Korean Escapade 2010: Of Bulgogis, Malls, Markets and Shopping

Lunch was a continuing love affair with bulgogi. I fell hard. Really hard with this dish.  The side dishes were also amazing. During this trip to Korea, I forgot that I am on a diet. Usually, my meals consist of no rice but I really forgot about it. Oh well, it is good food so I have no regrets.

Bulgogi Lunch, South Korea, October 2010


Yummy bulgogi, South Korea, October 2010

After lunch, we went to a Korean Ginseng shop. Unfortunately, picture taking was not allowed. We got to know the different kinds of ginseng. I bought one bottle of ginseng concentrate for my Mom. I hope that she drinks it. I also bought a bag of rice crispies for pasalubong. We also went to the amethyst store and there we were shown different products made of amethyst. Amethyst is a stone known to bring healing. I didn’t get to buy because it’s really expensive.

Next stop was Namdaemun Market. We only had one hour to tour the place and buy stuff that we needed to buy. Namdaemun reminded me of our very own Divisoria. I did not get to roam the place much for fear that I would get lost. However, I was able to buy some shirts with Korea printed in it for a reasonable price. It was such a good deal.


Namdaemun Market, South Korea, October 2010

Merchandise, Namdaemun Market, South Korea, October 2010












After our trip to Namdaemun, Kuya Hong brought us back to the hotel. Our guided trip has come to an end. We were fortunate that we had him as our guide. We would love to have him in our next guided tour.

We rested for a bit and then proceeded to COEX Mall for some shopping. I did not buy anything from there..again.  I was just content to see and explore the place. Using the subway, we went to Myeondong, another shopping district. However, I was surprised to see billboards of Kim Myung Min in his LIG advertisements. I had to take a photo.


Kim Myung Min Advertisements in a subway, October 2010

At Myeongdong, I was just amazed with how Koreans buy stuff. I would see ladies buy several bags of cosmetics, apparel and the like. I was not planning on buying anything but when I saw a special edition of Beethoven Virus Original Soundtrack, I immediately bought it. So much for self control, eh?

Rolling store at Myeongdong, South Korea, October 2010


Myeongdong, South Korea, October 2010













It was almost midnight when we decided to go home. We were all dead tired and another busy day is waiting for us so we need all the rest that we can get.

Next stop: Seoul City Tour


Korean Escapade 2010: The Saga of the Ninjas Continues

Still October 21…

We left Nami Island at around 4:00 in the afternoon and took the cab going to Gapyeong Station. Our next stop was Petite France, which was located near Cheongpyeong Station. We were lucky because the train going to Cheongpyeong was arriving in a few minutes. From Gapyeong to Cheongpyeong, the travel time was about 20 minutes. We arrived at Cheongpyeong station around 5 in the afternoon but there was no sign of the shuttle bus which would take us to Petite France. We decided to take the cab…again. The trip to Petite France was like going to Baguio or Antipolo with all those blind curves and zigzag roads. There was a time during the brief ride that we felt that we got lost but we arrived at Petite France after 30 minutes.  Imagine our relief to know that we were finally there!


Petite France, South Korea, October 2010

Since we only had 30 minutes to explore the place, we immediately went to the sites that we wanted to visit.

Petite France: Retracing Kim Myung Min’s (Kang Mae’s) steps in Beethoven Virus

Petite France is a French cultural village set in the Korean countryside. Petite France serves as both a French cultural village and a youth training facility (Goseong Youth Training Center), and consists of 16 French-style buildings where visitors can lodge and experience French food, clothing, and household culture. ‘Petit’ means ‘small and pretty’ in French, and this village is located on the hilltop overlooking the beautiful mountain scenery of Homyeongsan (Mt.) and the clear surroundings of Cheongpyeongho (Lake). Building heights were adjusted using natural hills, and every house in the village were arranged to overlook the lake. Such structure disposition and internal decoration of construction materials, rooftop, windows and floor are all French. (From http://www.korean-city.blogspot.com)


Petite France, South Korea, October 2010


View of the lake, Petite France, South Korea, October 2010











Array of buildings in French style, Petite France, October 2010





A portion of the amphitheater, Petite France, October 2010










I have always wanted to visit Petite France because it was one of the filming sites of Beethoven Virus, one of my all-time favorite Korean dramas. Moreover, it is the location of the study room of Maestro Kang Gun Woo or Kang Mae, played by the brilliant Kim Myung Min.  I may not have met Kim Myung Min himself but it was a great comfort for me to have visited his study room when he portrayed the acerbic tongued Kang Mae.


Kang Mae's table and chair, Petite France, October 2010


A portion of Kang Mae's office, Petite France, October 2010












We did not have the chance to explore the other buildings because it was already 6 in the evening. Our main problem was getting out of Petite France because it was such an isolated place. We asked the receptionist for help and so she contacted two cabs to fetch us. While waiting, we felt the air as it turned colder. Good thing the cabs arrived after 15 minutes or so.

We arrived at Cheongpyeong station in time for the arrival of the train bound for Cheongnyangni. We thought that we missed the train already and we had to wait for an hour for the next.  We were indeed lucky!

Since the ride was one hour, we had time to decide that we had to re-schedule the Lotte World trip for another night as we might not be able to make it. We decided to have dinner first at Dongdaemun and then visit Chonggye Stream which was nearby.


Dongdaemun, South Korea, October 2010

Dining at a Korean Restaurant

We were so hungry, we could eat a horse! We picked a fancy Korean resto which was established in 1972. When we got there and looked at the menu, we wanted to go out and look for another place. So expensive! However, we figured that we would eat in small restos the following nights so that we are still on the budget. Hahaha!

Side dishes, Korean restaurant, Dongdaemun, October 2010

And so we ordered pork spare ribs, pajeon, bulgogi. Of course, a Korean meal is not complete without the side dishes or banchan, which could consist of 2-12 kinds. Of course, kimchi is usually included.


Pork spare ribs, Dongdaemun, October 2010

I’m a great fan and lover of pajeon. However, I fell in love with bulgogi! This is one dish that I have not had the chance to eat often in Korean restaurants in the Philippines. But the authentic bulgogi was heaven! I. LOVE. IT. SUPER.


My new love, BULGOGI! Dongdaemun, October 2010

After dinner, we headed to Chonggye Stream for some picture-taking and some walking. We decided that we would walk back to our hotel for some exercise. However, when we realized that we were walking for a much longer time already and no sight of our hotel still, we decided to  get a cab because we were all dead tired. On our way back to the hotel, we found out that we headed the wrong way – we walked farther from the hotel instead of walking towards it. What an adventure!

Oh well, the most important thing was that we got back safe and sound.

Korean Escapade 2010: Leavin’ on a jetplane…again.

October 20 was the day of our scheduled flight to South Korea. The time of departure was 3:55 PM but I was already at NAIA Terminal 3 at around 12 noon. Nope, I wasn’t that excited. I was super duper excited!! After a few minutes, my friends, my companions in this trip, arrived. We had a late lunch at Seattle’s Best and had a chat while waiting for our flight.

image from lookshoplist.com

The ground crew of Cebu Pacific was a bit late in allowing us to board. Furthermore, the plane took off behind schedule. The plane was waiting on the runway for more than 15 minutes or so. When we finally took off, it was past 4 in the afternoon already.

image from masbatetravel.com

The flight was bumpy so I didn’t have the chance to sleep or even nap while my friends were sleeping it all away. I guess that’s my problem when I’m traveling – the inability to sleep. I envy those who have the gift to get some sleep while traveling. In my experience, I have to be really, really dead tired to be able to get some shut-eye.

We arrived at Incheon International Airport at around 9 in the evening. Our driver, Mr. Kim was there already with a placard bearing my name. Another friend who came from China was already there waiting for us as well. Outside the airport, cold gusts of autumn wind greeted us.

We drove for about an hour from Incheon to Seoul, where our hotel was located. We arrived at Go Goong Hotel and immediately deposited our bags in our respective rooms. We then walked a few blocks to a market and ordered our dinner in one of those food stalls we often see in those Korean drama series. It felt like we were in those Korean series where friends were seated at this stall to eat and have a good time. We had kimbap, ddeokbokki and udeng with soup. The meal was awesome! Authentic Korean street food! Yum, yum!

Authentic Korean Food, South Korea, October 2010

After our meal, we then walked back again to the hotel and planned our trip for the next day. It was 2 in the morning when I went up to a room which I was sharing with a friend. But I didn’t get to sleep at all. I really felt awful. However, I had to get up and prepare for our trip. Next stop for the day: Nami Island, Petite France and Lotte World.

US Trip, Day 30: Richmond, VA at a glance

I’m here in Richmond, VA for about a month now and I have not had the opportunity to explore the city yet. Since I am flying out of the US soon, a friend decided to tour us around even for half a day.

We went to Maymont Park. We explored the grounds for two hours. The park boasts of different attractions such as the Nature Center, Aviary, grey Fox, Bobcat, Elk and Sika Deer, Raptor Valley, Children’s Farm, Eagle, Black Bear, Japanese Garden, Grotto, Waterfall, Italian Garden, Mausoleum, Garden Hall, Carriage House, Herb Garden, Stone Barn and the Maymont Mansion.

The place is humungous and soo green. There were lots of trees and greeneries. I love the place so much.  I told my mom and friend that we had our share of exercise for the day with all the walking that we’ve done.

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After that we went to Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. We only had 30 minutes to tour the place because it will close by 5PM. But I’m glad that we were able to see all the artifacts there.

We then passed by Cary Street, also known as Cary town for all the shops and stores along this long road. And then we went to Juleps, a restaurant which specializes on New Southern cuisine. I had parmesan crusted salmon with risotto. Yummy!

It was good that the sun came out today; it has been raining for the days. It was a perfect day!

US Trip, Day 29: Hibachi Dinner

Hibachi, Richmond VA, Sept 30, 2010

We went to downtown Richmond to have dinner at a restaurant called Osaka. My brother-in-law wanted us to try Hibachi.

According to Wikipedia, Hibachi is a traditional heating device. It consists of a round, cylindrical or a box-shaped open-topped container, made from or lined with a heatproof material and designed to hold burning charcoal. However, it North America, the term “hibachi” is used to refer to a small cooking stove heated by charcoal (actually called shichirin in Japanese), or to an iron hot plate (teppan) used in Teppanyaki restaurants. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibachi)

We ordered chicken and shrimps; scallops and shrimps, lobster tail and filet mignon. The cook was very talented and very entertaining. We went home really, really full.  There goes the reason for my extra pounds!

Craving for Korean Food

One obvious effect of my addiction to anything Korean is my love for Korean cuisine. Mind you, to those who are not familiar with Korean food, the taste, smell and texture can be really intimidating. I would say that it is an acquired taste, especially for non-Koreans.

My friends and I frequent this small but homey Korean resto in Kalayaan Avenue in Makati. The ahjussi and ahjumma who own the place are so kind and generous. They often give us freebies.

Some snapshots of the yummy yummy food at GELA.