Tag Archives: NKTravel

Autumn in South Korea

The fiery red, yellow, orange and brown leaves dazzle in autumn as if it is nature’s last beauty spectacle­ —a grand finale before it shall fall off to slumber, a seduction that even the most perfervid beach and sun lovers from the tropical Philippines could not resist.

We booked our tickets to South Korea a year earlier  to avail the promo fares offered by local airlines flying direct from Cebu to Incheon, South Korea. Our curiosity to witness the picturesque natural phenomenon of autumn foliage is never averted by the long wait. The little consolation, perhaps, was that we got our round trip tickets for P6, 000.00 only per person. A year of waiting would only mean an extra time to prepare and shop f0r perfect clothes for the crisp autumn season in Seoul.

Coincidentally, on March 17, 2015, the Republic of Korea announced the opening of its consular office in Cebu at the 12th floor of the Chinabank Building at the Cebu Business Park. The office can process tourist visa applications for Filipinos visiting to South Korea. This is a welcomed news to our scheduled trip. We don’t have to fly to Manila or hire a travel agency to process our tourist visa but the best news was that the Korean Visa is for free.

After an almost six hour flight via AirAsia we arrived in the chilly Incheon Airport at around 9:30PM. Immigration was swift and the baggage claim was fast.

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Arrival at Incheon Airport. Traveling on colder seasons requires bigger luggage 

From Incheon Airport there are several different ways to travel to downtown Seoul. The most popular ways include taking the Airport Railroad Express, Seoul Metropolitan Subway, airport limousine buses, and taxis. We took the cheapest and fastest way to get to Seoul by the Express Train on the AREX Line. We hurried to catch the last 43-minute train ride.

We arrived in Seoul Station at 11:00 PM. The station was already winding down for the day, calm and 10˚C. Perfect for selfies!

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Seoul Station. A few minutes before it will close for the day. 

Travelling today has not only been democratized because of the promo fares but also been customizable according to budget: from hotels to Airbnb condo units and homes, buffet breakfast to on-the-go food from convenient stores, rent-a-car to train rides.

This trip is a well-researched-budget-friendly-sojourn, a product of weeks of research for the best deals and price, the shortest route and the best time to go. Our main objective is to ensure that we will be able to cover at least almost everything.

We availed not only the colors of autumn but also the Korea Grand Sale which gave us 50% discount on major tourist spot destinations like the famous Everland Resort theme park.

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Seoul City at Night

Our Airbnb home is just a few steps from Seoul Station. It was in the center of the City. Our host gave us specific instructions on how to pass the two-tier digital security system to be able to access our room and beds. (Too bad, we were not able to meet them in person.)

It was a long day and we can’t wait to sleep with  5˚C outside temperature. I think we intentionally did not turn on our room heater just to enjoy the temperature at least tonight. Temperature forecast for the succeeding days is 0˚C and -4˚C on midnights.

Day 1: Seoul City Tour

Seoul City is quiet and very progressive. It has maintained to keep its traditions and heritage perfectly well that it is seamlessly integrated to the whole concept of the city. To see Seoul, one may take a City Tour Package, ride a bus or taxi and do sightseeing. But then again, this is a budget trip, so we DIY by taking the subway and doing some research on the best spots and their location to ensure we have the maximum number of places to visit and sights to see.

Stopovers:

  1. Sungnyemun Gate
  2. Gyeongbukgong Palace
  3. National Folk Museum
  4. Bukchon Village
  5. Tosokchun Sansam Baeanggeun Black Chicken Korean Ginseng Soup
  6. Myeong dong
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A few steps from our Airbnb Condo Unit is the main road of Seoul. We enjoyed the 15-minute leisure walk on the highway to Sungnyemun Gate.

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Our first encounter with the autumn foliage.

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How about some me-time to post some photos at FB?

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Day 2: Nami Island and Hongdae

Nami Island (Namiseom in Korean ) is imperative in any South Korea autumn experience. This moon shaped  island  is the location of the romantic Winter Sonata Korean TV series. It is here where we got the best shots of our trip.


And here are some of the best photos i have taken in Nami Island:


Day 3:  Inwangsan Mountain and Namsan Tower

In every trip, although we plan it to be a budget one, we made sure that we have at least a day to indulge to the fancies. On this day, we planned to get a fancy dinner on some flashy autumn clothes. While waiting for our dinner reservation, we took a train to Ingwasan Mountain to have a little exercise while seeing the city from afar.

A perfect city view from atop the Ingwasan Mountain where most of the Shamanist rituals are performed to please the gods and spirits. 

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A quick stopover to try a traditional Korean lunch. It was so good!

It is revolving and we are dinning there.

Day 4: Everland

Everland is the largest and most recommended amusement park in Seoul. It is the most animal friendly theme park I have been into. The animals are healthy and well taken cared.

Day 5:

  1. Sisters of Mary Seoul Korea
  2. City Hall
  3. Gangnam

I am a graduate of the Sisters of Mary School in Cebu. It was a privilege to visit the first Sisters of Mary School established in Asia.  The Sisters of Mary School is founded by Fr. Aloysius Schwartz who is now a candidate for sainthood. 

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At the fair, outside the City Hall.

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Day 6: Goodbye, South Korea
After a year, this trip remains to be a memorable one.

The mystifying  colors of the leaves glistening brightly under the sun while blown by the cold crisp winds induce inner peace like a tight hug of a friend that mends all your broken pieces. A reminder that sometimes even if you gave your best you might need to shed some of your colorful leaves to make way for new beginnings.

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Three-Day Bohol Tour (Anda & Panglao)

This is a “semi-spontaneous” long weekend trip to Anda and Panglao in Bohol in celebration the Philippines’ Independence Day. Our plan was just to have fun and our itinery is basically just “come-what-may”.

From Cebu we took off at Pier 1 via Supercat/2Go. Very conspicous was how Pier 1 has improved alot since it has been renovated. It’s probably one of the best in the country today, it is even better than some country’s small airports.


After an almost 2-hour ride on board the Supercat we reached Tagbilaran City. The construction of their new port is still on-going as their old port was destroyed by the October 2013 earthquake that rocked the whole island. We docked at the makeshift port and proceeded to hail a tricycle that will take us to Dao Terminal where we can ride a bus going to Anda. However, while we were haggling for the fare we saw a good number of taxi cab queing and we thought of hiring one instead to take us to the terminal to avoid the oppresive sun. Since there are 3 of us, the fare is relatively the same. Again, because this is a come-what-may travel, we accepted to the offer of the taxi cab driver to take is directly to La Petra Resort in Anda for P2,000.00  instead of just in Dao Terminal. The driver also kindly suggested that we take a stop over to one of the places frequented by tourists and he will just wait for us. That was pretty good offer, of course we took it.


We were not really hungry when we arrived at Loay River Rio Verde Floating Restaurant but still we availed of their lunch buffet. There were si many costumers, were glad we somehow came ahead of them. We got the regular buffet for P399.00.


The menu includes:  In the salad bar, Manga with Bagoong (Green Mango w/ Shrimp Paste) Atsal/Puso salad (Banana Bud Salad) Guso salad ( Seaweed Salad). Main courses were Buttered Chicken, Pork Barbeque, Pancit Special, Fish fillet in sweet and sour sauce, adobong buko-buko (a cetain kind of squid) Adobong Kangkong (Water Spinach Cooked Adobo Style) Ginataang Langka (Jackfruit in Coconut Milk) and Shrimps. Desserts are some of filipino favorites like puto cheese and puto kutchina together with some tropical fruits. It was ordinary but really good tasting.


Loay River cruise is a 45 minute tour in the beautul river with ine stop over at the Tribe Ali. Compared to the more popular Loboc River, Loay is cleaner and more untouched.

Anda is 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Loay. When we arrived at the hotel, we were served with welcome drinks and assigned to a native hut with an ocean view. After a short nap in our room we asked to be transferred because the AC seems not working. We were given a bigger room near the pool. It was better!



     

Anda is still untouched, maybe because it is secluded. Anda has a long stretch of white sand beach. It would have been perfect if only the beach floor directly fronting our hotel is not “muddy”. The beach at Poblacion, Anda were better.  We enjoyed the beach alot since it just us, we have the sea all for ouselves. Here are some of our beach photos.


  
At night…

Dinner was happiness. I didn’t realize happiness could be that cheap too, a seafood platter of crabs, shrimps, clams and fish for only P400.00. La Petra food is really good and their serving is generous.  We almost couldn’t finish it.

 

Day 2

Complimemtary breakfast which comes along with our accommodation was served at the restaurant of La Petra. iur hearty breakfast meal imcludes bacon, egg, sandwich, salad, ampalaya with rice, juice, coffee and milo. We felt the effort the staff had put in the give us a pleasant stay in their hotel. We really appreciate it, and even more when they offered us to  drive us to Guindulman where we can hire a bus to Tagbilaran City on the wat to Panglao.


The bus ride was comfortable except for the bumpy parts if the road in Tagbilaran. The 105 peso fare was worth it, it was a long 2 hour ride.

We got ourseleves a month minibus to Panglao. We were booked at Cherry’s Home Too since it was the cheapest with a high rating of 7.7 in Panglao. After we were settled in our room, we rested from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM and proceeded to our late snacks at Tarsier Botanika.


A free shuttle at the Tarsier Botanika in Alona Beach will take you the main branch, around 2 kilometers from where we stayed.


Tarsier Botanika has been operating for almost two years already but it was only now, after they renovated, when people discovered its charm. Unfortunately, only its restaurant is open, their park and villas are still under construction.

This is a welcome addition to Bohol’s attraction. It’s awesomeness can only be described in photos.


        
We were so full when we went back to the hotel. We decided to take our time and rest before we shall check out Panglao’s night party scene.

A walk in the beach leads me to a massage area where massuers will massage their clients by the beach. Of course, I have to avail it. Massage is one pleasure I couldn’t resist.


We partied at the by the beach chill out area of Bugsy’s. I got so tipsy that recovery food is imperative. We look for a Bulalo place and found, Abotanan. They served barbecue, bulalo and batchoy. Food was okay, at least they are open 24 hours.


 We wrapped up Day 2 at 12:00 midnight as we need to park early for our 5:30 AM call time the next day.

Day 3

Upon our arrival on Day 2 at Cherry’s Home Too, we saw an ad about an island hopping tour for 1,500.00. We inquired further details about the tour and booked ourselves the next day (Day 3)


The call time is quite early at 5:30 in the morning in order to catch the playful dolphins of Panglao. We went down from our room at exactly 5:30 AM. We are greeted by our boatman who guide us to the boat at the shore of Alona Beach.

There will be three stopovers: Dolphin Watching, Balincasag Island, and Virgin Island a.k.a. Isole de Francesco.

20 minutes from where we took off, we were already playing hide and seek with the dolphins. The boatman must be quick should possess some good intuition based on the patterns of  the dolphins. We saw around 30 dolphins.

Balincasag Island is a marine sanctuary, we paid P150 per person upon entry. We alighted from our banca and was transfered to a smaller paddle boat. A guide will be assigned to you for P150.00. We snorkled and surveyed the fishes and corals around 10 meters from the beach. There were big and small fishes but the corals are not as colorful as I expected, althought, they are still alive.


    
After an hour of snorkeling we went to the beach in front of Balincasag Island Dive Resort, the water on that area is very clear and tempting. You can’t say no.

  
We asked the local abour our next stop, the Virgin Island. They adviced that we should go there at low tide so that we can see the whole white sand bar while it is not submerged. They said low tide will be around noon, probably 1PM. Unfortunately, we were running out of time we booked ourselves to Henann Resort’s Buffet for lunch. We decided to leave Balincasag for the Virgin Island around 10AM.


  
We left from the island at around 11 AM, so ready for the lunch buffet and if we still have time for some foot massage before we shall leave Panglao at 3:30PM to catch our fastcraft leaving Bohol at 5:25PM.


  

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