Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016, in a heartbeat!

Over the years, I have reduced my updates on social media. However, I won't miss the usual tradition of wrapping up the year with a simple post. I'm thankful for a pleasant year, be it at work or with family :) 

I started the year with a self-imposed shopping ban for 3 months. Leecher was extremely supportive of this, especially when the wardrobe was filled to the brim and he complained that I was invading into his closet space. The first few weeks was extremely bad, I would spend my time surfing shopping websites and adding stuff to my cart. The urge to cart out was so strong that I muster a lot of will power to stop surfing online shops. Soon, time passed and the urge to shop got lesser and lesser. Before I know it, I have not bought anything for 6 months. Achievement unlocked! Well, I didn't go on a crazy shopping spree after that apart from getting the essentials for the house and stocking up on skincare stuff during our Korea trip. 

Instead of our usual winter holidays, we opted to head back to Korea for autumn. Little bro also gave me my first ever birthday angpao, together with a ramen pot that he bought from Korea. My lil brother is all grown up now. He also made it a point to be at home whenever I head home for dinner, so we can have a family meal together and catch up. Thank you for that :)

We have also reached our 5th year of marriage. I'm thankful that you are always by my side, where our fave activity is hanging out in our comfy sofa watching K-drama. Well, I think I can see the side-effect on your waistline, so perhaps we should adopt a more active lifestyle in the new year?

Even though 3y has passed, I still miss baby bro a lot. I think of him from time to time and I still get teary whenever his name is mentioned. I love you, baby bro.

As we embrace a new year, here's wishing everyone a happy 2017! 


Monday, December 12, 2016

Winter in Korea: From Incheon to Pyeongchang + Lepovill Pension + 그곳에가면

Hello December baby, my favourite time of the year! Oh, did I mention that my heart is still in Korea even though we have been back for almost a month? Ha, serious withdrawal symptoms. My life feels so empty recently; is this what they call mid-life crisis? To make things worse, Facebook reminded me of my winter memories from 2-3 years ago. Can I just hide in a hole and hibernate? That seems like an excellent idea now. By December, most of the ski resorts would be opened and there are several ski resorts which you can explore - Jisan, Yongpyong, Alpensia (just to name a few). Being an avid K-drama fan, Yongpyong was my top choice since this is the filming location of Winter Sonata, tsk tsk. We decided to save costs by staying at the pension instead of the resort itself, for a room within the resort could easily set you back by at least KRW200,000/night, which I will touch on later. 
Our tired faces after a long flight. After immigration, we hurried to the nearest convenience store and bought some snacks/drinks for the next leg of the trip. I'm not a coffee drinker, but somehow I always ended up drinking coffee in Korea. I think I'm more attracted to the packaging than the drink itself, ha. From Incheon airport, we headed directly to Pyeongchang where the ski resorts are located. 

How to get to Pyeongchang from Incheon Airport?
The ticketing office is located outside of the airport, opposite the arrival terminal. Hence, you will need to head outside, cross the road and look out for the office at 9C. 
The pension that we will be staying at was nearer to Alpensia ski resort (알펜시아리조트 스키장), hence we booked tickets from Incheon to Alpensia. A single trip ticket is KRW$29,000. The whole journey takes around 3 hours, with several stops along the way including one at the rest point for toilet break. We arrived at Alpensia and called Mr Kim, the owner of the pension for pick up. While waiting for Mr Kim's arrival, we booked our return journey (back to Seoul) from the concierge at KRW$17,000/pax. The bus will bring us directly to downtown Seoul, where we can then transfer to metro for the next part of the journey. 
We stayed at Lepovil pension for KRW$100,000/night, way cheaper than staying at the resort. Well, the downside is that we will have to call a cab whenever we head out or Mr Kim will give us a lift if he happened to head out at the same time. Cab rides mostly cost us around KRW$15,000 max (from city back to the pension) so it was still more affordable to stay in a pension. Plus, we had a great interaction with Mr Kim and his family/friends, hence it was a great experience for us too. 
The river flowing through the pension, which froze overnight due to the cold. We took a stroll around the compound on our last day, which I will share later in another entry. 
We were shown to our home for the next couple of days. I fell in love with the house and the surrounding, which reminded me of our Europe vacation. Mr Kim gave us a mini room tour, then left us to unpack/settle down. 
Our room came equipped with a small kitchen but we didn't cook anything apart from boiling water for cup noodles. We loved eating cup noodles whenever we travel, for it was so convenient to curb hunger pangs. Especially in cold weather, slurping up hot noodles just warms the body. 
레포빌 보드하우스 Lepovill Board House
Address: 대관령면 횡계리 14-343, 232-950 Pyeongchang, South Korea
Tel: +82 10-5755-8698
Our tummies started protesting once we settled in comfortably. We have not had a proper meal since we landed, for we were rushing from place to place. We asked Mr Kim for recommendation and he kindly drove us to this restaurant serving BBQ. 
Choice of floor or table seating; of course we had to go for floor seating - just for the fun of it. 
The standard drink for every meal. These are so cheap in Korea that it was hard to justify buying these in Singapore for personal consumption.
Check out the tray of meat; I'm so hungry looking at this.
I absolutely love the range of banchans that were served. Meanwhile, the fire is ready for cooking; can't wait to start! 
The most agonising part was waiting for the meat to be ready. Ahjumma helped us with the cooking while our duty was just to eat. 
All ready to eat, yum! I normally wrap it with half a lettuce, meat with a bit of gochujang and alternate between either kimchi or garlic (heck the smelly breathe). The meat was so tender that we devour ate pieces after pieces without stopping. 
그곳에가면
Address: 대관령면 대관령로 192
Tel: +82 033-336-9290 
Ahjumma helped us to call for a cab. With our tummies satisfied, we headed back to the pension for another round of gathering at the cafe with Mr Kim & friends; I will leave that for another time. Stay tuned for more of our adventures in Pyeongchang (^^)

  ☃☃☃ Read the rest of our Winter adventure here  ☃☃☃

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Autumn in Korea, Jeju: AirBnB Accommodation

It was a life trip-changing moment since the day I was introduced to AirBnB. I have been using it for all of my trips ever since and gotten the chance to stay at interesting places. Before I begin my search on AirBnB, I will use Google map and input the attractions that I planned to visit. If possible, I try to stay near to a cluster of attractions so as to reduce travelling time. This is where I will decide on the number of times to shift accommodation. For Jeju, I had booked 2 accommodations - one where we stayed with the host and the other, we booked the entire apartment. Based on the availability and the price filter (personally, I try not to book any accommodation that is over SGD$100/night), I will look through the list of accommodations and read through the reviews. Once I have shortlisted a couple, I will google for these places and see if there are any reviews on blogs before confirming the reservation. 
Citrus BnB was my choice for the 1st leg of the journey. This BnB offers 2 rooms: an ensuite room with king-sized bed, while the other room consists of 2 single-bed with shared bathroom. We chose the ensuite for convenience. Young (the owner) is friendly lady and on top of that, she's an excellent cook! We looked forward to her wonderful creations daily at 8AM - yes, breakfast is served early which forced us to drag our lazy bums off the bed
The BnB is located in an orchard filled with citrus trees, hence the name. The orchard is owned by Young & her siblings. There are 2 houses on the land and we stayed at Young's place (nearer to the entrance). I was all ready to offer my service for harvesting period but Young told me that it wasn't the season yet. 
The place that we stayed for 3 days. I especially love her open kitchen, which is filled with the wonderful aroma of home-cooked food in the morning. Her kitchen is filled with treasures and it was amazing seeing these old antiques in such good conditions. 
Telephone and coffee machine. This is my first time seeing such a cool coffee machine. 
I could sit at the cozy corner all day, with a cup of tea in my hands and overlooking the citrus orchard. #idealretirementplan
Leecher at the dining table; tapping on wifi and catching up with the latest gossip news. Young always made sure we are fed by offering us more bread/tea/juices/coffee. As such, we tend to skip lunch because we had such heavy breakfast.
Breakfast on day 1, what a spread! 
Salad for breakfast is totally not my cup of tea. However, this salad is amazing since everything is grown from their own farm. I'm not a fan of green and I hate it when the leaves are too big to be stuffed inside my mouth. Young made everything bite-sized on this plate, which was a pleasure to eat. 
Toasted bread with garlic spread. Even though the bread was slightly toasted, the middle remained soft. I thought Young made the bread, but she told me it was from Paris Baguette. I tried looking at several PB branches in Singapore, but I can't find any bread that is similar to the above. If you happen to see, let me know! 
Sipping tea in a pretty tea cup, love it. 
Breakfast on day 2, accompanied by soft music playing in the background. We chatted over K-drama/varieties. Young's not really a TV person, but she did watched some of the shows that I mentioned. 
Our last breakfast before we packed our bags for the next accommodation. It was also pouring outside, echoing my sad feeling. Over breakfast, we chatted about Young's family and learnt more about her family and this house. 
With our lovely host, Young. She looked really young and her skin is so good! By the way, Young only has a handphone so it was really difficult to navigate to her place using GPS. We asked a stranger to help us with the navigation and even he input the wrong address. We ended up at a petrol station where the nice chaps assisted us and we finally arrived at the right location.
Citrus BnB
Address: 256 Naksu-ro, Hangyeong-myeon, Jeju-si, Jeju-do 695-940, South Korea
After leaving Citrus, we moved onto the next accommodation located at Seogwipo-si. Similarly, we are staying in an orchard but this time we booked the entire house. Sadly, there won't be any breakfast to look forward to in the morning.
Even though there is a nearby petrol station and supermarket, the location of this pension is slightly out of place, hence it would not be advisable to book this if you are using public transportation. 
The place is rather big, with several pensions available for rental. During our stay, the parking lots were always full. This place seemed to be popular with the Koreans too, for we saw quite a couple of them coming out from the various cabins. 
Our host, Woonhak, stayed in this house with his puppies. Omg, they were so cute even though they kept barking at me. Woonhak is prompt on replying messages on AirBnB and I enlisted his help on booking tickets for Seoul. He gladly obliged and even the extra mile of monitoring seats for me. Thanks to his kind act, I don't have to head down to the ticketing office in Seoul to purchase the tickets.
Our cabin house for the next 3 nights.
The cabin house comes equipped with a small kitchen & kitchenware, TV, wifi and air-conditioner. If you opt for a korean ondol, there is also floor heating system available. Since we tried ondol before, we decided to stick to a proper bed this time. The whole compound is quiet at night, so we spent our time watching TV shows. Oh, I loved their TV channels except that language is a barrier, lol! Plus, I even caught the last 2 episodes of Moonlight drawn by Clouds in Korea - real time. Can I just gush over Park Bo Gum ... he's sooooo cute! *fangirl mode* More on that later (^^)
Tangerine Pension (Cabins with Mandarin Oranges)
Address: Taeheung-ri 1936-6, Namwon-eup, Seogwipo-si, Jeju-do 699-940, South Korea
For those who are new to AirBnB, sign up using my link (www.airbnb.com.sg/c/caihonglto get some travel credits off your first trip and this will help to offset part of your booking cost. It will be a trip-changing experience, for sure.

🍃🍃🍃 Navigation for Jeju 🍃🍃🍃 

I have inserted a table that lists down the phone numbers for the various attractions. Simply enter the numbers in the GPS and viola - the places will appear on your map. Have fun driving in Jeju (^^)

Attractions Navigation
Yongduam Rock 용두암 (Dragon Head Rock) 7283918
Cafe Aewol Monsant 카페 애월 드 몽상 (GD Cafe) 7998900
Bomnal Cafe 카페 봄날 7994999
Accommodation Navigation
Citrus BnB N.A
Tangerine Pension 7646002

Psst ... more links will be added. Click on the links to read on our adventures!
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