Monthly Archives: January 2014

Eclectic Room at Casa Seorak B&B

Nov 4th, 2013

Around 5 PM, an ahjussi came into the e-mart and went directly to the place where I was sitting. He spoke with very good English, apologizing for being a little late, then he carried my luggage to his car – a kind of 4-WD car, parked in front of the e-mart.

He explained the places around Sokcho on our way to his B&B. We went pass the beach – it was really far from the intercity bus station but the express bus station was located across the street from the beach. The sunrise park was near the beach too. There’s a local market near the park. Then we turned right to the road that would lead to Seoraksan.

He showed me  a good Korean restaurant near the hotel and he specially stopped on the road side to showed me the bus stops to the city and to Seoraksan. Then we turned right again near the bus stops. There’s an Italian restaurant with a Japanese name – Maru – on the road to the B&B.

When we arrived at the Casa Seorak B&B, he gave me the map and explained the places around. I saw that Abai village was near the intercity bus station – I should had went there instead of trying to walked my legs off to the beach…kekeke…Abai village was known for its back-in-time sense of the place. You’ll see things from the 1970 – 1980 in that village. It was also known as a place that the villagers are mostly people who fled from North Korea. I knew about this village before coming to Korea but this day, I tried to be spontaneous and wanted to see the beach…..well…..anyway…..it’s the essence of travelling for me….be spontaneous – get lost and enjoy the whole experience ^_^.

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The ahjussi (He introduced himself but I wasn’t sure of my hearing – so until this day, I’m not sure what his name was….according to the reviews that people wrote, the owner’s name is Mr Jun Hwa….so, I’m going to address him as Mr Jun) showed the dvd collection, he said that I can borrow those for free. He showed the water dispenser at the office cum front desk cum dining room. He deducted 20,000 won from the room charge because my friends canceled their trip. I was surprised because I didn’t apply for refund but he gave it to me anyway. WOW. I wasn’t expecting this and I admire his business ethics.

Mr Jun then took my luggage to the room. It was on 2nd floor. The wooden stairs were outside the building. The room was spacious and the interior decor was so eclectic. Some people might find it as a charming room. The room, the pantry, the bathroom, all were very clean and well maintained. Totally worth the price ^_^.

20131104_173933 20131104_173657 20131104_173557 20131104_173516 20131104_173538After showing me how to turned on the heater, he explained how to make coffee using antique-looking coffee grinder. He told me to wait exactly 6 min after the water was boiled to get the correct temperature for making the coffee. He was obviously a coffee lover.

20131104_174202Next, he showed me how to turn on the TV to watch the TV programs. I couldn’t do this at Suitcasers hotel in Seoul. The TV remote for TV channels is combined with the router for the internet. All the buttons’ names are in Hangul. Mr Jun patiently explained how to use it. Thank’s to him, I could watch my favorite TV programs like 1N2D, Happy Together, Gag Concert and Real Men. Oh, the internet service was included in the room price, so I could use it for as much as I wanted to. The TV was also functioning as the PC display. Nice.

He told me that breakfast was served at 9 AM and would be served in the room but I would have to wash the dishes and returned it to his office downstairs. From the reviews, people mentioned that his wife’s home cooking was superb. I told him that I would leave at 8 AM to see Seoraksan. He told me that I just had to skip breakfast then. Too bad T_T…I wanted to taste his wive’s cooking.

That night, I ate one of the grilled pork satay that I bought at the e-mart and after that I took a rest. I’m bushed.

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Lost in Sokcho City

Nov 4th, 2013

It took 2.5 hours from Seoul to Sokcho. While on the bus, I e-mailed Casa Seorak – the place where I would be staying during my time in Sokcho, asking for a pickup service at Sokcho e-mart at 5 PM. The bus arrived in Sokcho Intercity terminal at 2 PM. I had 3 hours to see the city.

IMG_7550The bus station is near the port. So, I think the beach is also nearby. Silly me for not checking the map first. I followed the road sign to Sokcho beach and boy….I didn’t know then that it took forever to find the beach…. T_T

I stopped by at GS 25, a convenient chain store like 7-eleven. I looked for a hot pack to warm my hand, but it only sells food. So I bought Pepero stick and a ready-to-eat pork sausage and then continue walking to the beach.

I saw people were transferring the fish from the big plastic container at the back of a pickup car at the fish market. After that I was on Rodeo road, the shopping district.

I was hungry because I hadn’t had lunch yet and I wanted to eat Korean food but I was not sure which restaurant was good. I found Lotteria – a fast food chain owned by Lotte Group – on the Rodeo drive but I didn’t want fried chicken. So I walked and walked….passing several restaurants but couldn’t decide what I wanted. After almost 1 hour walking, I started wondering, where the beach was.  

I stopped at a junction at the end of Rodeo road, checking my map on my mobile phone and then I saw the road sign to Cheongchoho lake. I ditched my plan to walk to the beach and changed my direction to see the lake. It was closer and I was tired walking around the city, towing my luggage and I was hungry. I desperately needed a place to sit. It was only 10 minutes walk from the road junction to the lake.

A lady approached me when I was taking picture of the lake. She spoke to me in Korean and I told her in English that I don’t speak Korean. Then she asked me where I came from and after I told her, I left her to take more picture. Not long after that, she approached me again and showed me a booklet in my mother tongue. I skimmed the article and it the content was offering salvation through her church…geez…I told her that I’m a Catholic and then she left me alone.

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I took a rest by the lake, eating the sausage…it’s yummy. The lake was quiet, only a few people passing by.

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After restoring my energy, I checked Google map, looking for the e-mart. It was on the other side of the lake. I saw the building sign when I was looking around the lake. It looked quite far but I had to go there anyway, so I started walking again.

While walking to e-mart, when crossing a bridge, I saw a crane standing on a wet land on the side of the lake. I took picture of it and I was glad that I was lost or otherwise, I won’t see this kind of scenes that evening.

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I walked pass the Expo tower. At the tower, there’s a loudspeaker, playing k-pop music. Nice but it was almost deserted….so maybe the song was played especially to cheer me up ^_^.

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It looked like the side with the tower is the official entrance to the lake. It has nicer gates…kekekeke….

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A short walk from there, I found a patch of land with…..pepper field…..kekeke…..it’s a rare sight in a city.

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I finally arrived at e-mart and when I was walking into the store, I was told to deposit my luggage to the information desk. I went shopping for chocolate – emergency snack for hiking the Seoraksan. The Pepero stick was on special sale….due to 11-11…the Pepero day…. I also bought bananas, instant chapjae (glass noodle), a pack of Pepero, 2 packs of grilled pork meat and then sat near the information desk, waiting for the people from Casa Seorak to pick me up. 

Gamjatteok and Ahjussi

Nov 4th, 2013

The bus left Dongseoul Terminal and went crossing Hangang to enter the toll road. The autumn leaves along the way was pretty.

Since I sat on the aisle side, this was the best shot I could get to capture the autumn leaves’ color along the way:

20131104_134038Okay….it’s not as good as you hope….so I also recorded a short video:

There were several tunnels on the way, this was one of them:

I know the video is shaky….well…It was the best I could get while recording inside a moving bus….^_^

The bus made a stop at rest area for about 10 minutes. I went to toilet and bought gamjatteok (KRW 3000), a rice cake with potato inside it. I bought this because I wanted to eat something warm. Myungje told me Gangwon-do the province where Sokcho city is, is famous for its potato. I took some pictures and went to the bus when everyone else was ready to leave.

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On the bus, I sat next to an Ahjussi – a man in his 50s or perhaps 60s. He didn’t speak English, so from Seoul to this rest area, we were sitting side by side in silence.

When I went back to the bus, he was talking to the ahjumma (an elderly woman) and ahjussi who were sitting on the front seats. It looked like he likes to chat but unfortunately he couldn’t do so while sitting next to me.

When the bus continued the journey, I offered the tteok to the ahjussi next to me, using body languange….kekekeke….because my Korean language vocabulary was very limited. He accepted the offer and then he asked me something. I only caught odiga (where), but I wasn’t sure whether he asked me of my destination or my origin. Kekekeke…too bad I couldn’t give him a good conversation. In the end I only smiled and offered him more tteok.

The ahjumma shared a cup of baked potato with the ahjussi next to me and then he offered me the potato. It was such a sweet moment of sharing food on the bus. It was a time when I wished I could speak more Korean.

From Seoul to Sokcho via Dongseoul Bus Terminal

4 Nov 2013

This morning I woke up at 7.40 AM. I still wanted to sleep but then I remembered that gate near the hostel that was burned down and rebuilt recently – I wanted to take picture of it before leaving Seoul.

At 9 AM, I was eating breakfast…alone…strange…where’s everybody? I saw a lot of luggage at the reception yesterday.

Breakfast was served in the Kitchen, on the same floor as my room. The kitchen was small but charming. There’s a washing machine too (behind the grey curtain with white tree print).

Breakfast menu were toasts with jam or peanut butter or hazelnut chocolate and cereal with milk and orange juice. I had toast with chocolate and peanut butter and 2 glasses of orange juice. Guests were encouraged to wash the dishes they used.

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I checked-out from the hotel around 9.30 AM and then took pictures of the gate. It’s more beautiful at night when the lights were on. It’s surprising to see historical site in the middle of modern city.

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The lady wearing brown coat in the picture above was checking on her make up while waiting for the green light.

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When I walked to metro station, an elderly couple asked me for the direction of Gwanghamun. He showed the map and it’s a straight line from the gate where I took the picture above.

Near the City Hall metro exit 7, I saw the statue of Admiral Lee Sun Shin that guard the Gwanghamun a little far away. I wanted to take picture of it but there was a construction site hindering the view. Too bad.

I went to the station, bought a single journey ticket and went to the platform. A train came, I went into it and then realized that the City Hall station code was 201. The train that came went to station with code number 259 and I was supposed to go to station # 214 (Gangbyeon) – which was on the opposite direction. I went out again and waited on the correct lane. Thanks God the train wasn’t moved yet. Phew. Another close call.

At the Gangbyeon station, I went to exit 4 then went outside the station, crossed the street, went to the left and enter the Dongseoul bus terminal building. I found the information about how to get there and how to bought the ticket from visit Seoul website.

Inside the terminal, I went looking for toilet….kekeke….I always looking for it first. Then I went to the ticket booth. There are several ticket booth on both sides of the entrance. Every booth sell ticket to everywhere. I queued behind a soldier (military service is mandatory for South Korean male, aged between 18 – 35 years old).

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At the ticket booth, I showed Sokcho written in Hangul and then paid the ticket – KRW 17,800 to the lady. She printed the ticket and showed me the departure time. 20131104_112143

The bus was scheduled to leave at 11.29 AM from platform 4 or 5. It was 11.08 AM. I went to the lane and showed the ticked to the officer standing in front of a bus and he gave me back the ticket. I guessed it’s not the correct bus.

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There was a time information in front of the bus – it looks like a digital clock. It showed 11.25. I guessed that sign showed the bus departure time.  There is also information of the destination – on the bus front window – written only in Hangul.

20131104_111355 20131104_111336Looking at the platform information, where “Sokcho” is written in A-B-C alphabet and in Hangul), I guessed the bus to Sokcho is always parked on platform 4 or 5. So all you have to do is to check the departure time printed on the ticket with the one showed on the bus front window.

There were time, so I went inside the terminal building again. I took pictures of the terminal and bought chocolate wafer for snack.

It was a bit unnerving trying to buy things when you only know a word or two of the local language….but I was hungry so I forced my self to speak ^_^. Months before I came to Korea, I learned how to read Hangul and the name of the food and the numbers. It’s enough to help me buy snacks. All I have to do was chose the things that I wanted to buy and then asked for the price by saying “Eol-ma-na-yo?” which means, “How much?” and after that I only have to decipher the price. I found out that most of the vendors in Korea know how to say the price in English ^_^ . Some are also able to speak Chinese.

I was considering buying Kimbap (it was sold wrapped in aluminium foil) or other snacks. I wanted to taste the local snacks at the bus stop on the toll road to Sokcho and eating Kimbap would make me full so I chose the chocolate wafer.

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The bus came around 5 minutes before departure time. I put the baggage inside the bus trunk, showed my ticket to the officer waiting at the bus door and then went inside the bus looking for my seat number. The seat number was printed on the ticket. Mine was no 4. on the aisle side on 2nd row. 

The bus was roomy. There are only 3 seats on each row. Each seat has its own seat belt and  the seat can be reclined and has a foot rest. There’s a TV at the front, near the driver seat.

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The bus was almost full and it departed on time.

I was looking forward for a comfortable ride to Sokcho. Sockho, here I come!