South Korea Part 1

Ahnyeong! This is going to be a late/throwback post because I traveled to South Korea with my sisters and beau last December, while we’re hitting December in another 2 months! Also I went to Macau earlier this year too so another late/throwback post will be coming!

Back to my South Korea trip, we took the 8D, 6N Seoul/Jeju Island + Yongpyong Ski Resort+ Hot Spring Water Park package from Golden Destinations. The thing about traveling in a group is that you’ll meet a certain people that would take advantage of the trip by sticking to the local tour guide like glue so that the guide will listen and do what ever they want. Maybe we’re just unlucky that our batch has that particular group and a very biased local tour guide who’s clearly full of herself and loves people with money. I would love to mention the name of the tour guide but heck, it’s just going to give more publicity to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Other than that, it was an ok trip, I think I should have spoken out about those occasions but anyhow, I will definitely be more alert if I ever go on group tours like these again. I’m not going to let these people ruin the trip for others for their own selfish reasons. Also, CAN LOCAL TOUR COMPANIES START HAVING ENGLISH-SPEAKING TOURS BECAUSE THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT PROFICIENT IN THE CHINESE LANGUAGE, PLEASE AND THANK YOU!

Exhausted and hungry from the traveling. I got to use my Slytherin scarf as well, finally!

 

Seeing snow the moment we left the airport, it was magical to us tropical folks! Along with the white smoke that comes out when you breath and speak!
Our first meal was at this restaurant and it was Dak Gal Bi which was a great start! A restaurant where different tour groups will dine at too.
 The itinerary changed because there was some protest happening in the city when we arrived so we headed to Nami Island first! Cue the Winter Sonata theme song!

 

Whaddup or more like whatchu lookin at!

 

 There was a lot of art sculptures that you could find around the island so plenty of photo ops!

 

Our Winter Sonata moment under the trees!

 

I don’t know what this was but it looks like some fertility sculpture to me.

 

When there’s a wide and snowy space, you gotta try jump shots!

 After Nami Island, we visited Mt. Sorak National Park and Sinheungsa Temple but it was already dark so we didn’t take much pictures but it was freezing cold! Then, we made our way to Daepohang Port before we head off to dinner.

 

 

 Sad part was we were not having dinner at these seafood stores, it was just a short pit stop. Dear tour companies, please do dinners in fisherman markets like these for us foodies sake! I really wanted to taste them fresh seafood! 🙁 In the end, we bought some dried fish snacks that the local guide was raving about, it was good dried fish, I give her that! Toast it a little at the oven and chew on its sweetness like the samples given by the shopkeeper.
 Also opposite the wet market was this stall selling deep fried seafood and there was a long line for it so us starving people lined up in the cold just to get a taste of juicy tentacles and oysters! It was a satisfying pre-dinner meal!
 Dinner was some good ol’ Korean BBQ! I think we’re the only group who always ask for refills on side dishes and soup and, we always almost finish to finish our meal. Eat as much authentic food here while you can yo!
Then we made our way to our first accommodation, Seorak Pine Resort. It was a unique resort because there were no beds, just a wide, warm heated floor where you can put some thin mattresses as your bed for the night. I put like two layers of it and slept like a baby because it was pretty comfy. Also, we raided the mini mart.

 

Yes, I was already stuffed from the BBQ dinner but I got hooked by the packaging. It wasn’t much to rave about because it’s a ‘healthy’ instant noodle.

 

Next day, we packed and then headed to Daewallyeong Sheep Ranch to try our hand in making cheese!

Add some edible flowers first in a cheese cloth covered tin.

 

The lady in green was the owner of the ranch and she was really entertaining! She even gave us a bag of corn chips before we left! 🙂

 

Gotta filter the cheese from the bubbles.

 

 

Our finished product! It was a light cheese, that went well with red wine and eaten with some corn chips with jam or just dipped in salt.

 

So good!!! Cravings!!!

 

 

Apparently, you need to pay if you want to take pictures of the sheep. -_-lll

After munching on cheese and wine, we got to check into our second hotel, Yongpyong Ski Resort, one of the famous ski resorts in the area. We stayed for a night in this cozy and I think pricey resort. Also, we had to pay for our ski equipment rentals which was not cheap.

 Can I just say, I love my rainbow pants? Picked up our gear before heading off to lunch!

 

Warm stew to fuel us up for our ski session!

 

Here comes the ridiculous part, we only got to ski for 2 hours. Why? Cause a certain group wanted to leave early to do god knows what. Skiing is not easy, heck it took a few of us, at least an hour just to not slide down the slope without bumping into other people because it was so crowded there. It’s even difficult to remove the ski shoes.

 

 

We took the cable car to the top to see the awesome views!

 

After returning from our super short ski session, we were rushed again to change to get to the Yongpyong Hot Spring Water Park, which was walking distance from the hotel. Now public baths are not new to me so I was ok with going commando as long as it is gender separated spa rooms, just like the locals but a lot of them from the tour group were uncomfortable. We only have a small towel to cover the lady bits so lots of avoiding eye contact and pretending you didn’t see anything.
The water park inside was just alright, nothing to rave about because most of the slides were for kids, there’s a wave pool and the water is warm. There was a few young and cute Korean lifeguards as well around the water park, much to my sister’s delight. In the spa area, there was a steam room, sauna and pools with different temperatures and a bunch of shower sections. A vanity area with hair dryers and a few beauty products was provided as well. I like going to baths like these because I feel more rejuvenated and my skin will be glowing from the hot spring water. 🙂
It was about -10 degrees Celsius that night but it was nice to walk around the resort grounds after to feel the super cold air.

 

Loads of people skiing at night as well.

The next day, we were headed to Seoul to visit Lotte World, the place is packed like sardines because of the holidays. Also we only had 3 hours to enjoy Lotte World, another ridiculous time duration given for a very packed theme park. We only managed to sit one ride and the ride took 1 and a half hour of queuing time and it only lasted for 1 minute. However, it was entertaining to see local high school girls being very vain that they hold a handheld mirror and touch their hair and face every 10 seconds. Sad to see, girls growing up in this kind of society. 🙁

 

 

Jajang myun! My love! So good! Our tour leader recommended us to get this from the food court and we weren’t disappointed.

 

URGH! WHY CAN’T WE GET YUMMY ONES HERE?!

 

 

So after 3 hours, we were rushed off to the 63 Building where there was Sea World, an observatory and a wax museum. Oh, the local tour guide only let us step at the entrance of  Sea World and then she pushed us to go to the observatory, which is ridiculous again, she was even annoyed when some of our tour members went deeper into Sea World because she had to go rush them out. Oh, just typing these out just enraged me.

 

We were one of the ones who went deeper to see more of Sea World because we paid for it.

 

 

We’re ended at the observatory which the local tour guide expected us to just breeze through the exhibition that was going on which was about The Beatles.

 

 Sorry but The Beatles are a legend and they deserve time. So a few of us took our sweet time much to her and a certain groups dismay.

 

The wax museum was next and the wax figures there were not as good as Madame Tussauds, sadly. I think this was one of the ok looking ones there.

So that night after we had dinner, we flew on Jin Air to Jeju Island. I seriously love this plane, for one they serve a cup of tea even when the flight is only an hour, the stewardess wears a hair barrette that bears the airline’s logo which is a butterfly which I wanted one too and the seats were not too crammed and there are pretty stewardess too! We checked into Jeju New Crown Hotel which we stayed for 2 nights. The rooms we got were normal twin bed rooms and breakfast was provided in the hotel the following day.

The Mysterious Road/ Ghost road because you feel like you’re going uphill when the bus was actually going downhill. It has to do with the growth of the surrounding trees on the road that gives some optical illusion.

 

This cute lil pup actually came to greet us before we went up the bus after looking at the Mysterious Road. So cute but too bad we couldn’t bring it with us. 🙁

So I’ll continue my Jeju adventures in the next post! Watch out for that! 🙂

Also, my instant white coffee gave this face today after I stirred it! Thanks for the pick me up! 😛

 

Mataking Island,Sabah

So the beau’s family invited me to join them on a trip to Sabah and I was really shocked and surprised they even invited me because we were still at the early stages. So the beau told me that we were going to stay at Mataking Island for 2 nights then 1 night in Tawau. I was like ‘Mata-what?’. Never heard of it before so did some googling and the pictures were like this.

Hard to believe because no way you can find an island in West Malaysia with a sea this blue.

So I googled for reviews on Trip advisor and such and there were mixed reviews. They said since they transfer clean water from the main land to the island, water must be used sparingly. So I was worried about having no water to bath or to flush in the island.

But I was excited that I am travelling to East Malaysia for the first time and Mataking is close to Sipadan island so it should be as pretty as the pictures on Google.

It was my first time flying with Air Asia too!

 

I don’t like the sandwich cause there was not enough filling and sauce.

So once we got to Tawau, the Reef Dive Resort which is the only resort on Mataking Island has a personal bus that will take you to the jetty in Semporna and they have their own speedboat to bring you to the island.

We didn’t know that the Sulu issue started the minute we got to Mataking. So after we left Mataking, there were police checkpoints everywhere in Tawau then we searched the news online and found out about the Sulu thing.

We didn’t know because Digi didn’t follow me to Mataking so I couldn’t tweet pictures or call or message or even update about the awesomeness.

Semporna’s sea was polluted and yucky but the sea got bluer as the speedboat heads further away and this is what you see once you get to Mataking. Where can you get 3 different shades of blue sea in West Malaysia? Only in East Malaysia!

So beautiful that it literally took my breath away! The boat ride was 45 minutes of bump hitting but it was so worth it! You could practically see fishes and jellyfish in the sea without needing to strain your eyes. I was so excited to jump into the sea already! We had welcome drinks and we were brought to the only restaurant in the island, Simply ‘Enak’ Restaurant for lunch before checking in.

The food was a downer because there wasn’t much variety, mostly Asian cooking and I think it’s because the resort practices marine conservation, you can’t get much seafood to eat. Only prawns and sometimes fish. Some dishes were repetitive, as you stay there longer. Since we were starving, anything was good for us at that time.

After lunch we were shown to our rooms. The staff helped us to carry our luggage to our rooms and was very friendly! We stayed at the King Chalets so beau and I got our own chalet and the rooms were huge!

 

 

Meet Rainbow, my Pillopet! 🙂 My travelling buddy that helps me to sleep better cause he’s so soft….

 

There’s a shower too! For some reason the water drains out really slow. I think that’s how they are trying to save water but even so, this is sort of a 5-star resort, so shouldn’t they already have a good plumbing system? And also a water filter system that will provide clean water instead of getting water from the main land.

During the day when there’s low tide, we can actually walk to Mataking Kecil Island too!

All geared up in my Roxy bikini and ready to walk over! Sadly, we didn’t because no one was there and the staffs were talking in walkie-talkies in every step we take and the resort’s speedboat was also following us so we chickened out. Like what’s with the hush hush operation?

 

Then we found out from one of the staff that Mataking is only 15 minutes away from Philippines so I guess that’s why security is tight on this island. There’s a police shack too. At night, you can see soldiers carrying guns patrolling the island.

On the next day, we rented a boat for RM250 for 4 hours and we went island hopping to Timba-Timba Island, which is one of the small islands which can be found around Mataking Island.

 

This dog who lives on this island was so cute and friendly! She greeted us the moment we arrived on the island and she was guiding us too!

She likes to dip into the ocean too!

 

Her fur was so nice because of the sea water and if we could bring her back we would but too bad she guards the island with the other guards who lives on that island.

Then after walking around a bit on this island, we were brought to 3 different snorkeling sites!

Ok so while I was getting off the boat at one of the snorkeling sites, I was grabbing onto this bar but as I jumped off the boat, I forgotten to let go of the bar so my left fingers were stuck in between them. The pain was bearable but still thank god, beau’s dad noticed my agony and helped to get my fingers out. Thankfully I can still move my fingers but it was bruised really badly.

Beau also so worried but I still can smile for the camera and went to snorkel a bit more.

THE BEST SNORKELING EXPERIENCE I HAVE EVER HAD! I even saw a turtle at one of the sites! So many beautiful corals and fishes!

So awesome until I didn’t notice that my face was inches away from a jellyfish too. Thankfully, I didn’t get stung.

Came back to the hotel then we saw this dude here lazing around in the diver’s pool. He was huge and fat! Saw a lot of little ones around the island too. Don’t know what they are but they are one of the island’s inhabitants.

 

I’m more surprised that there are peacocks on the island when there’s so many lizards around the island but they are in a cage so nothing much to worry there.

 

 

We were waiting for the sunset but it was taking ages so I asked the beau to take some silhouette shots!

 

 

There’s a watchtower on the island too and it was a really long climb up but the view on top was beautiful!

 

 

 

Turtle hatchery! Too bad that we came at the wrong season. Turtle season is on October.

 

The Jacuzzi outside of Jamu Spa which is the only spa place on the island. I heard that you can to book it if you wanna use it.

That’s the watchtower!

 

 

The Dive Centre!

 

The bar.

The Simply ‘Enak’ Restaurant.

 

 

Baby Sharks!!!! XD So cute!!!

 

I miss this beautiful place already! I miss the sea and the beach and the fishes and the dog and snorkeling. 🙁

It’s definitely a place that I want to come back to. We stayed in Tawau for a night and beau’s dad’s friend brought us to eat yummy food!

You know those crispy kuey teow noodles with the egg sauce that we get in KL, well this one is Sabah’s version except with thin vermicelli noodles and they fry the egg with the noodles!

OMG THIS WAS SO GOOD! The soup/ sauce was omg so good and I don’t know how they keep the noodles moist even though it is fried together with the egg. This AWESOME noodles is found in Papa’s Kopitiam, Sabah.

Then at night he brought us to eat seafood! Too bad that during that time there was the Sulu incident and most of the shops are closed so we had to eat at an expensive seafood place. But it’s still good! 🙂

I want to go back to Sabah to eat that noodles again though and of course to visit the other islands too!

A piece of Serendah

So a bunch of us planned this trip to Sekeping Serendah as a mini reunion for Xin Ni and our other UTAR buddies since she came back from Kiwiland/New Zealand. We all met up at Hon Yuen’s house which is all the way in Balakong which was so far away.

Pictures from mostly Hon Yuen, Xin Ni(professional cameras) and myself(using my Blackberry).

We were trying to get to Sekeping Serendah using Hon Yuen’s phone GPS and his battery was dying so you can expect how worried we were or maybe it was just me. Hon Yuen drives like a madman too cause his car is a manual car and I was sitting in the middle so I get super scared when he tailgates the cars in front of him. I was yelling at him to drive slowly cause we ain’t rushing. We almost got lost because we ended up at the waterfall instead but luckily we asked someone there for the right directions. It turns out we need to go to this narrow road at a corner and drive on until we reach the private land.

The caretaker greeted us and he was very helpful and he asked us if we want breakfast for tomorrow but we didn’t take that offer cause we have to pay extra and besides, we went grocery shopping at Tesco, Rawang before we headed to Serendah. Bought insect repellant too since we were staying inside a jungle. He told us that he will come set up the barbeque pit for us at 6p.m.

That’s our crib for the night! XD

 

The bridge to our glasshouse.

 

The barbecue pit with outdoor seating area.

 

The small kitchen with a fridge, stove, toaster, sink and a few utensils are provided too which was enough for the 6 of us.

 

The outdoor shower.

 

And toilet.

 

The bedroom upstairs and extra pillows, mattresses, mosquito nets(THE MOST IMPORTANT THING) and blankets were provided since we had 2 extra people. Oddly,there’s a sink too and you can actually lock the stairs too. My Roxy tote makes the picture more real. Hehehe!

 

Played Uno and Playing Cards for a while.

 

Chee Keen and Kai Jun. Those two can go on and on about football and when they do, the rest of us just tune out.

 

Xin Ni luckily told Hon Yuen to bring his tripod along so with the camera’s timer we managed to take a bunch of group shots. 🙂
From the left: Wilson, me, Xin Ni, Chee Keen, Kai Jun and Hon Yuen.

 

Suddenly, we used a tissues as our prop. I was going for the farewell handkerchief pose. Kai Jun just doesn’t wanna pose with the tissue.

 

 

 

Xin Ni and I did most of the prep work and the cooking in the kitchen while the dudes handle the barbecue pit. We forgotten bring butter or oil or salt or pepper so we had to improvise with what we have.

 

Then, I had a lightbulb moment and suggested we used the oil from the Mee Sedap Instant Noodles that we gave from Tesco. So we coated some of the vegetables and put it in the toaster to make something to feed ourselves cause the caretaker was late in helping to set up the pit.

 

Then, we had another lightbulb moment! Xin Ni brought bacon so we fried the bacon on the frying pan which was provided and used the oil from there. Bacon is so useful. XD

 

Boys handling the pit!

 

 

 

It rained 3 times that day. Once in the evening and twice at night, halfway through the cooking at the pit and everyone had to bring all the food inside so that there’s no extra flavouring from the rain.

 

The morning after.
I couldn’t sleep at all cause the guys were making so much noise downstairs. I don’t know how Xin Ni and Hon Yuen can sleep through the noise. It was really cold too and there was bugs but not too many. So I eavesdropped on their man-talk. Mostly about games and why none of them wanted to sleep beside Hon Yuen even when there’s plenty of space.
Xin Ni woke up early to prepare breakfast for us which was the leftover bacon, sausages, bread and instant noodles and she was laughing her butt off when she was those 3 Stooges sleeping together.

 

These 3 slept on the extra mattresses that was provided. They were proud of how they folded the mosquito net so that it doesn’t cave in. -_-lll

 

I became so kiasu over the Scrabble match between Wilson, Chee Keen, Kai Jun and I. I kept getting 2nd and 3rd! Wilson kept winning! Their nickname for me in the game was ‘Kilin the Pink’ and ‘Kilin the Eugene’. -_-lll

 

 

We were doing the Can-Can.

 

Another random pose shot.

 

Well, I had to hold something so the potato that was left overnight on the pit it is!

I really had an awesome time on this trip! It’s time like these where you can really catch up with everyone and you will focus more on preparing good food too. There was no mosquitoes at all. I did not get a single bite when I was there. *touch wood* All of us were so worried about being dinner for the mosquitoes that night but we survived. There were loads of flying insects, moths and what-nots but I don’t think they are harmful.

Read reviews before we came here that the hot water shower does not last so most of us did not use the shower because it was so cold. Wilson used it and he said that the hot water will be there for a few minutes then it will become cold water, then you have to wait a while until the hot water comes back. It was RM540 per night so each of us paid RM90. We had to pay extra RM100 for 2 additional pax.

Will I go back there? Yes! Maybe I’ll try out the other houses in the future when I have the budget. 🙂