AirBnB: KIM'S STUDIO (Hongdae) First Impressions

Although the apartment was not very big, it was acceptably clean and comfortable enough for 2 persons with a big comfy queen-size bed, kitchenette (with utensils provided) and bathroom (with amenities).

Singapore to Seoul: Ways to Maximize Your Cash When You DIY (Flight)

With the average flight to Seoul from Singapore costing about S$1200++ per person (and that’s just economy!) on Singapore Airlines, getting tickets on promotion are definitely worth it.

Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店)

Volando Urai Spring Spa and Resort (馥蘭朵烏來渡假酒店) is located in New Taipei City (Wulai), close to to the Wulai Town (and waterfalls).

Wulai Hot Springs Escapade Itinerary (3D/2N)

While this trip was a simple and short one, it wasn't necessary one of the cheapest: this trip was one meant to enjoy the hot springs and just take it slow (and basically be pampered).

Bangkok Shopping Spree (4D/3N)

Bangkok would have to be one of the places where things are cheaper, much cheaper than in Singapore and a shopping paradise for the shopaholics (who like to get things in the bulk and cheap) out there!

휴가는 방콕에 경험이에요

  오월 쯤에 친구하고 같이 방콕에 갔다 왔어요. 우리 방콕에서 닷새동안 여행이에요.  그 닷새동안 진짜 많이 쇼핑했어요. 그리고 음식도 맛있어서 많이 먹었어요. 날씨가 싱가포르 더 보다 따뜾해지만 휴가는 즐거웠고 재미있어요.

  방콕에  싼 물건하고 시장 유명해라서 물건이 싸고 좋기 때문에 외국 관광객들도 쇼핑을 하러 많이 오워요.  짜뚜짝(Chatuchak) 시장은  방콕 유명한 시장이에요. 이 시장에서는 옷, 신발, 가방 등 여러 가지 물건등 싸게 잘 수 있어서 사러 온 사람들로 가득 차워요.

짜뚜짝(Chatuchak) 시장
짜뚜짝(Chatuchak) 시장
짜뚜짝(Chatuchak) 시장

Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장 도 유명하지만 물건 조금 보다 비싸요. 그런데 물건 비싸 안 사면 이 부동 시장은 너무 재미있는데 사진 많이 찍어해 보세요.

Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장
Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장
Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장
Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장
Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장
Damnoen Saduak 부동 시장
 

Singapore to Seoul and back! (Korean Air)

Getting to Seoul from Singapore

Korean Airlines ©Travel Bytez

Thanks to Citibank's credit card promotion,  our (return) tickets to Seoul were S$758! Considering that the usual price (for a direct flight) is (about) S$900++ (on Korean Airlines), and the fact that there was no more promotion for Singapore Airlines, it was a great deal!  

This was my first flight to Seoul on Korean Airlines, and I have to say that it was a memorable experience for me: the flight attendants were very friendly and despite the (slight) language barrier, communication was not greatly affected though they did have limited vocabulary. Our flight was a (mid)night flight and it took us about 7 hours to get to our destination. On board, we were entertained with movies, food and drinks.  For this flight we were provided with a pillow and blanket, along with a pair of slippers and a toothbrush kit for the passengers (which were a bonus!).
 
Korean Airlines ©Travel Bytez
Food and Entertainment!
I watched "Transformers 3" while munching on some peanuts and a cup of orange juice. As it was a night flight, I actually fell asleep while watching "Transformers 3" right after the peanuts and orange juice were in my tummy! So to prevent myself from getting 'shocked' from my sleep when there were sudden explosions (from the movie), I decided to listen to music instead. There were a few categories: classical, New age, Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese pop Music. There was a remote control to operate the screen, a button to call the flight attendants and to switch off the light. 

The lights were turned on at about 5am and the announcement (both in English and Korean) for breakfast soon followed after. We had a choice between:
  1. Porridge
  2. Omelet
  3. Beef
I choose porridge option since it was early in the morning, and MX choose omettle. I personally think that the porridge was a tad bland as there was only provide a bag of sesame and seaweed seasoning. Still, it was pretty nice to have something to warm our stomachs.  That was a great experience since we mostly travelled with the Koreans who were returning to their naive country (lots of Korean conservations going on lol). 

When we arrived at Incheon Airport, we took the AREX to our accommodation in Hongdae - Seoul Mansion Guesthouse.

Going back home to Singapore

When we were taking the Airport Limousine to the (Incheon) airport, we actually waited at the wrong side of the road! So that caused some delay in our timing to get to the airport, but thankfully we managed to arrive at the airport just in time.We quickly passed customs and even had time to claim our tax from the machines (apparently a new, but troublesome, feature). Good thing our flight was in the morning! 
On a bright note, at least the custom officers were helpful and polite in assisting the tourists.
We heaved a sigh of relieve when we boarded the plane (having to rush about and worry about getting on the flight was a challenge!). For on-board entertainment, the movies were pretty updated. I watched "Maleficient".

For the eating segment of the flight, we were presented with more foods and drinks! I love the tender chicken and the pleasant surprise... cheesecake ice-cream and pizza for dessert!!! Yeah!! I am glad that they let us choose 1 from 3 items. With great wine, nice foods, marvelous movie and wonderful service within a safe air flight, it was indeed price worthy.  When we arrived at Singapore Changi Airport, it was already 8pm.

This guest post was brought to you by DramaQueen - a slightly biased Korean music fan who loves food, life and traveling with her best friend when possible. ^^ 





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Wedding Dinner at St Regis

Wedding Dinner at St Regis

The first wedding dinner of 2015 was an elegant event held at the John Jacob Ballroom located at the famously posh St Regis Singapore. The ballroom was simple yet elegantly decorated and the tables were adorned with pretty white flowers, tiny lights and candles to illuminate the slightly dimmed room, sprinkled with gold star sprinkles. 

Wedding Dinner at St Regis
At our table was local singer Inch Chua, who also sang that night for the couple. ^^

Food was served in individual portions, which is really much better than having to take food from a common platter. The food served was palatable and the time in between the servings was just nice, not too long. There were 8 courses, with the last course being a dessert buffet. And surprisingly considering that it was fine dinning, it was quite filling.

Three Treasure Combination
Three Treasure Combination - Smoked duck meat served with crystal pear and sour plum sauce, deep fried king prawn with crispy cereal, and pan seared scallop topped with ginger scallion sauce
Braised bird's nest broth with crab meat and sea treasures
Braised bird's nest broth with crab meat and sea treasures
Braised baby abalone with sea cucumber, 'abalone' mushroom and seasonal greens
Braised baby abalone with sea cucumber, 'abalone' mushroom and seasonal greens
Oven-baked cod fillet with Japanese miso sauce
Oven-baked cod fillet with Japanese miso sauce: it was fresh and succulent.
Braised 'Jing Du' pork ribs accompanied with crispy deep-fried mantou
Braised 'Jing Du' pork ribs accompanied with crispy deep-fried mantou: the meat simply just 'melted' off the bone!
Stir fried mee sua with seafood in XO sauce
Stir fried mee sua with seafood in XO sauce: the seafood was fresh and the noodles flavorful.
Chilled lemongrass with Champagne yuzu sherbert
Chilled lemongrass with Champagne yuzu sherbert: tangy, sweet and wonderful. ^^
Dessert Buffet
Dessert Buffet!!!!
The wedding flavors were just as memorable: an adorable teacup and molten brown products.
The wedding flavors were just as memorable: an adorable teacup and molten brown products.
Wedding Dinner at St Regis

Day out at the Entertainment Companies (Seoul)

Our flight (on Korean Airlines) to Incheon Airport arrived early in the morning, so we had plenty of time to stalk explore the entertainment companies after we left our luggage at Seoul Mansion Guesthouse. Being Kpop fans how could we miss this opportunity to add this into our itinerary?! Of course, it was all in the hope of bumping into a Korean idol or two and get an autograph and/or photo with them. Thanks to iceprinxess (who directed us to a blog with pretty clear instructions on how to get there), MX and I took a the subway down to the Apgujeongrodeo Station Exit 3

Note: Please do not mistake that as Apgujeong Station as I did the last time I was in Seoul.
©Travel Bytez

It was an adventure as we meandered along the path and explored the area. MX led me to Chrome Hearts, a boutique (which high security) which sells many stylish accessories that celebrities usually wear. The sales assistants were all dressed in black (giving them that smart polished look) and attended to us politely (even if we ended up not buying anything). From Chrome Hearts, we made our way to the first entertainment company on the list - JYP Entertainment, which was about 30 minutes away. After which, we made our way to Cube Entertainment (which was just 5-10 minutes away)!

©Travel Bytez
Cube Entertainment
Cube Entertainment has a cafe within the building, which also sells the idols' merchandise.

©Travel Bytez
Cube Entertainment's cafe and idol merchandise

In my opinion, I think Cube Entertainment has the best environment compared to the other entertainment companies that we visited that day. It so happened to be Beast's 5th anniversary, so no surprises that all their merchandise were sold out (even the mug that I wanted!).  I simply loved the decorations and displays: there was simply so many things to look at; with my favorite Beast (after Kim Joong Kook that is lol) everywhere (since it was their 5th anniversary). There was a section which displayed their autographed albums, which were unfortunately not for sale. There were even photographs and hand prints of the idols. How I wish I can bring all of them back!

©Travel Bytez
Beast... Beast... Beast.. everywhere

Anyway, we saw a group of fans (mostly teenagers) queuing up to write some congratulatory words to Beast for their 5th anniversary. After exploring the place (and slightly disappointed  that there were no more Beast merchandise), we decided to order a drink and rest our aching feet. The pricing for the drinks were rather reasonable, but the attitude of the staff could have been better - they seem to have  overworked and slightly irritable (which is understandable if you have to handle over enthusiastic fans all hoping to catch a glimpse of their idol... but still).  

After Cube Entertainment, we headed over to SM Entertainment and FNC Entertainment. Though it was supposed to take us about 15-20 minutes (on foot), I guess we took a wrong turn and ended up slightly lost. But we still managed to find our way to the companies in the end (Thank God for GPS!). To add further salt to the 'injury' (of getting lost and walking more than necessary), we did not manage to spot any celebrities at all because most of them were on their way to / in China for their promotions. Even with most of the celebrities being away, there were still the ever faithful (and hopeful) fans waiting outside the building (in the cold) just to try their luck! As for us, we decided to move on to our next destination - C-Jes Entertainment.  

©Travel Bytez
SM Entertainment and FNC Entertainment

The sky was already dark when we made our way to Gangam-gu where C-Jes Entertainment (Kim Jae Joong!) is located. The weather was bad since it started to rain heavily soon, so we decided to head to the next company on the list.

©Travel Bytez
C-Jes Entertainment

YG Entertainment was just located within 15 minutes walk from Haejeong Subway Station. In the end, with the help of wonderful GPS we managed to find YG Entertainment! The though of YG Entertainment conjured up images of Big Bang and 2NE1! (Scream!!!) Unfortunately, we did not spot any celebrities here either. Security was tight and we were actually chased away from the premises when the guard spotted us. As it was at night, the lighting was not idea for a photo, but still we were contented that we managed to visit so many entertainment companies in one day (and on our first day in Seoul too!).

Even though we did not meet any celebrities, it was an entertaining experience and at least we have been to these places. It was an adventure when we got lost as we tried to follow the directions and eventually found our way to the destination; it was a sense of accomplishment!

This guest post was brought to you by DramaQueen - a slightly biased Korean music fan who loves food, life and traveling with her best friend when possible. ^^ 





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A little mini drama: From Jeju Airport to Jejueco Suites and Dinner

Jeju Airport
Touchdown at Jeju Airport!

When C finally arrived at Jeju Aiport, we made our way to buy the tickets for the 600 shuttle (airport limousine bus) to bring us to a stop where the Jejueco people were supposed to come and fetch us. It was a longer walk than usual as there was some renovations being done, so we had to take a detour. The tickets cost us 4,500 won each and it could be paid either by cash or T-Money. DramaQueen and MX arrived earlier in the day to Jeju just so that they could visit the Glass Castle than check into Jejueco Suites.

600 shuttle (airport limousine bus)
Airport Limousine
 
There was a slight misunderstanding and we missed our stop! Well, the instructions weren't exactly clear, so make sure you get off at the first stop after 45 minutes into the ride. That and make sure you get the directions clearly because there is no specific stop that is called Yomiji. Anyways, by the time we realized the blunder (when Victor called to get a status update on our location) we quickly alighted at the Jeju International Convention Center (JICC) stop and called Victor (the owner of Jejueco Suites) to report our location to get picked up. Thank goodness he sent his staff Alex to come get us on a cold quiet autumn's night on Jeju (island).

Jeju International Convention Center (JCC)
Waiting for our ride

Alex, in the words of C "was a little harassed looking" and very direct. He wasn't rude or anything, but his frustration showed (a tiny winy bit) when we asked if he could drop us off at a place for dinner. Well, it is somewhat understandable since we missed our stop (unintentionally) and caused some delay. However, despite the slight attitude, Alex did recommend us this really awesome Korean eatery called "맛집" and arranged a time for when transport would come to collect us and send us back to Jejueco Suites. We ordered beanpaste stew which came with noodles (kinda like banmian!), pork bulgogi with vegetable wraps, and (of course) black pork (something Jeju is famous for). The banchan which consisted of kimchi and anchovies was awesome!

맛집
Delicious food! ^^

When dinner was done (in about an hour or so), the transport arrived, this time driven by Victor himself. Our luggage was already in the room and all we had to do was unpack and hit the sack after a long day of mini drama. Victor was so nice, he knew that DramaQueen was my friend (well, since I was the one who did the booking haha), he gave us connected rooms! According to DramaQueen, she was very happy with her room, because it was filled with utensils and slippers that were of the cute and pink Hello Kitty variety.

Our room at Jejueco Suites

We stayed at Jejueco Suites for 3 days / 2 nights and joined the tour, which was a good choice as we were brought to some really nice scenic places and restaurants that served yummy food for lunch. If you are interested in staying at Jejueco Suites and taking up the tour, do check out their website for more details and email them directly for a bookig. Since our booking had the tour, wifi, breakfast, lunch and admission fees (to the attractions in the tour) were included. Our stay (plus tour) cost us 270,000 won each.

If you would like to just stay at Jejueco Suites (minus the tour), you can checkout the prices online to see if there are any discounts or promotions.








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Taeyang “Rise” Concert (Priority Tickets)

Having not been to a concert for some time (the last one was GD's One of A Kind World Tour concert last year), I decided to get tickets to Taeyang’s concert this coming February. It can be considered one of the rare times that I actually do such impulsive buying: since it only took me one day to decide and purchase the tickets online (not to mention convince DramaQueen to join me haha). Unlike GD, who had 2 nights, Taeyang only has 1 and it will held at the Expo (hopefully the sound system is good). Taeyang doesn’t seem as popular as GD (in Singapore), so getting the tickets were not a problem (e.g. no system hanging, easy to purchase tickets etc…). In fact even on the day when ticket sales was opened to the public, accessing the Sistic website was smooth.

Taeyang “Rise” Concert (Priority Tickets)

Of course, this time I did not go for the most expensive ticket and we actually bought tickets to for the moshpit, which means that we have to stand and (hopefully not) get squashed in the crowd. But hey, there is a first time for everything. ^^ Of course, it would have been even better if the tickets were free. lol

Taeyang “Rise” Concert (Priority Tickets)

Usually the benefits for POSB credit cards are not that good and far and few in-between. So this was one of the rare times that I was glad I had a POSB Mastercard, which not only allowed me to get the priority tickets, but also not pay extra (50 cents) when collecting the tickets. The tickets look ‘prettier’ this time with the new design.

Taeyang “Rise” Concert (Priority Tickets)

It might just be a play on buyers’ perception, but being able to qualify for priority tickets does make people feel happier. If not why would there be memberships to almost everything (from food, clothes and shoes etc…) and incentives? That ‘special’ privilege makes customers feel happy and willing to spend more money (which is what businesses want anyways).

Since this time it will be at the moshpit, we have to be there at about 4pm, which is when the queue is opened for lining up (your stand in the queue is based on the number printed on the ticket). It's going to be an interesting experience...

Air Busan: from Seoul (Gimpo Airport) to Jeju

After meeting up with C at Comma Cafe (and having another round of drinks), we made our way to Gimpo Airport via the AREX to catch our flight to Jeju on Air Busan (a domestic airline). [Click here to read more about Getting to Jeju on Korean Domestic Airlines]

Getting to Gimpo Airport was easy enough with clear directions. When we arrived at the domestic terminal, it was somewhat chaotic with hoards of students in their school jackets and large groups of elderies waiting to check in their luggage.

Gimpo Airport
Tip: Purchasing the tickets online via Air Busan's website was simple and straightforward: prices and flights were clearly stated, with domestic and international flights being categorized. It would be best to create an account with Air Busan, in order to enjoy some of the benefits such as being informed if there are any promotions and to keep track of/update your bookings (where necessary). Once you have successful selected your preferred flight and made (full) payment via credit card, just print out the booking receipt.

So with the printed booking receipt, checking in and getting the boarding passes was a breeze. However, due to the influx of passengers checking in their luggage, it took about 10 minutes for our luggage to get checked in. Once we were cleared,  we were given our boarding passes which resemble receipts from the supermart.

Air Busan: from Seoul (Gimpo Airport) to Jeju
The ticket

With the luggage checked in and boarding passes in hand, the 3 of us made our way to our gate where our flight was waiting for us. Since we were early, we stopped by a convenience store along the way and bought some really yummy kimchi rice 'balls' (drools).

Gimpo Airport
They were yummilicious! ^^

Our flight was delayed for at least 20 minutes, and all correspondence was in Korean so it was a bit of a challenge but we still managed (p.s. you have to be really alert). By the time our flight arrived there was a snaking queue waiting to board.

Air Busan: from Seoul (Gimpo Airport) to Jeju
The (somewhat disorderly and) long queue


What made this boarding experience interesting was that we had to walk down a flight of stairs to catch an airport shuttle which brought us to directly to our plane! We even got to use the airstairs to board the plane; truly an interesting experience.

Air Busan: from Seoul (Gimpo Airport) to Jeju
The shuttle to the plane
The seats on board the plane were blue and the leg space between seats was comfortable (enough). Though it may have been a domestic (budget) flight, drinks were served (which were a nice touch) and the air stewardesses were polite and friendly. Of course, being a budget (and short) flight (of about 1 hour), there is no entertainment so you would have to entertain yourself.

Air Busan: from Seoul (Gimpo Airport) to Jeju
Plenty of legroom and no entertainment

After an hour, we finally arrived in Jeju! Just as we boarded to plane, when we alighted, we also walked down the plane via the airstairs and hopped onto the shuttle that was waiting for us. It was relatively crowded so we had to stand. Thankfully it was but a short (but bumpy) ride away.

Since our flight was about an hour earlier than C, we settled down at the Caffebene located within the Jeju Airport, to wile the time away and use the free wifi. 

Caffebene






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