My first VTL Holiday Trip to Busan, Gyeongju, Wonju & Seoul from 11 Dec to 18 Dec 2021

With the international border closure coming to a good 2 year for now, pent up travel demand has certainly build up for most of us (me for sure!). Thus, when Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) program are being announced, I am definitely excited about it while on the other hand apprehensive about it too.

Why? Simply put, travel for leisure in a pandemic world is no longer the same now compared to the past. 🤣 Flight tickets are getting pricer, understandably as airlines are rushing to monetize their revenue to stay afloat. Factoring in additional healthcare expenditure like the costly PCR test, long waiting time needed for the negative PCR test clearance upon arrival at destination country, higher travel insurance premiums required coupled with the respective VTL countries health guidelines requirement which can be fluid and subject to constant changes depending on how the current health situation evolves.

With all these uncertainties and challenges, free and easy leisure traveling will definitely pose significant challenges without a doubt. Therefore, I have decided to delegate this pandemic mental load to travel agents by joining a group tour instead of bearing the grunt on my own. On a positive note, I can treat it as a familiarisation exercise for my next free and easy travel planning. As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. Who knows, group tours may well be a new norm for leisure traveling. 😯

There are quite a few VTL programs and I decided to go with South Korea due to its proximity and importantly it is one of my other favourite destination apart from Japan. 🙂

With all the calculated pains amid the inconvenience, I decided to go ahead and bite the bullet with the travel plan as 2 years is really a long time (for me) to bear for an avid traveler. 🤣

Well, with all travel packages booked and cleared out of the way, I am now ready to embark and embrace on the new norm leisure travel outlook.

Prior to travel, there are a couple of documentation hurdles that need to be stepped through before enjoyment steps in.

1. You will need to notarise your vaccine certificate. Always print a hardcopy and carry it with you at all times along with the softcopy stored in your handheld device.

2. You will need to pre-book for your pre-departure PCR Test at any of the MOH Approved PCR Test Providers 72 hours before. You may visit SATA for your pre-departure PCR Test as it is by far the cheapest provider at $107 but you will need to call them (Tel : 62446688) for reservation instead of doing so online. Else, you may make advance reservation online at Minmed Clinic Group and the cost will be $128.

Thereafter, you will also need to pre-book for your on arrival PCR Test (₩174,000) at Incheon Airport prior to departure to Korea and remember to carry a copy of the confirmed booking when entering Korea. After the on arrival PCR Test, you are required to isolate in accommodation and wait for a negative test result before you are able to carry on with your activities in Korea.

3. You will need to purchase travel insurance with a minimum coverage of $30 million won (approximately SGD$34,000) for Covid 19 related medical/treatment expenses and hospitalization costs for your travel duration. Likewise carry a physical copy of the insurance policy when traveling to Korea as well. This is an absolute requirement and simply no compromised for a peace of mind travel.

4. You will need to apply for a K-ETA for visa-free foreign visitors in advance prior to travel too.

If in doubt, always visit South Korean Electronic Travel Authorization site for further updates and information from time to time to keep abreast of the latest changes to the health regulation, if any.

5. When in Korea, you will need to download the Quarantine-Report, Self Check App (KDCA) from either Apple Store or Google Play Store for your daily uploading of your temperature check result. 

6. Remember to pre-book your PCR Test again 48 hours prior to departing Korea. After the test, traveler is not required to isolate and may carry on with your activities in Korea.

7. You are required to fill in and submit SG e-arrival card 72 hours before arrival to Singapore.

8. You will also need to pre-book for your On Arrival Test in Singapore prior to home coming.

9. You will also need to pre-book for your self administered ART on day 3 and day 7 upon return. At the same time make upfront payment using this payment link.

10. Then on day 2, 4,5 and 6, you will need to upload your self ART result.

Travel can never be the same again in a Covid world compared in the past where traveling is such a breeze. 😂 There are way too many hurdles to cross in terms of cost and inconveniences. I really do hope that one fine day (who knows when) things will improve over time and get better each day as we move along and get accustomed to the ever constant changes. 🙄

With all the above checklist ticked, I am now ready to embark on my super long awaited travel. 😅

Day 1 – Departing Singapore Changi Airport for Incheon Airport. Excitement commences upon arrival at the airport for the group departure assembly.

There are a couple of document checks in place before you are being issued with the Korea VTL pass which has to be worn upon arrival at Incheon Airport.

Finally, I am going through the departure gate after a good 2 long years. It feels real good walking past it. 👍

Enjoying and savouring a great breakfast spread at the Silver Kris Lounge with my favourite local dishes prior to departure.

This is something that I always look forward to when at the airport. Though the spread of hot foods are greatly reduced, at least there are still decent food options made available.

Time to depart for the Land of the Squid Game. How exciting, the journey begins! 🤗

Safe arrival to Incheon Airport as scheduled without much fanfare.

Only difference now is that you will be “welcomed” with a long snaking queue to await for immigration clearance and for the On Arrival PCR Test. 🤣

After the PCR Test, proceed to transfer to Hotel to rest for the day while pending for the result of the PCR Test.

The first night hotel stay is at Four Points by Sheraton, Seoul Station.

Pretty decent room size and spaciously good.

Dinner is a specially catered Korean Bento served in the hotel room. I loved the elaborate spread of dishes and banchans (accompaniment appetizers). I must say this is one of the best and tasty Bento that I have had. Yum yum! 😋

As soon as I received the PCR negative test result email approval (within 2 hours), I “chiong” immediately to the nearby familiar Seoul Station to check things out and do my usual recce.

Well, things are not the same now in a Covid world with most shops closing early and sadly, you do not get to see the bustling crowd as it used to now. 😔

Day 2 – Rise and shine with a cold morning at 2 degrees celsius. Breaking away from the usual heat back home. Feels great enjoying the cool climate. Today, we will be departing Seoul to Busan. Yes, train to Busan sequel. 😀

Prior to leaving, enjoying a round of breakfast at the hotel. Good spread and food choices. Definitely no complains. ☺

After a hearty meal, took a leisure stroll to Seoul Station to board the Korea high-speed train (KTX) to Busan at 10am.

While en-route to the station, came across this uniquely interesting sculpture.

Goodbye Seoul for now and Busan, here I come. 

Arrived safely into Busan Station 2 hours 45 mins later. The station is lively, filled with activities (human footfall) and it feels nice to see that things are slowly going back to normalcy.

Thereafter, we proceeded for lunch at Dkore, a local restaurant directly opposite of the Busan Station.

My delicious sundubu lunch with a tasty spread of banchans. They are known for their soft and smooth tofu (白白嫩嫩).

Chanced upon another interesting sculpture along street in Busan. Wanna make a guess on what is this?

Next, headed off to Gamcheon Culture Village a.k.a Santorini of the East, with blocks of colorful paints and artist wall murals. You may also refer to my previous blog on Busan and Seoul Trip for more attractions visited in Busan.

My last visit was 4 years ago back in Dec 2017. Not much change was detected since then till now except that the streets are much quieter due to no touristy crowds. 

This time round, I managed to walk round the entire village to experience the various mural wall paintings.

The story of the stairs to see stars.

Read to find out more.

Bonus shot for BTS fans. Woohoo….

From there, we proceeded to Jagalchi Fish Market, Korea’s largest seafood market, selling both live and dried fish.

This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. A must checklist in Busan! You can find almost every type of seafood imaginable and some which you may not have seen too!

Followed by BIFF, Busan International Film Festival which is just ahead of Jagalchi Market.

Here, you get to see and look on the ground for handprints of some Korean actors and of cos, enjoy their local street snacks at the same time.

Final attraction for the day, enjoy a ride on Busan Air Cruise crystal cable car with transparent floor where you can get to see the sea….

and enjoy beautiful night views of the Songdo seaside.

On the 3rd floor of the Songdo Sky Park, you can also enjoy a breathtaking views of the night scenery coupled with some nice sculptures on display too.

Dinner was at one of the local seafood restaurant. Due to my limited Korean efficiency, I am not able to decipher the name of the restaurant in full. 🤣 Help me out if you may! Thank you.

The dish is make known to me as Lobster and Abalone with Chicken in hot steam soup. Sounds steam to me! 😀 

Time to check-in to Crown Harbor Hotel Busan for the next 2 nights.

Room size is huge and super spacious. Loved the room. 🥰

Day 3 – Spending the entire day in Busan

Waking up to a cold morning at minus 1 degree celsius. It has been a long time since I last enjoyed such climate. ☺

Enjoying a round of breakfast at the hotel. Food quality is good though the spread is not elaborate as Four Points.

First stop of the day, a visit to Oryukdo Skywalk, a glass bridge overlooking the ocean and some amazing cliffs. 

Amazing scenic views from Oryukdo Skywalk. I am always mesmerized by such great views put forth in front of me. 

Closed up beautiful view of Haeudae Beach from afar. Will be heading there in a while.

Due to the pandemic, the glass bridge is now cordoned off leaving only one half instead of the full walkway for viewing.

The bridge features a see-through floor and you can look down directly at the cliff that the skywalk is perched on.

View from the glass floor overlooking the cliff below.

A nice perfect wefie at the tip of the Oryukdo Skywalk. ☺

For those who are strong and adventurous, you may even attempt to hike up the opposite end and catch a breathtaking view of the Oryukdo Skywalk from afar.

Isn’t it even more amazing with a zoomed up shot?

You may even get to see Haenyeo (Korean Woman Divers) at work if you are lucky.

After Haenyeo come back from the sea, they will sell whatever they managed to catch from their dive.

From there, we proceeded for lunch at a local restaurant specializing in pork soup.

All pork meal where you get to wrap the pork with lettuce and a bowl of pork soup. It’s nice but somehow it is not to my liking interest as I am not exactly a great fan of pork. 

Continue with the second stop of the day after the lunch charged up.

Headed off to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, built beside the East Sea where you will encounter breath-taking seaside view from the temple.

I was here 4 years ago as well but did not get a chance to visit the temple in detail as the crowd was overwhelming with many visitors. Getting into the temple was challenging because of the massive human traffic jam back then.

This time round, with thanks to the pandemic, I am able to visit and explore the various parts of the temple. Blessing in disguise I suppose.

While on the way in and out, I managed to catchup on my long awaited Korean street snack, Hotteok. This is a popular street food, type of sweet pancake typically filled with dark brown sugar, cinnamon powder, nuts and melon seeds. Feels good to have my cravings fixed.

Third stop of the day, we paid a visit to the meeting venue for the 2005 APEC Ministerial Meeting held in Busan on 15-16 November 2005.

The meeting venue is now designated as the APEC Memorial for visitors to commemorate the said meeting.

This is the entrance to the venue for the Leaders’ Retreat where they will be ushered in to their seats.

These are the assigned seats for the various participating countries Leaders.

This is where our Singapore Leader, PM Lee sits. 

This is the dinner served during the 2005 APEC Summit held in BEXCO on 18 Nov 2005. The menu comprises of steamed king prawn, grilled beef served with pine mushroom, scallop & ginseng salad, chestnut porridge, steamed rice in black bean, pine nut, black rice and red bean with “sin-sun-ro”, assorted Korean pastries, pear & citron punch and various side dishes : kimchi, white kimchi, beef boiled in soy sauce, seasoned vegetable and fried kelp.

Can you spot our Singapore Leader?

Final stop for the day, visit to Haeundae Beach.

We took a slow leisure stroll from the APEC meeting venue to the final stop for the day, Haeundae Beach. Along the route, we came across a Lighthouse.

 

This Lighthouse was built as a commemoration for the 13th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in 2005 and it is located 1km away from Haeundae Beach. It is 25m high and built to steer ships clear of the rocks. It looks like a lotus blossom to show development and an affluent future for Busan.

Haeundae Beach is an urban beach in Busan and often dubbed as one of the country’s most famous and popular beaches. A must visit for all visitors.

Look at the beautiful white sands on the beach and its cleanliness with great sea views.

If you have time in future, there is one other attraction in Busan, Yeongdodaegyo Bridge which I find worth a visit as it is of interest and unique. You may read up more in my previous blog on Busan & Seoul Trip if you are keen to find out more.

Dinner is near to Haeundae Beach at a local restaurant specializes in puffer fish soup.

A very light and healthy meal indeed, it tasted like tender chicken breast meat to me though. In Japan, it is called fugu and I had it in sashimi style and tempura form. Thus, having it in the form of soup (to me) doesn’t seem to do much justice to the puffer fish.

This is the puffer fish that I have just eaten. 

As I have yet to settle my cravings for fried chicken, I decided to have it at BBQ Chicken & Beer restaurant located on Level 2 of the hotel that I am staying in.

Ordered their Original Chicken, Golden Olive Chicken to get my fix. Yum, it just tastes so good as expected. Tenderliciously good. As I have always reiterated, you will never go wrong with fried chicken in Korea!

Day 4 – Departing Busan to Gyeongju

Gyeongju is the main destination in South Korea for visitors interested in the cultural heritage of Silla and the architecture of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Had a light breakfast before checking-out of the hotel.

Time to travel to Seokguram Grotto in Gyeongju to see a monumental statue of the Buddha sitting on top of a stage in the shape of a lotus flower.

Seokguram Grotto was first constructed by Prime Minister Gim Dae-seong in 751, the 10th year of Silla King Gyeongdeok. Originally, it was called Seok bulsa. According to the Samgukyusa, Gim Dae-seong founded Seokguram for the parents of his previous life. Seokguram represents not only the supremacy of Silla arts but is also regarded as the best oriental Buddhist work.

Thus along with Bulguksa, this grotto was designed in 1995 as the world cultural heritage by the UNESCO.

Follow the lantern footpath from the entrance to the grotto. The view will certainly be more magnificent in the night where the lantern are being lighted up.

Thereafter you will need to climb up some stone steps to see the grotto.

Before that you will come across a natural spring water and you are highly encouraged to drink the water from it for the natural mineral goodness.

The Seokguram Grotto is not only known as one of the finest masterpiece of Korean art but is also recognized as the world over as a cultural treasure that is the quintessence of Buddhist art works.

The layout of the grotto shows a rectangular antechamber and a round main hall. In the rotunda hall sits a majestic Buddha carved in granite. There are various figures surrounding the Buddha. Two Devas, two Bodhisattavas, ten standing Arhants, an eleven-headed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (the Bodhisattva of Boundless Mercy). Eight Guardian God’s, Vajrapani and Four Guardian Kings were sculptured on the wall behind the main Buddha. Unfortunately, photography is prohibited inside the hall.

Else, this is what you are supposed to see. Click Here to find out more.

More sceneries shots from the grotto.

Proceeded over for lunch at Pumpkin Village at a traditional restaurant, HobakGoeul.

HobakGoeul specializes in smoked duck with pumpkin.

Awesome spread of banchans

Pumpkin soup paste

Chive pancake, one of the best tasty pancake that I have had.

Hot somen noodle soup

Smoked duck, brown rice mixed with beans and steamed with chives. Somehow Korean brown rice just tastes different and surprisingly I enjoy eating it probably because of its glutinous rice texture.

Star of the meal, smoked duck with pumpkin. The smoked duck is smokingly good. It tastes like bacon and loved the sweetness and smoothness of the pumpkin which tastes like sweet potato. Trust me this is really good stuff and by far the best meal of the trip! 👍👍👍

Continue further to ancient kingdom of Silla, Gyeongju to visit Bulguksa Temple. In 1995, along with Seokguram Grotto, the temple was designated as a World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO.

See what I see?

The Uber in Korea. A yellow kakao taxi! 

The construction of this temple was begun by Prime Minister Gim Dae-seong in 751, the 10th year of King Gyeongdeok and completed in 774, the 10th year of King Hyegong. The temple served as a centre of Silla Buddhism and of prayer for the protection of the country from foreign as a base of the volunteer militia.

Immediately after the entrance, you will see a 103 year old beautiful pine tree on the left.

Here, you will also get to see a natural spring water with 3 dragon heads seated on a lotus flower. You may also drink the water directly as well.

The temple complex comprised a series of wooden buildings on raised stone terraces designed to represent the land of Buddha.

Important cultural properties from the Unified Silla period located on the premises included the two stone pagodas, Seokgatap and Dabotap pagodas.

This stone pagoda, known as Dabotap (Padoga of Abundant Treasures) is presumed to date to Bulguksa Temple’s establishment in the mid-8th century during the Unified Silla period (668-935). This pagoda represents the Buddha of the past, Prabhutaratna and forms a pair with the adjacent stone pagoda which represents the Buddha of the present Sakyamuni. There was also a guardian lion at the top of each of the four stairs but three were stolen by the Japanese.

The three-storey stone pagoda of Bulguksa Temple also known as Seokgatap (Pagoda of Sakyumuni Buddha). The pagoda consists of a two-tier base, three sets of body and roof stones and a decorative top. The corners of the base and body stones are carved to look like pillars and the undersides of the roof stones are carved into tiers. The decorative top was newly made in 1973 as the original was missing. The overall design is representative of Korean stone pagodas. Seokgatap has been dismantled for repair and restoration four times in its history.

After that, proceed down to Daereungwon Tomb Complex for the amazing sight of the royal burial mounds and one of the oldest existing astronomical Cheomseongdae Observatory.

These tombs are scattered around the Hwangnam-dong area and the precinct of Daereungwon. Tumuli Nos 90-114 and 151-155 numbered during the Japanese rule are earthen mounds.

These tombs are believed to have been built in the early Silla period. Large tombs are wood-lined chamber tombs with stone mounds and small tombs do not have mounds at all.

A crown and many relics were excavated from Cheonmachong in 1973. The name Cheonmachong was given to the tomb because the flying horse was painted on the pendant of the saddle excavated from the tomb.

The diameter of the tomb is 47m and its height is 12.7m.

Hopping across to Cheomseongdae, designated as the country’s 31st national treasure on 20 December 1962.

Cheomseongdae (star-gazing tower) is an astronomical Observatory in Gyeongju and also the oldest surviving astronomical observatory in Asia and possibly even the world.

Tonight’s dinner is at a local restaurant serving bbq pork wrapped with vegetable.

Likewise, I need help on the restaurant name. 🤣

The spread is really elaborate with the banchans as usual.

End the day with a visit to Woljeonggyo Bridge, a re-constructed covered bridge originally built during the Silla period.

This bridge also appeared in the k-drama “The King : Eternal Monarch” where Lee Gon waits for Tae-eul.

We will be checking-in at Sono Belle, Gyeongju, a resort style hotel for a night.

The room is really big and spacious with kitchenettes and comes with tatami room as well. Great for family stay over. Only complain is that no toiletries are provided in this hotel. 🤣

Day 5 – Traveling from Gyeongju to Wonju before arriving back to Seoul

This morning breakfast is a 5 course Western meal served at the hotel café. Nothing fanciful and uneventful. 😐

After which, proceeded to check-out of the hotel and begin the day with the journey to Wonju.

Wonju is the most populous city in Gangwon province, South Korea. It is a market and processing centre for forest products from the nearby mountains. Industries include medical equipment manufacturing. Among the area’s notable agricultural products are peaches, sweet potatoes and mushrooms.

Reached the lunch venue 3 hours later.

It is another traditional Korean restaurant specializing in Potato Pork Rib Soup.

Usual suspects of banchans ☺

Star of the meal, Potato Pork Rib Soup a.k.a Korean Bak Kut Teh. 😀

The pork rib is huge and super tender that falls off easily when pulled apart.

Continue by taking a slow walk from the restaurant to the next attraction, Wonju Hanji Theme Park. For those who are keen to find out more, you may read up on the History of Hanji.

Some interesting fun facts that I learn along the way.

Korean public rental housing constructed by Korean government appointed developer, LH and you will be able to see its name being painted on the block.

Humansia is the other subsidiary company of LH, so you will get to see its name painted on the block too. These rental flats are valid for 10 years stay only similar to our COE. 🤣

Korean tenant will be able to buy over from the government after 10 years, else they will need to shift out from it.

If you look at these blocks built by The Sharp developer, these flats are constructed for sale by the government. Hope this gives you some knowledge and understanding.

So, do keep a lookout in future should you happen to see one such block the next time you visit Korea. 😉

Do you know why this park is called “Healthy Wonju”?

Wonju Hanji Theme Park, located in Musil-dong Wonju-si is a theme park where you can learn the historical value of traditional Korean paper hanji, made by hand-processing the bark of mulberry trees.

Look at all the beautiful exhibits on display that are made from hanji. Unbelievable!

Over here, you will get to experience DIY Craft making a souvenir using hanji to bring back as memorabilia.

Today, we are making hanji hand fan. An interesting experience especially for a person (like me) who does not possess a talent for art.

Start of DIY Craft with the provided material.

A video clip will be played to guide you on how to go about doing it prior to starting the craft work. 🙂

This is the art piece that I am suppose to work towards.

Tada…….my artistic production. What do you guys think? Can I make the cut? 😲😬

After a good time with the DIY Craft, it’s time to travel to Seoul City which will be another 1.5 hours away.

Stopped over COEX Mall Starfield Library to get impressed by the towering bookshelves decorated by the massive books.

Isn’t it mind boggling? 

Oppa Gangnam Style

Remember this song?

Last but not least, paid a visit to a Dalgona candy stall and have fun on Dalgona “Squid Game” challenge.

Witness the entire Dalgona candy making process.

Capturing an interesting sculpture along the street while waiting for the coach pick up.

We are having Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (Samgyetang) at a Michelin-star restaurant for tonight’s dinner.

Standard banchan

Ginseng wine, you can either drink directly from the cup or choose to pour over the soup.

The awaited star, Samgyetang!

After a satisfying meal, time to check-in to our hotel, Novotel Ambassador Seoul Dongdaemun. This will be my next 3 night’s abode.

The hotel is new, clean and nice. Loved the size of the room.

Immediately after loading off my luggages, I scoot off to Myeongdong to see how the situation is in at the current state as I have seen on youtube videos that it is almost half dead now.

Truly and sadly, the once extremely busy street is now empty with most shops closing in early and some shops are vacated.

Even the used to be busy cosmetic shop like Holika Holika is now empty too!

With the festive season round the corner, the mood and feel is somewhat missing. Now, there is only a lonely Christmas Tree to welcome the upcoming Christmas and ushering the New Year compared to the past where crowds will be seen taking pictures with it.

Looks like there is nothing much we could do to save Myeongdong for now as much as we love to. 

Day 6 – Spending the entire day in Seoul

Powering up the morning with a good breakfast before starting the day’s activities.

Kick-off the day with making an en-route stop at a Ginseng Gallery, Ginworld to have a better understanding and the history of Ginseng.

Interesting sculpture made from Ginseng roots.

Thereafter, proceeded over to Dawon where you can get to buy health supplement products to pamper your liver.

Lunch today is at one of the family restaurant located in Hongdae serving Budaejigae.

Tastily delicious. Definitely better than back home.

Followed by visiting a Cosmetic Shop, The Odbo for a spot of shopping.

Love my shopping loot. 😀

Continue on to the most iconic Gyeongbokgung Palace, the first royal palace built in the Joseon Dynasty.

The serene, peaceful and beautiful palace worth visiting for all seasons.

Here, you will get to see the Emperor’s workplace (朝廷) in the olden days.

A close-up look at the Emperor’s seat. Extremely magnificent back then!

The last time when I was in the exact spot here 5 years ago, what I see was a frozen lake. You may read up more in my previous blog on Seoul Trip and compare the scene back then.

While inside the palace compound, I managed to catch hold of magpies (喜鹊鸟). Seems like I will be having good luck all year round. Yay!

Next, a visit to Gwangjiang Market. Food lover can find forest of small stalls selling street food and traditional Korean food.

For the more adventurous, you may consider trying sannakji (live octopus sashimi) with tentacles still wriggling on the plate! 😯 Unfortunately, I have to give it a rain check in view of the limited time spent here and nearing dinner time too.

Having said that, I still manage to lay my hands on the best ever doughy cinnamon donut. A must eat for sure. Strictly no compromise even it is means long snaking queue.

Followed by a Korean bbq dinner at a local restaurant.

One for the road dinner. Though I am not a huge fan of Korean bbq, I must admit that this is one of my best had Korean bbq meal.

Day 7 – Enjoy the day free at leisure to explore Seoul on our own

Today I will be covering a couple of areas within Seoul if time permits. 😉 Today’s weather is extremely cold as the temperature starts to drop to minus 7 degree celsius.

Had a quick breakfast prior to the start of my planned day trip. 😀

Wish I could wake up and enjoy my daily breakfast with such great scenic view each morning. Certainly therapeutic for our kind of stress work life.

Beginning the day by making a visit to Seoul Olympic Park. This park is built to host the 1988 Summer Olympics.

How to go to Olympic Park?

Take a Subway Line 5 (Purple Line) and alight at Olympic Park Station.

Look out for Exit 3 thereafter. Fret not, there will be signage to guide you along.

Here I am after a good half an hour train ride.

Entrance to the Olympic Park. A big, nice park and great for picturesque.

The Ding-Dang-Dong sculpture are based on the metaphor and transformation of a “bell”. One with echoes of soul is named “The Bell of Heaven”, related to Korean tradition. Another bell is related to the Western technology of facilities for iron manufacturing, blast furnaces and others. With dynamic and aesthetic shapes, the sculptures encourage viewers to perform an auditory appreciation and physical participation as well as a visual appreciation. Viewers can make real sounds by walking through the space inside the sculptures and touching the surfaces. But the artist urges viewers to listen to the harmonious sound of the history of times past beyond the physical bell sounds.

Sculpture of What falls is flying. The artist selected glass and metal to express light dimensionally. The transparent glass and rusty metal show the relationship between two contradictory matters such as the physical world and the mental world, the body and soul, civilization and nature, and light and darkness. The spirit penetrate materials and the soul tries to reach out where we want it to. happiness and sadness co-exist in the middle of it.

Bronze work by Caesar Baldiccini, a French sculpture on the level of a national treasure, “The Thumb” made in 1988 is one of only seven large thumb statutes in the world. Caesar Baldiccini is called the flag bearer of neorealism and was also famous as a human body sculptor who enlarged certain parts of the human body.

Impersonation station. “I am distressed whenever I think about this-that is, history has not been true since a certain point in time. If not recognized, human beings may disappear from the earth. Every event since then would not have been true, but we may not recognize that fact. Our duty is not finding that point in time, but enduring the destruction that occurs in every minute of the real world.” From <The Human Province> written by Elias Canetti.

After much knowledge learning from the various sculptures in the park, I must not sway away from my main objective of coming here. This trip is intentionally arranged to look for the Squid Game Doll and have fun playing with the traffic light game.

红绿灯,是跑是停由你决定! 🤔😬

我选着跑….

后果自负….🤣🤣🤣

After a good time here, I hopped over to Hongdae for my retail therapy. 🙂

The used to bustling street of Hongdae with crowds and various youth group performance on the street is now quieten down too. 😔

Loot from Hongdae

I have been highly recommended to try this local fried chicken joint, Kyochon by our local tour guide if there is an opportunity to do so.

I managed to locate one such outlet in Hongdae and there’s no prize in guessing where’s for lunch next. 😊

Kyochon seems to be one of their favourite joint among their locals.

Holding on firmly to their belief! 👍

Ordered their Kyochon Half & Half Series.

A split whole chicken with the harmony of 2 flavours, Kyochon’s unique garlic and soy and hot red pepper sauce. The garlic soy sauce is not overpowering and definitely loved the fried chicken here. Very delicious. Highly recommended for sure! 👍👍👍 You will never go wrong with fried chicken in Korea!

Ever wonder why kkakdugi (pickled radish) is served in a fried chicken restaurant?

Went in search of Line Friends flagship store thereafter. They used to be located at Itewon but has since moved to Myeongdong. When I went to Myeongdong 2 nights ago, the store was closed and the closure notice indicated that their new flagship store is now in Hongdae.

So, here I am. There are more varieties in term of merchandise items. However, the café is now closed probably due to Covid I assume.

Photo spots are also greatly reduced compared to the previous store in Itewon. 😔

Loot from Line Friends

From Hongdae, I popped over to Seoul Station Lotte Mart for one last chance to 扫货. It’s now or never.

Loot from Lotte Mart

Then off to Myeongdong in search of my long missed Delimanjoo. The other night I was here, the store has closed so I have to make it a point to come back again specially for it.

Delimanjoo is a South Korean bread (custard filled cake) and only this store near Myeongdong station is famous and always seen with super long snaking queues each time I am here.

There is literally no queue now. Good for me but sad for the stall owner!

Settling my next cravings at Osulloc Tea House. This is a must and strictly no compromise if I am in Korea.

Enjoying my maccha latte and green tea roll cake. It is just so good that you need to try if you have not do so. 

Loot from Osulloc Tea House

More loot from various cosmetic shops

Savouring a light and simple dinner at Lotteria which is near to the hotel I am in. 

I loved their bulgogi burger as their beef patty is super tender and juicy and fried chicken too. Yum yum. 

Collected my earlier pre-order persimmon with thanks to the local tour guide for the arrangement. This is really good stuff. Sweet and delicious.

Day 8 – Homecoming from Seoul to Singapore

Time flies especially fast when we are having good times. It’s time now to bid farewell to Seoul and prepare for home coming.

One for the road breakfast before checking-out and thereafter headed off to Incheon Airport for our pre-departure swab test.

The ART swab test is conducted at the Incheon Airport T1 Covid 19 Testing Centre (East) which is the same testing centre during arrival as well.

Thereafter, you will have to wait for the negative result report within an hour thereabout before you are able to proceed with check-in for your flight home.

Practically your whole day is gone with all the health protocol process in place. 🤣🤣🤣

It started to snow at Incheon Airport in the early afternoon as forecasted and I am lucky enough to be able to catch it before clearing immigration. Could this be a sign from the magpies that I get to see earlier at Gyeongbokgung Palace?

 

Definitely, a big surprise treat to welcome me home. Yay!

It did not take long to cover the entire area in white. 😲

Amazingly beautiful to see nature at works.

Taking a break and have a light snack at Asiana Lounge prior to boarding. Food options are extremely limited. Haiz, on a positive note, there are still food being served. Shin Ramyeon is still my ultimate life-saver.

Caught hold of the performance parade at the Airport departure gate by the Koreans donning the traditional Korean clothes, Hanbok. This is definitely a great way to showcase Korean culture to visitors of Korea. 

Time to bid farewell and prepare for homecoming. Bye Seoul for now and I hope to see you real soon.

Overall, it has been a great 8D7N trip and I am happy that this trip is made possible because of the VTL arrangement despite all the inconvenience. With all the constant changes even as we speak now, who knows when travel will be restricted again. 😲

Each time towards the end of my trip, I always leave with a mixed feelings and with a heavy heart. 😂 In the past, I will feel sad to leave but happiness again when I can look forward to my next planned trip. Now, I am not sure when the next trip will happen!

Having said that, at least I had my fair share of joy from this trip. What about you? 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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