Thursday, May 25, 2017

Korea Day 1 - Incheon to Seoul

Another solo trip of mine in an arranged tour (Istanbul Turkey & Dubai) alongside 14 people I had no clue whosoever they are, Korea was the said destination. Now, to all the adventurous wise cracks who are right now reading this "Korea Here I Come" venture of mine, will you please stop wondering why I didn't backpack or travel on my own. Of course I sincerely appreciate your advise, but let me tell you that I have already before hand done my homework. What I found out is that the ordinary Koreans on the streets really can't speak English, so obviously, I am going to have one hack of a time communication with them should the need arise. Definitely it is bound to happen, holding on to a map and trying to pick up Korean language there and then may show the way, especially on "Amazing Race", but in reality, many travel bloggers don't actually tell you what can go wrong due to language barrier. Additionally, compared to 8 years ago when I had bags of energy, my overall well-being is not the same anymore (Penang - The Pearl Of The Orient).  

Therefore, I am not willing to risk my health as well as my safety, also, being in my 50's means I want to return home in one piece for my other half-half's sake instead of showing the world I am the biggest risk taker. Mind you, should anything unwarranted happen to me, my other half-half will be badly crushed. At the end of the day, all said and done, love for me is only him albeit we have our share of marriage battles. As such, practically indeed is the road to travelling in my 50's instead of getting carried away by blindly following others. Make sense?  I hope you get the picture. 

Korea akin Hokkaido (Hilton Niseko Resort & Sapporo Day 6) seemingly is one of the most sorted after destinations between Hong Kong, Taiwan, Taipei and China primarily for Malaysian Chinese, I of course was truly keen in finding out for myself what’s so special about Korea. In fact, I have friends who can’t get enough of Korea until they have blanketed their mind to other places around the globe. Mention Kerala or Sri Lanka, they will blink as if you have mentioned alien land, but the moment you mention Korea, oh-boy, they won’t stop promoting. Indians are no better either. India is the only destination they know of, not for sightseeing but in and out of temples after temples for thwarting the evil force they believe is bashing their unhappiness or to seek divine blessings so that they can be as successful as their relatives or Indian neighbors. Huh!   

For me, this 8 days 6 nights so called “Captivating Korea” tour hopefully will open up my senses to whether Korea is as spellbinding as I have been told. Day one when I departed from KLIA was already considered as day one, late night flight landed me in Incheon airport at about 9.00am. I was the first person to meet the local tour guide whereas the rest took at least 45 minutes and then wait again while they changed currency to Korean Won. Next was hopping into the coach to arrive in "Gyeongbokgung Palace". Built in 1395, spilling over with multiple levels of ancient history and the largest of the Five Grand Palaces (the others being Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace), Gyeongbokgung Palace is the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty, three years after the Joseon Dynasty was founded. 

Located in a big area, as you walk from the entrance and into Gyeongbokgung Palace, you will see the specific section for partying. Partying! Yes, Kings have been rocking and rolling from back then, once you walk further up, you will glimpse, from the outside only, the rooms for King, Queen and Concubines. Concubine. Oh-mamma-mia! I just love this word concubine for whatever reason, thereafter, we walked again among the mostly Chinese and also Indonesians who  are now one of the biggest tour groups in Korea, to arrive at the big open compound across the main structure for witnessing the “Changing Of The Guards” ceremony which I have seen elsewhere too (Copenhagen & Ankara). 

Picturing naturally is the game to social media travelling these days, quite irritating actually with selfie sticks blocking your view, within the next half an hour, we left for the nearby National Folk Museum while passing by the Blue House - the executive office and official residence of the Republic of Korea.
National Folk Museum of Korea presents historical artefacts that were used in the daily lives of Korean people in the past. Through the displays, we broadened our knowledge on the domestic and agricultural lifestyles and Korea’s cultural beliefs too. Three permanent exhibitions, two special exhibitions, a library, souvenir shop, and other subsidiary facilities, you should be able to cover this "free walk-in" rather small museum within most to most 45 minutes. Honestly, National Folk Museum of Korea didn't shoot me up to the wishing stars as one of the most spectacular places I have visited. Nevertheless, I am one person who respect every other culture, I must also thank my hard earned money for bringing me to this museum people generally tend to highly speak of.    

Our next stop from National Folk Museum was to the back lane cramped up Korean restaurant in Myeongdong Street. Enthusiasm definitely ran high over this first ever meal in Korea, unfortunately we couldn’t understand what’s with Vegetarian Dolsot Bibimbap?

Really, didn’t make sense tucking into this quite a sorry state of affair meal, none of us in return questioned the tour guide who was more interested in publicizing this restaurant. In fact, he was so persistent till the extent of wanting to book tables for us when we will be returning to Myeongdong Street on the second last day. Utterly pathetic the attitude of some tour guides who desperately want to earn extra bucks, this crossbreed between male and female Korean, educated in US eventually give up since none of us responded. Side income case automatically closed, after lunching, we left to the airport for our next destination. Jeju Island. One of the World's New 7 Wonders of Nature, also known as the "Island of the Gods" and deemed as the must visit tourist spot in Korea. Stay tune everyone.

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