Everland: A Day Full of Thrills

August 26, 2018 567 Views

Most people don’t just visit South Korea because of K-pop, Korean dramas, beauty products and food but it’s also famous for their amusement parks. They got a few ones like Children’s Grand Park, Dreamland, Seoul Land, Seoul Grand Park, Lotte World, and Everland.  Among these, we’ve decided to go to Everland, the largest and most recommended amusement park.

Situated in Yongin, to get to Everland, we rode a bus from Gangnam. Getting to this place is an adventure itself as taking public transportation can take up to 2 hours from Seoul.

Everland

The ticker for Everland costs KRW 48,000 for adults, and KRW 38,000 for children. Of course, we opted to pre-purchase the ticker via Klook voucher. Take note though that the day pass entitles you to most rides at the park, but some requires additional payment like Animal Riding, Gyro VR, and Robot VR.

Since it’s Spring, flowers such as tulips, daffodils, and grape hyacinths with vivid colors start blooming. Tulip Festival is also being held to mark the onset of Spring from March to April wherein over 1.2 million tulips in 100 different varieties were decorated on the garden and paths around the amusement park. This makes the park totally Instagram-friendly!

I was sickly that time due to my monthly period (LOL, TMI!), but I tried to enjoy every bits of our experience in Everland.

 

This giant tree is known as the Magic Tree and is a popular spot for pictures.

Anyway, what differs this amusement park from the usual ones with both outdoor and indoor rides, there’s a zoo within its compounds wherein you can interact with animals. Having said that, there are actually five themed zones in Everland namely Global FairAmerican AdventureMagic LandEuropean Adventure, and Zootopia. Apparently as the name suggests, the zoo is within the Zootopia zone.

Hi there monkey!

 

I suggest you get a guide map and know your zones. If you’re a thrill seeker, spend most of your time in the European Adventure and American Adventure zones that houses attractions like the big rollercoasters and VR rides. On the other hand, if you’re visiting as a family with young kids, then Magic Land and ZooTopia are for you. If you’re just here to shop souvenirs, then there’s no need to venture farther than Global Fair.

There are a lot of food stalls in Everland and some restaurants wherein you can eat not just Korean food but Western and Asian cuisines as well. We opted for this Tonkatsu set because we’re totally miss having rice!

The first wooden roller coaster in South Korea! T-Express remains a top favorite to both locals and foreign visitors of Everland. It’s not for the faint-hearted as the speed is topping at 104km/h and a vertical drop height of 77º.

Everland is vast and walking can be tiring so they’ve provided lifts to transfer from one location to another such as “Human Sky”, “Sky Cruise”, and “Sky Way”. Mind you, lines are long especially for cable cars.

If you’re an adventurous soul and doesn’t have motion sickness, you may take a spin of and scream at the top of your voices in Double Rock Spin.

Cherry blossoms are everywhere! <3

If you’re a tita like me (not so adrenaline junkie), worry not, Everland can be enjoyed both by kids and adults. Aside from that, there are a couple of retail shops such as cosmetic shops Etude House, and even a LINE Friends Store.

Umbrella galore at Magic Land!

At the Carnival Square, you can catch performances and watch the parade that usually lasts like a good thirty minutes or so.

Overall, Everland makes for a fun day trip from Seoul. I bet it’s much magical at night but we opted to proceed to our next destination to make the most out of our travel.

Gangnam

Our next spot is Gangnam, the district known as “South Korea’s Beverly Hills”, is popular for its exorbitant real-estate prices and wealthy residents (like the K-pop idols!). We dropped by quickly just to check out the Kakao Friends Flagship Store.

Kakao Friends

Apart from Line, Koreans are also into KakaoTalk messenger app, hence they came up with stores that caters merchandises of their adorable Kakao characters (Ryan, Frodo, Neo, Muzi, Apeach and G-Jay characters) such as calendars, plushies, pillows, keyrings and even golf balls, and among others.

Boasting three floors, it has a diverse selection of souvenirs.  The first floor features different stationary stuff, phone cases and the photo spot with giant Ryan. The second floor is dedicated for clothing, beach stuff, makeup x Kakao friends, and homey stuffs, and some other photo spots with Neo, Frodo and Apeach. Lastly, the third floor is the Ryan Café that serves cute snacks, desserts and drinks.

Ahhh~ due to time constraints, we weren’t able to explore the rest of Gangnam, but would love to come back! *fingers crossed*

Saichi Montoya

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South Korea: Discovering the Wonders of Gapyeong

July 11, 2018 667 Views

We love hitting up Seoul‘s crazy venues, but there’s a lot more to explore in South Korea. Hence, allow me to share our adventure beyond Seoul with our excursion at Gapyeong.

Gapyeong is a small town about 1-2 hours away from Seoul that is accessible via ITX and is known for its picturesque surroundings.

Nami Island

A trip to Korea wouldn’t be complete without having a pilgrimage to Namiseom or Nami Island, the most popular filming location for the Korean drama, Winter Sonata. This half-moon-shaped island is full of tree-lined walking paths ideal for anyone who wants to veer away from the rapid city pace and just revel in the beauty of nature.

There are also fascinating facts about this island: On it lies the grave of General Nami, who led a great victory against the rebels in the 13th year of the 7th king of the Joseon Dynasty, King Sejo. Additionally, this island doesn’t have telephone poles as all electric wires were built underground to preserve the originality of its natural landscape.

There are two ways to get to Nami Island, you can either take a ferry from Gapyeong Ferry Wharf with a fee of KRW 13,000, or if you’re a brave soul, you may opt to get onto the island by zip-lining with a fee of KRW 44,000. However, please note that the zip-line is one way only, and you have no choice to leave the island by ferry. The ferry leaves every 30 minutes from 7:30AM – 9:00AM and every 10-20 minutes between 9AM – 6PM.

Obligatory photo when in Nami. (PS: I wasn’t feeling that well but tried to conceal it!)

We wandered around the island and just totally immersed ourselves there without taking a lot of photos.

This island is too vast, thus it still takes quite a while to get around so some can roam around by getting on an electric car tour. Most ahjummas opted for this, haha!

The “First Kiss Bridge”.

Of course, we rented out bicycles! Single bike rental costs KRW 3,000 for 30 minutes, KRW 5,000 for an hour, and KRW 1,000 additional charges for the succeeding hours.

They also have the cheesy couple bike wherein my sister and I tried HAHAHA! It’s quite a struggle to use it though! Meanwhile, did you know that they also offer a family bike? The rental costs KRW 10,000 for 30-minutes.

Nami possesses different charms for its different season and since it’s spring, there are cherry blossoms blooming in the area. But then, would like to also immerse here during Autumn or Winter.

Banana milk for me~ PS: We brought with us some snacks in case we get hAngry! (See what I did there, haha)

We boarded the ferry back to the port, wherein we also had our lunch at Mr. Dakgalbi.

Drooling over our Korean dish!!! SUPER YUMMY I SWEAR!

After eating, we waited for the Gapyeong City Tour Bus that would drop us to our next destination. We bought a ticket right there and then for around KRW 6,000 that is already inclusive of unlimited ride. With this, you may opt to tap your T money card.

Petite France

A French-themed village located about 25 minutes away from Nami Island, Petite France is inspired by Saint-Exupery’s “The Little Prince”.

Entrance ticket to Petite France is at KRW 8,000 and cheaper for kids and seniors. And just like Nami Island, it’s also popular as filming locations for Korean dramas, “My Love from The Star”, “Beethoven Virus”, and “Secret Garden”.

A lot of tourists enjoy its colorful buildings’ facade that makes a wonderful backdrop for photo-taking sessions.

More than the pretty pastel-colored French architectural buildings, it also showcases various vintage European trinkets such as century-old dolls and puppets, antiquities, orgels (musical instrument), and furniture.

The place also has its outdoor theater, wherein you can watch plays on special days or puppet shows.

After getting around, we went out and waited for the Gapyeong City Tour Bus again for our final stop.

Garden of Morning Calm

Reaching our last stop at The Garden of Morning Calm was a 50-minute long bus ride, so some of us took a nap.

Anyway, by this time, my camera battery was already drained, so got no choice but to use our phones. There is also an entrance fee here worth KRW 8,000, and mind you, it’s yet another filming location and a hotspot for many Korean dramas such as “I’m not a Robot”, “Jugglers”, “Black”, “School 2017”, “Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds”, “Mary Stayed Out All Night”, “You’re Beautiful”, “Smile Again”, “Dong Hae” and “A Love To Kill”.

Tagged as the grandest and oldest private garden in South Korea, this is a large landscape spanning 30,000 meters with a lovely garden full of gorgeous flowers and an abundance of green spaces nestled in between lush, green mountains. Aside from that, you can enjoy fresh air and relax while sightseeing and wandering around. The garden evolves all year round, with different flower festivals.

After which, we rode the same bus that took us back at the Gapyeong Station.

Shake Shack

Capped off the night by eating classic burgers from Shake Shack with crinkle cut fries and iced tea drinks. YAS! this insanely popular NYC burger joint has made its way to Seoul!

The Shack burger costs around KRW 6,900 for single patty. It’s basically is a cheese burger with lettuce, tomato, and smothered in Shack Sauce served on a potato bun. It’s allegedly made with 100% Angus beef, with no hormones or antibiotics added. It’s moist, juicy, and so damn delicious and NOT too oily. (PS: Somebody please bring this to the Philippines!)

However, the price is quite expensive, haha! But totally worth it!!! (exaggeration intended)

Saichi Montoya

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South Korea: A Fusion of Traditional and Modern City Living

July 3, 2018 882 Views

Seoul radiates the perfect blend of their venerable old and contemporary culture. It may be a busy city, sometimes frenetic and sprawling, but it still has that charm that lures tourists to immerse into their local attractions. That certain “balance” is one of the several things I admire about this country as they still preserve their old way of life even though they’re constantly booming towards modernity.

In this post, allow me to share you some of the tourist routes that boast its unique atmosphere, formed by the stark contrast of the old and new.

(more…)

Saichi Montoya

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South Korea: A Glimpse of Spring in Seoul

June 13, 2018 962 Views

I can hardly remember when the first time was when I got hooked into “anything Korean”, perhaps it was during the era of the earlier K-dramas, “Winter Sonata” and “Autumn in my Heart”. From there, I was then introduced to K-pop, and the rest is history.  My fascination to all things Korean had become unrivaled up until now.

Never in my life and in my wildest dreams that I’ve considered going to South Korea, because I was quite anxious that my visa won’t get approved because I’m not earning a superlative salary, but God paved way for it to happen. (I guess, it’s really meant to be T_T). Okay, ‘nuff of my senti mode! :))

South Korea sounds like an expensive travel destination as most people would assume. Known for its increasingly prominent presence in the World and as one of the leading economies in Asia, its high cost of living and visa requirements, would often make anyone think twice to travel to this country. But trust me, you don’t have to be filthy rich to explore the Land of the Morning Calm.

Getting a Korean Visa

Applying for a Korean visa may sound intimidating especially for first-timers. While we may just choose to hire a travel agency to do this, we just did it on our own as the process was very simple! Yes, you’ve heard that right, getting a Korean visa is easy, fast, and absolutely FREE. The ordeal isn’t that long as well as you can get the result of your visa application after a week. But mind you, we failed at our first attempt because of the cut off! So, my sister came back again the other day and lined up at wee hour in the morning just to secure a slot.

However, the Embassy of Korea recently announced that it will designate travel agencies to accept applications for Korean visa starting July 1, 2018.

Here’s the rundown in filling out the Visa Application Form:

  • Print the Korea visa application form on A4-size paper. You can download the Tourist/Business Visa Requirements for Employees here.
  • Accomplish the form by hand and never leave any items blank. For those that are irrelevant to you or not applicable, write N/A.
  • Write in BLOCK letters, as in all caps.
  • Use a √ (check mark) for items with multiple selection.
  • For sample, you may view it here.

For other requirements:

  • 1 piece of Passport size colored picture (Please attach on the application form)
  • Original Passport (should be valid for more than 6months)
  • Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
  • Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable only)
  • Original Certificate of Employment (must include applicant’s position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number (cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address)
  • Original Personal Bank Certificate (must include account type, current balance, account opening date, ADB)
  • Bank Statement (original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
  • Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

UPDATE:

From July, 1 2018Company Alpha List will no longer be required during visa application. However, it may be requested as additional document for some applicants.

When submitting Company Alpha List as additional document, information other than those of the applicant may be covered.

For complete details, you may check the website of the Embassy of Korea.

Public Transport in Korea

Navigating your way through the city’s terrain could be stressful but most of the attractions in Korea are accessible via their Metro train. The train maps however, might look daunting because it’s so complicated! So, I highly suggest you download some useful apps. In our case, we used the Subway Korea app for iOS. Riding the train was a breeze because the latter provides real-time transit information, and a vector-based map that you can pinch in to zoom in or out.

Other than the Metro train, getting around Seoul is extremely convenient—be it via bus, taxi, biking and walking.

If you plan to use the public transportation consistently, I highly recommend getting the T-Money Card. It’s a transportation card that is similar to our Beep Card in Manila but also functions as a discount card and can be used in select convenience stores.

Spring in Seoul

We intentionally booked our flight on April to specifically catch the Cherry Blossom season in South Korea. This would be our first time to witness Cherry Blossoms in full bloom and immerse on the cold Spring weather.

It’s quite hard to have that perfect timing to be able to experience the magical feeling of being blanketed with the pastel pink blossoms but we were lucky enough to be able to do so! We were ecstatic to know that the Cherry Blossom Festival was scheduled on the days of our stay in Seoul.

Egg House Hostel

Since our flight was at midnight, we weren’t able to catch the last leg of trip of the train from Airport Railroad Express (AREX). Instead, we opted to take the Airport Limousine Bus 6002 going to the place we’ll be staying at Dongdaemun.

We chose Dongdaemun Egg House Hostel via Agoda because it’s the cheapest we could get on the peak season. (haha!). The room was cozy, bed was really comfy, they have aircon and heater as well, and the hostel is in a really good location just near the train station (Metro). You can actually get to some attractions, stores and restaurants by foot.

They also offer free breakfast, wherein you can cook your own egg, eat cereals, and toast your breads at their common area.

Yeuido Park

With all the attractions vying for their attention in Seoul, we started out our incredibly diverse range of experiences by checking out the Cherry Blossoms at Yeuido Park. (Better catch them before they wilt!)

There are two ways to get to Yeouido Park using the Metro:

  • Alight at Yeouinaru Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 1. Walk 10 minutes towards SBS TV Station, or
  • Alight at Yeouido Station (Seoul Subway Line 5), Exit 3. Walk 5 minutes towards the National Assembly building.

This beautiful recreational area is said to be one of the best places to see the breathtaking Cherry Blossoms for FREE. The park comes to life with trees laden with cherry blossom and other colorful flowers during Spring. I felt like I was transported in a Korean drama that time. (LOL)

Harking back, the park is actually divided into four different sections: The Traditional Korean Forest, Grass Square, Culture Square, and Nature’s Ecosystem Forest. Strolling around is totally relaxing.

The most memorable experience for me here was this exact moment: whenever the wind blows, the trees shed and it felt as if it was raining cherry blossoms!

We also ate Tteokbokki (spicy stir-fried rice cakes) along the streets as there are some vendors aligned at the seems like a never-ending path of cherry blossom trees!

Indeed, it was the most picturesque cherry blossom street in Seoul! <3 We apparently spent too much time there, haha!

Ewha Womans University

Our next stop was the Ewha Womans University. Yes, I certainly spelled that right! It was jam-packed that time maybe because we arrived there during their lunch break.

Anyway, this university was founded in 1886 by an American missionary and was Korea’s first educational institute for women. This school reminded me of my alma matter, Miriam College, because it’s an all-girls university.

The famous Ewha Campus Complex is tagged as Korea’s largest underground campus. The architecture is world class and as per research, “the lower levels contain a library, bookstore, gym, movie theater, cafes, and other cultural facilities, while on the first level visitors can find lecture rooms and an eco-park”. Whoa~!

But lo and behold, along the vicinity of the Ewha Womans University is one of the most popular shopping districts in Seoul. There were a lot of stalls selling super cheap yet stylish clothing for a low as KRW 5,000. Do the math! (Yes, it’s just around PHP 250!). Aside from that, there are also beauty stores, street food stalls, and various restaurants in the area. I could live in here!

You can also spot a Lotte Elcube compact mall here! This small store focuses specifically on young, fashion-conscious shoppers. The first floor houses the Line Friends merchandise, and it also has various shops that sell cute clothes, accessories and bags for both men and women. They also carry some beauty products like 3CE, Labiotte, and many others.

Shoe heaven! Name it, they have it!

Binggrae banana milk drink.

The alleys are worth checking out too! See those baby breath flowers? I want to buy one for myself! *u*

Since it’s already lunch time, we opted to eat at Popeye’s. We used to have this in the Philippines way back then, but it’s now closed! 🙁 Got to try this last time at the Hong Kong airport though.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

In the past, the Cheonggyecheon Stream is a neglected waterway not until it was restored way back in 2005. Today, it is considered as an attraction amidst the hustle and bustle of Seoul.

It’s very serene in here with small waterfalls, and it has nearly two dozen overhead bridges.

Nothing fancy in here, but you can actually make a wish by tossing coins to the waters, and it’s quite a good spot to just stroll along the stream.

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Considered as the most stunning landmark at the center of Dongdaemun, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza or DDP, is designed by Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s most renowned female architects. She’s also known in designing the New National Stadium of Japan for the 2020 Olympics in Shinjuku.

DDP is where the most anticipated exhibits and fashion shows (like the Seoul Fashion Week) in Korea are held. It might look like a UFO but is totally futuristic yet sort of fashion forward (for the lack of term).  The coolest thing about it is its walkable roof which I failed to go to because it was too cold for my life!

There are 5 halls in this plaza including Art Hall, Design Market, Design Lab, Museum and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. And if given a chance to come back, I’d like to check out some of their exhibits.

Also, we didn’t miss out on checking out the flower garden filled with LED flowers. I wasn’t able to catch it at night when the flowers are all lit because it took some time to get dark in Korea, but was able to return the other day and voila, got to witness the best of both worlds!

That’s it for the first part of my South Korea trip. More posts coming soon! 🙂

Saichi Montoya

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