisfied with a distant image of Cheonjeyeon Falls (having travelled so far, after all), so I have included in this blog a somewhat close-up image of the waterfall. Enjoy!

Jeju Island:  Yongduam Dragon Head Rock

I realise that there is also another interesting aspect of Jeju Island. That is, Jeju Island seems to be filled with myths and legends, unlike most places. However, this gives the island a sense of mystique that is attractive to most visitors, both local and foreign.

Take for instance, the Yongduam Dragon Head Rock situated on the coast of Jeju island. It has been that there is once a Dragon King who – on the search for the Elixir of Life – got shot by an arrow and fell into the sea. The Dragon King subsequently turned to stone with its body submerged in the water but its head reared to heaven.  The tour guide has informed us that cetain parts of its horn has recently been chipped off due to weather conditions but on the whole, it still resembles a dragon head if we choose to use more of our imagination. I have chosen not to capture a complete frame of the dragon head rock as I feel that photos of such nature are easily found online. Instead, I have chosen to focus on the coastlines as well as the shape and texture of the rocks, since the island is filled with volcanic soil of such nature.

YONGDUAM DRAGON HEAD ROCK: This is one of the photos where I have tried to capture the area near the coastlines at eye-level.

YONGDUAM DRAGON HEAD ROCK: This is one of the photos where I have tried to capture the area near the coastlines at eye-level. I have deliberately converted this photo to black and white to emphasise its texture.

YONGDUAM DRAGON HEAD ROCK (ELEVATED VIEW): This is taken from a slightly elevated angle and captures most of the rock face. I deliberate leave a bluish tinge to give it a distant feel. I hope that you like the effects.

YONGDUAM DRAGON HEAD ROCK (ELEVATED VIEW): This is taken from a slightly elevated height and captures most of the rock face. I deliberate leave a bluish tinge to give it a somewhat distant and nostalgic feel. I hope that you like the effects.

YONGDUAM DRAGON HEAD ROCK: This is another photo of the place that is beautiful. The composition and the colours is quite unique and specific to the place, I believe

YONGDUAM DRAGON HEAD ROCK: This is another photo of the beautiful place. The composition and the colours are quite unique and specific to the place, I believe.

Jeju Island:  Pony-riding

One beautiful aspect of Jeju is its tranquil landscape that will put anyone at ease once one sets foot on the island. However, the view is not complete without the mention of ponies that live on the island. Although they are reared by stable boys, the ponies are a group of interesting animals.  We were given a vest, a cowboy hat, plus a free ride when we were there. The ponies seem to be mentally conditioned to move around a certain route within the vicinity, and the ride was interesting. However, the more memorable ride is the last round, where the ponies will gallap at a faster speed and it was a somewhat thrilling ride.  Photos will be taken at the premises and at a price, you are able to purchase photos of your family members or loved ones who have travelled with you on the trip – on ponies! But you are free to snap photos of your own as well, as there does not seem to be any restrictions on photo-taking. So, pack a camera for the trip should you come for pony-riding on Jeju Island!

Below are some photos for your viewing pleasure.

PONIES DRINKING WATER: I find this to be an interesting photo, with two ponies drinking water and one looking away. The ponies are quite tame and can be taken photos with.

PONIES DRINKING WATER: I find this to be an interesting photo, with two ponies drinking water, and one looking away. The ponies are quite tame and so, it’s quite safe to take photos with them.

Horses 2

PONIES FEEDING ON GRASS: I have captured this photo of the ponies feeding on grass in the wildlands. The ponies are tame by nature and do not fear humans.

A LONE PONY: I spotted this pony alone by itself in the grasslands. I thought its brown skin contrast well with the blue sky at that point in time. Hence, this photo is created.

A LONE PONY: I spotted this pony alone by itself in the grasslands. I thought its brown skin contrast well with the blue sky at that point in time. Hence, this photo is created. I hope that you love it for its artistic and aesthetic values.

Jeju Island:  Songsan Sunrise Peak

Songsan Sunrise Peak lies in the middle of Jeju island, and it’s one of the popular tourist attraction sites as well. For Korean drama fans, it might be interesting to note that this is the filming venue for the last episode of “Da4 Chang3 Jing1″  (Jewels in the Palace)where the female lead is carrying somebody at the mountains. I remember getting a brochure from the tour guide with four photos of the mountain depicting the different seasons in this region, and they are beautiful. The climb to the peak of the mountain will take some effort but I believe that none in my tour group did complete the climb (not because we are lazy but rather, the views are simply fascinating!). Below are some photos that I have taken for your viewing pleasure.

Songsan sunrise peak 3

VIEW OPPOSITE THE MOUNTAIN: This is a photo I have captured of the view that faces the mountain. Lying beyond the ocean are scenic and magnificent views of urbanised cities.

Songsan sunrise peak (back view)

VEW OPPOSITE THE MOUNTAIN: This photo is a close-up of the previous photo, and reveals more details of the water catchment areas(?) in the area.

Songsan sunrise peak (valley)

VALLEY OF THE MOUNTAIN: Taking a peek down into the valley of the mountain, one can see a building providing motorboat trips around the region. The motorboat that you see in the photo has already gone for a round around the area and is delivering tourists back to the landing area. This trip is worth it as the round made by the motorboat is quite big and there is much to see.

Songsan sunrise peak

SONGSAN SUNRISE PEAK: This is the photo of Songsan Sunrise Peak. Magnificent, isn’t it? The tour guide has informed us that there are two ways to access the area. Walking to the left will enable visitors to have a good view of the divers working in the shore areas while trekking to the right will bring us straight to the peak of the mountain.

Songsan sunrise peak 2

SONGSAN SUNRISE PEAK: Now, you know which way I have chosen. I didn’t reach the peak of the mountain though. The view of the place is so mesmerising that it actually stops me in my tracks!

Jeju Island:  Korean Native Village

We went to the Korean Native Village the next day. An interesting aspect of this village is that while the place is catered for tourist visits, the original tools used by the villagers are still on display. For Korean drama fans, it will be interesting to note that this is also one of the primary filming sites for “Da4 Chang3 Jing1″ (Jewel in the Palace).  I understand from the village elders that most filming cast for the villager roles are offered to the original residents of Jeju Island. Hence, I have met two of the supporting characters in the drama, which is very interesting. If you have watched this popular and long-running series, I believe that you would have enjoyed this visit more. Korean native honey is on sale in this place. What’s interesting about the honey is that it sticks to the bottom of any utensil, even if the honey is rinsed with water (after which texture of the bee hive can bee seen, amazing!). You are also able to get the tea of “wu2 zi3 wei4″, which is believed to be able to whiten your teeth if you drink the tea for a period of time. This is also an interesting place for photography, for both portraiture or landscape. A few photos of the place has been included below for your viewing pleasure.

Village entrance

VILLAGE ENTRANCE: This is the village entrance. The tour guide has informed us that if three sticks (which act as the door) is placed horizontally, the home owner is not in. If two sticks are placed horizontally, the home owner is out but will be back in a while. And if all three sticks are put down, it indicates that the home owner is at home.

Korean Native village

KOREAN NATIVE VILLAGE: This is a photo taken at the entrance of the Korean Native Village. Almost all the buildings look like this structure – one-storey high. However, the interior is quite spacious.

Tu Di Gong

TU3 DI4 GONG1: Similar to most entrances of buildings in Jeju, the Korean Native Village also has a statue of Tu3 Di4 Dong1 at the entrance.

Filming set of Da Chang Jin

FILMING SITE: As mentioned, this is one of the filming sites for “Da4 Chang3 Jing1″ (Jewels in the Palace), which is considered by korean drama fans as the top or second best drama. There are quite a number of scenes being filmed here, so it is a good place for photo-taking.

Volcanic Soil

BUILDING MATERIALS: I understand that the houses in Korean villages are build using volcanic soil that forms the island. I have thus deliberately captured a close-up image of a wall to focus on the texture of the building materials.

Village hut

VILLAGE HUT EXTERIOR: This is the exterior of a village. As can be observed, the interior of the hut can be quite spacious. In fact, it seems that some of these huts have been used as product storage or as some kind of warehouses.

Village hut  (layout)

WATER JUG: There are numerous water jugs outside some of the houses and it seems that they are used to contain water for domestic usage.

Village HUT

LADY STATUE: I have chanced upon this staue of the lady by chance. It bears a somewhat close similarity to the “Lady of Fortune” statue featured at the beginning of this blog. Both carry a water jug on their backs. I have been informed that women of Jeju Island used to travel 15 kilometres just to retrieve a jug of water and another 15 kilometres to get back. This puts the total distance travelled as 30 kilometres.

Water jug (backpack)

WATER JUG: This is a close-up image of the actual water jug being carried by the female workers of the village.

Water collection jug

WATER COLLECTION TECHNIQUE: This is the way whereby the villagers collect water for their daily usage. When the water is full, the jug is replaced with an empty one and the collection process continues.

IMG_4017

PRODUCTIVE TOOL: This is one of the village tool on display when I paid a vist to the village. It seems to be a critical device that has ensured the survival of the villagers through its contribution in the productivity of the village.

Baby Cot

BABY COT: This is the baby cot where the mothers would place their child in. As most mothers in the village are often busy with work, they often multi-task by working with their hands while rocking the cot with one of their feet.

Cactus (chocolate)

CACTUS: While cactus has always been used as a decorative piece in most countries, its usage in South Korea is rather different. Chocoloates are being manufactured with cactus as one of its primary ingredients. The tour guide has informed me of this but it’s only later when I was brought to a souvenir shop that I set my first sights on a packet of “Cactus Chocolate”.

Village pathway

VILLAGE PATHWAYS: This is one of the pathways that I have chanced upon while trekking through the native village. As can be seen, the “Tu3 Di4 Gong1″ statues seem to be placed outside most households for blessing.

Village pathway 2

VILAGE PATHWAY: This is another village pathway that I have discovered.

Jeju Island:  Teddy Bear Museum

A 5-15minutes walk from Lotte Hotel stands one of the more poular tourist attraction among female tourists – the Teddy Bear Museum. This museum is further made famous with the Korean drama “Goong”, which features a particular teddy bear (which can still be found inside the museum!). The South Koreans seems to have a strong love for teddy bear and this can be seen in the diverse range of teddy bears for sale as souvenirs within the premises.

As for the exhibits, there are numerous teddy bear versions of luminaries such as Mohatma Ghandhi, Genghis Khan and the likes. Some movements have been introduced in the exhibits, such as moving trains and blinking lights which make the attractive Teddy Bear even more alluring. It will take quite a while before one is able to finish touring the premises. I tried to my best to capture some highlights, the final product of which is featured below. However, to appreciate the full range of teddy bears, it will be great if you are able to make a personal trip down to the museum.

Before then, enjoy the photos!

Wedding Couple (Teddy Bear Museum)

WEDDING COUPLE: This pair of wedding couple greets us at the entrance. I thought that they look compatible!

Wedding Couple

WEDDING COUPLE: This is the second pair of couple I have chanced upon in Teddy Bear Museum. There are quite a number of couples in Teddy Bear Museum, surprisingly.

Couple

FASHIONABLE COUPLE: This is a pair of fashionable couple that somewhat exude a strong “retro” feel, as if we have been transported back to the 80s. Look at that pair of trumpet pants and dress!

Military Couple

MILITARY COUPLE: This is another pair of couple in a military wedding.

Statue

THINKING STATUE: This is a statue that is placed near the entrance of the teddy bear gallery. Does it look familiar to you?

Boxer

TEDDY BEAR BOXERS: This is a photo that illustrates the more aggressive aspects of teddy bears or should we say, a photo that brings out the cuter side of boxers?

Teddy Bear vendor

TEDDY BEAR VENDOR: Most of the teddy bears are often seen in pairs and groups. So, it’s rather interesting that one would chance upon this teddy bear alone by himself/herself at a booth.

Three legends

THREE LEGENDS: This is an exhibit of three legends, “teddy bear” version. Try guessing who they are.

Circus Clowns

CIRCUS CLOWNS: A group of teddy bear clowns are having fun.

Terracotta Warriors

TERRACOTTA WARRIORS: This is a group of terracotta warriors on display. For the real version, it will be great to visit Xi-an in China.

Teddy Bear from Goong

TEDDY BEAR (GOONG): And yes, this is the teddy bear from the korean drama “Goong”!

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HOUSEWARMING PARTY: This is another photo that I like.

Teddy Bear family

VILLAGE CELEBRATION: A photo of village life that is homely, familial and heart-warming all in one.

Teddy Bear family 2

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: This is another photo that illustrates the close relationships between parents and their children.

Gift shop (Teddy Bear Museum)

TEDDY BEAR SOUVENIRS: I will like to end this section with a photo of the souvenir shop that is found at the basement, which sells a diverse range of teddy bear souvenirs and greeting cards at reasonable prices. Do not forget to have a look here before leaving.

Korean Food

I will like to take this opportunity to talk about South Korean food. Kimchi is almost a must for South Koreans in the areas of dining. Thus, if you are someone who do not take well to kimchi, it will be great if you get used to the taste first before making a trip to the country. But fear not, the kimchi in South Korea is nice and tasty. It just takes some getting used to. Accordingly to the tour guide, there are numerous varieties to choose from in the country. So, there must be a type or two that you will take to.

The South Koreans also have a practice of using metallic chopsticks when taking their meals. In most traditional and rural restaurants, metallic chopsticks are often used to serve their customers. The only time I have been offered a plastic chopstick during my trip is in a Korean restaurant operated by a chinese expatriate.

The South Koreans also like to have numerous side dishes to go with their food. During my trip, I have been served with 4-8 side dishes, alongside the main dish(es). I find this to be a good idea since smaller portions looks more appetising. The rice is also served in a metallic bowl that is of a reasonable portion that I almost always manage to finish in one go. The tour guide has informed us that the reason why metallic chopsticks and metallic bowls are used harks back to the ancient days when the king’s subjects will test the food for any form of abnormalities with metallic chopsticks before offering the food to the emperor. The practice has been retained since then.

And there seems to be the cultural practice for all food outlets and restaurant to supply water whenever a customer brings an empty water-bottle into its premises. The tour guide has mentioned that it is hot in Korea, especially in Seoul. This is probably the reason behind the practice.

Ginseng Chicken

CHICKEN GINSENG: This is the chicken ginseng that I have taken during my trip.

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PORRIDGE: South Koreans usually have porridge for breakfast. The variety is wide and the portion is large. However, it is delicious and yes, even porridge has side dishes!

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BARBEQUE MEAT: This meal does not appeal to me not because it is not tasty but rather, I am taking more vegetables now.

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STEAMBOAT: Steamboats are common in South Korea. And it is tasty. As South Koreans are – on the whole – very health-conscious, most of the items used in steamboats are vegetables, which are my favourites.

Koeran dishes

SIDE DISHES: There are numerous side dishes in South Korea, and this photo shows some of them.

Typical Korean sidedishes 2

SIDE DISHES: More side dishes!

Typical Korean sidedishes 2 (1)

SIDE DISHES: Yet more side dishes!

Kimchi

KIMCHI: This photo shows a few types of kimchi in South Korea, out of many in the country.

Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport is the first airport I have came across in Korea as this is the first airport I have visited on my first day in South Korea and this is also the airport that I flew back to my country.  With contemporary exterior and interior architectural design, Incheon International Airport is one place to take great photos. However, as the tour group has not stopped here for long, I only manage to take a few photos of the airport.

There is a great porridge store that serves a wide variety of porridge. You might like to consider having that for breakfast should you take a night flight and arrive at Incheon International Airport in the early hours of the morning.  I have included a photo of the porridge restaurant below.

Incheon Airport (Lobby)

AIRPORT

Incheon Airport

AIRPORT

Decoration piece (Incheon Airport)

DECORATIVE DRUM

American Ginseng

PORRIDGE STORE

Daegu: Food Delicacies (Yang 2 Tai1 Yu3)

Before we make our way to SEOUL, we have stopped for a few days at Daegu. A lesser known area to Seoul but not lacking of places of interests in any ways, Daegu is another popular tourist destination. Unlike Seoul which is more cosmopolitan, Daegu can be considered to be a rural-urban area, not unlike Gao-Hsiung in Taiwan (as compared to a cosmopolitan city like Taipei).

Our tour guide has suggested that we seach for fashion in Daegu rather than Seoul as while the retail outlet is in Seoul, most factory outlets are in Daegu. He has also told us that the majority of fashion models comes from Daegu, not Seoul (a fact which is not known to many).

Yang Tai yu 2

YANG2 TAI4 YU2: This is the restaurant that we went to have a meal of Yang2 Tai4 Yu2 (which is a traditional meal consisting of fishes of this name). We have it in the early evening as this is the time we have reached Daegu.

Yang Tai Yu

YANG2 TAI4 Yu2: This is the close-up photo of the fish in its dried state.

Daegu: Spa Valley

The next day, we are being brought to Spa Valley.

The place is huge but we are only coming here for spa and “gua1 sha1″, a form of natural remedic treatment where toxic from our bodies are removed through a continuous scrubbing of our external skin with a brush.  I have not gone for spa or “gua1 sha1″ as personally, I am not into it. Nevertheless, I have made use of the waiting time (which is a full 1.5 hours!) to capture some photos of the place and below are some memorable ones. Enjoy!

Statue

INTERIOR DECORATION

Spa Valley fishes

LUCKY FISHES THAT LIVE IN SPA VALLEY!

Spa valley foodcourt

CAFE / RESTAURANT AT SPA VALLEY

Spa Valley mascot

MASCOT OF SPA VALLEY?

Dolphin decoration

FLYING DOLPHINS AT THE CEILING

Spa Valley Genie

ALADDIN GENIE BIDDING US FAREWELL AS WE LEAVE SPA VALLEY

Daegu: Dongseongro Shopping Street

We were brought to Dongseongro Shopping street after leaving Spa Valley. This is another popular shopping area within Daegu. What makes this place memorable is the coolness of autumn and the vibrancy of the shoppers in the area. The lighting in the late evening is also beautiful. Another interesting aspects of South Korea is in the advertising gimmicks of the retail outlets, which is refreshing and interesting.  Dongseongro should be a place that you should not miss while you are in Daegu – especially if you love shopping!

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DONGSEONGRO SHOPPING STREET

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FIRST STORE I HAVE VISITED..GUESS WHO IS INSIDE?

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WINNIE THE POOH! IS IT A “HE” OR A “SHE”? I DO NOT KNOW, REALLY.

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STREET SCENE

 
 
 
 

STREET SCENE

Daegu: Goo-Am Farm

The next day, we were brought to the Goo-Am farm for an apple-plucking session. The weather is very cold but the farm provides a brief respite from this since there are much to see. Only when we arrive there do we realise that the tour is to be conducted on a tractor-like vehicle. We were to stand at the storage compartment at the back of the vehicle, akin to the back compartment of a lorry. Besides a top cover to shelter us from the impending rain, the sides of the storage compartment are fully open for us to appreciate the view and for photo-taking as well. But there is a flipside to this: the cool air will blow in from all directions when the vehicle is moving, a realisation that came too late as the vehicle picked up  speed.

Each of us are allowed to pluck three apples and we are not allowed to reject any apples that we have picked. We have been advised to pluck the apples at the top as they are sweeter (probably due to the increased exposure to sunlight? I don’t know).  On the whole, it’s an enjoyable trip, especially if you love fruits! I understand that there is no pesticide used in this farm when it comes to apples.

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A BIG ENTRANCE TO WELCOME VISITORS

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AN INTERESTING ITEM OF INTEREST SPOTTED IN THE FARM

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A VEHICLE SIMILAR TO THE ONE WE RODE IN FOR THE FARM TOUR

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A SOMEWHAT WIDE ANGLE PHOTO OF THE FARM, WHICH IS MUCH BIGGER THAN WHAT IS SHOWN HERE.

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VEGETABLES ARE GROWN HERE AS WELL, AND NOT JUST APPLES

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BLESSED TOTEM IN THE FARM

Gangwon province: Mount Sorak National Park

We paid a visit to Mount Sorak National Park in Gangwon province subsequently. For the entire trip, this venue gives me the deepest impression as being a landscape professional photographer, I am always on the lookout for scenic landscapes, and Mount Sorak National Park provides me with the most opportunities in this aspect. Coupled with the fact that it is autumn during the time of my visit, I am able to capture images of maple leaves (despite the fact that the leaves are only beginning to turn colour as it is only the beginning of autumn). The views are not possible to be described fully in words, so I will leave the photos to speak for themselves. As the saying goes, “a picture speaks a thousand words”. And I have over twenty photos in this section. Enjoy!

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MONUMENT AT THE ENTRANCE

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MONUMENT AT THE ENTRANCE 2

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MAP OF MOUNT SORAK NATIONAL PARK

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MOUNT SORAK NATIONAL PARK

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MOUNT SORAK NATIONAL PARK

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MOUNT SORAK NATIONAL PARK

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MOUNT SORAK NATIONAL PARK

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INTERIOR GREENERY

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INTERIOR GREENERY

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STAIRWAY TO MOUNTAIN

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INTERIOR GREENERY

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STAIRWAY TO VIEW MAPLE LEAVES

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MAPLE LEAVES

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MAPLE LEAVES

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MOUNTAIN WALKWAY

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MAPLE LEAVES

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MAPLE LEAVES

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MAPLE LEAVES

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MAPLE LEAVES

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STAIRWAY TO MOUNTAIN

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MOUNTAN TOP

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MOUNTAIN TOP

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MOUNTAIN TOP

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CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN

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VIEW FROM THE MOUNTAINS

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TRAVELLING DOWN BY CABLE CAR TO SHINHEUNGSA TEMPLE

Slopes of Mount Sorak National Park: Sinheungsa Temple

Situated on the slopes of Mount Sorak National Park,  Sinheungsa Temple is a landmark that you cannot miss as your travel down the slopes by cable car.  A distinctive landmark of the temple is the Buddha himself. I have been informed by my tour guide that this is the largest statue of the Buddha in the world in a sitting posture.  The Buddha statue and the temple themselves are also recognised for its historical significance.

When one is at a temple, item offerings for prayers are available for a price for devouted Buddhists who wish to pray and pay their respect to the Buddha. When I am at the place do I feel the serenity and tranquility of the place. For devouted Buddhists, this is definitely a place not to be missed.

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ENTRANCE TO THE TEMPLE

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MAP OF THE TEMPLE

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DETAILS OF THE TEMPLE

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SHOPS NEAR THE TEMPLE

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SURROUNDING TEMPLE BUILDINGS

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SIGNPOST FOUND NEAR THE BUDDHA STATUE

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BUDDHA STATUE

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ONE OF THE CARVINGS FOUND AT THE BASE OF THE BUDDHA STATUE

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BUDDHA STATUE

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BUDDHA STATUE

Yongpyong Dragon Valley Resort

We went to Yongpyong Dragon Valley Resort the next day. What’s interesting is that this resort has been host to numerous skiiing events in the past and is well known in the region and I believe within the country itself as well. Hence, the best time to visit this resort is during winter. However, I was surprised that even in autumn (which is the time of my visit),  this resort is equally if not more beautiful.

Other than being known as a skiing resort, this is also regarded by the locals as one of the primary filming sites of “Winter Sonata”, a Korean drama made famous by Bae Yong Joon and Choi Ji Woo.

Below are some selected photos that I have taken during the time of my visit and which are memorable to me. I hope that you like them too.

P.S: Interestingly, this is also the place where I have captured the most number of flora and fauna.

YONGPYONG DRAGON VALLEY RESORT

FILM SITE OF WINTER SONATA: This is one of the filming sites of the korean drama “Winter Sonata”. The cafe filming site is situated inside the building. Only when I have entered the premises do I realise that the filming site is not based in a real cafe. That is, there is no real cafe in the vicinity. The film site has merely been preserved after filming of the drama has been wrapped up to boost tourism (I assume).

RESORT EXTERIOR

FIMING LOCATION OF “WINTER SONATA”

INTERIOR OF CAFE

INTERIOR OF CAFE

INTERIOR OF CAFE

Yongpyong Dragon Valley Resort:  Sky Garden

We were asked by our tour guide if we will like to make a trip to the Sky Garden the next day, in the early morning. Most of us agreed and as you can see from the photos, this was one of the best decisions that I have made for this trip. We were taken by cable up to the mountain, where there is a landscape garden waiting for us there. Hence, the name “Sky Garden”.

Enjoy!

VIEW FROM THE CABLE CAR

RESORTS IN THE VICINITY

“DRAGON PEAK” (LANDING POINT) AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN (“SKY GARDEN” IS JUST BEHIND THIS BUILDING!)

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS!

FINALLY! THE SKY GARDEN ITSELF! BEAUTIFUL, ISN’T IT?

FINALLY! THE SKY GARDEN ITSELF! BEAUTIFUL, ISN’T IT?

FINALLY! THE SKY GARDEN ITSELF! BEAUTIFUL, ISN’T IT?

VIEW OF YONGPYONG (FROM THE MOUNTAINTOP)

En route to Seoul:  Korean Rest Stop

On the way to Seoul, we have passed several Korean rest stops. Our tour guide has informed us that there are rest stops along the expressway for every 15-25 minutes interval to facilitate long-distance commuters like ourselves. The architectural design of these rest stops are rather unique, as can be observed from the photos below. There is usually a supermarket in the rest stop, as well as some eateries to facilitate hungry road travellers. And of course, the restrooms!

KOREAN REST STOP

KOREAN REST STOP

KOREAN REST STOP

En route to Seoul:  Banpo Moonlight Rainbow Fountain

Recognised by the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s longest bridge fountain, it sure is a sight to behold in the late evening- which is exactly the time we reached there. The musical fountain only performs at night, so the time’s just right for a photo shoot. It wasn’t always easy trying to capture the images without a tripod but I tried my best.

I hope that you like the photos.

THE HANJIANG RIVER IN THE LATE EVENING: This is a famous and renowned filming location for korean movies and dramas. In fact, there’s even a live reporting segment by one of the TV stations when we were there.

BANPO MOONLIGHT RAINBOW FOUNTAIN

BANPO MOONLIGHT RAINBOW FOUNTAIN

BANPO MOONLIGHT RAINBOW FOUNTAIN

BANPO MOONLIGHT RAINBOW FOUNTAIN

BANPO MOONLIGHT RAINBOW FOUNTAIN

Seoul: Myeungdong & Namdaemun

Our next stop is Myeungdong & Namdamun, both of which are famous shopping districts. The environment is akin to Tokyo’s Ginza district, with numerous retail outlets selling fashion wear. People of all ages can be seen walking along the streets in the early evening, while the sun is still setting.

What a sight!

STREET SCENE

HISTORIC STATUES

HISTORIC STATUES

STREET SCENE

STREET SCENE

STREET SCENE

STREET SCENE

SUNSET!

LANDMARK!

FASHION OUTLETS

DOOTA (DOOSAN TOWER): One of Dongdaemon’s most famous fashion malls

APM BUILDING: Fashion stores are on every floor! Note that the fashion sense in this building is more suited for teenagers.

SHOPPING STREETS

Yong-In Everland: The Safari

Our next stop is Everland. According to online sources, this entertainment theme park is ranked among the top ten theme parks in the world! What makes the place unique are the interesting and fun gaming stations (which is about 68 in all, according to my understanding), the customer-oriented staff, the combined use of indoor and outdoor layout and the spaciousness of the place. Coupled with the fact that I am here in the onset of autumn, the cooling autumn air does add a sense of serenityand tranquility to the theme park.

I will probably require a full day to tour the place but considering that I am on a packaged tour, I only have 3.5 hours. Thus, I have made use of these period of time to capture some memorable pictures. Below is The Safari, the first stop of my visit.

SAFARI

SAFARI

LION

LION WALKING AWAY?

TIGER

TIGER

A BEAR! THIS BEAR IS REAL!

Yong-In Everland

Below are the rest of the photos I have taken at Everland. I hope that you like them.

HOLLOWEEN THEME!

HOLLOWEEN THEME!

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

EVERLAND

Lotte World

Before leaving South Korea, we are also introducted to an equivalent version of “Everland” – Lotte World! Below are some photos which I have taken. Enjoy!

ENTRANCE TO LOTTE WORLD

INTERIOR OF LOTTE WORLD

LOTTE WORLD SHARES THE SAME HOLLOWEEN THEME AS EVERLAND AT THE TIME OF MY VISIT

TAKING AN AIR BALLOON UP TO THE CEILING

VIEW FROM THE AIR-BALLOON

VIEW FROM THE AIR-BALLOON

Breakfast by the riverside

DINING AREA

NEARBY SCENERY

NEARBY SCENERY

RIVER RENOVATION PROJECT

NEARBY SCENERY

TILL WE MEET AGAIN, SOUTH KOREA

TILL WE MEET AGAIN, SOUTH KOREA