Seoul fish market

If you have the time make sure you check out the Norymgjin fish market. It’s worth the trip.

Located about 20 mins from the city centre this would have to be one of the largest fish markets in the world. While this market doesn’t hold the excitement of Tokyo or Seattle’s live fish auctions, there’s still plenty to see.

Take the dark blue line (line 1) to Norymgjin, exit 2. Upon exiting cross the tracks on the overhead bridge and follow the signs with the fish. Oh and the smell. You won’t miss the smell.

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Each stall sells a ridiculous array of fresh seafood, with the owners willing to barter prices for your business.

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Even if you’re not in the market to buy this market is worth the trip. The spectacle of the market in itself is with the $1.80 train fare. Oh and don’t worry about what time you go, the market is open pretty much 24hrs. Fish for everyone!

If you’re looking for lunch and dinner there’s numerous restaurants located above the market that have vast menus. You can even purchase your own seafood and take it to the restaurant to be cooked.

If you’re feeling brave (or somewhat peer pressured like I was) then try some fresh, raw octopus. I’m told it’s a Seoul specialty.

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First thoughts: it looks a lot worse than it is. It’s really really chewy. And thank goodness for chilli sauce.

I probably wouldn’t make a conscious choice to try it again but if you’re brave, take the chance and give it a go. It could be worse.

Until next time…

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Gyeongbokgung: Palace of Shining Happiness

If you only have time to visit one palace during your time in Seoul this has to be the one.

As one of the largest attractions in central Seoul and only $3 entry it’s hard to miss. And unlike other sights in Seoul it’s actually easy to find. Take the subway, line number 3 to Gyeongbokgung, exit 2. Sign posts direct you to your destination. For those of you that know Seoul, you’ll know that sign posts are not the norm. It’s one of the few sights take won’t take you 30 minutes to find.

Entering the grounds you’ll be taken back to the Joseon dynasty and greeted with lavish displays of opulence and prosperity.

The large space is comfortable and regardless of the hoards of tourists there’s still space. Take time to explore the palace grounds and even visit the folk museum if it tickles your fancy.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but once again it’s well worth the $3 entry. The space has been impeccably looked after by the South Korean government, giving you a great glimpse into the past.

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Until next time…

x

 

Korean family road trip

One of the main reasons I chose to come to Seoul from Japan was to visit the city of one of my friends from university, Sarah. I met Sarah during my first year of university, when we were placed in the same university housing unit.

I don’t remember exactly what we bonded over but it was probably something to do with all things cute and Korean tv drama. Oh and the time I introduced her to tequila at one of my parties. Oops.

On my first full day in Seoul I was picked up by her family at 6:50am sharp to head off to Sokchosi. Saturday was the start of a festival to worship the local fish so it was expected to be busy.

While Sarah’s parents did not speak English (proficiently) both Sarah and her younger sister did and so the day consisted of a lot of back and forth and plenty of nonverbal communication.

I did not expect Saturday road trips to be so popular. Oh was I wrong. Dotted along the highways were pit stops that put the Bushells “Stop. Revive. Survive” stops to shame. From coffee to fried squid and even a full Korean meal. You could buy just about anything here. It was one of those… I just don’t even know moments.

Followong our roadside pit stop we also drove up one of the famous mountains along the way, somewhere near Gangwon. It was beautiful. But so cold. Apparently it’s popular place for hiking, during the summer that is.

Third stop of the day was at the Shiheugsa Temple. If you’re heading up north I would recommend a stop here. While some elements of the temple burned down, it has now been rebuilt and stands on its former glory. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but at only $3.00 it’s worth a visit.

After nearly four hours in the car our final stop was Sokchosi. And it was time for lunch. I was being treated to a full 5 course Korean sashimi meal and my God was it something else. The photo below was just the first course of appetisers. If you’re in Sokchsi try some of the seafood – it’s worth the price!image

 

 

 

After visiting the fish festival, fish market and a stop at the beach it was time to head back to Seoul. A 3.5hr road trip awaited, us and just about every other family in Seoul.

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All in all it was a great day and I feel privileged to have had the chance to be part of a Korean family for the day. So kind and generous!

Until next time…

x

South Korea: new money and old wounds

Arriving in Seoul from the clean, polite and advanced city of Tokyo was a slight eye opener. Now while Seoul is technologically advanced there are still some aspects of the city that ring true to an uncertain past.

The stark contrast between the wealthy and poor in Seoul is something you won’t miss. Endless numbers of cashed up youth wander the malls and streets; often carrying numerous bags of designer goods, while pensioners are lying on the street, with there arms outstretched in the hope of small change.

While poverty is of course not unique to any country, the wounds of South Korea’s past are still evident, and for some, remain open. It will be interesting to see how this city grows as it continues to find its feet.

Until next time…

x

Ramen for the lonely

If you’re anything like me, when you’re travelling alone, the thought of sitting at a single table at a restaurant is slightly depressing.

Well slightly socially awkward friends it’s time to rejoice – if you’re in Tokyo that is! Ichiran have answered our wildest dreams and allow us to not only order our ramen from a machine but then sit in a singular booth.

Ichiran (http://www.ichiran.co.jp/sp/) has a few locations in Tokyo – the main two are in Uneo and Shibuya.

Warning: finding either of these restaurants is a challenge. It will take a long time. However do not fret ~ Ichiran is open 24 hours. Oh yes. Ramen any time of the day or night.

I myself chose to visit the shibuya restaurant. On first attempt I could not find it for the life of me (but this may have been due to the fact that I had just arrived from a 10hr flight, 4hrs sleep in 24hrs and had spent 8hrs sight seeing. See below the restaurants directions:

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Good luck. Only kidding

  1. Take the Hachiko exit and diagonally cross the scramble crossong
  2. keep right and walk up the main shopping alley
  3. keep walking until you see a yellow cheesecake store on your right, turn right up this street
  4. turn left at the top of the street and look out for Ichiran on your right.

I warn that this restaurant has minimal signs and is somewhat elusive. However the journey to find it is worth it. Be prepared to eat the best ramen of your life.

Walking downstairs you will find a semi vending machine. Here insert your yen and choose your preferred meal. I went with the classic ramen and would recommend.

From here it’s time to select your perfect forever alone booth. Once sitting down fill in your order form – this allows you to choose specifics such a spice, garlic and how soft you would like your noodles (I would recommend medium). If you’re an English speaker like me, ring the bell in front of you and the friendly staff will bring you a form in English.

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When you’re done ring the bell and a member of staff will take your order specifications. Now it’s time to sit back and wait…Now enjoy!

until next time.

x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tokyo cat cafe

I couldn’t help it. I was in Tokyo… What’s an animal loving gal meant to do if she does not frequent a cat cafe when they are so readily presented?

Well by readily presented I mean hidden in a side street with minimal signs but hey… That’s Japan for you.

Initially I was searching for cat cafes I’d found online in Uneo and Ahkiabara – but with no street signs or names this was all but hopeless. Instead I moved my search to shibuya, in a bid to find some fluffy new friends.

And so I set off on my journey to find Hapineko cat cafe.

How to get there:

  1. Take th Hachiko exit from Shibuya station and walk towards Building 109
  2. As you approach Building 109, keep left  but stay on the right hand side of the road
  3. Keep walking straight and keep your eyes peeled for this sign: image
  4. Take the elevator to the third floor and enjoy

In terms of price this cafe was on the higher side but included a free coffee & chocolate – so price is pretty much even in comparison to other cat cafes in the area. Be prepared to spend at least ¥1200 for 30 minutes of cat lovin’.

The cats in this cafe were all friendly , enjoyed attention and were exceptionally beautiful.

All in all this was a very positive and one that I would do over and over again. If you’re looking to go ~ take the hour. You’ll need it.

Get ready for photo spam below.

 

Until next time.

x

 

 

 

Tokyo > than real life

Ok first thing’s first. I love Tokyo! Can I just stay here forever please?

Everyone and everything is nice to you – even traffic lights – who sing to you when it’s time to cross the road. Can I get an AMEN. Everything just works here… something that often isn’t the case when you travel to other parts of the world.

Getting back on track… I ventured to Mt Fuji (Kawaguchi0-ko) in the hope of catching a glimpse of the volcanic beauty from Kawaguchio-ko Lake. Having chosen to embark on this 3hr (round trip) journey on what was predicted to be the clearest day during my stay, I was anticipating some great views.

Well…

Even the best made plans can often fail. And boy did mine fail. The closer the Highway Bus got to Mt Fuji the more clouds began to form. An elderly Japanese man that I was seated next to reassured me it would be ok. Well that’s what I assumed he was doing – he just pointed at the clouds, made a wind sound and then smiled. Idk take it how you will but I’m afraid his prediction did not ring true. Dear Mt Fuji was mostly covered by cloud cover. So many feels.

Regardless of the disappointing main show Kawaguchio Lake was quite the   beauty. With a return trip to Kawaguchio-ko station only Y3500 with Highway Buses, it’s worth the trip. Maybe, if you’re lucky you’ll even see Mt Fuji.

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Next major stop was the Imperial Palace, located in the heart of Tokyo this free sight is not to be missed. While the palace itself is closed to the public, the real showstopper lies in the palace gardens.

tThe photos speak for themselves on this one – but if you’re looking for an escape from the hustle of Shibuya and Shinjinku this is the place to go. Take some sushi and join the local businesspeople for lunch.

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Until next time…

x

Flight QF25 and my first 24 hours in Tokyo

Airports are a lot funner when you’re not alone. And I was most definitely reminded of that on Saturday night.

However feelings of loneliness were soon defeated by the satisfaction of buying $2 water from the duty free store. HA!

The flight was relatively enjoyable … if that’s possible? With service adequate but not overdone and surprisingly good food. I actually ate my entire meal. Seriously. I’m really not kidding. If anyone is flying Qantas soon, don’t despair the food is edible. And all mains come with a side of garlic bread. Yes you read right. Garlic bread. Thank you airline gods for bestowing this magical gift upon us mere mortals.

And with about four hours sleep I arrived in Tokyo, both excited and a little bit nervous on tackling the overwhelming subway system with minimal sleep.

But before that I paid a visit to the ladies restrooms and OMMGGG Japanese toilets are the best. Two highlights included the soothing music that played whilst you were in the cubicle AND that the toilet thanked me as I left. Fabulous.

The subway wasn’t so bad – although i am thankful that i arrived on a Sunday rather than a Monday. Having said that however further trips throughout the day ensured somewhat tricky. Two take away tips:

  1. Always know your exit – or you will end up in Narnia. On a serious note.. taking the right exit will ensure you arrive at your destination … without having to walk an extra 10kms and not have a nervous breakdown about being lost in a new city
  2. Transfers aren’t always simple – Japan’s rail system are owned by a number of private and public parties meaning that switching from one to another isn’t always simple. All i can say is follow the signs and know your direction. Otherwise you might find yourself spending hours in one station

I arrived to a rainy morning i Tokyo but that was not hinderance to begin to explore the day.

First stop was the Government Metropolitan Building. Where both the North and South tower have observatories open to the public – give you a birds eye view of the city below. Unfortunately the rain caused a lot of cloud cover during my visit, but it’s definitely worth a visit. I might even go back.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Second stop was Shinjinku Park. A nice escape from the bustling freeway and sidewalks across the road.

Shinjinku Park

Shinjinku Park

Next stop was Shinjinku itself. I was too tired to really venture here.. but now have my bearings ready to go for when I’m ready to truly explore.

From here I took the cheap skate option and decided to walk to the Meiji-Jingu Shrine. Whenever my boyfriend and I travel we always walk places because we don’t want to pay the subway fare and yesterday i kept that tradition going.

Meiji-Jingo Shrine was pretty spectacular – and the walk itself was beautiful too. I would definitely recommend this in your top 5 things to do in Tokyo.

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

Meiji_Jing Shrine

And then I bolstered myself to tackle Harijuku. Although by that point I think I was so tired that I just went with it. And boy was it busy. Like Shinkinku this was just a taster.

Harajuku

Harajuku

Frequenting Shibuya for some Ramen for dinner was followed by an early night. And now I am getting ready to visit Mt Fuji.

Until next time.

x

T-2 days till departure & 3 preflight tips

I fly to Japan in exactly two days, 22 hours and 55 minutes.

After what feels like an eternity in my millennial world, it’s finally time to depart. Like many 20 somethings i often feel conflicted about the ‘need’ to build a career, to work and to be successful and the strong desire to escape the monotony of adult life. srsly though…

This will be my first trip as a full time member of the workforce, gone are my university breaks – where it was entirely acceptable to jet to Europe for 6-8 weeks. Unfortunately being an ‘adult’ means that while I apparently have more capital to play with, I also have about a quarter of the time. Cool, thanks capitalism. Love you work…

So in a world that doesn’t sleep, how can the worker bee best prepare for their escape?

Alas I have three simple solutions to get you prepared – it’s time to end the preflight dash.

  1. Download the packing app. I’m being serious, this wondrous invention allows you to create personalised lists of nearly every item imaginable. You can then check and uncheck as many times as you pack. And if you’re anything like me that’s going to be at least 5 times. This brings me to point two…
  2. Only pack what you know works. We’re all guilty of it, hell I’m probably guilty of it now as i sit trying to avoid eye contact with my overflowing suitcase. We all know are favourite items and outfits. So just pack those. You’re not going to work… I promise no one will notice if you wear the same dress in one week
  3. Write down your to-dos as you think of them. Whether it’s on your phone or a scrap of paper, writing down every little thing you need to do may alleviate the pressure to remember when it your taxi is beeping out the front and you can’t remember if you paid your gas bill. Lists are your new best friend.

So here I am. Ready to escape for 14 full days of adventure, discovery and peace.

I look forward to sharing my journey, mishaps and everything in between with you. It’s time to explore some more of the world.

x