Korea Trip 2018: Day 14 – Seoul

This was from my second-last day in Korea in September 2018. Yes, as of the time of this post, that trip took place seven months earlier, but I’d been swamped with so much work that I hadn’t had the time to post all these photos. …


This also happened to be the Korean Thanksgiving weekend, my final two days in Korea during my two-week stay. There was obviously mixed feelings on my part… knowing that it was nice to return home soon – but also sad to be leaving.

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Just like my trip to Los Angeles back in August, I enjoyed the carefree “lifestyle” where I didn’t have to rush anywhere (other than to make sure I got to the airport early and also to not miss the tour bus every morning during the four-day tour at the beginning of this Korean trip).

On this final Saturday in Korea, N.H. took me out to enjoy the city of Seoul. It didn’t matter where we went; the important thing is we had a chance to hang out.

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We stopped by this booth which had a book of proverbs and customers could choose one from that book and have it written out in Korean. N.H. told the lady my name and they tried to figure out how to write my name in Korean too!

If I was asked what that proverb said and meant, haha, during that time and the week I returned home, I could recite it. But now, seven months later, it’s a blur. All I can remember is there was reference of the obstacle of snow in the path and how the successful person clears the path instead of waiting for it to be cleared.

Anyway, it’s something about being proactive instead of being passive – as far as I can remember.

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N.H. wanted to take me to a street food place but it was closed because of the holiday weekend. So, we had a change in plans… we also stopped by a bookstore near the subway station nearby.

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And then dinner time… unfortunately, I don’t usually eat a lot, and there was plenty of food…. My regret was that I didn’t eat more. This was really delicious. I hope I didn’t come across as not liking the food… because I really did. I just don’t usually eat that much.

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I don’t normally drink either… but this time, I gladly drank and I enjoyed every minute of it. This was, up to that point, the best part about my trip.

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But all good things must come to an end… this photo was taken near my hotel. This wrapped up the second and final Saturday of my time in Korea. And the next day – late afternoon on Sunday – would be the time to say goodbye and return home…

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Korea Trip 2018: The Tale of the Two Ginsengs

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It was the best of times… it was the worst of times…

Well, not quite the best of times but a good one nonetheless. During the first day of a four-day tour I had with HanaTour, where I was on a Eastern tour of South Korea, the first stop was at a ginseng tea/coffee shop called Mieene Coffee – located in a small shopping area – for a short break.

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The tour guide highly recommended this coffee shop, which was manned by a young woman on this particular morning. She didn’t seem to understand – or speak – English, so the guide was the one who spoke to her.

According to the tour guide, this shop was opened within the last couple of years and the owner was the woman’s brother.

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I had never tried “Ginseng and Juice” (or, ginseng juice) before, so I ordered a cup.

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It wasn’t as bitter as I thought it would be. There was some honey available for customers, but I didn’t need any.

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The worst of times – or one of them anyway – came in the second week of my stay in Korea. I was part of a half-day tour with another company, and at the end of the tour we came to a high-end ginseng store, which was located in an office tower.

There were many photo opportunities on the ground floor in the lobby area…

…until we were summoned to enter the elevator.

I initially had no idea what this part of the tour was – as it wasn’t on the itinerary. So, we entered the elevator and were guided to the second or third floor – I can’t remember – and a Filipino woman started explaining ginseng information to us.

I took a picture of a display (the red sign below) but she told me, “No video or photos, sir.” Well, I guess I didn’t know.

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As we all walked in – this was some kind of hallway with charts and stats and info and history about Korean ginseng on the walls – she was explaining different facts about Korean ginseng. She tried to be funny but I really didn’t think her jokes were that good. I guess I found her to be “corporate,” so to speak. Hey, that’s her job, so good for her.

Anyway, we soon came into a room which was essentially a store room, with all kinds of ginseng products in display cases. There was a group of us, and the Filipino woman asked us all to come close as she continued explaining the benefits of Korean ginseng.

I was standing near the counter… and as soon as the presentation was over, one female sales rep began doing her sales pitch on me (and others on some of the other members of the tour group).

I found her to be pushy. She kept going on and on, trying to make me buy something. I didn’t appreciate it. Finally, I thanked her (out of courtesy, of course) and walked away from the counter to join two other members of the tour group, both of whom were not badgered by any of the salespeople as they were smart enough to stand away from the counter.

I’m simply not a fan of this sort of tactic by the salesperson; it’s like she didn’t care about you as a person but she looked only at you like you were going to make her extra commissions.

So, the story of two ginsengs… one positive, one not so positive…

Center Mark Hotel Breakfast (Incheon)

This is Day 2 of my Korea Trip 2018.

Okay, so I’ll skip the ride from the airport to the hotel and just jump right into the breakfast the following morning. But I did recap a bit about the bus ride here. (Yes, that’s a different site that I write on, and I didn’t want to repeat too much of the same information here.)

Anyway, for part of my stay in Korea, I was at the Center Mark Hotel, and its breakfast room (as can be seen in the photo below) is called The Kitchen Restaurant.

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I was given vouchers for breakfast when I checked in the night before (there is a fee for breakfast, but the price in my reservation for the hotel already included breakfast), so in the morning all I had to do was show up with one of those vouchers and then grab whatever I wanted in this buffet breakfast.

For my first round, I went with the salad stuff, plus egg, fries, and sausages. In the second round, I went with the traditional Korean dishes – specifically pork bulgogi and the traditional Korean side dishes that are served in Korean restaurants.

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Myunchaeban (Incheon Airport)

Well, my first “stop” upon landing in Korea was the 7-Eleven store in the airport. My next one was Myunchaeban, located in Terminal 2 on the lower floor of the airport. (If you look closely, you will see the name in white letters located on the top right of the signage.)

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When you enter, you are asked to wait to be seated (there aren’t much English signs in the restaurant, but at least that part is in English). A young lady led me to my table and handed me the menu.

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I went with “lucky #13” Broiled Mackerel with Rice Set, and I didn’t know this but it came with Korean miso soup. (Apparently, I didn’t really look too hard at the picture on the menu….) Anyway, the lady brought the bill to my table right away, and since I did not know the Korean custom, I simply put the cash on the clipboard right away. (I didn’t realize until later that I should just take that with the payment to the front when I was ready to leave.)

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Well, I had had a similar dish in Incheon four years earlier when I was on a business trip. Anyway, lots of bones, so I had to pick those out. But it was a nice meal, and a pleasant experience for sure.

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As for utensils and napkins, there is this box/container on the side of the table with napkins and a little drawer where you can get these spoons and metal chopsticks.

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It was a hot afternoon. After the meal, I went to the bus ticket booth and bought a ticket for the limousine bus that would take me to my hotel.

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When I got on the bus at 5:30pm, it was still sunny… by the time the bus got to the hotel close to 8pm, it was dark…. (It had started to get dark by 7pm…)

To be continued…

Sushi Royal House Japanese Restaurant (Re-visit)

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Sushi Royal House Japanese Restaurant on Grandview Highway in East Vancouver had a fire incident back in February and closed down for several months for renovations. It finally re-opened in October, and I’ve gone there a few times since then.

During one visit, I ordered their Spicy Pork Plate, which came with a bowl of rice and miso soup.

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Fortunately, it wasn’t too spicy, and was delicious.

During a second visit, I had their Bulgogi Plate, which was a dish of grilled marinated beef.

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Again, very delicious and with the meat juice in the dish…

Glad to see Sushi Royal House back again after the fire… Will be back again in the future.