Travel

Just the 2 of us. Seoul, Korea- Day 2 (Jade Garden, Petite France, Gwangjang market)

This was the neighbourhood where we stayed.

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The traffic lights were pretty interesting. As per habit in Singapore, we pressed the button and was awarded a burst of Korean from the speakers telling you when to cross the road.

K deduced this was for the visually handicapped.kor41Our breakfast was better this time at Seoul Station’s Paris Baguette.

paris baguette at seoul

The strawberry cream pastry looked so mouth-watering but I wasn’t up for sweet stuff in the morning. We selected a cheese stick and coffee bun instead, pairing off with milk. 🙂 Also got a strawberry bread from the convenience store for snacking later.

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Our first destination for the day was Jade Garden.

I opted for this instead of the more popular Garden of the Morning calm to avoid the crowd. Plus the site states that it’s a “Small Europe in the Forest”. How whimsical is that?

In the hour long train journey, we encountered at least three of these touters promoting various products & events. This ahjussi was selling his “magical waistband”.

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This was for some spa villa.

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kor44aWe were 10 mins or so ahead for the shuttle bus to the arboretum.

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Shuttle bus timing for Jade Garden:

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There’s also a notice for other popular tourist resorts in the area.

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morning calm shuttle busThe bus ride to Jade Garden was rather fast around 15 mins.

jadegardenseoul1There’s a ticketing counter at the side where we lined up to purchase our entrance tickets. It wasn’t a long wait and there’s two Koreans in front of us buying the adult tickets as well.

I parroted their order and we got in without much hassle.

The moment K and I stepped in, we were greeted by sprawling greenery and quaint looking architecture. It’s like entering a mini Europe, maybe just a bit more structured.

jadegardenseoul2 jadegardenseoul3This seemed like a popular place for wedding photoshoots as we encountered one couple near the cafe and there’s even a “Wedding Garden” at the very end of the arboretuem (which we didn’t trek to ‘cos it was sooooo farrrrrrr). The Jade Garden also gained it’s fame partly due to a Korean drama (that I’ve never watched). 

It started getting warmer in the afternoon and the cardigan you see below? It was off less than a minute after we took the pic.

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jadegardenseoul8The Jade Garden is literally just that- a garden. There’s nothing else except for trees, plants and flowers. But that’s precisely the reason I chose this place, to get away from the concrete jungle.

K has this wonderous ability to self entertain in these kind of situations.

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As expected, the garden was not crowded and we came across more locals than tourists especially the elderly and families with young children. Also got a nice couple to help us take a photo.

jadegardenseoul6Moments like these are rare now that there’s a little imp circling our legs. 🙂

We did miss O though when we came across some pre-schoolers having a field trip. One of them greeted us enthusiastically as we strolled past!

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The place was huge. I can see why it’s such a hit with families ‘cos there’s ample space to run, breezy and just a very laid-back place where you can have a small picnic or get-together.

jadegardenseoul14We were literally hit by a scent of sweet floral aroma when walking pass this area.

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jadegardenseoul10More cafes for you to rest your tired feet and calm your grumbling stomach.

jadegardenseoul5K self-entertaining again.

There’s a little souvenirs shop at the exit/entrance where you can browse for some gifts.

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After an hour or so, we took a taxi to Petite France.

Just a note, there’s no available taxis hanging around Jade Garden so you might need to get the receptionist to help call up a cab like we did. The total fare was about SG$30.

To be honest, I came to know of this place while searching for day trips out of Korea. I had a vague memory that the variety show Running Man once filmed here as well. However, it was really a K drama “You who came from the stars” that shot this place to stardom.

petitefrancekoreaFortunately, since we traveled by cab, our timing didn’t coincide with the shuttle bus arrival where hordes of fans would probably be swarming the place.

Trust me when I say it would be an absolutely PAIN to negotiate through crowds especially when every where you turn, somebody is clamoring for that perfect camera shot as well.

It did, however, mean that we missed some of the performance timings like the magic show.

petitefrancekorea9We caught a mini act by this ahjussi though.

petitefrancekorea1Click the video for a 10 second preview. 🙂

petitefrancekorea2 There’s some galleries you can wander into but nothing really caught my eye.

petitefrancekorea3petitefrancekorea4petitefrancekorea13petitefrancekorea8The wall murals are really pretty.petitefrancekorea14petitefrancekorea15petitefrancekorea10There’s an interesting episode to this following pic:

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A Chinese lady told me to lie down (like what K did below) and take a picture, as the mural is up on the ceiling. There’s a glass encased where you can lean on to pose for the photo.

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Petite France is very small. I think we finished walking around within half an hour?

Had an ice-cream at 3000 won, which is about SG$4.

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As usual, since there’s nothing much to do, K was up to his antics again.

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We took the shuttle bus (9000 krw) and headed back via train. For cheap packages on Petite France and Nami Island, you might want to check out the Trazy website here.

Dinner was at Gwangjang market.

If you want to experience the Korean life, this is a place you have to go.

The market was bustling and there’s rows after rows of vendors selling food. We didn’t get a very good shot but you see the stall and the ahjumma behind it?

Basically you can sit down and order your food and they will prepare it in front of you. The variety is staggering… I saw stews, sausages, pork knuckles, kimchi (but of course), seafood, kimbap etc and if you walk down another isle, there’s another lane selling the famous raw beef.

gwangjangmkt1There’s a few stipulated must-eats at the Gwangjang market and this was it:

gwangjangmkt2Drug kimbap & Binddaetteok (vegetable pancake).

I was wholly disappointed with them though ‘cos the kimbap really just tasted like plain kimbap/sushi and the binddaetteok was too oily for my preference.

And I even bought them from the store featured in “Running Man” series. 😦 The portions were huge though. One packet of drug kimbap costs 2500 krw (approx SG$3+) and a binddaetteok was 5000 krw. gwangjangmkt3They packed the food in black plastic bags for us to take away and we found a seat inside the stall to eat.

It was a pain finding a rubbish bin to throw away the trash afterwards (this was a general occurence in Seoul) but we managed to rid of it. Despite being relatively full, we trudged on for more delicacies.

I wanted to try the sashimi and beef stew but K wasn’t keen on raw food and spicy stuff (ugh) so we settled on these:gwangjangmkt6

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Ultra fat squid & oysters!

The ahjumma helped us cut up the seafood.

gwangjangmkt4While preparing, she also praised my Korean, saying it was very good! *blushes* This was a confidence booster ‘cos I’ve never really practiced the language with anyone else other than our teacher of 3 months at the Singapore Korean school.

We ordered some makgeolli too, even though I don’t usually drink. It tasted tangy. Definitely not a fan of alcohol.

gwangjangmkt8Verdict?

The squid was rubbery and the oyster wasn’t very fresh. The bill came up to a whooping 23000 krw (SG$30) as well. I should really have gone with the spicy beef stew or pork knuckles… Well, there’s always next time! 🙂gwangjangmkt5K found some cheap buys at the market. 10,000 krw (SG$12) for a pair of sports shoes. Don’t expect too much for the quality though.

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Since we’ve some time to spare, we strolled about 15 mins to Dongdaemun.

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Doota was wayyyy too expensive (I’m talking about hundred over dollars for a dress) and we just walked around.

Caught an event going on. Some young people performing to the latest hit songs. This was a dance cover to A-Pink.

doota2After browsing through a smaller mall, we were ready for home.

We saw this:

doota3It’s actually ice-cream in bizarre shapes and we saw it selling almost everywhere. But in the end we chose the Baskin Robbins near our apartment to end the day.

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It’s yummy!

 

 

Click here to see the rest of our Korea’s trip experience.

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