Soul of Asia Part 2 – Going Home

Finally, after a good long 7D6N holiday in South Korea
– we are now packing our bags heading back home (to Hong Kong). This has been a fantastic journey – and I have only good words about Korea – it is certainly a city worth-visiting! And it offers more than what I can ever imagined! The "Visit Korea 2009 TVC" says it all "My camera can only captured so much. For the rest of Seoul, I put in my heart." It is just so true!

Korea, coined as the "Soul of Asia", is a great shopping and food paradise. Seoul City is a very clean, systematic and modern place. Most importantly, Seoul didn’t lost her Korean identity like most big cities out there (due to modernisation and over-cloning of international brands). The city retains a big portion of her own identity – in food, designs, fashions, handicrafts, architecture and her People. Korea is a pretty affordable travel destination (living standard is about somewhere inbetween Shanghai and Hong Kong). And don’t worry, you can’t go wrong if you decide to visit Korea the free and easy way – most of the the locals don’t speak English (quite a number speak good mandarin instead!) but you should be able to overcome that easily. Simply use hand and body language – you can make almost 80% of what they are trying to communicate. And yes, keep a good faith, big smile and open mind.

Certainly, we (including Tracy, Elkan, Feli and myself) love Korea so so so much! (For my Elkan, it must be the "snow" or "cold white sands" which he was so crazy about.) Felicia loves the things here so much that she is asking me for a bigger house so she can buy back those things to put at home. Tracy is gaga over those local Korean men.. Half the time, she is eyeing those men (instead of watching for the traffic!) For me… food and sex come in a package…the food is great! (Darn, even Tracy can find food to eat – we thought there is nothing for her except Korean BBQ!) But for sex… sigh, I never get any chance to check out the infamous love motels or any pretty sexy Korean babes yet. For most of us, Korea is a little Taiwan-Australia-Shanghai-Singapore mix. It is so comfortable and beautiful that we really wish we can extend our stay here for another month.

Enough said, here are our "Top Must Visit Places" in Seoul:

Certainly my favourite streets – lots of cultural, designers stuffs here. Lots to see and many small back alleys to explore!

For small kids and those who don’t want to grow up – The Lotte World is an eye-opener! The indoor park is far more impressive than the outdoor one (which is pretty similar to the Disneyland). One of our best rides is the "Hot Air Balloon" – a suspended ride that brings you up to the ceiling of the big hall and you "float" around. The only bad thing about this place is the long slow queue. Be patient…some rides can take you more than 90 minutes to queue!

The "SiangYang" of Seoul – A big wholesale market that offers lots of goods (toys, handicrafts, bags, shoes, clothings, food and more!) Easy to bargain – no need Korean – just press the numbers on the calculator. Try not to discuss the pricing with each other in Mandarin as some of them speak fluent Mandarin. I say – best stick to your own dialects.

There are 5 Royal Palaces in Seoul – and this one is on the United Nations World Heritage List. Not as big as the forbidden city of Beijing, you can only visit the Changdeokgung Palace with a guide. So, make sure you get your timing right (3 slots per day) for the English-speaking guide.

Sitting right beside the Cityhall, this stream or "canal-looking" is a great place to stroll. It is like back to my old Kampong days when me and my friends walk on the "banks of our Katong Logang". Haaa… seriously, it is a very beautiful place… If only our Boat Quay or Singapore River offer walks like this.

Be prepared to take a bumpy and crowded bus ride and then, walk up the 45-degree steep slope up! For those who never been to a tower, this is quite a good recommendation. Check out the "lover locks fence" (thousands of pad-locks with wishes and love messages hanging by the wire-fence). For Teddy Bear lovers, do visit the "Teddy Bear Museum". Best time to go is around 5-7pm – The sunset view from the top (at 380m high) is enchanting!

Big brands. Big showrooms. Unlike those small congested shops you see in shopping mall, this street is filled with "blocks of brands" – each brand having their own individual space. Lots of space for unique display of their products. A great space for product browsing and shopping!

Wow! This is quite a long blog! Hope you find these pixs and recommendations attractive! For a minute, I want to apply a "tourism-journalist" job – cos I love taking photos, eating, sight-seeing, playing, shopping and… reporting!

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