Sunday, June 24, 2018 | By: purple taste

South Korea 2017 - Busan 1 Oct to 4 Oct (4 days 3 nights) | Jagalchi Market

For the first 2 nights, I stayed close to Busan KTX station at Almond Hotel. Spent $133.36 for 2 nights for a Business Room with no breakfast. The hotel was just a short 5 minutes walk from the KTX station. There's a stretch of pojangmacha (food tents) by the roadside outside of the hotel during the night time but I didn't try.

Business Room
fancy a bathtub next to the bed?

One noticeable thing about Almond Hotel business room is that the bathtub is right smack in the middle of the room. Like a studio. Luckily, there's still some privacy in the bathroom.

bathtub in the room


The room has mosquito during the night and no wonder there's an insect spray can in the room. But not sure why they placed it next to the kettle!

bathroom


One of the places that we visited while in Busan, was the Jagalchi Market. To get there, simply take the train to Jagalchi. The market is just a few minutes walk from the station.

fruit stalls on the way to Jagalchi
fish cake shop
salted fish
Plenty of things to see when we were walking towards the market entrance. Sellers hawking their wares from fruits to salted fish. If you are interested in fish cakes, there is a shop that sells it and having soupy fish oden was pretty good on a chilly morning.

oden snacks before lunch
towards the market
One will be greeted by tanks after tanks of fresh live seafood. Crabs, lobsters, eels, fishes, you name it, they have it.

huge hugs crabs and lobsters
seafood shop cum restaurant

While we were enjoying the lively atmosphere of the market, we were also looking out for our lunch/brunch venue. Many shops have signages that claimed visits from TV stations. How to choose?!

We enquired with the seller and it seemed that they are not keen to cook seafood purchased from other shops (understandably). Only if they are not selling that particular seafood, then they might cook it for you to eat at their shop provided you also order other things from them. Most of the independent shops (without restaurant) sells the seafood for you to take home.

octopus
flat fish, oysters

We saw some huge ass seahum (cockles)! Amazing. The seaworms look intimidating though. Don't know how to eat these things.

sea worm and seahum (cockles)

Eventually, we settled for lunch at Chungmu Hoetjip, a restaurant in Jagalchi Market. We had seafood pancake, grilled clams, grilled rockfish and eel, marinated raw crabs and a small bottle of plum wine.

Chungmu Hoetjip
delicious seafood

The rockfish was really delicious. Loved the marinated crabs but I preferred the one at Ganjang Gaejang alley. The side dishes were plenty and just love the overall dining experience. We spent about $60 per pax for this meal.

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 (http://www.letskorail.com/) 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.

bento/dosirak


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.

ほっともっと

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.

signboard
₩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
menu
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
plane
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
bathroom
amenities
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
vicinity
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.