[CONTEST INSIDE] Japan Trip: Tokyo Leg 24th April – 3rd May 2015

Want to win a tour in Tokyo, Paris, or London? Read on to find out more!

Work and life has been a little busy, but I’m pleased to share my final blog post on my trip to Japan in 2015!

I stayed in two different hotels within Ikebukuro (池袋) during my Tokyo leg; I had not explored this part of Tokyo previously and I was pleasantly surprised. Did you know that Ikebukuro Station is the second busiest station, surpassed only by Shinjuku Station. However, unlike it’s more popular counterpart, Ikebukuro is a cheaper location to stay in without missing out on any of the hustle and bustle.

Between the B Ikebukuro and APA Hotel Ikebukuro-Eki-Kitaguchi hotels, I very much preferred the former.

the B Ikebukuro lobby
the B Ikebukuro

1-39-4 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku Tokyo 170-0013

http://ikebukuro.theb-hotels.com/en/

APA Hotel Ikebukuro-Eki-Kitaguchi

2-48-7 Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku 171-0014

http://www.apahotel.com/hotel/shutoken/14_ikebukuro-eki-kitaguchi/english/

These two hotels were both great choices for under S$150 a night, but the location for the B was much more convenient and in a better neighbourhood. Basically, APA was too close to drinking bars/clubs and the night entertainment area for my comfort, and a bit further away from the train station.

Everyone must have heard about Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場) closing its operations and relocating in November 2016. It becomes a must-go destination not only to observe the early-morning tuna auction, but also to taste the fresh seafood at the popular stalls there. I had a tiring red-eye flight, so I had to give the auction a miss. Those who want a piece of the action must be prepared to wake up at 3am to queue, as admission is on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Sushi Zanmai

I reached Tsukiji around 10am, and the much raved Sushi Dai (寿司大) or Daiwa Sushi (大和寿司) were not feasible ideas when I’m carrying a luggage straight from the airport. I settled for chain restaurant Sushi Zanmai (すしざんまい) the King of Tuna, which was in fact very decent.

http://www.kiyomura.co.jp.e.sv.hp.transer.com/

I ordered what I needed to, tuna – otoro (大とろ) –> chutoro (中とろ) –> akami (赤身) –> Salmon Belly

Tuna Sushi

Moving on, I wandered the narrow streets of Tsukiji and stumbled upon grilled scallops, tamagoyaki (egg potong stick), ramen and many more. I was full and satisfied within 2 hours of stepping foot in Tokyo.

Tsukiji Scallops

Tamago Yaki ShopTamago Yaki

There is also a snaking queue for this clear broth ramen from 中華そば 井上 (Chuka Soba Inoue)

中華そば 井上

中華そば 井上中華そば 井上

I know it’s rare to hear this, but the ramen chef really prepared the bowls with finesse. They do it 10 bowls per batch, and everything was done so orderly. Slurp.

Harajuku Crepes

Another area I love to visit in Tokyo is Harajuku (原宿) and Omotesando (表参道). It is interesting to stroll through Takeshita Dori while snacking on crepes, but one of the main highlight for me is the LINE store at the end of this street. One of only two stores in the whole of Japan (other store is in Sendai), this is the place to stock up on your LINE merchandise.

http://fs.line.me/en/harajuku/#index

LINE Brown's Room

Look how big Brown is. Some people like to slap his face and leave hand-prints…

Giant Line Brown Bear

One of my favourite Starbucks in Tokyo is at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku, at the road junction not far from the LINE store. It is located on the rooftop and has a large garden terrace for relaxing and coffee chats.

Omotesando Starbucks

Tourists being tourists, I had to make a visit to the Kaminarimon (雷門) Thunder Gate. A short walk from the Asakusa (浅草), you won’t miss this place with hundreds of people thronging the narrow street leading up to the temple. Within the gates lie Tokyo’s oldest and most famous temple – Sensoji (浅草寺). It’s fun to walk around and look at the handicrafts/souvenirs they have for sale, but do note that they (prices) are targeted towards tourists.

KaminariMon

I passed by Tokyo Dome City during the last day of my previous trip, and I so badly wanted to check out this amazing place in Tokyo that has a roller coaster! I specially went there this time, just to sit on the Thunder Dolphin. It costs 1,030 yen per ride, and a roller coaster adrenaline junkie like me didn’t regret it at all. Watch the video below for the first person point of view!

Tokyo Dome City

Friends who know me well understands that I love ramen. It’s my comfort food, and since I was staying at Ikebukuro, I had to try the Mutekiya Ramen (無敵家). Address: 1-17-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku 東京都豊島区南池袋1-17- (Ikebukuro Station East Exit), Tokyo, Japan. They open until 4a.m. so it’s the perfect place to go for a warm hearty supper after a night of drinking / partying. But really, you don’t need a reason to have good ramen. I went around 11a.m. before the lunch crowd arrived, but I wasn’t early enough. Standing in the hot sun for about 30 mins waiting for my ramen only whet up my appetite. Turns out it was good, but not fantastic-come-back-again-tomorrow kind of good. Only 六厘舎TOKYO Ramen at the Tokyo Station made me do that.

Mutekiya Ramen

Mutekiya Ramen

When you ask a Tokyoite about Monjayaki (もんじゃ焼き), inevitably Tsukishima Monjya street comes to mind. Monjayaki is a kind of Japanese-style pancake, in which you can cook it on the grill by yourself, and eat off it afterwards. I was recommended to go to Bambi, as it had an English menu and the food was decent. I guess I was there more for the experience, being a first-timer I think my Monjya actually tasted mediocre at best.

Bambi

Monjyayaki

I am really happy to have re-visited Japan, and I would take it up again in a heartbeat if an opportunity knocks on my door. It’s truly one of my favourite countries in the world.

Now comes the exciting part – GIVEAWAY CONTEST!

YOU can win a free self-guided tour on the popular app GPSmyCity. Rules are really simple:

  1. Comment on THIS blog post the city you would like to go next, and tell me why!
  2. Bonus points will be given for creative entries.
  3. Share this post on Facebook so your friends can be rewarded too.

Contest dates are from 8 February 2016 – 29 February 2016. 20 lucky winners will be chosen and will receive a special promo code to download the app. Winners will be contacted via email, so please provide a valid email address.

Based on the comment, the winner will get the specific city’s guided tour app. Please refer to this link for the full list of cities. 

GPSmyCity app is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Good luck and happy travelling!

Advertisements

Japan Trip: Osaka & Tateyama Leg 24th April – 3rd May 2015

I’m back to blog about my trip to Japan several months ago. This second part will be on Osaka (food) and Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (scenery). These two places are actually not near each other, so I was maximising my JR Pass to travel to farther places.

Osaka to Tateyama

The biggest deterrence for most people is the time taken and cost of the journey there, but I’ll go into details later.

This is my second time to Osaka, and the streets of Namba still impress me. If I were to stay here, I’ll be a chubby boy in a couple of months. There’s just so much food to eat, and the nightlife here is so much better than Singapore.

My hotel is a 5 minutes walk from the main Namba shopping area and it was super convenient! Osaka Floral Inn Namba was about $125 a night when I booked it during the golden week holidays. It’s a little run-down and the room is not nicely decorated/modern, but I guess I’m just paying for the location here.

http://www.agoda.com/en-sg/osaka-floral-inn-namba/hotel/osaka-jp.html

When you visit Singapore, you got to have Chilli Crab. Same rule applies when you’re in Osaka, you must have an Okonomiyaki! I had my serving from Chibo restaurant, just a bit further down from that famous “crab restaurant”.

http://chibo.com/

I was greedy as usual, so I ordered both the Okonomiyaki and the Yakisoba to try.

Okonomiyaki

Yakisoba

If you’re interested in seeing the chef in action, please watch below!

Verdict: I should have just stuck to the Okonomiyaki. It was too filling to have both. The Yakisoba was good, but not worth my limited stomach space.

One cannot simply walk across Dotonbori bridge without impersonating Glico Man.

Glico Man

As mentioned previously in my Osaka post 2 years ago, Pablo cheese tarts are worth the queue for. This time when I got there, Pablo introduced new flavours like Matcha (my favourite) Cheese Tart! It was so good because they combined 2 of my favourite ingredients together.

Matcha Pablo Cheese Tart

I decided to be a little touristy and scheduled a visit to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館) to look at fishes and their famous whale shark.

http://www.kaiyukan.com/language/eng/index.html

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Entrance to the aquarium costs 2,300 yen, and you get to see the star of Osaka’s aquarium – the majestic Whale Shark. The sheer size of the glass enclosure is enough to impress, not to mention this beast swimming inside.

Whale Shark

The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is located on an island near the heart of Osaka, and is easily accessible by the Chuo Line (Osaka-Ko Station).

If you still have some time left in Osaka, do visit the vibrant Shinsekai (新世界) district and try the Kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers) from Daruma!

Daruma Kushikatsu

There are many bright 3D signboards that are sure to capture your attention, and they are also great for taking photos!

Shinsekai Osaka

By now if you haven’t already gone to an onsen during your Japan trip, it is recommended to drop by Spa World that is conveniently situated at the end of Shinsekai. It is a huge multi-storey onsen complex.

http://www.spaworld.co.jp/english/service.html

I went there 2 years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed it with the various European and Asian themed onsen. No pictures here for obvious reasons haha. They alternate the onsen for males and females every month throughout the year, so you have to go at least twice to try out all of them.

After Osaka, I embarked on my journey to the Snow Corridor at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. Open to pedestrians for only a few weeks every year, you can traverse a path that has up to 20 metres of snow on your left and right.

Selfie

It is a long and expensive journey, but the experience there was well worth it. Here is an extract of the different modes of transport you have to take just to enjoy the view. The total cost for my two-way trip turned up to be more than $70 (non-JR) even though I travelled from Osaka Station to Toyama Station with my JR Rail Pass. Here’s a simplified route map.

Alpine Route

Don’t worry it is not the same cable car as Sentosa-Mt. Faber, instead it looks like this.

Tateyama cable car

The section with the snow corridor that you can walk and take pictures will be at Murodo, 2450m above sea level. You can either choose to continue on the journey all the way through, or make a turn back to Toyama. I chose the latter because it’s faster and cheaper to do so, and it was getting dark already.

Snow Corridor

Do note that because I travelled from Osaka, I took more than half a day to reach Murodo and barely had 30 mins to cam-whore and selfie till my heart’s content. It is advisable to factor in much more travelling time, especially since these local transport may run once every 30 mins or once every hour.

View at 2450m above sea level

A very good guide to do your research if you want to go to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route will be at http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7550.html

Hope you enjoyed this second part of my Japan Trip 2015!

Do read my the first part here – Click here!

and also watch out for the third and final part in the coming weeks~

 

Japan Trip: Fukuoka Leg 24th April – 3rd May 2015

After a long hiatus, I’m back with a series of blog posts about my most adventurous and impromptu trip thus far. I booked a return ticket (whilst it was on promotion of course) and flew off to the land of the rising sun. This was all done within a course of 2 months during my work’s peak period, and it gave me something to look forward to at the end of the April.

This journey required the use of a JR Pass, so I had the advantage because of the weakening yen. I paid $341 from the JTB at Ion Orchard, and I’m able to take almost all the Shinkansen in Japan with reserved seating! A travel tip to everyone is to plan early before you arrive (I use Hyperdia http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ ), and then reserve ALL your seats the moment you arrive in Japan at the JR ticketing booth. That means you must plan on a detailed level, down to the exact timing and exact Shinkansen that you’re going to take for the rest of your stay in Japan. If unfortunately you miss your Shinkansen timing and you must forfeit your reserved ticket, it is actually at no extra cost for you to book another later timing, just that you run the risk of the Shinkansen being fully booked.

Note: You cannot take the Nozomi & Mizuho lines, but you are able to take the next fastest Hikari & Sakura lines. Honestly, it doesn’t matter unless your schedule is so tight that 15 minutes more for a 3 hour journey makes a difference to you.

This is the all powerful and mighty JR Pass. You just flash this to the ticketing officer at the gantry and you shall pass.

JR Pass

Another thing to get before departing for Japan is your portable wi-fi device. In this digital age, not many of us can survive without portable wi-fi when we’re overseas, so I got mine from:

http://japan-wireless.com/

It’s actually one of the more affordable ones (I compared prices against those at the airport itself, and it’s cheaper to get online in advance). The best part is that they deliver straight to your hotel/accommodation/airport before you arrive! I got the Y!mobile 3G 7.2-21Mbps unlimited data usage plan and it works out to be $7 per day. To fully maximise this unlimited usage, you can share it with up to 5 devices and the daily cost is really minimal.

Ok enough about the boring planning part, the rest of this post shall be dedicated to my short tour of Kyushu.

Due to time constraints, I visited only 2 locations in Kyushu. They are Oita Prefecture (大分県) and Fukuoka (福岡). As seen from the map, they are on the northern part of the Kyushu islands.

Oita and Fukuoka Map

A short ride away from Oita city is the famous hot spring town of Beppu. It is also home to the 8 Hells (地獄 Jigoku) of Beppu. I skipped the sight-seeing and went straight to the real thing itself, the onsen. The one I went to was relatively secluded, and is actually near the “geyser hell”. It’s called Hyotan Hot Springs.

http://www.hyotan-onsen.com/english/

The place is definitely English friendly, so it wouldn’t be a problem even if you don’t speak Japanese. The sand bath that you have to pay an additional 300yen for is a bit over-rated in my opinion. I had to dig a hole and bury myself with sand that was barely lukewarm. The hot spring itself was better, especially with the special waterfall feature that helps to massage my neck and back.

Hyotan Hot Spring

I tried the Hot Spring Egg! Disclaimer: It tasted really normal. 

Hyotan Hot Spring Egg

After a short 1 night stay at Oita, I departed for Fukuoka, the gateway to Kyushu. I chose to do something touristy, and visited the Fukuoka Castle Ruins because it was one of the top destinations on TripAdvisor. And then I remembered why I shouldn’t trust these review websites. There was barely any ruins left to see, and the “Castle” was not recognisable at all. I guess it was good for a morning stroll if it was the Sakura season, as all I saw were wilted pink petals on the grass.

Fukuoka Castle Ruins

There’s also a grand mall called Canal City Hakata (キャナルシティ博多), known for its quirky architecture. If you like shopping, I guess you could check it out. The Ramen lover in me just went there for the Ramen Street on the top floor, but sadly to say it disappointed me…

Canal City Hakata

However, there was something else that caught my attention. I kept seeing these two words “放題” around, and when I found out that it actually means “eat-all-you-can buffet”. I knew I had to go for it. Especially when it also comes with “飲み放題”, which means free-flow alcohol as well!

This. was. awesome.

The place is at Yodobashi-Hakata (ヨドバシ博多) 4th Floor called “焼肉の牛太”.

http://www.yodobashi-hakata.com/restaurant/restaurant_gyut.html

Yakiniku Buffet

I know meat and highballs don’t pair well, but I couldn’t care less.

I honestly didn’t explore much of Fukuoka, and it was a shame that I had to rush off to Osaka after just 1 night here.

There’ll be more interesting food and places in the next post, including my trip to the famous Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route!

Shanghai Trip 22nd – 26th October 2014

The reason for this holiday was simple, it materialized to fulfil one dream of mine – to go on a solo travel trip at least once in my life. I first began the difficult process of choosing which country to travel solo to. There were several factors to consider

  • Safety – Since it’s my first time traveling alone, I don’t want to be too adventurous and go to countries that might be a little bit dangerous. I also don’t want to be helpless, so being able to speak the local language is a must.
  • Price – Nothing expensive, therefore Asia will be the continent of choice.
  • Things to do – no shopping. Exploring the local sights and cuisine will be preferred, followed by other tourist destinations.

I vaguely remembered it was thanks to Winston that sparked off this idea, roughly about half a year ago. He suggested Shanghai because it is a financial hub with skyscrapers (Pudong) and yet retains much of its historical architectures (French Concession/The Bund).

Starbucks Pudong Bund

Old Buildings

The opportunity arose during the Deepavali long week-end break, so I immediately applied for leave and booked a ticket on China Eastern Airlines ($435 return). There’s no budget carrier to Shanghai so this was the cheapest ticket I could find. I should also thank my friend for letting me crash at his house in order to save on accommodation.

The first cool thing was the Shanghai Maglev train (上海磁浮示范运营线), which uses magnetic levitation technology and can reach speeds of up to 430km/h!! The ride from the Pudong International Airport (浦东国际机场) was smooth, comfortable, and only took 8 minutes to reach Longyang Station (龙阳路).

From there, the city is well-connected through the Shanghai Metro Network. Taking a bus might be more convenient sometimes, but for a first-timer it can get very confusing to locate the correct bus stop and the correct bus service to take, so I wouldn’t recommend it. You can use this link to plan your journey.

http://www.shmetro.com/EnglishPage/EnglishPage.jsp 

The first place I know I’ll like is Tianzifang (田子坊), which sells a myriad of souvenirs, decorations, and other interesting 有的没的东西. There are also cafes and restaurants amidst the maze of shops, so if you get tired of wandering around and finding yourself in the same area again, you can take a break to rest your legs.

Tian Zi Fang

Cafe with Cats Roadside Cafes

I was highly encouraged to go to Xintiandi (新天地), the expatriate’s hangout for drinks. The Shikumen (石库门) buildings houses many bars and restaurants, but I didn’t really fancy an expensive western-style meal there, so I gave them all a miss.

Xin Tian Di

Another area that was on the top of my list is the Shanghai French Concession (上海法租界). Rows of trees line up the quaint streets; it doesn’t feel like I’m in a bustling city. I was aiming to explore this area on foot, so I walked around for a few hours and when I get tired, I’ll find a cafe to refresh myself with coffee and do some reading.

French Concession

Atas Cafe

You might be wondering how I chance upon good cafes in a foreign land. My helpful friends recommended me a mobile app called 大众点评. They are able to share the locations via Wechat, or I can browse what are the popular places around me. You can access the web version via this link.

http://www.dianping.com/shanghai

There were no lack of shopping malls in Shanghai, especially along the whole stretch of Nanjing West Road (南京西路) to Nanjing East Road (南京东路). I went in to take a quick look at Adidas / Superdry and was shocked to find out the price of a tee shirt there is twice the price of a tee in Singapore. That explains why Chinese tourists flock to everywhere else and buy so much stuff; simply because it’s way more expensive back home.

Nanjing Xi Lu

At the end of Nanjing East Road (南京东路) is the iconic landmark The Bund (外滩). Standing here, you can take scenic photos of the skyscrapers at Pudong (浦东) across the Huangpu River. The iconic Shanghai World Financial Centre (上海金融中心) affectionately labelled as the bottle-opener, and the Oriental Pearl Tower (东方明珠塔) are two buildings that you cannot miss, the former being one of the tallest building in China.

The Bund Pudong

Pearl Tower

If you’re looking to find a special someone during your trip there, you can head over to People’s Square (人民广场) on a weekend and you’ll find hundreds of parents advertising their child at the nearby park. It’s almost like a bazaar, with their child’s CV/Resume exhibited. It was quite an eye-opener to see how important it is to marry off their precious child to someone of a worthy social status.

People's Square

When you finally get hungry from all the walking, there is one restaurant that I’d like to recommend for affordable authentic food. I heard raving reviews from my friends (Singaporeans, as well as locals), so I don’t think it can go wrong.

http://www.waipojia.com.cn/

I visited the 外婆家 at IAPM, a shopping mall conveniently located on top of the South Shanxi (陕西南路站) Metro Station.

Also, who can forget about the famous 小杨生煎 and 佳家汤包 that are just opposite each other along 黄河路. They’re almost the same thing (dumplings), except that one is fried, and the other is steamed. If you were to ask me to choose one, I’d vote for the steamed option. However, since you’re all the way there and they are really cheap, just order both to pamper your stomach. Kudos to 小杨生煎 for giving me an extra dumpling, probably because I appeared to be a foreigner while ordering.

Xiao Yang Shen Jian

Xiao Yang Shen Jian

Eating 12 佳家汤包 (小笼包) for tea was not an easy feat, but it was so delicious I finished them all up by myself. Do go early to 佳家汤包 if not most items will be sold out by early afternoon.

Jia Jia Tang Bao

Tang Bao

Finally, I have to thank my friends heaps for their hospitality during my stay in Shanghai! They gladly let me crash at their place and brought me around, introducing me to the special places there!!

Shanghai Friends

Group picture taken at an alfresco diner!

Maldives Trip 29th September – 3rd October 2014

I am lucky enough to make the trip to Maldives before it’s fully underwater. Time is running out people; paradise is sinking. I was really glad that Tigerair (budget carrier) now flies to Male and I can fulfil my dream beach vacation!

Airplane Shot

I planned my accommodation at Adaraan Prestige Vadoo.

http://www.adaaran.com/prestigevadoo/

Basically our criteria was that it has to be a water villa, because we’re likely only going there once in our life and we didn’t want to stick with the usual hotel rooms on land. Our other criteria was that it must not burn a hole in our pockets. As enticing as the pictures you see on Instagram, the hefty price tag of those high-end water villas cost upwards of USD$1,500 per night.

After some research on Agoda, we chose the most affordable/discounted water villa that we liked from the pictures. Word of advice: if you book Bed & Breakfast option, do bring food (except pork) there to munch on for some meals. Each main course costs about USD$30-$40 per person, so I’d suggest going for the all-inclusive full-board option if you are going to eat and drink a lot.

Water Villas

Our cosy island was small, and it takes us about 15 minutes to walk around the perimeter, with the water villas being an extension accessible via a wooden boardwalk. We were given a warm welcome and were so impressed by our accommodation for the next 4 nights!

Bedroom

My favorite feature was the plunge pool right outside our room, which has a breathtaking view of the sunset. We could also take the wooden stairs from our villa down to the house reef just below us. It was really quite a luxury like no other I’ve experienced.

Plunge Pool

Staircase

Because it rained for some of days, we were chilling around most of the time in the comfort of our room and relaxing. It really helps that they provide wifi in the room so we could stream shows while having our meals in bed.

They have a swimming pool, which we visited twice because it just felt right to have fries and drinks delivered to us by the poolside.

Swimming Pool

Poolside

The service staff at Adaraan Prestige Vadoo is excellent, and our butler was kind enough to help us secretly decorate our bed on our monthversary, when we were having a special Japanese dinner. I mentioned special because we were the only 2 people there, and we found out the Japanese restaurant was not inside the all-inclusive package, hence none of the other guests eat there.

Decorated Bed

Their food portions were HUGE, and I was so happy with the serving size. The quality is alright for the exorbitant price, but I guess with a monopoly they can charge whatever price they want and get away with it. I certainly remembered paying $6 for a bottle of water.

Pasta

An activity that I enjoyed there was snorkeling! I would wake up early in the morning to jump into the house reef below and snorkel with the fishes (before it rains). The fishes here are a bit slower, and some of them even swam up to me & let me touch them. It’s a pity I don’t have an underwater camera to capture the beauty under the sea.

Snorkeling

On the last day, it was with a heavy heart that I had to leave the island, but I am also happy for the wonderful memories created during our vacation.

Japanese Restaurant

 

Beach

Love you!

Korea 2014: Hongdae, Trick-eye Museum, Jimbilbang

Concluding the last of my Korea trip posts with Hongdae!!

I’m sure many Singaporeans have heard about Hongdae; known for its fashion, clubbing, and the arts. I come here for a totally different reason. The cat & dog cafes!

The Bau Haus Dog Cafe is located at

Jeil Bldg. 1F, 394-44 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

It is just a stone’s throw away from the Hapjeong station Exit 3 or 4, and it’s on the ground floor so you don’t have to look too hard for it. We love this place because the dogs are full of enthusiasm and love! We bought a packet of snacks and immediately those big doggies come surrounding us and salivating all over our clothes and belongings.

Salivating Dogs

**Do take note to avoid buying treats if you do not like dog saliva all over you. There are plenty of dogs but the star of the cafe would definitely be the Alaskan Malamute.

IT IS HUGE. The big guy there had to manhandle the dog to control it.

Alaskan Malamute

Thankfully it’s also quite lazy and doesn’t pounce on people.

My favorite dog is a Corgi, and there were 2 that day! I’m not sure if they are resident dogs because they are in a separate area from the bigger dogs. I was playing with this cute boy and I rolled him around onto his back. His short legs rendered him helpless.

Cute Corgi

Corgi

Pardon my string of animal posts, but I’m going to recommend a cat cafe next!

Cafe Giocat (지오캣) is located near Hongik University station on the 3rd floor of

2-6, Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

It recently changed its name to Ycat cafe if I’m not wrong, but the cats inside are still very cute and fluffy!

My favorite is the munchkin. When you carry it onto high ground, it looks so helpless with its short legs.

Helpless Munchkin

Munchkin

My advice is to use the simplest of playthings to get the cat’s attention. This stick for example, captivated all the cats to play with me.

Cat Stick

For those of you who are bored of seeing pictures of animals by now, there’s another thing that’s famous in Hongdae – Trick Eye Museum!

http://trickeye.com/trickeye_eng.html

I know there’s one that opened at Resorts World Sentosa recently, but it’s much smaller as compared to the original in Seoul!

The one we went to is also near Hongik University station, and the entrance looks like this.

Trick Eye Museum Entrance

Our ticket price also includes entry into the Ice Museum, which we DID NOT anticipate going into and were severely under-dressed. We lasted a total of 5 minutes inside the sub-zero freezer of a room before we came running out.

Ice Museum

I guess there will always be complaints about too many people taking their time to pose for photos at strategic angles, but we realized it’s mostly crowded because of a tour group. Once their tour-guide chased them all away because they needed to “move on to the next location”, we had the entire museum to ourselves and could revisit the older exhibits to camwhore.

Sexy Bitch

Floating Man

While we were in the vicinity of Hongdae, we wanted to try some authentic Korean Fried Chicken and Beer. We know it’s a staple before clubbing so there has to be some restaurants serving them nearby, so we ventured around and saw this!

Korean Fried Chicken

This has got to be the real deal because nobody there seems to speak english and the students drinking are mainly drunk. Bingo! We had much difficulty trying to order fried chicken, although I pointed to our neighboring table to ask what they were eating (it looked like popcorn chicken covered in sauce) but the waitress insisted it wasn’t chicken. We ended up with a full fried chicken in front of us and beer + soju. It was heaven.

Fried Chicken & Beer

It’s about the discovering of places like these that makes food taste better.

Lastly, the place to relax and unwind after all the shopping and eating in Seoul.

Yongsan Dragon Hill Spa (드래곤힐스파 (용산))

http://www.dragonhillspa.co.kr/

This jimjilbang is probably the first one you hear about, and plenty of foreigners come here. It is relatively huge spanning a few floors, and there is a gigantic resting area on the ground floor to meet up and eat tea eggs or drink lemonade.

Dragon Hill Jimjilbang

The guys and girls have to go to separate floors for the spa. Once inside, you have to be fully naked and walk around nude with all the other guys like it’s the most natural thing in the world. I tried the scrubbing massage for the first time in my life, and I forgot to see how much dead skin came out after 25 years. My masseur was probably disgusted, because he immediately went to take a shower afterwards…

Michelle tried to win the An Pan Man, as was made famous by The Return of Superman child-star Sarang. Let’s just say this machine ate up a lot of our money too…

An Pan Man

Anyways, I hereby conclude the end of my Korea Trip 2014 posts! It was a tiring but fun trip, and I wish to explore other parts of Korea next time I go back. As always, feel free to ask me any questions you might have and I’ll try my best to answer.

Seoul Thank You

Thank you!

—–

Do check out my other posts from Korea 2014 Trip

Korea 2014: Myeongdong, Edae, Sinchon

Korea 2014: Bukchon Hanok Village, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Namsan Tower

Korea 2014: Gangnam, Everland, Caribbean Bay

Korea 2014: Bukchon Hanok Village, Cheonggyecheon Stream, Namsan Tower

Possibly the most “cultural” part of our holiday, we visited the traditional houses at Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을). It’s quite a far walk away from the nearest Anguk Station, but luckily they have a tourist information stand with detailed maps available to guide us to the famous sites.

Bukchon Hanok Village

There are actually residents still staying in these houses, and I think it’s very disruptive to their life when hordes of tourists descent upon their door steps to take photos and snoop around.

Wall Patterns

But since we’re there already, we kept our volumes down and happily snap away. I like the wall patterns outside their houses.

Another famous tourist attraction just nearby is Cheonggyecheon (청계천) stream. We began right at the start of the stream and strolled along, dodging busy office workers and trying not to fall into the water. There were a lot of people having their lunch beside the stream, picnic-style, which I thought was pretty cool.

Cheonggyecheon Stream

They have rocks placed in the stream for you to cross over from one side to another. Inspired by Gen & MS’ wedding shoot, we took quite some effort to capture the photos here, and obstructing a lot of people genuinely trying to get to the other side.

Rocks at Cheonggyecheon

The stream is more than 8km long, and obviously we didn’t walk the entire stretch.

Our last scenic destination of the trip is at Namsan Mountain. N Seoul Tower, also known as Namsan Tower, is the highest point in Seoul at 479m above sea-level.

Namsan Tower

We took a cable car ride up the mountain from Myeongdong Station, and the walk up to the cable car station itself was a KILLER. It was pure 15 minutes of upslope climbing, and we were sweating by the time we reached the base cable car station.

Once there, we were more interested in leaving our lock behind at the foot of the tower, than going up to the observatory itself.

Namsan Lock

Don’t worry if you’re not prepared and came without a lock. A store at the bottom of the Namsan Tower sells them together with marker pens. Also over here, we saw more “creative” confessions written on handphone cases. A bigger surface area, and who’s to say that’s not permanent huh.

Wall of locks

There were already thousands of locks secured on the railings, and we’re left with the option of putting our lock on other couple’s locks.

It is all sweet and lovey dovey. Therefore if you’re single or traveling in a single-sex group, my advice is to avoid this area for your own sake.

We found love in a crowded place

As you can tell by now, our trip was really just eating and shopping. Not much I can post about regarding the cultural highlights of the trip.

I do want to emphasis on the next (and last) post, which will probably be one of the most interesting one for me!

—-

Click to read my other posts on Korea 2014

Korea 2014: Myeongdong, Edae, Sinchon

Korea 2014: Gangnam, Everland, Caribbean Bay

Korea 2014: Hongdae, Trick-eye Museum, Jimbilbang