Tuesday, 23 July 2013

6D5N Suggested Seoul Itinerary

I thought it would be good to post something like an itinerary for experiencing Seoul, in order of proximity, and interest so here it is! This is a super-packed itinerary which includes alternatives in case you don't want to visit some of the places. Well, it is completely up to how you wish to twig the itinerary to make the best out of your trip! :) Enjoy!



Take a subway to the station nearest to your hotel. Subway is so convenient. There is no jam and it's fast! 

(Of course you can choose to take the Airport Limousine (a huge and comfy bus that don't cost you more than 20,000 won for transit to Seoul) or just a regular taxi (which will cost alot more))

Myeondong (Line 2, Euljiro 1-ga Station / Line 4. Myeongdong Station) 

A mass shopping area, street-style, with all sorts of make-up, clothes, accessories, cute stationery and alot of nice cafes and restaurants for dining. You could easily spent a couple of hours here! So, budget time enough to shop & dine! (I would say, maybe 4 hours?) 

Click here for my Myeongdong Experience.

Visit the the Seoul Centre for Culture & Tourism @ M Plaza and find out more about things to do in Seoul. Read more about why you should go there.

Accumulate maps and find out about places that may interest you (apart from what you read in here, as there are alot more things to do in Seoul - more than I can write about!) 

Namsam Tower (Line 4, Myeongdong Station, Exit 4)

I paired this place to Myeongdong cos it's really nearby. Walk - take glass elevator to cable car station - take cable car up to Namsan. You can go there in the day or night, but I much prefer the night scenery because it is more romantic!

Click here for full details on getting there and some awesome pictures!


Hongdae (Subway Line 2, Hongik Station, Exit 9)

Trick Eye Museum 
This is a super fun place to visit if you enjoy seeing art stuff and wanna take fun pictures!

Ehwa University Area (Subway Line 2, Ehwa University, Exit 2)
 same area as Sinchon

Both these areas are VERY close in proximity and it's possible to walk from one to another, but, a better alternative will be to take a subway (unless you have the whole day to spend and don't mind roaming around)

Both are university hangout areas, you will see people age 20-27 hanging out here. It is definitely worth the time because they set the trend and fashion for uni-goers and the shops are quaint, cute and different, mostly designed and set-up with each shop keepers' individual taste.

You will find things here cheaper because they are catered to students (some even cheaper than what you can find in Myeongdong & Dongdaemun).

I'd recommend you go to the Trick Eye Museum situated at Hongdae in the morning, spend time in Picasso Street, have lunch in the vicinity, then shop around till mid afternoon. Then you can move on to Ehwa Uni area to shop some more. (In comparison, if you need to choose between Hongdae or Ehwa - then Hongdae will be it!)
At night, the party comes alive and you can have dinner off the streets because there are just too many street hawkers selling all sorts of food! (More so for Ehwa Station) (For Hongdae, they are known for their clubs and pubs! And BBQ)

Read more about my experience in Hongdae
Click here to see my fun shots at Hongdae Trickeye Museum
Read more about my experience in Ehwa


Gyeongbokgung Palace (Subway Line 3, Exit 5)

This is the biggest and most well preserved palace by far and if you only have time for 1 palace, this is THE palace to go. They also have guard changing (like most other palaces do). If I am not wrong it usually happens at like 9am and 3pm, need to check prior to going.

Samcheongdong-gil (Subway Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 1, 2, 3)

This is walking distance to Gyeonbokgung (but you can take a taxi as they are small roads, not much jam).

The place is interesting because the shops (selling mostly clothes and accessories) and architectural structure of the builidngs are very different from the rest of seoul. There are almost like a little town on its own because each shop and cafe there has its own characteristic and are exclusive and diffrerent. It's worth a go just for photo-taking, and you will see ALOT of people on weekends because its a popular date place.
Click for more directions and my experience at Gyeongbokgung & Samcheongdong-gil!

Bukchon Hanok Village (Same area within Samcheongdong-gil)

This is a cluster of existing folk village house with modern Koreans still staying here. It's not really a place of attraction, but tourist like going there to take photos of the old-style houses. Residents are usually OK to let them take photos OUTSIDE the house so long as no disturbance/noise.
Click for some pictures taken while I experience Bukchon

Sanmotoonge aka Coffee Prince Filming Site

Cafe sitted on top of some hill, where you can slowly sip coffee and chit chat. It has very nice ambience and scenery, but the directions slightly complicated, though it's really near the Gyeongbokgung area.
Click here for full directions and some pictures so you know if its worth going?

Alternatively, you may want to visit Insadong

These areas are all awfully situated within such close distance from one another that you can just visit them all within the day (if you start early, that is!)

Insadong is this street which sells all sorts of Korean Traditional items (those you'd like to keep as a souvenir, i.e. long spoons, metal chopesticks, handicrafts, you get the point etc,) It's like what Chinatown is to Singapore. I have not eaten in any restaurants there, but I did spot a few really interesting ones that serves traditional Korean Cuisine and you also get to watch a perfomance while you dine there. So, check it out, if you will!
Read about my experience visiting Insadong.

Gwanghwamun (Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 1,2,8 OR Line 3 Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 6,7)

Just a parade square area in front of the Gyeongbokgung palace (likes of Tian An Men in Beijing).
It's best to go there in the night cos the night light-up and fountains are prettier than that in the day. This is also the end/start point for the Cheonggyecheon Stream that would link you all the way to Dongdaemun area.

 DAY 4
Although this is also on line 3, it is more southwards of line 3, a distance away from the above:

Garosu-gil & Apgujeong Rodeo Street (Subway Line 3, Sinsa Station, Exit 8)

Super high class and fashion street area, known for spotting stars. This area is known to be the ATAS district, so everything sold there (including coffee) costs more. Many branded boutiques are found here and those boutiques with no brands "also pretend" to be branded (meaning, the price is expensive).

Also known as the place to go for plastic surgery because ALOT of famous plastic surgery clinics are located here. No wonder the people there are more beautiful! The only problem is they probably all look the same? (No offense, it's just my way of describing the place)

Garosu-gil & Apugujeong are 2 different perpendicular streets, all within the same vicinity.
Read about my experience here

Gangnam (Subway Line 2, Gangnam Station, Exit 8,9,11)

Gangnam is a stone throw away from Sinsa area, although it's on Line 2. It's also known as the ATAS district where most working professionals hang out. (More of the high income class) Frankly, I think Hongdae is more fun - but to each his own - they have pretty decent restaurants and shops all over.

Rainbow Fountain (Subway Line 3, Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 8-1)

This is one of the nicest night scene to go.It's a part of Hangang where lovers date most. At periodic timings, music will play and fountain of water with diffferent colors spews out from the bridge of the expressway into the hangang accroding to the rhythem of the music. (You can choose to walk there, or take a cab there from Garosu-gil or Gangnam)
Click here on full details on how to go and my experience 

Alternatively, you may want to visit Lotte World (Subway Line 2, Jamsil Station, Exit 4) 
Lotte World is a Theme Park located in Seoul. If you are into thrilling rides and fun fares, these will be one of the options you can consider as part of the trip. They also have an indoor skating rink and all sorts of restaurants in there!


Namsangol Hanok Village (Line 3 or 4, Chungmuro Station, Exit 3)
To see traditional folk villages (preserved / re-furnished state)  
Read about my experience here 

Alternatively, you may want to visit Naksan Park (Subway Line 4, Hyewah Station, Exit 2)

A morning trek to the top of a section of the fortress wall may be a nice, peaceful activity to bring you close to nature, yet not too tiresome to climb. This location is one of my favorite because I get to enjoy nature without having to spend too much effort climbing, and yet when I get down to the foot of the fortress, an "off-the-beaten-track" shopping area awaits me!
Read more on how to go and what to do

Dongdaemun (Line 4 or 2 Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, Exit 14)

Mass shopping area as well. Building style, (Good morning, APM, Millionaire, Doota etc.) Mostly selling clothes. There are also alot of street hawkers by the road, outside of the buildings, so you could easily settle 1 meal by eating street food! 

Cheonggyecheon Stream

It's really nice & serene to take a walk down this stream which connects a lot of places. It's known as the only preserved stream, flowing through the city, right from ancient times (of course that is not true cos they kind of rebuilt it for commercial reasons). Nevertheless, it is worth to take a walk there cos it's so refreshing and cool. My recommended route is from Dongdaemun (you should spot some entrance sign from next to DOOTA, if you face DOOTA, it is on your right, just walk to the right), if you don't know, just ask around.

Once you are on the stream, walk downwards, aboutt 30-45 mins slow walk, towards the Gwanghwamun entrance, there will be a water feature to mark the start/end of the walk, nice for photos too. But if you feel like you don't want to walk, just go straight to that area from Gwanghwamun.

Dongdaemun Wholesale Market

Same place as Dongdaemun, but when you reach DOOTA, you will spot a huge pedestrian crossing (in front of the DOOTA) to what looks like a not so well-lited area, just cross and walk STRAIGHT, and you should spot a few buildings with those ah beng and ah lian nylon lightingsd that decorate the building. THOSE are the wholesale clothes and accessory buildings which only open from 10pm onwards.
Read about my experience here


Visit a Jimjibang (Ask your hotel recep for recommendations or call the M Plazza Help Desk, they will find you a nice one!)

This will be your final day before you head home, so time is constraint and you probably want to do some last minute shopping etc. But if you have time to spare, do visit this Korean public bath facility which is WIDELY AVAILABLE all over Soeul as Koreans like indulging in such spas to relax their minds and bond with families and friends.  
 Read more about my experience here

OTHER PLACES which you can add into your itineray includes (but, all requires at least 1 full day!):

 - Soraksan (My encounter)
 - Bukhansan
 - Everland
 - Nami Island (My encounter)

Well this pretty much sums up what you can accomplish in Seoul for 6D5N. Please feel free to drop a comment/question if you have any. :)

The above information is true to what I have experienced personally while visiting and staying in Seoul. I apologise for any inaccurate information either due to my lack of awareness or changes in the facilities or maps. Nevertheless, I don't get paid to write any of these, so I am really just sharing what I know, so enjoy reading. :) 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Our Hillsong Conference 2013 experience, Sydney, Australia

I have always heard about Hillsong Conference, but never bothered finding out what it was about.

This year, Mr Chan came home announcing he bought the tickets to Hillsong (I didn't even know we had to BUY tickets) and that we will just "go & see".

So, we made plans to fly there, attend the 5-day conference and continue to stay for a few more days (also in celebration of our 6th year wedding anniversary - it's ALREADY 6 YEARS?!!!! - oh dear...)

And now that the trip is over, I thought it was good to just document some of the highlights of this Sydney trip!

I really thank God for this awesome time of refreshing - and would like to encourage anyone who might happen to read this to go to Hillsong Conference!

BTW,  it is HILLSONG (without an "s") not HILLSONGS (cos I always called it hillsongS! and realized it was without "S")

So, thankfully for us, we registered ourselves to a "self-formed" private group (majority of whom are from New Creation Church, but in no way representing NCC.).

This group was started by a volunteer who wanted to gather all the Hillsong-goers so that we may be entitled GROUP-benefits which included "priority-sitting". Meaning we get designated seats for all services.

Apparently, if we didn't have a "group", we will always have to queue for each service and will NOT have designated seats (even if we had a ticket). *sheepish*

Since the highlight was the Conference, we actually didn't do much research and decided to just go with the flow.Very untypical of me, but, it's sometimes nice to be spontaneous! :)

This is the arm-band that we use as a "passport" to enter the venue.

The Allphone arena was HUGE and the venue was JAMMED-PACKED for most of the services.

This was the opening shot! 
Look at the number of "heads" there - all coming together in 1 voice to worship Jesus.

Worship time was INCREDIBLE. 

Good morning! Welcome to Hillsong!

So, speakers to the conference included:
Brian & Bobbie Houston, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joel & Victoria Osteen, Judah Smith & Craig Groeschel.

I really enjoyed Pastor Brian (with his fatherly tone), Pastor Joel (ultra gentlemanly!) and Pastor Judah Smith (he was slightly "dark" in his humor but it was great!).

Pastor Brian & Bobbie Houston

Pastor Joel Osteen

Pastor Judah Smith

The thing about Hillsong is  -it is packed-filled with activities!

A typical day goes like this:

From 0830 hrs where you are advised to be seated for conference (that starts at 0900 hrs)>> This is called "Morning Rally"

0900 - 1200 hrs (+ -) Morning Rally starts with worship, then sermon.

You get a lunch break. (How long a break will depend on what time the service ends and what time your next activity starts)

Let me explain: "next activity" is termed as "Elective" where they offer various electives for a participant to sign up for. Each session lasts about 1-1.5 hrs.

"Elective" is like a "school" (or course), like afternoon break-out class where you get to attend separate "group-studies" with people who have the same interests. (e.g. Missions School, Evangelism School, TV & Media, The Songwriter, The Musician, The Worship Leader, Dance, The Vocalist etc. and the list goes on) 

These electives happen con-currently and differs from day-to-day in that 5-day Conference. You need to submit your preferred Elective upon purchase of your Hillsong ticket.

At the same time, in the foyer area, there will be lots of things happening in Marquees. You have master classes, interviews, video screening of events, pop-up book stores and various Christian associated drives - one of which I remembered was an "sponsor-a-child" drive etc. It's all free & easy, you choose what you want to attend.

So by the time you are done with the afternoon classes and activities, you have dinner& Night Rally will begin at 1800 - 2000 hrs, which is followed by a Praise & Worship session to close the day between 2000 - 2030 hrs.

This is why it is jammed-packed. You leave the hotel early in the morning and you only get back late at night because if you don't happen to stay near to the Allphones Arena (which was the case for us), you will definitely take some time to get back. (For us, it was a little more than an hour of train ride!)

The station nearest to Allphone Arena was known as Lidcombe Station (and you need to transit via a feeder train to take you to Olympic Station where you can walk to the indoor stadium). We were staying near Museum Station - total of 19 train stops. The good thing is that they have double-deck trains, and EXPRESS TRAIN service, which meant the train doesn't stop as most of these 19 stations, and only stops at key ones, so you have some time-saving there.

How the outdoor Foyer looks like! Buzzing with activities!

A snap shot of what happens in an Elective

And of course, a few shots of our daily picnic fun and lunch boxes.
Because there are limited food choices nearby with thousands of people wanting to fill their stomachs in that short lunch break, our group leader was kind enough to pre-empt us on the "lunch-crowd", hence we brought our our own food EVERYDAY! *happy!*  

Starting from breakfast in the train (yes, you CAN eat in the trains over there - unlike in sg)

Pre-packed sandwiches, ham, cheese, cookies, snacks, chips, yoghurt etc.

Alas, we come to the last night of the Conference, Praise and Worship ended later than usual - and having attended Conference for the past 4 days made us miss Conference already (knowing there's no more 6th day)

This was the beautiful day-fireworks display as a closing to the event.

Final shot in the Allphones Arena on the last day!