Yeosu 2019 Day 4 – Hakdong beach, Windy hill and Drive to Yeosu, Odongdo island

I awoke slightly after 730 and continued on jotting down of the memories for the day before. Had to maintain the discipline as I was getting forgetful and wouldn’t remember some of the details if left too long! As I was thumbing away on my handphone, mommy started to wake up too and soon K also woke up just before 9, surprising as he wasn’t getting his usual 12hrs of sleep. Thankfully I was nearing the end of my note and I started to get ready.

Brekkie for the day

We planned to drive to Yeosu for another 2 nights and so we packed to check out. K was unwilling to leave the huge bathtub and we only managed to persuade him after several rounds. The staff was out there to meet us early in the cold morning before bidding us goodbye with a bow, like the one in Busan as well. Punched in Windy hill and it was a 30mins drive away.

En-route, we went through a small town and parked at the parking lot to go over to the popular black pebble beach of Hakdong, called Hakdong Mongdol Beach. K was excited to see this different kind of beach and we were soon throwing the pebbles into the waters. Stayed for a while before using the nice clean loo and left for the next destination.

Hakdong black pebble beach

The drive to the Windy hill was easy and initially we drove into the carpark (GPS led us there) that was situated below the Windmill. Suspecting that it wasn’t the right place since it didn’t seemed to have a path up to the windmill, we drove back up and ended up by accident at a Sinseondae observatory which had a nice viewpoint of the surrounding. A quick photo shot before we drove back downhill passing a huge parking space near SK station and fortunately slotted into one empty carpark opposite Angel-in-us coffee, facing the Sinseondae cliff.

Sinseondae observatory
Viewing deck
To see this
Windmill above the parking lot

It was a short walk of 10mins across the road to the windmill and a further few meters down to another patch of land to the edge to sit at the chairs for the beautiful photo shoot, of both the bay and the windmill. The windmill couldn’t be visited and it did looked fake as the blades had through holes. I supposed it was just built there as display for Instagram.

Sinseondae cliff near where we parked
Windmill at Windy Hill
Panoramic view of the surrounding
Overlooking the port

We returned back to the main road and went across to find a Korean restaurant and ate there. Language was a barrier and my feeble attempt of using the app ended up with them asking for another lady staff that spoke excellent Mandarin to speak to us. We ordered 2 fried fish and an abalone porridge for 45k, cos after all, the restaurant was a seafood one.

Sat at the short table as the meals were served and it was delicious! The freshness of the fish kept the succulence of the flesh even though the it was fried! K had no problem eating at least half of the fish that was at least 25cm. The porridge was the usual nicely flavored one that I expected it to be, with tiny chunks of abalone that was soft and not rubbery like the one I am used to back home. All in all, great food!

Myeongseung restaurant
Yummy fishes
Yummy abalone porridge

We left satisfied and after using their loo. Got into the car and punched in the next destination Yeosu. It was a 2.5hrs drive! Before leaving Geoje, we returned to the Hakdong Mongdol Beach for another round of pebble throwing as K loved it. Then as we hit the road, we tried to get K to nap first which he did, as I negotiated the bends out of Geoje and soon mommy was asleep too. Driving became easier after getting onto the highway though I still find it difficult to gauge what a good speed should be as cars zoomed past me really quickly even though I was already above the speed limit, trucks included!

Had to pay a toll of 4.5k at somewhere in between. Then along the highway towards Sancheon, we stopped at one of the service station as I was informed that the service station were really nice. Once parked, I got off to used the toilet which was impressively digitalized, to say the list. There was a information board of the occupancy of the cubicles! The design was nice too as it had an aviation theme to it and models of airplanes displayed.

Rest stop
Hi tech cubicle information board
Toilet with fighter jet theme

Returning to the car from the loo, K awoke and we spent some time at the loo (again) and bought some snacks to eat, including a corn shaped pastry with corn paste called Deli-manjoo and pork dumplings (Mandu). K spent some time at the fighter jet display before I got my vanilla coffee from Holly’s coffee and went to pump gas at an EX brand gas station.

Robots for kids loo
Urinal and toilet too
Space theme near the food court
Life size fighter jet display
Tasty corn shape pastry

I was stumped as I found out that it was a self service station and I couldn’t figure out the Korean words on the automated machine and pumping wouldn’t start without paying. The office was empty and I was almost at wits end when I saw a staff returning and asked in English that I needed gas. Immediately after putting some stuff at this office he came to my station and helped with entering the details into the automated system. He was asking how much fuel I needed and it was my first time so I also didn’t know. He helped looked at the fuel gauge and suggested 30k and I just agreed. Then a quick pump that brought the level back from half to 7/8 and we left for the last 1 hr drive.

After the highway, we entered a slow moving road of speed limit 60km/hr into an industrial zone, one that reminded me of Jurong Island back home. The place was just filled with industrial plants all over the place but it allowed road access to the public. It was a boring place for the rest of my family since I was the only person who could relate to this.

Yeosu mascots

The drive to our hotel was not easy and one of the directions given by the in car Navi brought us to the wrong road. Had to make a few detours and mindfully avoid the wrong road and took the direction for what I thought would bring me to the right road before we managed to drive into the multistory carpark of MVL hotel. The initial impression I had of this 5stars hotel was that it reminded me of the Al Burj Arab, where one building stood out from the rest as it was obviously the tallest one there. Of course it couldn’t be comparable in terms of opulence and luxury but it looked comfortable enough.

After check in, we entered the room to find a view of the port and a rather normal room. Spent some time on the TV before we went to explore the surrounding. We decided to walk to Odongdo island which was about slightly more than 500m away.

Huge bed
View from the room
MVL on the outside
View on the way to Odongdo island

The sun was already setting and winds were getting cold. We made it to the water fountain that coincidentally just started and skipped the walk around for the day since it was getting late. The fountain show had about 4-5songs worth of show before we walked back.

Walking path to the island
Water fountain show in progress
Not many people watching

Then we walked over to the cable car station that had a pavilion with a nice view of the surroundings. It was also a place where there were hundreds if not thousands of heart shaped messages hung on the railings and lamppost.

View from the top level heading towards cable car station
Pavillon lighted up
Panoramic view from the pavillon
Heavily tagged lamppost

We proceeded quickly to the cable car station building that had a nicely designed Korean restaurant and had our dinner there. It was recommended to try their marinated crab on the internet and so we ordered a soy sauce one, a pork dish with rice and another one with chicken. However, we received not one but 2 additional crab as a gift from the restaurant owners, all 3 flavors of the crab! There was also a bowl of mussel soup! I was in disbelief in the amount of food but very grateful for such hospitality. And the food was very yummy!

School Food restaurant
Modern design restaurant
Menu for the raw crabs
and more

The crab was raw and I was apprehensive at first but after the first bite, I just went on and on as it was really delicious! It tasted like raw scallop but much softer so that the flesh could be just sucked out. Loved the one with soy the most. Mommy who didn’t like raw seafood couldn’t appreciate it so I had to finish all them. I was worried about having the tummy runs after this.

3 types of raw crabs

The soup was awesome too and am amazed how they could get such flavors into the soup. The other dishes were fine too. All this for just 39k!

Before leaving for the hotel, K wanted to go see the “fantasy land” that was something like the trick eye museum. It was closed by the time we finished dinner and so we just walked back to the hotel quickly, braving the cold as we crossed the road.

The night was spent in the bathtub, as usual and I went to the convenience store that was within the hotel, to get some water, coffee, milk and yoghurt. Then it was some TV which was showing the Bahrain F1, books and then off to bed.

Geoje/Tong Yeong 2019 Day 3 – Cruise to Oedo Island, Tong Yeong Hallyeosudo cable car and Junggang market

After a really long sleep, I woke up to a chilly morning. I couldn’t see the sun as it was blocked by the mountains so I went back to laze in bed, jotting some of the memories from the day before. Then I got up to wash up before getting K to wake up, with some k-pop, just so as to get in the Korean theme.

View from our room in the morning

Had decided to visit the Oedo Island and we managed to leave the hotel at 1030 after our breakfast. It was about a 20 mins drive to Jangseungpo ferry terminal for the ferry to the island. The traffic was light in Geoje and it wasn’t a difficult drive before we arrived. Went into the carpark and managed to find a parking lot near the ticketing.

Open air carpark
Pano view at the ferry terminal.

Went to the ticket counter and the staff could respond well in English and spent 52k won on the ferry and another 17k for the entrance fee. Went to the toilet first before lining up for our 1110 ferry.

Ticketing office
Our tickets
Calm waters at the port

The ferry was at most 60% filled and there was supposedly an introduction of the place being given through the PA system but it was in Korean which we couldn’t understand. Spent some time up on the second deck where many people were feeding seagulls with crackers. It was an interesting sight as the seagulls flew close and at the about same speed, giving the impression that there we just floating in midair. K was given some crackers by some kind passenger and we managed to feed some seagulls, as they swooped down to pick the crackers off my hands.

One of the boats
On board the ferry
Feeding seagulls
Many seagulls following the ferry
Its as if they were floating in the air

The ferry took a while to get to the island as it made a short stop at one of the jutting rocks in the middle of the ocean for people to take photos before continuing onto the island. We arrived at Oedo island  about one hour into the trip. Asked for the return trip schedule and was informed that the return trip was at 140pm, about 1.5hrs to explore the island.

Jutting rocks…
that reminded me of Halong Bay
A panoramic view

Took a picture of the map and started exploring this island that was converted into a giant botanical gardens. The initial walk was an upslope climb, peppered with some decorations for Insta-worthy moments. There were a few flowers blooming but not as many as I would expect. We took a few photos along the way as we proceeded to the midpoint of the walking route which was a building that was converted into 2 cafes. We got into one to get Udon and 2 sausages for about 10k and sat down at this cafe with a view to consume them as our lunch.

Oedo Botannia Entrance
Map with suggested routes
Cactus garden
One of the many statues there
Reminds me a Greece
View from there
Statue with the pillars
Flowers in bloom

View from a higher level
Panoramic shot of the garden
Inside the building at midpoint
Offers dining with a view
Udon main dish
Sausage to fill up tummy

With just 20mins left, we hurried to walk back to the wharf, following the signs. It felt like there were some other places to go to but we didn’t have time and had to give it a miss. Near the wharf, there was another cafe and we went to visit the toilet next to it just before returning to the wharf. Waited inside a makeshift tent set up to block out the chilly wind as passengers wait for their ferry. The ferry arrived within minutes and soon we were lining up to board.

Outside of where we had lunch
Long flight of stairs lined with trees
Water fountain
Terraced gardens
Port of Oedo island
Good bye

The return journey was a quick 20mins and we were soon in the car for the trip to Tongyeong, about an hour drive. We arrived into a huge carpark and there was a Luge belonging to the same company which also operated in Sentosa, situated beside this carpark. After a visit to the toilet we went to buy some food from the street vendors. Got 2 hotdog buns and a non spicy flame grilled chicken on skewer all for about 10k won.

Hot dog store
Breaded hot dog
Hot dog sausage
Flame grilled chicken on skewers store
Non-spicy chicken
Walkway heading to cable car station

Went to sit down nearby to eat but the occasional strong wind made a mess out of our snacks, blowing away the paper holders. After the quick bites and the subsequent clean up, we walked to the cable car station across the road and bought our tickets for a total of 29k for 2 adults and 1 child.

Got up onto the cable car that didn’t have a queue and we were soon going upwards towards the tower at the top of the mountain, with the expansive view opening up before us. After taking in the beautiful surrounding of mountains and waters, we got off at the top and went to the top level for a viewing deck. It offered a pretty good view at the Tongyeong port and its surroundings. Paid 500won to use the telescope there before we went to the cafe below to get a hot drink. There was also a small man made waterfall but it wasn’t all too fantastic.

Map of Tongyeong
Cablecar tickets
Panoramic view of from the Skywalk
Signboard at the top
Manmade waterfall

There was a route for people to explore the area and it seemed like there was a good view of the Hallyeohaesang National Park at the end of the trail but we didn’t have time as the cable car would shut down soon and it was not a good idea to trek all the way back with my boy and in the cold.

For people with more time to trek to another viewpoint

We got onto the cable car, timing it so that we could take the red colour one as requested by K and soon we arrived back at the ground station. Returned the same way to get to the Luge station as K wanted to do that and so we spent 16k in total for an adult and a child in tandem whereas mummy decided to stay grounded. Strapped up our helmets and  we got onto the open airlift up towards our starting point at the top of the hill.

Walking back to the Luge
View from the airlift

Went to the staff that did the whole introductory control of the luge in whatever English he could muster (the luge was not difficult to control and I had prior experience in Sentosa) and then we were zooming down the hill at one of the 2 routes available. The route felt much longer than what we had experienced in Sentosa last time, having much more turns and was pretty fast too which I thought made this a better experience. However it was quite cold going down the hill and thankfully we had worn enough to protect us against the chill.

After getting our photo from the gift shop for 10k, we left for the car to find a place for dinner. We couldn’t decide whether to have seafood in Geoje or Tongyeong and settled for Tongyeong, by visiting the traditional market in Jungang. Though It was only a short 20mins drive, K fell asleep. I parked at the parking lot opposite the market and carried K in my arms to the market, as the port side area began to welcome the sunset.

Sunset at Tongyeong
Jungang Market

There were quite a few stalls selling seafood. The fishes were kept alive in containers with barely enough water level for people to choose, so much so that it felt like animal abuse. We struggled with language and tried to use the translator app to some success. Managed to get to one stall that had a sitting area and served soup based seafood and we settled in after choosing 2 fishes for the soup. Left K to sleep sprawled on the sitting mat beside our low table while I went to choose a raw seafood dish for my own (mommy doesn’t eat raw seafood).

Inside the market
Live seafood at the store we visited
Delicious seafood soup from the 2 fishes
With some side dishes

After much deliberation in front of the fresh seafood, I finally picked the octopus. The lady reached into the basket and picked up one and allowed me to take a photo before going to tear the octopus apart. Then it was a lot of chopping. I returned to my table and soon the moving tentacles were served.

My dinner

It did looked scary as the tentacles moved around, some even crawled out of my plate but I kinda got the hang of it after the first piece. As the chopping wasn’t done really cleanly, there was one lump that got me gagged and I had to pull it out with my fingers. It tasted slimy but was kinda tasty with the soy sauce and sesame seeds. All this experience for 10k.

Plate of moving tentacles

The fish soup was definitely fresh and the broth cooked from it was just as tasty. When K woke up, we gave him some to eat but he wasn’t taking it. Not sure if it was too fresh and had a seafood smell to it or he was not hungry. The fish soup cost us 25k.

The store where we dined

We drove back to the hotel which was a 50mins drive. The GPS brought us through a winding dark forested road and it was a little scary since there weren’t any lights and no other cars were around.

Tongyeong at night

After arriving, the hotel staff handed us a basket of more towels and we realized that there wasn’t any room cleaning done. I guessed it was for privacy.

The night was spent in the tub and then some more math quizzes before we knocked off.

Geoje 2019 Day 2 – Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival and arrival into Geoje

I woke up first and lazed in bed to jot down memories of Day 1. Before long it was already 9 so I started packing and washing stuff before mommy woke up at 930. K was the last to wake up as we gave him more rest from the lack of it during the flight and he woke up fresh.

My Korean breakfast

Then we rushed to get ready and checked out at 11. The attendant got our car and I took some time to get the car seat strapped on and some more time to find a recommended parking spot at Jinhae. Then we were on the move, about an hour’s drive.

It wasn’t too difficult to drive out. I paid a toll fee at the Tellgate for 1.8k, also known as TG in short. But soon before arriving at the destination, we ended up in a traffic jam inside a tunnel, stretching the travelling time to 1.5hrs. We turned into a little street that was lined with cars parked at every space that was available. I managed to reverse my car into a slot and we walked on foot to the Gyeonghwa Station just next to this street.

Tellgate ticket.
The street where we parked.

There were people everywhere at this iconic railway that had cherry blossoms lined along what seemed like the entire length of it. It was not easy trying to get a photo shot without photobombed by the crowd. There was a long queue to take a photo with the train that was on display so we didn’t bother and just got our selfie from the side. K wanted to visit the loo and that had a line too but it was moving quick enough. The loo building was in the design of a train which was cute.

Lining up to take photo with the train
Walking path near the station
Loo in the shape of a train

There were a couple of street acts entertaining the mostly Korean crowd (Sunday), such as one singer performing that almost sounded like a concert and a man who could catch hats thrown at him with his head. Further down the path was another train but that didn’t garner as many people because the cherry blossom there wasn’t surrounding it unlike the more popular one. We also bought a Pikachu balloon with windmill from one of the street stalls for k for 15k.

Street food buns
Nice and crunchy
Panoramic view of the area

We returned to the car to try to visit another park where there was a stream. I punched the destination into the car navigation system and drove. It was a traffic nightmare as we drove alongside many cars that all seemed to go in the same direction. As we arrived at a turn, I was denied entry by a traffic police signalling at the junction and had to make a Uturn to turn in from the opposite direction. After many slow turns and tight driveway due to cars parked on both sides, we drove up a hill and managed to slot our car into an empty spot.

Walked downhill and found some cafes but there weren’t any full meals sold. Entered on of them and ordered a waffle with ice cream and Americano for our lunch, for 15k. After that dessert lunch, we proceeded to walk to the stream. The difference between this Yeojwacheon stream and the normal longkang back at home was that this a very well decorated longkang flanked with cherry blossom trees. There were steps to get to the longkang too so that we could take picture in there as well. Different sections separated by bridges had different designs so we went to a few different places to take photos. Bought a bowl of tobokki to eat for 3k from one of the street vendors.

Cafe Zinho
Inside the cafe
Waffles with ice cream
Apple juice
View from the cafe
Yeojwacheon stream
Street vendor selling topokki
Topokki in a cup
Other street vendors
Inside the stream
Another view of it

After that, we returned to the car which was tiring as we had to climb uphill. The next destination was to check in in Geoje, 1.5hrs from Jinhae. The gridlock traffic was limited to the cherry blossom area and then it was an easy drive to Geoje, with toll fees of 10k.

We arrived at the Ruscello Pension hotel after a scenic drive across the bridges. The sun had almost completely set and the wind was getting chilly. Checked in quickly at the reception using English and some hands and was charged an additional 20k since the accommodation was meant for 2 people only. In return, we were given additional bedding although I informed that the original one was big enough for all 3 of us.

Small kitchen
Bathtub with a view
View from the room

We went to the hotel restaurant for dinner as we were too lazy to get out and it didn’t seemed like there were any restaurants nearby anyway. The restaurant was beautifully designed and cozy. We ordered risotto and beef cubes for about 61k and it was quite delicious.

Swimming pool outside 
Ruscello restaurant
Inside the restaurant
Beef cubes

Returned to the room braving the cold and got ready for a bath in the huge bathtub. K enjoyed dipping in the water although it was a little cold in the room where the tub was. We spent the rest of the night doing math and sticker books before going to bed at 1030pm, ending a relatively light day.

Escape Plan to South Korea & Hong Kong March 2019

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to South Korea and Hong Kong:

Total duration 18D17N
Singapore is 1hr behind of Korea and same timezone as Hong Kong.
Flight time is 4hrs 5mins on Cathay Airlines from Singapore to Hong Kong, a 50mins transit followed by a 4hrs 50mins time on Cathay Airlines from Hong Kong to Incheon Airport Seoul.

Return flight is 3hrs 55mins on Cathay Airlines from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Friday night flight on 29th Mar at 810pm and arrival in Hong Kong in the morning of the 30th Mar at 1215am followed by a flight at 105am and arrival in Korea in the same morning at 555am.

Return flight from Hong Kong on the 15th Apr at 230pm and same day arrival in Singapore at 625pm.

Day 0-1 Flying and Gamcheon Village in Busan
Day 2 Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival and arrival into Geoje
Day 3 Cruise to Oedo Island, Tong Yeong Hallyeosudo cable car and Junggang market
Day 4 Hakdong beach, Windy hill and drive to Yeosu, Odongdo island
Day 5 Yeosu Rail bike, Aqua Planet and Teddy bear museum
Day 6 Drive to Jeonju, cheese theme park and Jeonju old town
Day 7 Explore Jeonju and drive to Wolmido
Day 8 Fairytale land, Chinatown and back to Seoul
Day 9 Yeouido park, Noryanjin Market and Myeongdong
Day 10 Lotte World Adventure theme park
Day 11 Nami Island, Gangchon rail park and Garden of Morning Calm
Day 12 Dongdaemun and Lotte Outlet
Day 13 Strawberry farm, Pocheon Art Valley and Herb Island light festival
Day 14 Seoul to Hong Kong
Day 15 Sino Center and Hysan Place
Day 16 Hong Kong Space museum and shopping at CHKC
Day 17 Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was the first time in donkey years that we travel with my extended family. It was not an easy itinerary to begin with, having to plan different flights for my wife, my parents, my aunt in HK and for me and my boy, as we were flying different times, for reasons such as for business, for best price and for breaking the trip. There was also trying to plan a bit of something for my parents and for the kids. Glad that everything turned out well.

Budget nature: Rather Expensive 

Costs of living in Korea was quite high especially in the cities, car rentals was expensive too. This was offset by the optimisation of squeezing into Airbnb units in Seoul and getting the better deal through Klook and utilising discount coupons from tourism book brought over from Singapore.

Complexity: High

Due to different flight times (5 different tickets) for everyone, we had to get all the dates and times right before purchasing the tickets. Travel by car outside the city was still fine but met with heavy traffic when in Busan. Thankfully for the Hyundai Sonata in-car GPS, it was a little easier to navigate as Google maps do not work, and Naver app wasn’t driver friendly. Travelling via public transport in Seoul was easy but not so in a taxi as we were easily lost in translation, and getting taxis for a big group was a challenge itself, as the taxis can only take up to a certain number of people.