Saturday, January 27, 2018 | By: purple taste

South Korea 2017 - Busan 1 Oct | Train to Busan

Getting from Seoul to Busan is fairly simple and fuss free. Korail website ( is foreigner friendly and somewhat easy to use. I took a flexible two-day pass as I'll be doing a roundtrip from Seoul to Busan. The cost was about ₩102,000 (~USD96) and you're free to use it twice. A normal class KTX ticket costs ₩53,900 per adult, so you'll save about ₩5800 (~USD5.50) with the pass. If you're taking the First Class ticket, then all you need is just to top-up the difference. A first class ticket costs about ₩75,500. Just to experience the difference, I had a first class ticket from Seoul to Busan and a normal class ticket when travelling back to Seoul from Busan.

One tip is to reserve your tickets early, especially during the holidays/peak periods. The trip had 'accidentally' coincided with Chuseok and tickets were moving fast and hence, the available timings were limited. Remember to print out the Korail Pass and the tickets.

Seoul Station
departure gate

One thing to note is that the train ticket does not contain the information of which platform your train is at. The platform info will be displayed at the black electronic board about 20 minutes before departure time.

There are restaurants if you'd like to grab a quick bite but the Lotte fast food is forever full. No worries, inside the departure gate, there are small kiosks that sells bento/sandwiches. So you may grab some food just before boarding the train.

inside the departure gate - food kiosks
The train usually will arrive about 15 minutes earlier prior to your boarding time, so there was no rush. Do be mindful that the train will depart on time.

train platform
that's my ride
The First Class seats are pretty spacious and for single traveller, there are single seats too.

First Class cabin
Since I'd bought lunch, might as well enjoy the meal. 먹자! Bento seemed most appropriate for a two and half hour long train ride. I liked that my window seat came with a charging dock to plug in your USB connected devices. Power socket and free wifi are available too, so you could do work on your laptop, if you'd like.


Bought my brunch from Hotto Motto kiosk and that'll be a Japanese lunch box. Priced at ₩7500 and it has lots of rice, meats, egg and pickles. Came with a small container of miso soup too! Too bad it's not hot food but still yummy. The bento came with chopsticks, a small cup of water, serviette and wet hand wipe too.


It is essential to bring your own food (if you'd be hungry) as the train vending machines will only contain bottled water/drinks and some light snacks such as peanuts/chocolates.

The journey was smooth and it turned out that most passengers in the first class cabin are all young parents with small child/children.

window seat
mountain and fields
The toilet is near the first class cabins and quite similar to airline toilets. And no, there isn't any zombies in the train....thankfully.

thank you for the safe ride
For the return trip, I was in normal cabin and the main difference would be the space between the seats. Would you be willing to pay more for added comfort?

In the next episode, let's go see the accommodation in Busan! Till then, stay tuned.
Saturday, December 2, 2017 | By: purple taste

South Korea 2017 - Seoul 30 Sep | Namdaemun Market 남대문시장

Day 1 in Seoul, and I was starving. Took longer than expected to find Park Hill Hotel. Ugh. Once checked-in, hurried to Namdaemun Market which was just a few minutes walk away from the hotel. Grabbed a map from the Tourist Information counter in the market and located the Fish Alley. The place sure was crowded even if it was already 230 pm. There are some popular ones but decided to skip the queue and went into one shop that's fairly empty, not knowing what to expect. Think the shop name is Uri Sikdang.

₩8000 lunch 갈치조림

Had trouble ordering from the younger male staff so they got the older lady to converse in Mandarin. Didn't know the price so anyhow agreed to what she was recommending. Water tumbler is usually already at the table so took a cup. Thirsty.

The place was a tad dingy but that did not deter me from having my spicy fish stew! Was worried when the ahjumma brought a plate which consist of 3 small banchans (side dishes) which was covered by plastic cling wrap. To open or not to open. Didn't know if this was chargeable or not. Plus, paiseh to ask. Was even more worried when the main dish came with another steaming hot tofu stew. But she said, "Service." which meant complimentary. WoOohOO! Thanking the lunch gods.

hairtail fish spicy stew

The hairtail fish was kinda mushy but enjoyable. There were bones to pick as well. Surprisingly, the tofu stew was excellent! Tofu was soft and soup was spicy yet so endearing to slurp it all up. Rice was nicely cooked and best eaten with the stew sauce. So yummy! I threw caution to the wind and took the plastic wrap off the banchans. Oooh, the brinjal and fishcake were good! Loved that they gave a box of seaweed to eat with the rice. So good. Hunger, satiated.

When night fell, it was street food for dinner. Chose a grilled chicken skewer that's as long as the length of my forearm (not that I have long forearms anyway), and fish cake skewers. Total spent of about 3000.

Namdaemun street food vendor
닭꼬치 grilled chicken skewer
어묵 fish cake skewer

The street stall had a chair so I asked the ahjussi if I could sit there. Dine-in concept, haaha! He didn't mind but it was rather awkward as he was waiting for me to finish eating. Finished the skewers and requested for a cup of soup which he complied but it was tongue burning hot. Awkward x 2, because now I had to finish off the piping hot soup and he had to wait a bit longer for this tourist customer to go away. Funny, now I think about it.

Read some blogs that mentioned about Namdaemun Market being an early riser and ends late? Not quite true. Was there at about 9pm and most shops were closed. Visited on a Sunday morning at about 8am, and not many were opened as well.

Namdaemun Market on a weekend morning
Hyojason King Dumpling
prepping in the morning

Did a solo run in the market in the morning because would be travelling to Busan later in the day to meet up with the rest of the group.

am not ready for coffee yet

Was looking around the market for breakfast before doing shopping and ended up at a stall that had those displays right at the front. Decided on beef ribs soup. Breakfast at this shop called Myungsin.

enticed by this
early in the morning
갈비탕 breakfast - ₩8000

The beef ribs soup tasted of pepper and very light. Loved the side dishes served here especially the marinated spicy squid and the pickled radish. Used the seasoned laver to wrap up the rice with a bit of kimchi in it and I was in heaven!

flavour bomb
comfortingly good

Did some shopping and bought windbreakers for dad and bro, and a light coat for mum to wear for Taiwan trip. Probably overcharged but never mind, maybe next time will learn on how to bargain.

for family

Thursday, October 19, 2017 | By: purple taste

South Korea 2017 - Seoul 30 Sep | Hotel Park Hill | Namdaemun Market

Happy to travel with the foodie gang, again! This time round to South Korea where they will first be doing Jeju and I will join them later on for Busan and Seoul. This is by far the furthest destination travelled with the foodie group; @littledevil_98, @chubbybotakkoala, @ivan_teh_runningman and @littletinysun.Well done to us!

Read about our 'maiden' overseas travel here: Bangkok (May 2016). 

My style for travelling? Mostly independent. We agreed to stay nearby for easier meet-up. For Busan, it was mainly at the Busan Station area and in Seoul, we'd be staying at the Hongik University area. As am not joining them for Jeju, am on my own for one day in Seoul before regrouping at Busan.

Flight-wise, it was Asiana again. Worked till 730pm that Friday night, took a cab back to house. Showered, packed the bags and go! At the airport, checked-in the luggage, picked up the Changi Recommends Wifi and then loitered till boarding gates opened. Flight-time was 230am.

Breakfast was served at 720am (SG time), and there was a choice of porridge or omelette. The omelette was nicely warm and pretty dense. Fills the tummy pretty fast.

Asiana omelette breakfast
From Incheon, take the Airport Express (AREX) train back to Seoul. Non-stop ticket is priced at ₩8000 but one could get discounted ones from websites such as Klook or Trazy. They are also having special discounts for airlines with fare at ₩6900. Non-stop train takes just 43 minutes to reach Seoul Station while the all-stop-train takes about 65 minutes.

AREX to Seoul Station
train view

As I'd be alone on Day 1, decided to stay near Seoul Station so that I could take the train to Busan on the next day. The Hotel Park Hill is located at Hoehyeon Station, which is one-stop from Seoul Station. It is really near Namdaemun Market but unfortunately, I went the wrong way. Had to ask for directions and figured out I'd wasted my energy for 1+km as I went the opposite direction. Coincidentally, the wrong direction had the same landmark, which is a Starbucks.

Take Exit 6 or 7 (escalator) of Hoehyeon Station. If you see 7-eleven, Ediya Coffee and Starbucks in a row, then walk towards Starbucks and the hotel would be just round the corner.

Hotel Park Hill
The check-in was quick and the receptionist spoke a little English. Was given a twin bedroom instead. The room door was not locked when I went in. The key is old-fashioned, so do remember to lock the doors when you go out.

twin bedroom
double bed

The hotel wifi was not so good, so I ended up using the wifi router rented from Changi Recommends. The side entrance of the hotel provided a slightly nearer route to Namdaemun Market.

side entrance
side entrance alley
exit of the alley
towards Namdaemun market
Was starving because spent too much time looking for the hotel. Decided to eat at the Galchi Jorim (Fish) Alley in Namdaemun Market. Jungang restaurant has a queue so decided to just try a random one.

Sunday, February 5, 2017 | By: purple taste

Early Autumn Japan Nov 2016 - Kyoto Accommodation - Airbnb near Fushimi Inari Shrine

The actual location would be somewhere near Fukakusa Ichinotsubocho. It is about 6 minutes walk from the Fushimi Inari Station. Main reason of choosing Airbnb was really because the hotel rooms were all so costly during autumn period. We stayed 5 nights in Kyoto and this Airbnb location was really ideal as it is relatively close to the station, plenty of food option nearby plus it was just 10 to 12 mins walk to the Fushimi Inari Shrine.

It wasn't easy to find this place as it was nestled within the residential area. Luckily, the homeowners made a Youtube video that made it possible to look out for the landmarks (practically need to look out for lamp posts!) Had to loop the video a couple of times to memorise though but it works ;)

Autumn weather means it gets cold when the sunsets around 5pm and by 8pm, the temperature dipped to less than 15 degrees celcius.

Fushimi Inari Station

The homeowner left enough instructions via messaging service so we knew how to retrieve the house key without having to meet up. So cool. The house was nice and one would walk into the living/dining room area along with a small kitchenette. There's a sliding door that separated the dining area and the washing area. There was a washing machine cum dryer in there that we appreciated and used well throughout our stay. This was because as we discovered that the washing area would be icily cold at night and it was impossible for the towels and clothes to dry. So the dryer was really handy!

It was quite cool to see a real kotatsu in the dining area. Unfortunately, it wasn't working so we couldn't warm our legs via that. There was a separate heater though so that was always turned on when we're downstairs in the evenings/mornings.

living/dining area
living/dining area - open the sliding door to the bathing area
bathing area
washing machine cum dryer

The toilet was tiny even for Asians. There was just enough room to manouvre in to sit/stand and do your business. The knee would just be probably one inch away from touching the door.

Upstairs was where the sleeping area was. Though listed as one bedroom, there really isn't any door that separates the sleeping area.

careful on the stairs
decorations upstairs
bedroom (his sleeping quarter)

Since I was travelling with a guy friend, I chose to sleep on the sofa bed instead.

across the bedroom - sofa bed area (my sleeping quarter)
my small cosy hideout with TV (but it didn't have any reception on bad weather days)
my sofabed

The food choices around this area included Kendonya and Ramen Hiwamatanoburo both of which I'd recommend. There's also a Chinese restaurant besides these but we didn't try that. There's a Lawson convenience store in case you'd like to get some oden or instant noodles. My breakfast is usually cakes from Lawson since we'd be up early to go sightseeing and the ramen shops don't usually open till 10am.

matcha baumkuchen from Lawson - breakfast

Here are some scenaries near Fushimi Inari Shrine:

walking towards the shrine, passing by a canal
the path towards the shrine - full of tourist
shops along the way
nearing the Shrine
The Fushimi Inari is the patron for businesses and is traditionally worshipped by businessmen and merchants.

Since we were staying nearby, we also dropped by Fushimi Inari Shrine during the night.

Fushimi Inari - at night
This was my first experience with Airbnb. Booking was a breeze and selection of the right accommodation was made within one or two nights of virtual discussion with my friend. The photos helped and we did read through the reviews before deciding on one that we thought was suitable for our travel plans. Our main criteria was a safe area, near train station, comfortable place (entire accommodation) and price.

The Kyoto Airbnb that we booked was owned by Shinichi and Yuka. Here's the link to their listing in Airbnb. The response that came upon a successful booking was within the same day. All necessary information pertaining on house rules, how to get there, map etc was shared within the same day.