My First Snowfall Experience

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.

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View from our room, we can actually see N Seoul Tower from afar

Gyeongbukgong Area

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.

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In Seoul, coffee is life!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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One ski boot weigh approximately 2lbs.

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That feeling you get when kids ski better than you!!

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After that we were real exhausted and starving and we indulged ourselves to a set of samgyeopsal.

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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!

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N Seoul Tower and Myeongdong Area

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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.

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This was on the 5th day, Ryan said he wanted to check out the view on a night time

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. 

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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!

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A portion of the lake has frozen

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Hongdae Area

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.

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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.

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I have created a separate post for all the foods we had in Seoul because #foodislife!

Indulging Into Korean Foods

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Myeongdong is another good place to taste the different flavors of Korean cuisine especially the street foods.

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Chicken skewers and seafood
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Egg Bread

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KRW1500 ice cream on a winter? Why not! 

 

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Korean egg tarts..taste good but a bit pricey for its size
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Two Two Chicken in Dongdaemun
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Another set of samgyeopsal in Hongdae area
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Last set of meal 😦 bulgogi ftw

And of course, McDonalds! The selections and experience are different in every country so why not, right?

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Di ako obsessed sa bulgogi no?

Eating Like a Queen in Bangkok

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.

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Mango sticky rice #ftw
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Thai milk tea

I’m craving for all of these while writing 😦

A lot of people were lining up for this crepes so we tried one too.

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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.

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.

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Generous serving for only 100 Baht

We were just really eating the entire time and we were grateful that foods are so affordable but damn so good.

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Time for some coconut ice cream!

We really tried tasting almost everything out even these colorful drinks and Popsicle, and big-sized yakults!

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These are not food, they’re actually soap. nakakaaliw lang

The next day, we went to Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market for food adventure again, of course.

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There were so many huge fishes around

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Authentic pad Thai, finally!
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Coconut shake..hilig nila sa coconut, promise

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Crispy pancakes everywhere

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Exotic foods

My friend knew about this Thai seafood restaurant called Somboon that serves this very yummy crab curry.

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We also ordered other seafood dishes, good thing I had my antihistamines.

 

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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!

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.

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Chao Phraya Tourist Boat

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.

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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.

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There’s also mild traffics here but look at the vehicles properly lined up, in a way, their motorists are still disciplined enough.

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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.

Standing on One of the World’s Most Dangerous Border

“The scariest place on Earth” – Former US President, Bill Clinton, during his visit in 1993.

This is probably the most terrifying tour I have ever tried and I was grateful that I was able to get out of that place unharmed and alive. I can say that I technically been to North Korea.

Being able to experience this tour requires advanced reservation because of security reasons so even before our trip to Seoul, I have arranged for the reservation because I badly wanted to go to the border. And having a reservation also does not guarantee that the tour will push through because it depends mainly on the situation between the two countries. Luckily, there was no tension during our scheduled visit so yay!

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The Joint Security Area is the place where guards of the two countries face each other. According to the tour guide, sometimes the North Korean guards does not appear for some reason, so swertehan din.

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Basically they allow visitors to have their picture taken behind North Korea side but it is strictly prohibited to take picture of the south side. There was this instance where one of the joiners of our group accidentally taken her selfie  showing the south side as the background and the soldier approached, asked her to show him the picture and have it deleted. The reason for that act was because you may be suspected as a spy to the other country. The best thing you can do here is to obey.

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Here comes the North Korean guards

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Ang pogi ni kuya o 🙂

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Look at that North Korean guard taking a picture. Accordingly, they usually do that when they spot someone famous visiting the border, I wonder who might that be.

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By taking this picture, I was literally standing between two counties, my left foot on North Korea and the right on South.

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This conference hall is the only way you can set foot on the exact border. When you’re at the opposite side of that table,  its the moment you can say that you are officially in North Korea.

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The Bridge of No Return

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Our tour concluded with a sumptuous meal which was included in the package.