Sunday, May 20, 2018

Day 5 in Seoul - Part I (The Garden of Morning Calm, Nami Island and Strawberry Picking)

I was a bit scared since, the weather was rather gloomy and afternoon rain shower was in the weather forecast ~ and with outdoor activities on schedule, we've decided to buy umbrellas just in case.

We walked our way to the Myeongdong Station, where the tour provider picked us up.


Our first stop was The Garden of Morning Calm.  This place showcase the best gardens in Seoul.  We must have taken hundreds of photos here.  It was near impossible to choose which ones to include in this blog.


I can't stress enough, how you must include it in your itinerary if ever you plan to visit Seoul.   

Fans of the Korean telenovela "Love in the Moonlight" will be thrilled to know that The Garden of Morning Calm was actually one the telenovela's filming location. 

 The morning drizzle added to the cool mountain breeze, which made our stroll more leisurely.  




Unfortunately as the day progress the rain starts to pour hard ~  Our Next Stop is going to be a wet one.  It was good that mama thought of bringing umbrellas "P

Please follow us to our Day 5 in Seoul ~ Part 2 at the NAMI Island.






Monday, May 14, 2018

Day 4 in Seoul (A Private Tour : Seoul ~ Sanjeong Lake, Pocheon Art Valley and Herb Island)

Our Day 4 in South Korea is a bit outskirt  ~ Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do.  As it was a little difficult to reach I contacted, "This is Korea" Tours to customize a private tour for my family.

Andy, our Tour Specialist (TS) cum driver and photographer picked us up at the Metro Hotel at 11am as agreed.  It was an easy ride on board a 7-seater limousine van for our family of 4. 

Our tour was personalized based on what we wanted so long as the entire trip is all within the 10 hours we've commissioned.  For our trip, we've decided on Sanjeong Lake, Pocheon Art Valley and Herb Island.



SANJEONG LAKE

Sanjeong Lake is situated between Myeongseongsan and Mangbongsan Mountain.  Its name means "as clear as a mountain well". It was built in 1925 as a reservoir to supply to farmlands in Pocheon.


Reached Sanjeong Lake Park early afternoon ~ perfect weather for a cup of hot coffee 


Lots of things to do in the lake park.  We took a paddle boat and walked the lake promenade.


I am the designated photographer, while the big boys paddle


The view of the  Sanjeong Lake is calm and relaxing.  I could kill hours here, just be looking at the lake.  During winter the lake freezes and turns into a huge skating rink (that would be fun).








Every turn ~ is picture perfect.



POCHEON ART VALLEY


The Cheonjuho Lake in Pocheon Art Valley is a one of the filming site for the Korean telenovela Legend of the Blue Sea

There are 2 ways to reach the main attractions, walking or via the mororail.  We the  obvious easy choice (via monorail).








The Pocheon Art Valley used to be a quarry and later transformed into a culture and art gallery.  

#FeelingLikeAMermaid







My once little boy, again fooling around.



Click here if you want to see a video of







HERB ISLAND


Is an herbs complex with herbs museum, arts and crafts center and beautiful herbs garden. We specifically mentioned that we wanted to end our tour hear to see  the night garden illumination.


We had early dinner in one of the restaurants located inside the Herb Island complex.





Us with our TS.


Upon the recommendation of our TS, we tried Bulgogi and Mushroom Hotpot.


Even the food is "Instragram worthy". Our TS insisted we try bulgogi with flowers ~Yes, we tried it... the meat and spices overpowered the flower so it was okay with me.  However, my hubby doesn't like it.

Jalapeno anyone? 

Pictures from the Herbs Island Garden ~












We enjoyed our private tour of Pocheon ~ it was every bit the relaxing and  de-stressing trip we have hoped for.  Our TS genuinely cared for our interests and appeal. 

For customized and hassle free tour of Seoul, we highly recommended "This Is Korea".

For inquiries please check This is Korea webpage at 

Or contact them via email to:

inquiries@thisiskoreatours.com 





Saturday, May 12, 2018

Day 3 in Seoul (Seoul City Tours: Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Folk Museum, Jogyesa Temple and Korean Folk Village)

For our 3rd Day in Seoul, I booked the Seoul Joseon Palaces & Folk History Day Tour/Seoul One Day Tour (which included a visit to Korean Folk Village) via Klook (my trusted international attractions/ tours booking site on line).

Click here for Klook booking discount if you are a first time user: Klook Discount Code

The tour was managed by the Seoul City Tours, one of the Seoul's well known tour operators.  

We were timely picked up at Metro Hotel by a private car to rendezvous with the other tourists in a seat in coach that carries about 10-12 passengers.  As it was just a small number, I was expecting a more personal interaction with our tour guide, however, there was very minimal of that. Although nice and cordial,  our guide was mostly rushing from one site to another, with barely enough time for us to enjoy and appreciate the tour.  

First stop is Jogyesa Buddhist Temple, the center of Korean Buddhism. The temple was decorated with colorful paper lantern as it readies for Buddha's upcoming birthday.









From Jogyesa Temple, we were ushered to our next stop, the National Folk Museum which was located inside the Gyeongbokgung Palace.  

Our guide, gave us a tour of the National Folk Museum, which was again really rushed.  I think there are more to see and learn, but as we were in a tight schedule - all we could do was point and click our cameras.






The Ox met The Dragon :P



We chanced upon a traditional King's parade, unfortunately it was again time for us to move on.







Waiting for the Changing of Guards



Finally the Changing of Guards Ceremony


3rd Stop is the Ginseng Center  

A lady guide toured us around the ginseng facility. She was very knowledgeable of ginseng (wonderful herb ginseng, but very expensive too)


A traditional Korean lunch was part of the tour package.
We had a hearty (or as my youngest says #healthy) and delicious meal at Insadong.  





  
Next stop is 1 1/2 away the Seoul City Center ~ The Korean Folk Village (KFV).  I have read about KFV as a journey to Joseon Dynasty (Korea's last kingdom being republic), reason why its also a favorite location shooting for Korean Historical Dramas.

It is Korean equivalent of Japan's Edo Wonderland, which we've visited a few years back. Edo Wonderland was like a step back in time.  It felt like being transported to the Edo Period

Too bad we took a group tour and ended up with limited time at KFV. I was really disappointed.  KFV is a huge theme park and I think we've barely covered 1/8th its actual size. We've missed a lot. 
Below is a link to KFV website and you'll see what I mean:  Korean Folk Village

Haizz, this experience has reminded me why I have always preferred DIYs over group tours.    



It was good, we still managed to catch some traditional art performances at KFV, such as the Tight Rope Acrobatics and Equestrian Feat.












TIP:  Do a DIY tour if you can. I would not recommend this tour package,  unless you want to cover a lot of ground and yet not be able to bring back a more worthwhile experience.