My South Korea Tour Day 3. “2D1N in Busan”

Itinerary

 Pyeongchang ==> Seoul KTX Station ==> Train to Busan ==>  Jagalchi Market ==>  BIFF Square ==> Yongdusan Park ==> Gwangan Beach & Bridge

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In the original plan, we should leave Pyeongchang before 7 o’clock in the morning. But, it would be rude to just leave the deliciously prepared breakfast by our lovely host couple.  Look at those beautiful colors! We were definitely full and ready for the long trip down south. We left our holiday home later than expected.

 

Busan Tour

To complete our Korea tour, we decided to take KTX train to Busan. Nope. We did not have zombies on board. But, surely we had a lot of funny, memorable and not so memorable experiences on this trip.

 

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KTX to Busan.

 

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KTX to Busan. We booked our Korail Pass night before our trip. Since we are traveling in group we decided to book a 2-day flex group saver pass so we could save from our transportation expense.

We were pressed with time to redeem our voucher for the KTX ride. We kept running here and there. My cousin and I were the younger ones that could move fast so we decided to facilitate everything. We knew that tickets should be printed but still we took our chance to just show a soft copy along with our passport and credit card used to book it. When we arrived at the KTX station to redeem our reservation, we were advised to have it printed. Good thing there is a public computer that gives access to internet and printer inside the Seoul KTX station. We used our tap card to pay for it.

We had a bad experience on this machine station though. Ahead of  us were 2 Thai males who didn’t seem to figure out how to use the machine as well. Realizing that the queue was already long, they stepped aside. When we took over and paid our part. Then, they offered to “help” us. Unfortunately, they just tricked us! They used our money and time for their own use, printed their own ticket and left. Charged to experience. Thank goodness we made it in time. It was crazy! Come to think of it. We finished everything in less than 30 minutes and we had still 15 minutes before our train arrives.

TIP: We confirmed our ticket back to Seoul in Seoul KTX station so we didn’t have to take the queue in Busan KTX station the next day.

Assigned Seat. KTX has pre-assigned seat. It was funny but probably due to excitement to take our seat and eat our kimbap (it was past 1 o’clock in the afternoon, by the way.), we didn’t even remember to check our seat number. When we saw four seats facing each other (and with a table) I know our eyes dazzled as if we found a treasure. LOL! We did not hesitate to take it. It was until our first bite, when the ticket inspector asked us, that we wished we could hide ourselves from embarrassment. (^_^) Good thing my cousin took the tickets with her in the toilet. We made an excuse and he left. We surreptitiously moved to our assigned seat laughing.

Internet. Yes. Our fingers have been itching to post an update in social media site. We were finally on board train to Busan! Thankfully, we had good access of free internet en route to our destination.

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And we were finally here! #BusanKTXStation

When we thought that Busan is warmer because it’s in the south, we were actually caught unprepared. The weather was rainy so the wind was chilly. Later on, my Korean friend who grew up in Busan told me that it’s actually a “rain city” because it often rains there. (Just like my hankies, I think I lost 2 umbrellas with me here. LOL).

 

 

Popcorn Hostel Nampo

South Korea, Busan, Jung-gu, 자갈치로47번길 6-1.

This hostel is very cheap and ideal for backpackers. I booked it through Agoda. We paid like 550pesos each. Not bad for overnight stay. (Upon updating this blog, I saw the website of Popcorn Hostel. It’s a great improvement because I think they didn’t have it when I booked it (or did they?)

 

BIFF Square

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Our hostel is located conveniently within the city center. It’s pretty near the Jagalchi Market (smaller arc behind me) and the BIFF Square.

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BIFF Square is just right across our hostel. At the entrance, we were welcomed by these food stalls. It was rainy yet many people were still strolling around. While taking pictures of each other, one ajumma called our attention and told us to move while murmuring. It turned out that were covering her stall from prospective customers.

 

Going around BIFF Square

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Yongdusan Park (Busan Tower)

A lot of our plans in Busan got cancelled due to rain. So, we just decided to explore nearby tourist attractions. A leisurely walk brought us to a Buddhist temple beneath a hilly slope, then we found a stair, which seemed to be never-ending. Our curiosity on what’s there to see brought us on top of Yongdusan Park. We only realized it when we’re already up there.

 

 

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Few steps more to Busan Tower. On this day, my phats were crying. LOL
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Citizen’s Bell

 

 

 

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This could have been a better view had we gotten a chance to enter Busan tower. The place was already close when we arrived. The buildings behind us were actually skyscrapers, but we only got this view.
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Flower clock, General Lee Soon Shin’s Monument and Busan tower in my background.

 

 

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Busan Tower Upclose

 

 

 

Gwanganlli (Gwangan Bridge)

When in Busan, one should not miss to see the waters. Either you go to Haeundae or Gwangan Beach or both. In our case, however, we just visited Gwangan Beach. Aside from the fact that we could see the beautiful diamond bridge, we wanted to have seafoods for dinner too, but we just could not find one because it’s hard for us to navigate our location.

 

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Gwangan Bridge at night.

 

Gwangan Bridge (popularly known as Gwanganlli to many tourists), is a suspension bridge located in Busan, South Korea. It connects Haeundae-gu to Suyeong-gu. The road surface is about 6,500 meters long, with the bridge as a whole spanning 7,420 meters. It is the longest bi-level bridge over the ocean in Korea. In addition to providing a quick way to get around, the bridge offers breathtaking views of nearby attractions such as Oryukdo Island, Hwangnyeongsan Mountain, Gwangalli Beach, Dongbaekseom Island, and Dalmaji Hill.

We were able to witness a firework’s display when we got there. It was just short as it was almost ending when we got out of the restaurant.

 

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Samgyetang.  It means ginseng chicken soup. It is consists primarily of a whole young chicken – filled with garlic and rice, scallion and spices, among them jujube and Korean ginseng

 

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Our exhaustion searching for Korean seafoods restaurant in Gwanganlli brought us in this restaurant. There were actually many restaurants in the area but they were Japanese. The Korean restaurant we saw had many people drinking and they don’t serve dinner. Personally, I was glad to have been here. I’ve always wanted to try eating samgyetang. It was very delicious. It seemed to rejuvenate my tired body from walking. It was my first time eating something with ginseng. (When I got home, my mother was laughing whenever I talk about ginseng because she said we have a ginseng plant at home. She even showed it to me. Oh well, Korean ginseng is different from our ginseng. hehe)

On my 3rd day traveling around Korea, I realized that the side dishes vary according to area. While we were served mountain vegetables in Pyeongchang, we were served seaweeds, and I think spicy fish anchovy, in Busan. The owner probably realized that I was curious about ginseng so she gave us 2 baby ginsengs to be eaten fresh. It’s my first time so it tasted weird to me but it was not bad, and I finished it

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After eating, we decided to go back to our hostel in Jagalchi. We asked for direction from the restaurant owner. We had 3 options, subway, bus and taxi. We took the easiest and fastest: taxi. There’s a very little difference in terms of cost since we are four, and we can divide the cost. It was a good decision, and our driver was very trustworthy, only that he drives really fast. He went over 100kph so I had to tell him to reduce speed. Thanks to my limited Korean, he was able to understand me.
Taking the taxi was a very good decision. We were able to see the downtown of Busan at night. We also used the beautiful Bukhang Bridge. It was another new information to me.
 
Bukhang Bridge is the 2nd longest cable-stayed bridge in Korea. It was completed last 2014 so it’s a new attraction. It would have been nice if we were able to see the daytime view of the sea from there.

 

Breakfast at Jagalchi Market

We woke up early with hope that the rained had stopped but unfortunately it didn’t so we had no choice but to just have breakfast and prepare for our trip back to Seoul. We decided to go to Jagalchi Market for some local food. The marketplace is perfect to experience local culture.

Jagalchi Market, located on the shoreside road in Busan’s Jung-gu, is Korea’s largest seafood market, selling both live and dried fish. After the Korean War the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the vendors here are called Jagalchi Ajumma, “ajumma” meaning middle-aged or married woman in Korean.

 

This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market.

We did not walk further as the rain was pouring.  When an ajumma called us to eat at her restaurant, we checked and decided to have our breakfast there. She was kind enough to offer fresh towels to us. It was sealed. Good service! Anyway, since it’s rainy we opted for something with soup. She offered a hot-pot of eel soup and we went for it. I love spicy food so it was perfect for me!

While waiting for our food to be served, it felt like I was in a Korean drama. LOL! There were several regulars (probably). There was also a big TV monitor showing a replay of Korean dramas. She also offered us pajeon and, later on after meal, a cup of coffee!

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Travel Tips:

1. If you are traveling in group, I suggest making an online reservation through your credit card for a Korail Group saver pass. You wont be deducted until you redeem it. In our case, we are 4 so we booked at least a day before. We bought a 2 day flex pass. (http://www.letskorail.com/ebizbf/EbizBfKrPassAbout.do) from 102,000W to just paid 91,000W each. Ok, so basically we spent more money in Busan just to experience KTX ride ^_^.

2. Have your Korail pass printed. If you were not able to do it, there is a machine for printing in Seoul KTX station. We had a bad experience from Thai travelers though. We thought they are going to help us but instead they printed their own, and I paid for them. Let’s charge it to experience.

3. Be at the KTX station at least 30mins to 1 hour because the queue may be long.

4. Don’t forget to check the weather. It was raining when we arrived in Busan. On our way, we just checked the sunset because we were planning to go to Gamcheon Culture Village but we failed to check the weather. Days after, my student said it always rains in Busan TT TT.

5. The downtown Busan is like a typical city in Seoul with many cosmetics shop too. As for the weather, it was pretty cold because it was raining.

6. Gwangan is famous for its diamond bridge and its beach. However, the area is less busier than Haeundae beach which is also a famous tourist place in Busan. We want to eat seafood that time but it’s too late so we just had Samgyetang in Busan! -_- It was delicious though. One whole chicken for each of us. 

7. We used our tapcard for Taxi! it was like 10~12000W from Gwangan beach to our hotel in Nampo. Not bad for the 4 of us chipping in.

8. If you want to Go to Gwangan beach, don’t go to Gwangan station because it’s far from the beach and takes a lot of walking. Instead get off at Geumnyeonsan Station. It’s much nearer.

9. By the way, in KTX Station in Seoul we already booked our return ticket so we didn’t have to wait in line in Busan. Also, when we arrived at Busan KTX, we were able to change our travel time to a much earlier one. This is possible.

10. Subway Korea app also has a map for Busan. ^_^

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My South Korea Tour Day 2 – Bukchon Hanok Village and Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do

 Itinerary

Bukchon Hanok Village ==> Constitutional Court of Korea ==> Baek In-je House Museum ==> Pyeongchang, Gangwondo ==> Yongpyong Ski Resort ==> Alpensia Ski Resort

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Bukchon Hanok Village

This day started with a short visit to Bukchon Hanok Village.  According to our hostel staff it is just near our place. We can just take around 20 minutes walk to go there. However, since we were not very familiar with the place and we didn’t want to be too late for the bus trip in Gangwon-do, we took the subway from Jongno 3(sam) ga to the next station, Anguk station. Just take a walk for few meters. You can ask people around where Bukchon Hanok Village is and you will know it’s pretty easy to find. There were also some brass signs giving direction on the pavement. We didn’t see it until we stepped on it on our way home. So, don’t just look up for direction, try to look down (literally!). You might have stepped on it already.

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“Court” Ladies from Philippine SC to the Constitutional Court of Korea.

The Constitutional Court of Korea. In search for Bukchon Hanok Village, we took the street along the Constitutional Court of Korea. They say that lovers who pass this area end up being separated. (This is because this is the place where people get final judgement for divorce.) I have noticed that government offices in Korea have plenty of flags surrounding it. (Well, in the PH we mostly have just one, unless it’s independence day.)

What is Bukchon Hanok Village?

The word Bukchon literally means “north” in Hangul. It was named as such for being the northern village of Jongno and Cheonggye Stream. This is a residential village of the high-ranking officials during the Joseon Dynasty. Bukchon has several neighborhoods Wonseo-dong, Jae-dong, Gye-dong, Gahoe-dong and Insa-dong.

Bukchon Hanok Village represents the 600 years history of Seoul. It lies between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. This area was not created for tourism. It remains to be a residential village. However, with features from TV shows and dramas like Personal Taste, it has become a top tourist destination for many. In fact, there has been a rapid increase in coffee shops, galleries, restaurants and other tourism facilities in the area. People are advised to tone down their volume when walking on this area because it is the home of many Seoulites.

Baek In-je House Museum

Baek In-je House Museum. Baek In-je’s house is a representative hanok during the Japanese occupation. It reflects a modern hanok style house. It has a land area of about 2460sqm. The house is composed of sarangche (men’s quarters), anchae (women’s quarters, and byeoldangche (detached quarters) It is said that unlike the old hanoks, this house has unique attributes such as that the men and women’s quarters are not detached. Also, the anchae rooms  was built in two-story structure.

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Anchae (front)
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Byeoldangchae (Detached Quarter)

 

 

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At the back of Anchae

 

 

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A closer look at Anchae

 

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Empty condiment jars.
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A typical kitchen

 

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At the garden

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Living room inside sarangchae (men’s quarter)

 

Pyeongchang, Gangwon-do Tour

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With out host, Howard.

Holiday Home. Terrace on the Cloud.  (5413, Gyeonggang-ro, Hoenggye-ri, Daegwallyeong-myeon, 25341 Pyeongchang , South Korea).

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Photo © Terrace on the Cloud

It took us about 2 hours and a half to get to our destination in Pyeongchang. However, as it was our first time to have an out of town tour, it was full of excitement and anticipation. As Philippines is a tropical country, we don’t have a chance to enjoy cold weather. We left the Philippines in the middle of summer so going to a cold country such as Korea is a good escape. Yes, when everybody took a picture of their summer bods in the beach, we bundled up and went to Gangwon-do.

Before our trip to Korea, we kept constant monitoring if, really, there is still snow in Pyeongchang. We used the webcam of Yongpyong ski resort to monitor it.

Alpensia Ski Resort

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Our First stop was the Alpensia Ski jump. For  KRW15,000 fare, Howard offered to take us to our destination. On our way, we passed by Alpensia Ski Jump stadium. Alpensia will be the host of this incoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018. 

 

Yongpyong Resort (Dragon Peak)

Our holiday home is well situated near Yongpyong and Alpensia Ski Resorts. When we arrived at Yongpyong Ski Resort, Howard brought us to the ticket counter for gondola ride. At that time Yongpyong gave discount to VISA card holder. However, they only accept certain cards. We were so lucky because our host lent his credit card to us and we got around 30% discount. We paid only KRW48,000 for four (4) pax! We just carried over the expenses to our billing. He was the best! He made everything convenient to us.

 

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Taken from our gondola going up.

It was April 9, 2017 when this photo was taken. The snow was already melting so we were so happy to see it before it’s all gone. Our fear of heights was overpowered by happiness brought by the beautiful view we saw.

 

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View from the top.

It would be really stunning to see this in winter when the area is painted white by nature or spring and fall when it is painted with different colors.

 

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Smile though your hands are going numb.

 

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Pardon my scarf. I didn’t really know how I was wearing it. I just need to keep my self warm in any way because my hands were already going numb.

 

 

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To end the day, we had a sumptuous early dinner at Yongpyong Dragon Valley hotel. It was a bit pricey because we chose grilled beef. Gangwon-do is known for Hanwoo beef, the best quality beef. (I will have different post for the food I’ve had during my trip.)

 

K-drama Moments

At this point, only K-drama fan of my generation could probably relate. LOL! So… our gondola ride took us to Mt. Balwangsan. Here, you would see Yongpyong Dragon Peak which is a famous site for many Korean drama series such as Winter Sonata, and most recently, Goblin. My cover photo for this blog post actually shows the fence near the area where Kim Shin hugged Eun tak.

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#WinterSonata
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#JunSangMyLove

 

Going Around Yongpyong

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Travel Tips:

1. Hanok Village. There are so many places to experience Hanok Village. I can think of Jeonju and in Korean Folk Village in Yongin. However due to time constraint, we decided to go to Bukchon Hanok Village.

2. Winter Olympics 2018. Pyeongchang is the host City for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It is said that by the end of the year the railway connecting Incheon International Airport and Pyeongchang (and Gangneung) will be completed.

3. Activities. Pyeongchang is home to Samyang Ranch (Asia’s largest green pasture) but we were not able to go there. 

4. Side Trip. You can also have a day tour to Gangneung which is a city facing the east sea.

5. Hanwoo Beef. When in Pyeongchang, don’t forget to try Hanwoo beef, Korea’s best quality beef from the cattle raised in the highlands of Gangwon Province. It’s a bit pricey but it’s worth the taste and experience.

6. Bus Fare: as I can remember I think it’s just 12500W (one-way)

7. Terrace on the Clouds. Howard, our host picked us up from the bus terminal in Heonggye-ri to the hotel for free but we paid him around 15000W to Yongpyong resort. From Yongpyong to Alpensia we spent KRW13000 for taxi fare. Tap card is accepted. Also, you can ask the taxi hotel lobby if you want to get a cab.

8. Gondola Ride. If you have VISA card you can get 30% discount for gondola ride… so we paid only 48000W for the Gondola ride. By the way, Howard used his card to pay for us and we just added it to our bill ^^.

9. How to get to Hoenggye: From Jongno 3(sam) ga, take a subway to Gangbyeon Station. Upon arriving in Gangbyeong station, walk across to Dong Seoul terminal Platform 1-3. You can tell the driver to drop you off at Hoenggye-ri /hwing-gyee-ri/.

My South Korea Tour: Pre-departure

Point of Departure: Kalibo International Airport (KLA), Kalibo, Aklan

Prepare for Terminal Fee (Php750) and Travel Tax (Php1650).

My friends and I live in Iloilo City, the City of Love. It takes about 4 hours to go to Kalibo, Aklan by bus. We decided to take the KLO because it’s cost-saving!

Convenient. This airport is a gateway to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Boracay Island. It has direct flights to Incheon, South Korea so we didn’t have to go to Manila and cost another plane fare. Yes, for us who live outside the mainland Luzon, we have to take another plane ride. We do have an airport of international standard but it only serves Hong Kong and Singapore flights for now (I heard we will soon have direct flight to South Korea!).

Cheaper Fare. The fare is much cheaper than direct flight MLA-ICN. Plus, we were able to stumble upon a promo fare KLA-ICN last January. (Start your own monitoring now!) With additional 20kgs baggage, I paid Php3719 (Cebu Pacific).* However, it’s a red eye flight, 1:50AM. We left Iloilo for Aklan April 7 at 4:00PM and arrived around 9:00PM. (We had a lot of waiting time. I have no complaints though. I can do it again.) For our return flight, there are several options: PAL, CebPac, AirAsia. My friends grabbed the 7:00AM ICN-KLA, (Cebu Pacific) but I took 4:00PM ICN-KLA (Air Asia) because it’s hard for me to wake up early. I spent about PHP7,230 back to PH.

*MLA-ICN fare at that time was about Php6000 – Php7000 (Cebu Pacific).

Please see below for the pre-departure expense:

Bus from Iloilo to Kalibo (est.) with return Php 700
Terminal Fee Php 750
Travel Tax Php 1650
KLO-ICN (CebPac) with 20kgs baggage allowance Php 3,719
ICN-KLO (AirAsia) with 20kgs baggage allowance Php 7,230

Total

Php 14,049.00

I booked this ticket long before I applied for a Visa because I want to save. So, it’s definitely a risk. But, it was worth it when I got my Visa!

IMMIGRATION. I traveled with 2 other co-workers. Only 1 of us has international travel. Added to the fact that I am a civil servant, it took me a little longer in the immigration. I showed the officer my travel authority but it was only a photocopy because the original was attached to my Visa application. Good thing my co-worker has the original copy of her document so it was compared. We also showed our office ID to support. Thank God, I was able to convince the officer that I am not escaping anything in the Philippines. hehe

I hope this helps you think about your preparation. If you have questions, feel free to comment or send a private message. (^_^)

My South Korea Dream

Let me start this blog with this beautiful quote from the drama series Goblin.

“Your choice is the only answer in your life”  -Kim Shin, Goblin: The Lonely and the Great God (2016, Korean Drama)

This quote struck me, and made me reflect on my everyday life.

I am admittedly a long time Kdrama fan. I spent my adolescent days (*cough* maybe until now *cough*) enjoying Korean drama series. Ohh please don’t misunderstand me. I believe I did well in my studies and managed to get my dream job. (^_^)

My South Korea dream probably started long before I realized I was already dreaming of it. Due to financial constraint, I had to set it aside temporarily for my other equally important goals. Nevertheless, it served as my inspiration to aim higher. I worked hard, maybe failed in the middle, and hit my goal. This is all because I made my choice to pursue my wishes in life.

“Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.”

I created this blog to take account of my memories. I’d like to share this to dreamers like me who wished to have their dream travel in life. I’ll start with my South Korea tour, how I managed to get my Korean VISA application approved and how I planned this travel… I will also update this with my past (I’ve been keeping them in my FB. I think they deserve a blog post too), and future travels.

My dears, this is my appreciation of how beautiful life is… that despite all the odds I’ve gone through, life never fails to amaze me.