Korea Trip 2018: Day 4 – from Busan to Ulsan to Gyeongju

Well, I’m really behind in terms of posting stuff from my travels. And given that months have passed, I may have gotten the days mixed up…. or not. (Well, I’ve been posting things out of order, or not in chronological order, so to speak…)

This is supposed to be Day 4 from my Korea Trip from Sept. 2018 – and as I’m posting this, it’s already April 2019, or seven months after the fact!! (Yes, it’s been that busy…).

While it was Day 4 of my trip, it was only the second day of the “Eastern Korea” tour with the tour company. I had arrived on a Sunday afternoon – on a really hot day – and the tour with this company began on Tuesday.

The Wednesday (second day) part of the four-day tour began with breakfast in Busan. Then, the tour bus took us (me and the other travellers) to Ulsan, where we passed through what is the world’s largest single automobile plant.

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We then visited Daewangam Park, which was littered with rocks carved into interesting shapes by the wind and ocean.

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20180911_180724.jpgNext, we explored Bulguksa Temple, the representative relic designated as a World Cultural Asset by UNESCO in Gyeongju. We explored Gyeongju National Museum and Daereungwon Tomb Complex.

On a jam-packed day of activities, we were taken to this costume place where we chose our preferred Hanbok (Korean National Costume) and had photos taken wearing Hanbok.

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By that point, I was physically exhausted. Next on the itinerary was the Chomseongdae Observatory, which I chose to skip and just hang out with an Australian couple, an elderly female traveller, and the mom of the Cambodia/Florida family at a nearby coffee shop. This was the first of only two things I would skip during this four-day tour.

Then, the Gyeongju Hilton Hotel was the last stop of the night for check-in. Now, lunch and dinner were served en route at local restaurants. After hotel check-in, the rest of the evening was our free time.

I took photos on my iPad, iPhone, and Android device, so all of the photos are scattered all over. These next photos are the ones from my iPad, which were taken the following morning during breakfast at the Hilton… at 6:52 am.

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L.A. Trip 2019: The Habit Burger Grill (LAX)

I was in Los Angeles in January 2019 for a week – and on the way back to Vancouver, I had a burger at The Habit Burger Grill at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

It was a good thing I checked in fairly early. It literally took 25 minutes for the order to be ready – even though they had said “15 minutes” when I placed the order.

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I had never heard of this franchise before – but the staff was friendly. The only issue was the speed of the service.

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This is pretty standard nowadays – an electronic device given to the guest to let him/her to know when the meal is ready. Yes, this was order #5, but as I said, it took 25 minutes. Perhaps the number is random…

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After that, it was time to board the flight and return back home!

Korea Trip 2018: Day 6 – Mont Coffee (Pyeongchang, Korea)

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Well, the time has gone by so quickly. It’s now nearing the end of October 2018, and I still haven’t had the chance to post more about my Korea Trip from September 2018… Geez. Time really does fly.

As the days (and weeks) pass, memories fade, but I do recall this spot the tour company took us to on our last day. For me, it was the end of the four-day tour, but for the others, it was last part of a week-long adventure, and for others still, it was the last day in Korea of a three-week, three-country Asian tour.

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For me, this was Day 6 of my time in Korea, and it was a Friday – Day 4 of 4 for my tour with HanaTour. We had just been to the fish market earlier – after being at the Olympic slope venue. Now, on to this hike.

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Here are the exact details of Day 4, provided by the tour company:

After breakfast, this morning stop by Ski Jump Observatory for Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018 and then explore Jumunjin Seafood Market, including a variety of fresh seafood caught on the East Coast. For the next stop, transfer to Yangyang for a short hiking at Jujeongol of Mt. Seorak to enjoy the nature. After the tour, transfer to Seoul. Drop off service is available at T-Mark Hotel, T-Mark Grand Hotel, Lotte Hotel Seoul and Center Mark Hotel.

Okay, so this spot was actually Yangyang. Anyway, it looked like it was about to rain, and we were given the option of staying behind while the rest went hiking. (Except it wasn’t “real” hiking, as the ground was more or less flat, we were told.)

I opted to stay behind – this was only the second thing I opted out of during the entire four days (with the first being the Cheomseongdae Observatory on Day 2 in Gyeongju because I was physically exhausted that afternoon and didn’t feel like walking any further) – and an Australian couple also decided to stay behind. We were told to wait at Mont Coffee, a cafe that the tour guide, Mark, highly recommended.

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The three of us went inside the cafe while the rest of the group ventured on. The first thing I noticed was that the interior was nice. But the problem is that everything on the menu was in Korean. The lady (whom we assumed was the owner) didn’t speak much English.

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The Australian couple ordered coffee, and they both told me later that the coffee was terrible. “Lukewarm,” the wife said, saying it wasn’t even hot like you would expect out of fresh coffee in a coffee shop! The couple, who were retired, were well travelled and spoke of their travels to Japan and other countries. They especially loved Japan, pointing out how the locals there were kind and hospitable to tourists. They told specific stories of how the locals helped them out without being asked. It was good conversation.

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After the drinks, the couple wanted to look for glue or some sort of tape because the wife had broken one of the heels of her shoes, but unfortunately, there were no convenient stores in this area. We realized this was some sort of tourist area, but found it odd there were no convenient stores. All the shops were food or drink shops. Well, there was this one store that sold everyday items – I bought a nail clipper there as I had somehow forgotten to bring mine from home – but the couple couldn’t find any glue.

Also… It did rain lightly, but it stopped almost immediately. After about an hour, the rest of the group came back and I was told I should have gone. It wasn’t that bad of a hike. Well, I guess I missed out. Oh well.

After this, it was lunch (to be posted later) followed by a long bus ride back to Seoul! 🙂

More to come…

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…

Whiskey Six BBQ (Re-Visit)

Whiskey Six BBQ, an organic BBQ joint located on 826 Renfrew Street in East Vancouver, opened in the summer of 2017. I have been there regularly during the summer of 2018. This is a post about a visit from May 2018.

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I know that was from months ago, but what can I say? I’d been busy… On vacation now (I’m in Korea at the moment) and just taking a few minutes to post it now. 😉

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It was a night of ribs and wings. The Johnston’s Farm Back Ribs are served with a choice of two sides – with wings being $2 extra – and also sliced bread, Whiskey Mustard and Dill Pickle.

Obviously, I went with the Wings for one of my sides. I also had the Smokey Beans as the other side.

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