The first time I went to Seoul last December 2015, I was really hoping to experience a snowfall but with no luck and since I was in love with the place, I promised to be back, well not until I have enough savings for such a quite expensive trip!
So this time, I am with Ryan and we scheduled our trip on the mid-January on high hopes that we’d be able to cross out experiencing a real snowfall on our bucket lists. It was an 8-day trip and basically I served as Ryan’s tour guide as I’ve been to most places we visited.
Upon arrival it was already evening and the weather was at -1ºC and I was on a dress and just a single jacket because my initial plan was to feel the cold temperature because it was scorching in Manila when we left and I overestimated the cold while Ryan was enjoying (his first time to experience winter, btw). We did a homestay at an Jinho’s House where I was able to book in Booking.com. It was in Bukchon and it was worth all the penny we spent as the place is very affordable and convenient plus we had a closer access in experiencing South Korean culture. As a K-drama fan, we immediately went to a convenience store to eat cup noodles on a very cold night (Idk, but ang saya kumain ng cup noodles dun pero ang totoo nagtitipid lang talaga kami, lol). In addition, Jinho, the owner was very friendly that he even welcomed us with bottles of beer and different flavors of soju. Yes, that’s exactly what we did upon arrival, it was fun though as he also introduced to us the Korean drinking culture.
On our first day, we woke up late from all the drinks and exhaustion and we decided to just chill literally and wander around Gyeongbukgung area and visited the famous palace and visit nearby areas like National Palace Museum, Gwanghwamun and King Sejong statue.
We also found a good restaurant where the servers are ahjummas so I thought that food were good and the best part is that they have bulgogi which I was craving for days. It was also cheap considering the generous serving and how good the food was, I just wasn’t able to get the restaurant name as it is in Korean.
There’s just too much to love about Seoul and one of those things is walking around the streets and getting lost. The environment is clean, no traffic jams, the weather is good and there are good food everywhere. That night we wander around Bukchon and found this small restaurant and we dig in to some ramen and gimbap (which makes me crave for Korean food while writing this). We ate here multiple times.
Ski at Gangcheon Elysian Resort
The next morning we went skiing which I booked prior to our arrival and we were quite excited because it was a first for the both of us. Even though the ski resort’s snow was artificial, we were so delighted being there. As expected, I had a real struggle skiing, it felt like I slid 5 times and fell down 50 times, I am not really good with balancing but still it was a great experience and we had so much fun.
After that we were real exhausted and starving and we indulged ourselves to a set of samgyeopsal.
We were on our third day in Seoul and there’s still no sign of snowfall, I kept monitoring the weather forecast and it says that chance of snow is 0% which made us somewhat sad. It was during the night that the forecast changed to a possibility of 30% so we stayed awake until midnight to wait but still with no luck. How frustrating!
Suwon (Hwaseong Fortress)
Because of our sore body from yesterday’s ski activity and staying up late waiting for the snowfall that did’nt happened, we woke up very late so we then decided to just go to Suwon and walk towards the long stone walls of Hwaseong Fortress. I learned from research that they also offer archery lesson so we tried it too. Fun experience!
N Seoul Tower and Myeongdong Area
As corny as it may sound but it was actually the second love lock I cast this time around, the first time naman kase e wala si Ryan so pagbigyan, di ba! And I looked stupid as I was looking out for the first lock I cast last year, wala na, natabunan na.
Shopping at Myeongdong! As a girl and if you are into make-up, it is one of the best things to do while in Seoul and I really made sure to set aside some money for shopping here. I was really happy whenever sales ladies hand out samplers and I took all of them , seriously nawala ang hiya ko.
SNOWFALL!! and Nami Island
Okay, so this is it! It was on our fifth day and we did not expect this to happen because of the previous day snow forecast that didn’t happen. I just came from my morning bath when I peak outside the window to see how cold it is when I saw a lot of snow falling! Oh My God, it’s snowing, for real!!
I exclaimed with sheer joy as I cried out to Ryan who was at the bathroom at the time and we immediately head outside. We felt like little kids and though we’re the only ones out in the cold morning, we were literally dancing through the snow. Gladly, we didn’t catch a cold!
Like Myeongdong, shopping is also fun here as the price are much cheaper because its where most students come to shop. We also had some time to visit the beautiful Yonsei University and Ewha Womans University.
Bukchon and Changdeokgung Palace
I saved the best for last, walking around Bukchon and touring the Changdeokgung Palace. I really love walking around the Secret Garden because I love trees and the colors of winter here is very pretty.
I have created a separate post for all the foods we had in Seoul because #foodislife!
During my second time in Seoul, most of our budget were spent on food and I surely gained weight after the trip but I didn’t mind, traveling to Seoul is a once twice in a lifetime opportunity and one of the best things to do here is to eat so no regrets!
The last few days before our trip, I was so busy and there’s a lot of things going on with the packing and office work plus I had to join my friends for an overnight out of town trip so I hadn’t much time to eat so I was determined to allow myself to relax and eat all the Korean food that I want. Since we arrived at night and we just ate cup noodles at a convenience store, my first proper meal is this bulgogi which I have been craving for weeks. It is a restaurant near King Sejong statue, forgot the name though but its just across the street on the left side.
After some time wandering around the streets of Bukchon, we came across this small restaurant and we had some ramen, gimbap and rice rolls which are very delightful. This restaurant is located on Anguk station, exit 3.
Since samgyeopsal is a bit pricey, we planned to eat just a set of this in Hongdae area but because we were so exhausted with skiing that day and haven’t eaten much on the ski resort as the food is quite expensive, we decided to have samgyeopsal for dinner.
On our way to the bus stop for Namsan, we came across this long queue of a small food stall so we joined in to the hype. They serve a few selection of toasts and its probably the best breakfast we had during our entire week in Seoul. What it makes it so special is that it is freshly grilled and in fact, as the kiosk is very small, you can see how they make the sandwiches. We waited for almost an hour and we get the bulgogi mvp (the bestseller indeed) and bacon best. Considering the price and how good it was, it was worth the wait. At night time, we came back to have another set of sandwiches.
Myeongdong is another good place to taste the different flavors of Korean cuisine especially the street foods.
And of course, McDonalds! The selections and experience are different in every country so why not, right?
I have been hearing a lot of great places to see in Baler and since we were on a limited time the first time I was there, I had to say yes when my colleagues/ friends were planning to organize for a weekend getaway to this place. What I really wanted to visit at first was Dingalan Lighthouse because of all the photographs I see on the internet but Trish said it was too far so she just included Dicasalarin Cove to our itinerary, she said they looked almost the same anyway.
The road to Dicasalarin was like a smaller version of the Kennon Road in Baguio and when we catch of glimpse of the cove, we were roaring with much excitement.
The place was too picturesque we couldn’t stop taking pictures.
This secluded place was like a haven of peace, we wished we learned earlier that we can do camping here so we could have stayed overnight.
Nagsasa Cove is one of the most underrated places I have been to but I found it very close to my heart. I think its because life here is simpler and more peaceful and that is what I have long been looking for.
It was our first time to be joiners of other groups which was organized by sir Avel who I came across in one of the Facebook backpacking pages. The trip was actually an island hopping to Camara, Capones, and Nagsasa Cove which we had an overnight stay. We had a very limited time to the first two islets and I was so disappointed as I enjoyed the beach at Capones so much, the water was very warm and it was so clear.
We had camping at Pamimi Campsite and the vibe was just what I exactly needed. Unlike those crowded places, I found a much needed inner peace and had a perfect place to relax and disconnect from the all stress and hustles of the city I am currently living in. The place lacks phone and internet signal so I completely disengaged with my phone, yay! I realized that having the time to interact with others feels great since we joined a completely strange groups who became friends at the end of the trip. Aside form enjoying the magnificent view, we spent the day sharing stories, swimming together, taking pictures and it made me appreciate the gift of life even more.
Days at provinces like this where there’s not much to do are usually longer and that made me miss living in my hometown. At night, we had the traditional drinking game while telling ghost stories over a bonfire. I guess, this is really usual for large groups to talk about scary stories during outings.
The next morning, sir Avel took us to some hiking and cliff jumping and the view on top of the hill was the most beautiful. The way down to the cliff is a little risky though but tiwala lang. My knees were already trembling when we reached the cliff so I chose not to jump anymore before my fear of heights completely dominate me.
Ryan did it and so does the others while I just enjoyed swimming until a jellyfish started to prick my arm. 😦
It was a short stay we had at this place but it was one of my favorite weekends so I will come back real soon.
For four days wandering around Bangkok, we spent most of our time eating and enjoying the wide selection of Thai cuisine. All I know before was about pad Thai and I never knew that there’s more to love aside from that dish when I went to visit Bangkok. From street foods to weekend markets to restaurants, I found that most dish have flattered my taste bud and I realized that Thai food in general was one of the best cuisine I have ever explored.
We didn’t have a concrete plan for the entire trip so on our first day we just wandered nearby the place where we stayed and ended up to a street market. The streets of Bangkok were filled with vendors selling different kind of foods.
Lisette and I have some list of street foods we want to try and first we encountered was these crispy pancakes or popularly known in Bangkok as Thai crepes . It comes with different flavors and topped with shredded coconuts and some other fruits. It tastes so good, promise.
I’m craving for all of these while writing 😦
A lot of people were lining up for this crepes so we tried one too.
Thais are very much fond of fruits, I saw a lot of vendors selling fruits of all kinds, they even have macopas which I though is a native fruit here in the Philippines.
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While roaming around Chatuchak Weekend Market, we saw this Spanish guy cooking paella while dancing. A lot of people were buying his paella so we tried it too and Oh God, it was really good.
We were just really eating the entire time and we were grateful that foods are so affordable but damn so good.
We really tried tasting almost everything out even these colorful drinks and Popsicle, and big-sized yakults!
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The next day, we went to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market for food adventure again, of course.
My friend knew about this Thai seafood restaurant called Somboon that serves this very yummy crab curry.
We also ordered other seafood dishes, good thing I had my antihistamines.
Another thing I love about Bangkok is their convenience stores that sells a wide variety of ready-to-eat meals like pasta and rice seafood meals. We used to buy some of these everyday for breakfast, masarap na, tipid pa!
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And no Thailand trip would be complete without an authentic Thai massage. The lady massaged me was so strong that I feared for my life but at the end, it felt so refreshing. All the pagod I had for the four days of walking and roaming around were gone.
The only temple we chose to visit was the Grand Palace but we were too late because it was already closed the moment we arrived so we just enjoyed the view outside.
Bangkok was pretty much like Manila when it comes to various things but I found this foreign country more progressive. It makes me sad actually because I think that Philippines is being left out in terms of economy growth. I have been to some other Asian countries and it makes me feel sad every time I see how they have efficient transport systems.
There’s also mild traffics here but look at the vehicles properly lined up, in a way, their motorists are still disciplined enough.
I’ve done my research to see if Thailand is considered part of the underdeveloped countries and turned out that it is actually on a middle class. They have some features of a non-industrialized country where some of their facilities are underdeveloped but they are also technologically more advanced to qualify for a first world country.
I have always wanted to cross this off my bucket list but I haven’t had enough courage to do so until this time. Last December, I saw another cliff jumping spot here in Boracay called the Magic Island but we were unable to go. I heard about Ariel’s Point from Lisette so I made sure that this comeback to Boracay would include a day trip so I can finally try this adventure.
It was an all-in package of a whole day activity at the island, lunch and an open bar, snorkeling, kayaking and of course, unlimited cliff jumping. 🙂
Ryan was one of the first brave ones to try it on the 8 meter platform, ikaw na!
And he has the guts to try it at the highest point (15 meters)!
My turn, but I only opted to try it at the lowest platform which is 5 meters. Actually the lifeguard has let me try it on the 3 meter platform first as I was deeply terrified but I was determined to go on with the next level so I did it, yay! It took me about half an hour to convince myself to jump.
And here I go..
I liked the package as a whole because the place was great, I love swimming by the clear waters. The only downside is that it had too limited time, it started late and they just let us wait for more than an hour for the boat to arrive, we could have enjoyed swimming and had more time to relax if we arrived earlier. And the food too was not so great, the meals offered for the island hopping was much yummier.
Summer came in early this year when my good friend, Lei invited us to join them for an island camping in Caramoan. It is a place far far away from Manila and she told me that we’re going to commute so I thought that would be a long and tiresome trip but I gave in anyway, its a beach we’re going so I couldn’t care less. 😀
It was a 13-hour bus ride to the municipality of Caramoan so were totally worn out the moment we arrived at the town. Afterwards, we have to ride this big tricycle to reach the boat that would charter us to the island.
Before we arrived at the camp site, we went island hopping first.
The place was so charming. The clear waters however was very shallow that time so we can’t enjoy swimming but the view is just so lovely so photo ops na lang.
We had camping in Matukad island where we had the place to ourselves. We were isolated over the night as there was no electricity and signal, just our tents and lamps. It was my first time to go island camping so at night I was kinda scared because we were the only ones in that island and the townsfolk lives afar but over time, I was assured that the place is safe for campers.
While there was still sunlight, we rushed on setting up our tents and prepared for our dinner. It felt really good to disconnect for a while where all you can do is enjoy the peacefulness of nature. It was a long long night so after dinner, we had some drinks and went swimming.
And we had to climb this edgy rock formations to see the mysterious giant milk fish in a lagoon. The view on top gave us a wide panoramic view of the entire Matukad island, so lovely!