Jassy’s Fun in Taiwan: The Story of the Unexpected Solo Adventure

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To travel solo to an unknown country takes a lot of guts, and a very meticulous planning, especially for a female wanderer. And in my case, the unexpected thing happened that resulted for me to go to Taiwan a bit earlier than I’ve already planned. For this travel was supposed to happen next year with some friends. But a month before the trip, I was informed that I’ve made a huge mistake in my booking, that instead of December 2017 it was booked for the month of December 2016. So when I knew about it, I was totally shocked, and since it’s a promo fare, I was not allowed to rebook it. But it made me think to go for it (even if two of my friends who were supposed to travel with me on this trip couldn’t come); in order for me to try it just once on how it feels to travel alone.

So with only a month to go before the big trip, I’ve utilized every free time that I’ve had to plan everything for I’m a very meticulous traveler; and since I work at the government, that also includes processing my certificate of “Authority to Travel Abroad” and my clearance. Well, it’s kind of exhausting right? But for the love of traveling, I didn’t mind it at all.

The thing is – to travel to Taiwan; you need to apply for its visa. But I’m so grateful that I got exempted for applying because of my visa from South Korea. All you need to do is apply online, and by the time that it would be approved. You could just download/print the Travel Authorization Certificate and present it to the Immigration upon your arrival at the airport, along with your round-trip tickets. It’s as simple as that.

How to apply for the Visa-Free Entry to Taiwan

Then on the day for me to go to Taiwan, I was utterly mixed up with such nervousness and excitement, since it’s going to be a first for me to travel abroad alone. And when our plane had landed at Taoyuan International Airport on December 2, 2016 at 12m.n., I was totally jumping from such happiness because I had finally arrived there. But it was too early for me to go to the city of Taipei. So as I’ve already planned, I’ve stayed there at the airport till 5 am, and I took the 1819 bus going to Taipei Main Station, along with a fellow Pinoy passenger as to whom I’ve just met at the airport. Her name is Eudelle, and she was very kind to travel with me in going to Taipei City. Plus, I had a wonderful time chatting, and eating noodles with her while we were waiting for our bus schedule. It was almost a one hour journey. And when our bus had dropped us off at the bus station, we both went our separate ways (cause she’s heading off to Ximen District), then I took a taxi going to my hotel which is located at Ningxia District so that I could catch up on my travel agent who was also going there to pick me up at around 9am.

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It was a cold and cloudy first day in Taipei City, but lucky for me it didn’t rain at all throughout the day.

Since I’m only for a very short stay in Taiwan, I’ve decided to book a travel agency. Cause I really wanted to utilize my stay there. Honestly, it was a bit expensive on my part. But, it was definitely worth it. For I was able to see and experience what I really wanted to achieve on this trip. I was a tourist and at the same time a traveler. And all of it was thanks to My Taiwan Tour, especially to my newly found friends Miss Iris and Miss Ting, for both of them were our assigned tour guides in the city.

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This famous “My Taiwan Tour” travel agency was actually recommended to me by a high school friend who also went to Taiwan on her own. This travel agency allows you to both book and choose your own day tours via online thru TripAdvisor or Viator. And for my 3 days stay, I’ve chosen to book its Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour, Taroko Gorge Full Day Tour, and Tea of Taipei Tour for days 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

As for my first day tour which was the “Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour”, it is a one day tour that focuses on visiting and seeing the must-see attractions within the city of Taipei. The assigned tour guide will pick you up from your hotel at around 9am. Moreover, I was totally lucky because my fellow companions in our group were all Filipinos except for one (for the other one was an Indian girl). So it was easier for me to get along with them including our tour guide Miss Iris, because she is so friendly, charming and approachable. Plus, she really shares a lot of insights in every place that we would visit. Moreover, my fellow companions were having these shocked reactions towards me for being so brave to travel alone, and that they were also amazed by my fierceness to do such a thing. But being part of their group, I didn’t feel that way. Cause I really had a great time with them.

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So here is the sequence of our Ultimate Taipei Sightseeing Tour:

The Presidential Office Building

The first part of our tour was a short side trip to this political building in order to see the place and to take some pictures. Moreover, I was so surprised while we were on the road because I’ve noticed that most of the buildings there in Taipei are kind of old. Something like an old school thing that makes you feel like you’re in the 60’s or 70’s.

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Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

We were there for about an hour. Just in time for us to see the changing of guards. And Ms. Iris was very informative by giving us a summarized and detailed history of Taiwan.

Longshan Temple

It is the biggest temple in the city; in front of it is a Buddhist temple and at the back of it is a Taoist temple. Oh you’ll be surprise when you’ll get to enter inside, for it is so lively and festive to look at.

Taipei 101

This is definitely my most favorite part of my day tour. So even though that it has taken a big part of my budget in order to get to the observatory, it was definitely worth paying for. And the 37 seconds elevator ride to the 89th floor was totally awesome! Plus the view at the top? My goodness! Utterly spectacular!

I would also like to point out that Anthony Bourdain was actually the very reason why I really wanted to visit and go at the top of the Taipei 101. I guess it’s because, even for one moment. I just want to have a share of his experience during that Layover episode of his in Taipei. And the thing is – I actually saw that episode twice before my trip there. Watching it in advance in order to have an idea about the place, its friendly people, an insight to their history, exploring their exotic foods, and of course, learning about its culture.

Lin An Tai Historical House

I really enjoyed this tour because it feels like we were transported back in time during this country’s old era. And I was fascinated while listening to our tour guide’s discussion on how the rich girls during those times were being served and well maintained. Talk about being pampered way too much. Oh I would love to experience something like that. Joke!

Pass by the Grand Hotel

The very first 5 star hotel in Taiwan.

Yangmingshan Sulfur Valley

This one really looks spectacular. But we weren’t able to appreciate it all in our group because of the odd smell of the sulfur. Totally weird.

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Beitou Thermal Valley

This famous hot spring really looks entirely picturesque, and it was one of our favorite visits within the city. But of course, its visitors are not allowed to go near the water. Because it is way too hot (boiling point), and that it could totally damage your precious skin. So please don’t take the risk.

National Palace Museum

It was the second to the last league of our tour, and also one of the most informative one. For this world famous museum has thousands of collections from all over the world especially from the main land China. But for the reason that almost all of us in our group were already tired from all the tourist spots that we’ve visited since that morning. We really weren’t able to appreciate it as much as we wanted to. However, we were still trying our best to be as attentive as possible to our guide, because we don’t want to waste all of her efforts in giving us some insights about all the famous artifacts in the museum.

Shilin Night Market

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There are tons of night markets in Taiwan, but this particular one is actually the biggest night market in the city. Then this was where our tour for the day has ended and where we were dropped off by our tour guide. The reason was that the area is so big for shopping and food trip that you could just get lost there for hours and hours. And our tour guide really wants us to have a one heck of a night time experience in Taipei.

But in my case, I only stayed there for an hour because I was so exhausted from the lack of sleep, that I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I’ve decided to go back to the hotel to rest and prepare for the next day. Overall, it was a very enjoyable first day in Taiwan.

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As for my second day, I’ve decided to go for the “Taroko Gorge Full Day Tour”. It is an outside of the city trip. This day tour consist for about 11 travelers (including six Filipinos), and we were picked up from our respective hotels at 5am so that we could catch up on the 6:15 am express train going to Hualien City. Although the train ride was almost for about three hours, I didn’t mind the time difference at all, because I really enjoyed watching all the stunning sceneries outside.

Then upon arrival, we were welcomed by our tour guide named Miss Josephine. Oh you’ll really enjoy her company because she’s really a funny one to listen to, but most of us in our group had a hard time understanding her English. But still, she was really trying her best. So we totally understand.

And there goes our tour in Hualien City and Taroko National Park.

Taroko Gorge is actually considered as one of the 7 natural wonders of Asia. A mountainous area which is definitely a must see in Taiwan. For this place is so damn beautiful that it would truly take your breath away and makes you speechless all throughout the trip. And my advice for those who plans to go for a visit, please take a picture first, and after that, use the rest of your free time to really absorb everything around you. For no matter how hard you will try to capture everything. No camera could ever give such justice on how spectacular this place is to really look at. Moreover, I assure you that it is entirely worth traveling all the way from the city of Taipei.

So after our adventure at the Taroko, we went on a short side trip back to the city, specifically at the souvenir gift shop, the local marble museum, and at the Pacific Ocean Seashore. And then we went back to the train station in order for us to catch up on the 4:32 pm train schedule back to Taipei City. It was a very satisfying second day, and I was totally sad because I had to part with these two Filipino friends that I’ve also met during my first day in Taiwan. I guess, I was totally lucky that we all booked the same schedules except for the next day tour. Wherever they are right now, I will always remember them, and all of the things that they’ve shared about their experiences from traveling to so many different places around the world. Oh I miss you Ate Ruby and Ate Beverly.

Then by the time that we were back to the city, we were dropped off at our respective hotels. Actually, I was supposed to go to the Ximen district with my fellow companions cause I was told that it’s a must see area in Taipei. But because of the rainy weather, we weren’t able to. So after an hour of resting in my room, I’ve decided to go out again (since it already stopped raining) to explore the Ningxia Night Market, which is only a walking distance from the hotel as to where I’m staying at. I was there for almost two hours, just strolling and exploring the area; searching for some pasalubong to bring back home, and some good food to eat. Moreover, it was a very overwhelming experience that I will never ever forget.

Ningxia Night Market

As a reader of my story, you could say that my first day in Taiwan was mostly about visiting some of the famous tourist destinations within the city of Taipei; while my second day was about going on a short adventure at the stone mountains of Taroko. So for my third and last day, it was actually a very unique and authentic one. For it was about learning something about the famous tea culture of this diversified country. So I had the chance to experience a breathtaking cable car ride going to Maokong, a visit to the tea museum, learning the art of drinking tea from the tea masters/experts, a road trip to the Bagua tea plantation, and an overlooking view of the Qiandao thousand island lakes.

But my most favorite part of that day would be the food trip at a local Taiwanese open restaurant at Maokong, which also gives its customers an overlooking view of the city of Taipei. Serving us with such local cuisines and delicious dishes mixed with tea leaves. Definitely a very enjoyable lunch date with my new friends Miss Ting (Taiwanese) and Miss Ruth (From Singapore). Overall, it was such a beautiful and memorable day with them. For not only was I able to make such new friends, but I had a great time conversing with them; talking about a lot of things especially about my beloved country the Philippines, and vice versa. Cause they were also sharing something about their own country – their people and its culture. Plus, I would definitely describe my third day as a very Anthony Bourdain kind of tour, a very satisfying day in Taiwan before heading off to the airport at 6:30 pm.

However, I was a bit too early at the airport. And I would have to wait for about 3 hours before the check-in counter would be open for its Cebu Pacific Passengers. So what I did there was just stroll around the area, its food court, and went surfing online while waiting. But I never thought that I would bump into a stranger, a fellow Pinoy traveler who was also waiting for the check-in counter to open. And what made me so impressed of this particular person was that he has traveled to so many different places in the Philippines; and a total of nine countries in Asia. I mean, I was totally intrigued that I was asking him a lot of questions. Even asking for some tips for a new traveler like me, and that’s what I like about wandering, you get to meet a lot of people who will inspire you along the way to be better as to what you are aiming to be more passionate about. So Aleks, it was really nice meeting you. Moreover, I wish you all the best to all of your future travels.

 

As for my mistake, the wrong booking on this trip has led me to a one heck of an adventure that I will never ever forget. Talk about destiny of being a year earlier from my plans of visiting Taiwan. 

Oh thank you so much Taiwan for such a very fun and memorable adventure. For this trip has been another eye opening experience for me to explore and to see a lot of places; the thirst and desire to travel more. So even though I still have no idea as to where the wind will take me again. One thing is for sure, it is better to  be prepared in advance, like don’t spend way too much, research more about some tips about traveling, look for possible potential next destinations, and always save a part of your income for future travels.

So for those who are still in doubt of traveling solo? Just once, try it. Who knows you might like it and wants to do it again. I hope I’ve been an inspiration to my fellow friends back home; the girl who has some kind of anxiety problems was able to travel abroad on her own. And hopefully, when I’m fully ready, I would like to travel solo again, and this time it’s going to be a do-it-yourself all throughout kind of trip. Hoping and Praying for it.

Thank you so much for reading everyone!

Seoul Searching 101: Nami Island

On our third day in South Korea, the weather for the day wasn’t actually in our favor; and as much as I love the rain (especially to walk along with it is one of my favorite things to do back home), I wasn’t just up for it. For when you’re in an exploring adventure and you’re in that kind of weather, of course, it’s really going to be a bit difficult to go on sightseeing.

The first thing that we did on that day was to rise up early, so that we could have an early head start on our journey to Nami Island. Moreover, we also wanted to be earlier than those couple who we’re going to guide us there. And while we were having our breakfast at the lobby at around 6am. I did noticed that it’s still quite dark outside. I guess I’m quite used to it back home in the Philippines to see the light of the day at around 6am.

Well I must say, even if it was raining and the weather just keeps on getting colder than ever. But it still didn’t stop me from getting way too excited. I mean, talk about having the opportunity to visit one of the famous shooting locations of this awesome Korean drama entitled Winter Sonata. Of course, I was totally giddy and all!

For our journey on the way to Nami Island, the wife has said that the fastest way to get there is to ride the K-Rail/KTX at the Seoul Train Station. So we rode the subway from Myeong dong to Seoul Train Station. And from the moment that we’ve arrived there, I was in total shock! Why? Because I still can’t believe that I’m actually seeing right before my very eyes the famous SEOUL TRAIN STATION! I mean, it’s just a building that I only get to see in the series. So to stand and actually see it in person feels like a defining moment for me. And for that I was totally grateful for that wonderful experience.

By the time that we’ve arrived at the Seoul Train Station, we’ve purchased our tickets (which cost for about 4,800 won per head) that would take us all to Yongsan, and from Yongsan – that’s where we took the KTX for Gapyeong. It was a one hour journey, and along the way I was totally amazed that such a train contains for about 3 floors! Plus, it’s very fast. But even if that were the case, it was a smooth journey.

Moreover, I really enjoyed my time watching such views outside. So while the rest of us in our group we’re doing their own thing like using the free WiFi on board, taking pictures, taking a rest, playing games with their phones and etc. As for me, I took out my phone and headphone, then played some music from my playlist while absorbing everything that I’ am seeing. Again, it was truly a very defining moment for me, and it was also an experience that I can never truly explain.

Then after an hour journey on the rail road, we have officially arrived at Gapyeong! And from the moment that we’ve stepped foot outside the train, it was one of the coldest weather that we’ve truly experienced. I mean, it was so much colder than in Seoul, and it’s still raining. Which is something that we’ve truly did not prepare ourselves for.

As I’ve written earlier, the weather was totally not in our favor. But since we’re already there, we might as well go for it. So we went outside of the Gapyeong Train Station so that we could find a ride going to the Ferry Station that would take us to the famous Nami Island.

We took a taxi instead of the bus on our way. And it was such a perfect timing, for by the time that we’ve arrived there. The ferry was still waiting for some passengers. By the way, the cost for the ferry ride back and forth is 8,000 won per head.

While inside the ferry, I was totally amazed of all those people around me. For I have never had that experience of going on a journey with tons of people with such different nationalities. And most of the passengers were totally from the different countries of Asia. So while we were already on our way to the Island, I was fascinated with all the different languages that I’ve been hearing around me.

So we’ve officially set foot into the famous Nami Island! And that would also mean, that we had to say goodbye to the couple who’ve been our guide on our journey. At that moment, I knew that it’s either we may never get to see them again, or if fate would have it. We might be able to see them back in the Philippines. But who knows. We took some group pictures, and I’ve also asked for their number. Plus, at the very last minute before saying our goodbyes, the husband just told us that his wife is a lawyer! Wow! Well that explains why she speaks in a smart and confident manner. I may never know where they are right now, but I always be forever grateful for them for being so kind to us, and for being part of our journey. And if there was one advice that was given to me by the wife was that when it comes to traveling “JUST GO WITH THE FLOW.”

After going on our separate ways, we were at the first part of exploring the Island. Well, if there’s one word to describe the place, I think it would be “Enchanting”. Even in such a cold and rainy weather, it seems like it’s the kind of place that really pulls you within. Something that I myself couldn’t truly explain. Unless you’re exactly in that moment of just standing between those tall trees and just absorbing everything around you. Just simply amazing.

As your any typical traveler, we took our time exploring and taking pictures of the Island. But let me tell you this, we had a huge struggle! It’s because as time passes by, it seems that the weather just keeps on getting colder and colder than ever. Plus, the rain had made it worst. So while we were walking, we had to stop from one bonfire onto the next so that it could keep us warm. But we’ve also reached that point that we just couldn’t take it anymore. So we had to go inside a restaurant in order for us to rest and eat since it was almost lunch time. And we were totally relieved that they had a heater inside! Oh that heavenly feeling of being warmed again!

Inside the restaurant, we took our time warming ourselves from the cold, choosing such different varieties of food to order for our lunch, and of course! Updating our Facebook accounts! We were there for about an hour. The place is quite nice, for there’s a mini library at the other side of it. However, I actually did noticed that in South Korea, whenever a waiter would actually take your order, he/she would also place it right away in your table the total bill of your orders. And as their customer, it is you who should go to the cashier to pay the bill; which is quite different from what we’re used to in the Philippines.

Before I forgot, I had a weird experience inside that restaurant. What happened was that, after taking our lunch, I went back to the heater to keep me warmed again. Then suddenly, there was this girl who works at the restaurant (who is totally pretty), and she approached me. She was asking from what country I was, so I told her that I’m from the Philippines. At that moment, I thought she was actually the one who was curious, and I was surprised for she went to her friend and told him something about our mini conversation. And both of them went back to me and we’re already asking me some questions which I was happy oblige.

After an hour at the restaurant, we were back once again to continue the last part of our exploring (which was also the very main purpose as to why we have to visit Nami Island); and that is to see the exact shooting location of the famous Bicycle scene in the Winter Sonata TV Series. So our first stop was a Souvenir Shop that sells a lot of memorabilia items from the said series. And also inside the shop is a free wall in where you can write anything you want into it.

Then we’ve finally arrived at the land of Winter Sonata! So even if it was such a rainy day, the place totally looks so beautiful. And for one moment, I just couldn’t contain myself from such happiness that I’m feeling. I know it’s been more than a decade since that famous Korean Drama have been aired in Asia, but to have the chance to actually set foot and to have the actual experience. It is definitely a dream come true.

While we still hav the time before we set off to our next destination, we took our time taking pictures of the area. And after that, we’ve decided to go back to the ferry so that we could go on to our next destination which was the Petite France.

So even if it was a total struggle in our part, but over-all, it was totally fun. And hopefully, when I go back to visit Nami Island, it is definitely going to be in the season of autumn.

That’s it for now and to be continued.

Thank you so much for reading! 🙂

Seoul Searching 101: Myeong Dong Food District

“To travel to a new place isn’t just about getting an idea of its culture, and exploring such famous landmarks. It’s also about trying their authentic food, something that you don’t get to see or eat from where you live.” – A thought that I always bear in mind whenever I go on a travel.

For our last stop of our second night in South Korea, we’ve decided to take on a food trip to the famous Myeong Dong Food District. And as to what I’ve already written from my last blog which was entitled “Seoul Searching 101: Bukchon Hanok Village”, I actually did mentioned that if we weren’t sort of lost after our bus ride had dropped us off at the wrong Myeong dong station, we wouldn’t have found its famous food district by accident. The funny thing is that, this famous food trip area is just right across the street from the area that leads to the place where we were staying, which was truly a surprised for us; for we had never expected that one of the places that we’ve been looking forward to visit was just right under our noses. Oh well, talk about destiny!

Anyway, we were on our way back downtown after our night time exploring of Namsan Tower Park (via cable car and part of our 8,000 won fare per head). So we went straight ahead to Myeong dong food district. It was just a walking distance from the guesthouse for about 10-15 minutes. It’s either you can walk across the street, or go down and walk along the pathway inside the subway station, and take a short cut there going up the district (which we actually did on our way back to the guesthouse).

It was a cold night, but I couldn’t care less, because from the moment we’ve arrived there. I was totally excited especially seeing all those different stalls of food along the small streets of Myeong dong. Plus, I was utterly looking forward to take on my pick on which food should I try for the night. But such street foods that are being sold are a bit expensive (which in the Philippines cost for about 100-200 pesos each). And most of its stalls would sell their products at a price of 2,500 won, 3,000 won, and 5,000 won.

As for my first pick for the night, it was an egg bun which cost for about 2,500 won. It’s tasty and fluffy but something that I couldn’t say my favorite for the night. So we went on to continue our exploring from one stall to another.

While I was busy eating my egg bun, my friends first choice was to eat a sea shell with cheesy boiled eggs, and corns on top of it which cost for about 5,000 won. Then they went on for a Pomegranate juice, and caramelized fruit stick (3,000 won).

For our next stop, are you familiar of this famous street food called Fish Cakes? I’m sure for those who are into Korean Series would have totally seen this. This food cost for about 1,500 won each. It is very delicious, and you can either go for spicy or not spicy. And since I love spicy food, I was totally up for the challenge. But, I totally underestimated it, for it was so hot and spicy (although I really enjoyed my time eating it). It’s just that, such spiciness has almost gotten me sick. I’m not joking. Seriously, it was such a cold night, but it has gotten much colder after eating that fish cake, and drinking its spicy soup. And while walking along the streets, I wasn’t able to concentrate for I was already freezing so badly like I was having a seizure. And that almost ruined my night. So it was a good thing that after taking a short break somewhere along the area that I was able to recover from it.

Moving forward to our food exploring, and as I’ve already mentioned, such street foods that are being sold there can be a bit expensive. So I’ve decided to go for three different varieties of it, and go for the other ones on our last night. So for my third and last pick for the night, it was a food called Croissant Taiyaki, it’s a small pastry in the shape of a fish. And it taste really good, I guess it’s because of the cream cheese inside of it. For its cheesiness really did blend well with the croissant.

Then after almost two hours of exploring this famous district, one thing that I’ve observed as to what made this area quite famous for so many travelers is that, it’s a place where you can truly see its authenticity. For it is the kind of street foods that showcase South Korea for what it is; using such ingredients and recipes that can only be found in that country, but with a modern and creative twist, which is also such a big factor as to why there are lots buyers that are enticed to try and taste such different varieties of street foods along the Myeong dong food district.

And since it’s been such a day, and we were already getting exhausted from our exploring. We’ve decided to go back to the guesthouse, to rest, and to get ready for our next adventure. And that is an out of the city visit to Nami Island and Petite France!

For our second day in South Korea, I must say, what a day and what a night!

To be continued.

And thank you so much for reading! 🙂

Seoul Searching 101: N Seoul Tower

Moving forward to our exploring, (after our short break from visiting Bukchon Hanok Village), we were back once again to continue our Seoul Searching, and that was to visit N Seoul Tower – one of the shooting locations of the famous series My Love from the Star.

It was totally convenient on our part to visit such a famous landmark, because it’s quite near to where we were staying. All we need to do was just walk around the corner (but it was more like a short hiking). Then we’ve arrived to the cable car that would take us to Namsan Tower Park. Such a ride actually did cost us for about 8,000 Won per head. Well I must say, that was one heck of ride. For it was scary but at the same time, definitely exciting! Even at night time, you could totally see Seoul in such bright lights. And everything just looks so beautiful, and fascinating. Plus, there were lots of tourist with us. So I also had fun listening to the different languages that I keep on hearing around me.

Upon arrival at the Park, we went on exploring. The first thing that I was amazed of would be the Fortress Wall because I’m quite sure that I saw a particular Korean drama in which such an area was used as one of their shooting locations. And I had this reaction again of, “Oh my gosh! Am I really here? Cause it feels like a dream!”. Well that’s me when I’m utterly excited.

Another famous attraction at the Namsan Tower Park would be its Love Locks. Well I’m not surprised that with so many tourists that keeps on visiting South Korea, that there are quite a number of love locks! Hundreds? I would definitely go for thousands of it! And since we’re there, each of us girls did put our own love locks. Plus, it’s a good thing that I came prepared for I bought with me my own marker pen. So all we did was buy a lock for about 5,000 Won, but if you want a pair that would cost for about 10,000 won.

Okay, we’ve already had our own, and we’ve picked a spot where we can take some time to write something in our love locks. As for my own love lock, yes, I actually did wrote a name of a person. And since it was a private moment, I also took a picture of it; a proof that I actually did that, and something to bring with me back home.

As for the weather during that night, it was totally cold, even my hands were freezing so badly.

Moreover, there’s an experience that I wanna share. While I was waiting for the rest of the group to finish putting their own love locks, and take some pictures with it. I actually went to this small stall that sells Potato Twist (I don’t know if it’s the correct term). Anyway, I had a mistake of informing its vendor, that instead of saying that I’m going to buy one potato twist, I had a mistake of making a hand gesture of three, and he thought that I was going to buy three of it, but the hand gesture was all about the amount of money which was 3,000 Won. So we had a misunderstanding, and he was so mad at me for my mistake (which was true by the way). And without any choice, I had to buy two potato twists, for the other one was not yet cooked. In a way, I was saved to spend 6,000 won instead of 9,000, and then gave the other one to my friend since I can’t eat it all. Oh well, at least I did enjoyed my time eating it for it was so delicious.

Lesson learned, be careful when you talk to a vendor/salesman to buy something, or a food to eat, especially to a place that barely speaks English.

After putting our own love locks, we went exploring again of the park. The thing is that we actually had plans of going at the top of the N Seoul Tower, but we’ve decided not to, for it cost for about 20,000 Won per head! And we were already thinking that if we go there, we wouldn’t have much time to visit Myeong dong. So we have to go. But hopefully, when I go back to South Korea, for sure I’ am definitely going there.

Before I forgot, I actually had the chance to meet an Asian Celebrity; for there were some tourists that had recognized her, and took some pictures with her. But, I don’t know from what country she’s from. The only thing that I could say about her is that she is definitely pretty, and I was staring at her while her fans just keeps on gushing around her.

So even it was such cold evening, and we were already freezing. It still didn’t stop us to go to our next destination for the night. And that was a visit to Myeong dong food district.

Till the next part of our journey!

To be continued.

And thank you so much for reading. 🙂

Seoul Searching 101: Bukchon Hanok Village

On our second day in Seoul, our first plan for our itinerary was to visit Nami Island and Petite France, and if we still have time, to also visit Jade Garden. But, such plan was changed. What happened was that when I went to the lobby to get something. I saw a couple there who were having their breakfast. At first, I didn’t know that they were also from the Philippines. In a way, they totally look so Asian, and so I did ask them. And then when they told me where they’re from. That’s when we had a good conversation using our own dialect which is Tagalog. Plus, when they finally knew our situation that we have no proper guide, that’s when the wife has stepped in to help us on how to get to Nami Island. By being our guide on our way there. I know it’s kinda hard to be friendly to such strangers, but my instinct was telling me that they seemed like a good people; and when I asked my friend if it’s okay for her to change our plans for the day. She did say yes and also made some inquiries of her own at the couple. And since our trip to Nami Island was going to be on the next day, we’ve decided to go for a different itinerary, and that was to visit Bukchon Hanok Village, N Seoul Tower, and of course, a food trip to Myeong dong.

 

But that’s the thing when you don’t have a tour guide; it will totally consume your day by just making inquiries on how to get from one place to another. And all of us in our group were first time travelers in abroad, so it was kinda hard at first. Fortunately, we were so luckily that the owner of the guesthouse is so accommodating, for he did helped us by giving directions on how to ride the subway, and where to go from one destination to another.

So for our first stop of the day, we’ve decided to go for Bukchon Hanok Village. For the reason that we wanna have that experience of wearing their traditional outfit called Hanbok. By the time that we’ve arrived there, I was totally amazed by the area. I mean, it looks modern but at the same time, it seems like you’re transported back into the past because of those old traditional houses that are still being preserved there, like the best of both worlds. But searching for the place where you can wear their outfits wasn’t really that easy at all. So instead, we took our time looking, and taking some pictures while exploring. But then, we were already in our limits. And by the time that we were almost on the verge of giving up, that’s when we’ve finally found the place. We were somewhere along the small streets of Hanok Village, sitting and looking so tired, and then suddenly out of nowhere, we just found it! At the very last minute! Then we went inside, and made some inquiries.

To wear such an outfit, it had cost us for about 10,000 Won. But it was totally worth it, for everything inside the dressing room looks so beautiful and colorful. So I had a hard time picking a color for my outfit. So it’s a good thing that the ladies in the house were the ones who’ve assisted us in wearing it. Moreover, I will never forget my reaction when someone told me that I really had to take off most of my clothes! I mean, undressing in front of them? Oh yes, I was totally shy about it. After that, we were given for about 2 hours to wear them. But I think we’ve mostly consumed for only about an hour of that by taking lots of pictures not just us with our traditional costumes, but also some pictures inside and outside that small museum.

One thing that made me worried at that time was leaving all of our money and passport inside dressing room. I was scared, but it turns out the ladies of the house were truly trust worthy and honest; but my advice, especially when you’re in an unknown country. Always bring your passport with you at all times.

All in all we had a great time, so we went back at the center of the village, looking for something to eat. And what we’ve chosen was a small stall that sells chicken barbecue. And my oh my, it was definitely delicious, for we all went for a second round of it. As for the three teenagers in our small group, they were craving for something sweet. So they also bought an ice cream with cinnamon bread on top of it.

After eating, our next plan was actually to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace since it’s quite near the area. Unfortunately, it was closed for the day. So we didn’t get the chance to visit inside.
I was totally devastated about it, but I was not losing hope since we still have one more place to visit and that is Changdeokgung Palace. But since it was already late in the afternoon, and by the time that we will arrive there, it is going to be close. It was such a double blow because I wasn’t able to visit at least one palace! Oh well, at least during our first actual day in Seoul, we were still able to do some exploring.

For our trip back to Myeong dong, I asked my friend if we could go back using a bus instead of the subway because I wanna see more of Seoul. During our bus ride, I can’t help it but noticed how truly absorbed these Koreans are into their gadgets. And you might think that it’s a country where they manufactured their famous Samsung phones. But most of them are using iPhones! Then another thing that I’ve noticed was that they are very respectful to the elder ones. On our way to Myeong dong, there’s this old lady who has just gotten inside the bus, and when some passengers did saw her. They’ve decided to give up their sits just for her to sit down comfortably. I was totally amazed and touched by such a wonderful gesture.

Then we’ve arrived at Myeong dong, but our bus driver, dropped us off at the wrong station. So we got lost again! Wandering, and walking out of nowhere, and then I was scared again. But, I think it was totally a good thing that it happened to us, because we were able to find the famous shopping and food trip district of Myeong dong. Talk about a blessing in disguise. And then, by the time we went back to our guesthouse, we were all laughing on how our day has truly turned out to be. What an adventure!

But the adventure for the day was not yet over, for we still have to go back at Myeong dong food district, and of course, to visit N Seoul Tower! I was totally excited, but first things first. We have to take a short break, and eat our dinner which was a packed of noodles that we’ve bought all the way from Manila, Philippines in order for us to save on our tight budget during our stay in South Korea.

To be continued.

Thank you so much for reading. 🙂

Seoul Searching 101: The First Part of Our Journey

As a wanderer, I’ve always been dreaming of traveling abroad. And I have never thought that South Korea would be the very first country that I will be able to visit and explore!

So it was officially in the year 2015 that such a dream had finally happened. The thing is that it wasn’t actually my priority last year to go beyond the Philippines; for I was already planning of going to Baguio or Vigan. But then I got a call from a friend of mine informing me about a promo fare going to South Korea. And without any hesitation, I accepted the invitation even though I still haven’t got my own passport! So I had to double time in preparing for all of the requirements needed, and to submit my applications as soon as possible; including also such requirements for my VISA, Authority to Travel, and of course, I still need to present all of these approved documents at the Bureau of Immigration on the day of our travel at the airport.

Then after months of preparation, the day to actually set foot in South Korea has finally arrived! I was totally excited, and at the same time I was also nervous. Not because it’s my first trip abroad. But for the reason that in our group, we actually don’t have a proper itinerary! What happened was that ten of us were supposed to be going to there. But we were narrowed down to five because of such unexpected events. So for the five of us (two adults and three teenagers), we just couldn’t back out. Especially when we’ve already booked our tickets, made a reservation at the guesthouse as to where we will be staying, and of course, all of the things that we’ve prepared just for this trip. It was a risk on our part. But we have to go. And so we did!

It was on November 30, 2015, that we were scheduled to travel to Incheon, South Korea. So even if our flight was still in the late afternoon, we still had to be early at the NAIA Terminal 3 in order for us to prepare for our check-in, to change our money from Peso to Won, our interview at the Immigration, and so many other things; and after hours of waiting, at around 4pm in the Philippines, we were finally on our way. Moreover, even if it’s already been months since that day, that feeling of that moment is still here in my heart. So unforgettable! In our group, we actually had no idea of what lies ahead of us when we arrive there. But our first priority was to makes sure that we will know what mode of transportation we will be using in order for us to get to Seoul, and of course, to know the direction of our guesthouse. And I’m so thankful to a batch mate of mine who went to South Korea a few weeks earlier than us. For it was her blog about her recent trip there that we’ve made it as our guide.

Of course, we already have an idea that by the time we’ll arrive there, it’s already their winter season; for I had a month to prepare for it – my clothes, two pairs of boots, medicines, other necessities, and a whole lot more. But in the end, we were so not expecting it to be that cold!

Then by the time that we’ve arrived at the Incheon International Airport, we went first to their Immigration, and after that we’ve picked our luggage so that we could change to our winter outfits. Anyway, to all the fans of Korean Series; I’m sure you’re quite familiar of those scenes at their airport in which when an actor would arrive they would always appear at that sliding door with a big monitor above it. So I was totally fortunate to experience something like that! It made me so giddy, but I forgot to take a picture! Oh well. At least I was able to seize the moment by staring at it for a few seconds.

For our first night, everything was just happening way too fast. We went to a seven eleven convenience store to buy our T-Money card for transportation purposes, made some inquiries at the information center, and went out of the airport to wait for our bus that would take us to Seoul. The funny thing that I could remember that was mentioned to us by a fellow passenger during our flight to South Korea was that, by the time that we will go out of the airport, it is definitely going to be extremely cold outside. So when we were exactly at the door and we were counting for like – one, two, three, and then go out. I was totally screaming inside because it was so damn cold! Even my four layers of outfit couldn’t protect me at all, and after almost 30 minutes of waiting, the bus that would take us to Myeong dong in Seoul has finally arrived.

During our almost two hours of bus journey to Seoul, it was one of those times that I had a special moment. Cause I still can’t believe that I’ve finally arrived in South Korea! For it was truly a dream come true! I was just there sitting at the bus listening to my music playlist, and absorbing everything that I’m seeing right in front of me. Even if it was already night time, I still couldn’t care less. For the thought that I’m seeing such amazing views outside my window, makes me feel such an overwhelming excitement. Happiness beyond happiness.

It was around 11pm that we’ve finally arrived in Seoul. And tell you the truth, I was so scared by the time our bus has dropped us off at Myeong dong. For we have no idea about the direction to our guesthouse. It was already night time, so cold outside, and we’re already exhausted from our journey. Plus, we have no phone signal, and at that moment no Wi-Fi. So it was totally hard for us at first. But luckily, after making some inquiries at a hotel nearby, we we’re able to locate 24gueshouse Namsan, and we’ve arrived there just in time for it to close for the night.

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As for the place where we stayed during our adventures there, I was totally amazed of the place, because it looks so nice, and it’s totally affordable. Moreover, during our first night, I was kind of funny because I didn’t know that there was a heater. So I had to stand the coldness of the water while washing my face and brushing my teeth. And it was during the next day that I was informed on how to use the heater inside our bathroom. Plus, it was already late in the evening. So we’ve decided to take a rest, and to continue our plans for the next day.

It was such a long day, but truly an unforgettable one. And that sums up our first night in South Korea.

As for next part of our story,

To be continued.

Thank you so much for reading. 🙂

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Madame Butterflies Natural Fruit Ice Cream

Almost two years ago, I had an opportunity to visit Bohol. And one of the places that I was able to explore was the Butterfly Garden. It’s a beautiful place with a small restaurant and it looks so peaceful. But I’ve mostly enjoyed my time there eating than sightseeing!

So as a girl who loves sweets, it was actually a friend of mine who suggested to try it. At first, I was kinda hesitant because the picture that she showed me during her trip to Bohol wasn’t really that appealing at all. So when I had the chance to visit the Butterfly Garden, I took the opportunity to try it. And my oh my! It’s one of the most delicious ice cream that I’ve ever tasted! Forget all the brands of ice cream that you’ve tried! For its really one of the best! This homemade ice cream is not too sweet, and you can totally taste its creaminess that blends with its particular flavor. Each one of us in our group tried two different flavors, and we really enjoyed our time eating it. The Flavors that I’ve tried were Cookies & Cream and Buko Pandan. Oh how I wish that there is such an ice cream back here in Cagayan de Oro city! And if you’ll ever get the chance to visit Butterfly Garden in Bohol, please try their very delicious ice cream! For it is definitely worth eating.

Thank you so much for reading! 🙂