BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for May, 2009

« Home

soju, bibimbap and metal chopsticks!

Friday, May 29th, 2009

I’m in Korea !!!

I came to Korea knowing it was a more developed country compared to China, but I didn’t expect the lodging cost to be as high. Not as pricey as the US but it comes close. I paid 18,000 won ($17) for a dorm bed in Seoul – most expensive dorm bed to date! A decent motel room in Seoul can cost you 60,000 won ($58). But other than lodging, everything else (food, transportation) is still relatively cheap.

Got into Seoul a few days ago, Korea’s capital and most populated city. My friend Sean, who I met in Xi’an back in Feb, lives in Korea and offered to pick me up at the airport. I was starving, so we headed out to grab dinner at Hongdae, a well-known college area with bars, restaurants, students and foreigners. Since I got into Seoul late and the city center being 1.5 hrs away from the Incheon airport, we found ourselves eating at 12. We had some Bulgogi (Korean beef bbq), washed it down with some beer and soju (a rice based liquor, almost vodka-like) and ended the night with an hour session of karaoke haha…singing our hearts out to “Living on a prayer” by Bon Jovi 🙂 It was great. After that, I was beat and was in bed by 3am.

First thing the next morning, I headed to a travel agency to drop off my passport for my Chinese visa and then took off for some site seeing. I had no LP book to refer to for this trip, but I did read a few articles before coming to Korea, so I came knowing that there were tons of things to do, for anyone really. There are museums, palaces, parks, mountains and even amusement parks – all in a fairly close radius. Koreans are very very very nice people, probably the nicest people I’ve met in my life. Two days in Seoul and I’ve had 6 random locals come up to me in the subway and on the streets offering their help, giving me tips as to where to go. Amazing. Man, I must really look like a lost tourist haha – Korea freakin’ rocks! 🙂

First stop was the Gyeongbokgung Palace, Korea’s largest palace from the Chosun Dynasty. There were heaps of middle school students here on a field trip, so the place was packed. I noticed all the students were snapping photos with their cell phones. You’d think that if you were on a field trip site seeing, you’d take an actual camera right? Nope not for Korean kids. They take their cell phones! Why not though? There are cell phones now that have bigger memory space and take better photos than some cameras today. Seriously.

Anyway, I saw the changing ceremony of the Royal Guards at the palace – which was cool. You’ll find the guards dressed up in colorful traditional costumes. A must see when visiting Gyeongbokgung. Behind the palace you’ll find a beautiful park with a small pavillion on the lake called Hyangwonjeong. It’s a gorgeous park, very peaceful, especially with the mountains in the backdrop. I found a spot on the grass, behind a lady that was painting the scenery and just about fell asleep. After Gyeongbokgung, I headed for Namdaemun market, a large outdoor retail market. You can find cheap clothes, toys, house stuff, food, etc…. I had some cheap bibimbap (gang of greens, rice, egg, meat in a stone pot) for 4,000 won ($4) – my favorite Korean dish so far. I ended the day at the National Museum of Korea.

Currently in Sokcho, a small town with a population of 84,000 (4 hrs by bus from Seoul). It’s breathtaking here! This city is by the beach and surrounded by mountains. I could live here! I’ll be here for few days for some hiking at Seoraksan National Park. Looking forward to it!

I’ll post pics as soon as I can.

Am I really in China?

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

The plan after Nanjing was to catch the train to Hangzhou. But because of the holiday and my ass booking at the last minute – all trains were fully booked for the entire weekend. I was debating whether to stay in Nanjing for another night, which I didn’t mind at all, or dash for the bus station in hopes to get a bus ticket to Hangzhou. However, Simon and Barney, HongKongers I met at my hostel extended an invitation I couldn’t refuse: a personal tour of Shanghai, a couch to crash on and a home-cooked meal. How could I not say yes? Before I knew it, I was on the bus with them bound for Shanghai.

Man oh man, all I have to say about Shanghai is, where has Communist China gone? Getting off the bus and walking through the metro, I was having flashbacks of my visit to Hong Kong last year. All I kept thinking was: “Am I really in China? Did I get on the wrong bus and somehow ended up back in California?” Nothing but shops, shops, starbucks, shops, more shops and more starbucks. Skyscrapers everywhere and heaps of Americans! Three months in China and I’ve encountered more foreigners walking the streets here in two days.

Despite feeling under the weather, I was still able to get a taste of this modern, cosmopolitan city. Started off at the propaganda poster art museum, which was quite interesting. We walked around the French Concession (the charming, peaceful, green section of Shanghai) through Renmin Park, Ninjing Road and ended at the Bund (waterfront area where you can find a nice collection of traditional colonial buildings, a must see area in Shanghai). Topped off the night touring the lit up city on motorbike with Simon, which was awesome.

Shout out to Si, Barney, Shannon – thanks again for letting me crash on your couch and thanks for dinner. Good times in Nanjing and Shanghai! My doors in Dalian are always open for ya’ll!


Friday, May 15th, 2009

A fairly modernized city yet there's still a small feel of Chinese culture and history (well, at least that's what I got). Due to the May Day holiday, exploring Nanjing was slow to say the least. I swear everybody and ... [Continue reading this entry]

Invincible I am not

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Unfortunately my May Day holiday ended earlier than expected due to a severe case of the flu. Dang, and all this time I was thinking my body was invincible :) haha [chuckle..cough..chuckle..cough] Seriously though, I can’t remember the last time ... [Continue reading this entry]