Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Visiting Seoul & Chuncheon (Part 2)

Day 4 = Chuncheon / Seoul (Mon)

Today, we visited the Nami Island, which is about 45 minutes drive from Chuncheon. The island was named after General Nami, a brave name from Korean history, who courageously fought in battles and died at the age of 26. In 1965, thousands of trees were planted by a Mr Pyong-Do Minn. The island has an area of about 460,000m2 and a circumference of 5km. Formed with pebbles and sand, there are no mountains in the island. The trees are tall enough to touch the sky, along with big grass gardens where deers, ostriches, rabbits, squirrels, ducks and countless types of birds live together, providing a place where man and nature can co-exist. Rain used to transform this place into an island and it is now a land of songs and fairy tales where people can relax, far away from crowds and civilization. I was told that the Korean drama Winter Sonata was being filmed in this island and now, the island attracts more tourists than ever before.

We had a leisure walked around this beautiful island. It was quiet and tranquil indeed, despite the increasing crowds. We took many pictures and strolled along the numerous paths. It was a relaxing way to recover from the previous day's exertion on the marathon. We had noodles midway through our walk before continuing our journey. In between, we saw some photo exhibits on Winter Sonata and the actors/actresses that starred in the Korean drama. We stopped to pose with the pictures containing the scenery and the stars. After walking for more than 3 hours, we went back to the ferry pick-up point to board the ferry back to the mainland as we had a bus to catch at about 2pm. We then took a cab back to Chuncheon to pick up our luggage from the hotel before going back to bus station. Chui Chin stopped by the Asics shop and got a pair of running shoes whose color was not available in Singapore at a bargain. At the bus station, Chui Chin and I said goodbye to the rest as we were going back to Seoul while they would be spending another week in Korea and also to run in the Seoul Marathon this coming Sunday. We wished them all the best in the coming race.

We reached Seoul at about 2.30pm. And reached the train station of our accommodation at about 3.30pm. Unfortunately, we spent the next 1 hour, trying to locate Yim's House - the name of our accommodation. In between while trying to search for Yim's House, we met many helpful locals - about 5 of them, who did not hesitate to find out exactly the location by calling Yim's House. In the end, after walking for slightly over an hour, we met the owner of Yim's House at the next street parallel to the accommodation, who came out looking for us.

After checking-in, we rested for a while before going out for night shopping and dinner. First, we went to the shopping district at Myung Dong. There were many fashion stores and although it was about 6.30pm, there were a lot of shoppers. Chui Chin bought some clothing at the stores. Then we went back to the night market as she wanted to get more bargains. After shopping, we stopped by one of the many roadside stalls to have dinner. I ordered a bowl of maggie mee as I wanted something hot, something familiar and something cheap to eat :p, while Chui Chin ordered a bowl of udon and a plate of chicken teriyaki stick to share. We decided to go back to the hotel to rest early as we intend to wake up early on our last day to do more sight-seeing before flying back home.

Day 5 = Seoul (Tues)

We woke up really early and stopped by Changdeokgung Palace, which we visited on our first day. As it was early in the morning, the palace was not opened to public yet. I took more photos of the palace's entrance as I like my photos with nothing else other than my subject. :p. We then took a walk to the nearby Jongmyo (Royal Shrine) but it was closed. So we walked to Jongno 3(sam-ga) MTR station to catch a ride to Seoul City Hall. I went to change more Korean Won at the bank as I had run out of cash. As the Deoksugung Palace was just around the corner, we made it our last stop. On the way to the palace, we saw more riot police stationed along the roads. We quickened out steps, hopping that there would be no detour required to reach the palace. We reached the palace 15 minutes later and upon entering, saw many visitors on this beautiful Tues morning. There were groups of children in school uniforms and other outfits visiting the palace, plus even more tourists. It was a huge palace. There was also a garden and a museum. We didn't have much time and had to rush through looking at the various exhibits in the museum. Just before we depart, there was a parade starting from the entrance of the palace. We stopped to watch the parade since we could not leave the palace as the entrance was blocked by the parade. Luckily, it was a short parade and we managed to sneak out through the side door. We observed more from outside, al the while making ourselves towards the MTR direction. Once the parade moved into the palace compound, we dashed off.

On the whole, it was a nice trip as this was the first time I went for an overseas marathon trip with a friend. It was different as compared to when I travelled alone. And I enjoyed myself. Next up would be the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon on 23 Nov and I would be going with -licht. :)

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