Annecy, France 2016

Annecy France is famous for Lake Annecy. But to me, I remember Annecy for Semnoz Plateau. We took the Summer Line up – I really can’t quite see how we can hike up (but I think you really can!).

It’s windy (read: cold) despite such a good sunny day when we were up there. After a while we had a meal and came down. I wish we would stay up there all day long.

And yes, after almost 18 months of cherry blossoms at Hadong being my wallpaper, it’s this blue, blue sky that I want to see mostly:

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Inspired by, Shinwha Eric E-Chef’s menu

The recent craze is cooking exactly what E-Chef cooked in the latest episode of 3 Meals A Day, Fishing Village keke

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(Starting from the biggest photo; clockwise)

Gajma Jorim/ korean braised potatoes; Pumpkin porridge with tangyuan, bossam and the soup that boils the pork (this is the absolute favourite), Maewun-tang / spicy seafood soup and butter-olive-oil fry fish; soy braised black beans (this is easy, yummy and nutritious) and smooth steamed egg (so proud that my steamed egg is now so smooth and silky)

P/S: And I’ve jus booked our family holiday to Korea next year, for the Summer!

Tongyeong 통영시 2015

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In Spring 2015, out of the 3 islands that I want to visit, in the end I picked Jangsado Sea Park 장사도 해상공원 and Bijindo Island 비진도.

Because of my friendly accommodation host (read here), I was able to visit Jangsado Sea Park the very day that I arrived in Tongyeong from Seoul.

Maybe most people would know of Jangsado Sea Park due to the popular TV drama back then, You Who Came From the Star. But to me, the best of Jangsado Sea Park is not the island itself, but the views from the island. I enjoyed the park greatly, but really love the views.

For those visiting, might as well have your meal at the ferry terminal. I enjoyed mine greatly!

Note: I’m thankful that someone is still reading my blog. I logged in to answer his/ her query and thought might as well to leave a note ^^ The times that I was away – I was doing more research about Korea kekeke

This year my family & I are spending a month in Europe, but I already have plans to visit Korea next year (more places that I can cover in the next 1 or 2 trips).

Anyway, I tend to upload my instagram more regularly than this – mostly about my (korean) cooking/ bread maker/travelling adventures ^^*

Bijindo Island 비진도 2015

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On Bijindo, time seems to stop.

You will realise just how apt CNN’s description was the moment you arrive at Bijindo (CNN article here).

First, you are likely to only bump into a handful of villagers throughout your time on the island, reasonably because there are only a hundred odd residents on the island. The day I was there, I encountered a handful of older villagers apparently cleaning up the beach, and a few of them tending their farms, or supposedly on their way home.

Second, there is minimal buzz on the island – no ticketing/ tourist office, vendors and few tourists (even fewer foreigners). There’s probably a small drinks store near the terminal, but there is no customer in sight. The owner is probably sitting around having a conversation with fellow
villagers. This is one of the things you learn to appreciate and will miss by the end of the day when you leave the island for the buzzing Tongyeong mainland.

The ferry took ~50 minutes to arrive at Bijindo. The journey was such a pleasant one – surrounded by the vast sea, a glorious sunny day (after which it was rainy seasons in almost every corner of Korea for days and days) and the many sea gulls that cruised along with the ferry. By the time I realised to disembark, it was the second and final stop that the ferry is making, though most passengers remained on the ferry that’s heading for the other islands.

A small signal read “Welcome to Bijindo Colorful Coral Beach”. And ahead of me, I saw a few Koreans walking up the coastal trail. Naturally I trailed behind and at some point asked if it was alright for me to tag along with the group. Was so glad that they speak English! Prof Byung-sun, a Law Professor who also teaches Music, and his students were visiting Bijindo for the first time as well! I am so fortunate (my good luck to miss the first disembarkment in fact!) to have met them. Prof was friendly, kind, and caring – throughout the hike, he helped me with my load, waited for me as I was slow careful on the trails, exchanged stories and always offering to help me with the shots. He later also lent me a helping me when I was hospitalised (read here).

The trail was easy and short. My new-found friends had to take the ferry back to Tongyeong as they were returning to Seoul on the same day. I decided against to join them for lunch on Tongyeong mainland since I’ve already bought my lunch with me.

After they were gone, I dug into my packed lunch, of 2 portions of Chung Mu gimbap, under a shelter near the beach. My lunch view was the bright and sparkling sea in the afternoon sun. Windy, I hid under my hood, ever conscious of how seemingly slow time has passed, or that I literally have nothing much to do.

After loitering around, like a lost puppy, I decided to try the steeper hike up, hoping to get a bird eye view of the barbell island. But the thing is, no one hikes up in the afternoon so I was all alone for most of the way up. To a point that I was on my fours, trying to balance myself and my load, and taking count of the time to make my way down so that I wouldn’t miss the last ferry back to Tongyeong. And so, I gave up halfway..

When I first came across the article on Bijindo, I thought it would be a dream to make it to the island, never imagining myself to be able to do so. It would take a non-stop ~12 hours journey from Singapore to arrive at Bijindo (the same time it takes to fly from Singapore to Paris) and my day on Bijindo is clearly the highlight of the entire trip, just for being so different.

I didn’t stay for a night on Bijindo, but if I am going back again, camping or just staying by the beach will be great.

Because of my experience in Bijindo, and Jangsado Island, I’ve come to love Korea islands (with 3,800 over Korea islands to explore!), coastal trails and just being out there away from the mainland.

Bijindo, the island you dream about, that you will forget about everything trivial but life..

Details~
My accommodation in Tongyeong (read here)

Gyeongju & Spring 2014

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Gyeongju: Bulguksa Temple & flowers; Cheomseongdae Observatory

Some Korea friends I met during my 2015 trip to Jeju told me that cherry blossoms in Gyeongju is really beautiful. Gyeongju flowers don’t seem huge on the radar of Spring flowers but thinking back, I can agree with them. I was so excited to see pink, fully bloomed flowers (my favourite colour!), plus there weren’t all the buzz and traffic usually associated with flower festivals. Instead, it was all peaceful and calm that it’s easy to forget you aren’t really living there.

We didn’t have much time to appreciate the flowers since it was way past lunch time and we were all hungry. It was a pity that we weren’t too impressed with our lunch choice – some traditional korean food off the beaten paths. For dinner, we had mushroom and tofu stew. We love soups and stews – but the best mushroom stew has to be the one we had in Gurye earlier the trip.

Seeing these photos bring back such lovely memories.. I’m 6 weeks on my new role (in the same company) and man, I feel that, for once, I wasn’t living in my little-Korea-bubble, but in this almost-isolated space that lost tracks of everything that’s happening around me.

No I am not counting. 5 weeks to Bali; 14 weeks to Bangkok. A long way before Christmas.

Beautiful memories at 자연향기펜션 Gyeongju JY Pension

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My family and I stayed at Gyeongju JY Pension for 3 nights in April 2014. We dropped them an email (in English) and received prompt replies (in English).

When we arrived in Gyeongju by bus (we came from Busan), for a small price, Mr Moon was kind enough to pick us up at the bus terminal as we had a few pieces of luggage with us. Along the way, Mr Moon shared with us his experiences and highlighted the main sights to us.

Through the winding roads and mountains, we arrived at his pension. His pension was beautifully stunning, just like the photos on the website. The pension makes a very lovely retreat and countryhouse stay for those who want to visit Gyeongju leisurely.

The pension had a huge garden besides the parking lot, a field for playing badminton, a small pond and fountain outside our room. There was a small pool but the weather was not warm enough to swim. There was a lovely swing that I especially love, or the outdoor seats under the big tree that added nice touch to the pension. Overall, the lovely European design against the mountains makes everything feel more magical. Take a stroll around the big pension and you will find nice little corners – like Mr Moon’s woodcraft area where he made his own furniture, stacks of wood for the fire, little bridge, or the wooden post box.

Our room was big, clean, comfortable, pretty and equipped with what we needed. My parents stayed in the room with a bed – and it came with a view of the lovely garden. My sister and I slept on the mattress in the well heated room. The kitchen was huge and we love hanging around there, eating and talking together.

Out of our 3 nights there, we had BBQ at the pension twice. It was a very lovely experience to just walk out of our room and BBQ. Mr Moon would prepare the grill/charcoal/fire, the meat, and everything else that we needed/ ordered for a small fee. He would give us the vegetables as wraps and mushroom that they grew in the small greenhouse, kimchi and other condiments to go with the meal. We bought Mr Moon and his wife a little gift and in return he gifted us meat and ice cream, and discounted price for our meals. I always wanted to BBQ outside of a restaurant, in a nice mountainous environment, and hence the dinners was one of the memorable moments of our one month holiday in Korea!

Each night, Mr Moon would go through with us on the places that we wanted to visit the following day and advised us on the logistics, restaurants etc. You can either take the public transport, cab or engage Mr Moon’s services. We got Mr Moon to drive us around. His wife was also very kind and helped us collected our clothing (that we hang out to dry) when it rained (and we were out).

On our last day, as one of us was feeling under the weather, we decided to hang around in the pension. It was their gardening day, and Mr Moon and his wife were planting and taking care of their garden. Mr Moon even gave us a plant as a present as he knew my mother is fond of plants/gardening. He also came by asking if we needed medicine, and brought us ginseng tea packs.

We had a wonderful time in Gyeongju and staying in a lovely place with warm hosts plays an important part. My mother would often mention Mr Moon now that we are back to our country.

~ Details
자연향기펜션 Gyeongju JY Pension
Address: 232-4, Chuwon-gil, Gyeongju-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do 경상북도 경주시 추원길 232-4 (황용동)
Telephone: +82-54-777-2882, +82-10-6304-2892
Email: jypension1@gmail.com (English is ok
Website: http://www.jypension.com (Korean, English)

More details and directions on KTO website here
My review on tripadvisor

BUSAN & SPRING 2014 (PART 4)

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Other places of interest in Busan that we visited include: Bujeon Ginseng Market (there’s nothing much unless you are intending to buy lots of Ginseng product), Haeundae Beach, Haedong Yonggungsa Temple and Gwangalli Beach (the last 3 doable all on the same day!).

Oh and see that pink flower-y cake? I saw a few Koreans bought that for parents’ day and posted the photos in Instagram.

 

BUSAN & SPRING 2014 (PART 3)

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People sometimes like to compare Busan to Seoul, something like how Madrid is compared to Barcelona in that sense. To me, Seoul is convenient since international flights would arrive in and depart from Seoul, hence it’s definitely a place that you will spend a few days in. Also it really does have pretty much everything you need, whether it’s food, shopping, palaces or even hiking. Though increasingly we are spending more days outside of Seoul, for there’s just so much other things to do/see e.g. mountains/ sea/ countryside/ islands!

Prior to Busan, I’ve never been to a fish market in Korea. Hence, going to Busan Jagalchi Fish Market was one of the highlights for me. Another place that I was looking forward to was Gamcheon Culture Village (though I think I might have confused it with the one in Tongyeong where Nice Guy was being filmed!).

After our brief stay in Busan, I realised I love Busan for its local specialty, shopping and Spa Land Centum City (read about it here)!

My sister definitely loves Busan street food (Hotteok!) while I love Dwaeji Gukbap/ pork rice soup (if anyone knows of a delicious place in Seoul for Dwaeji Gukbap, please share!). As for visiting and eating at Jalgachi Fish Market, I thought its a nice first experience for us. Despite prior research, it was still slightly stressful, especially when we feel bad “browsing” the seafood and taking too long to decide what fish/ seafood to get, and at what price. The maeuntang/ spicy fish soup with vegetables was super delicious, but after my 2015 trip I realised having it non-spicy can be just as/ more delicious!

In terms of shopping, Happydalki and I recently discussed that somehow sometimes Busan shopping is much better than in Seoul ^^ and I think it is because the brands in Busan seem to carry a larger variety, and the prices are lower/ promotion is better. However this could also be a timing issue – that I happened to be in Busan at the right time!