Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Korea Part 2

I haven't mentioned the mosque in Seoul. This mosque is the center for the Moslem enclave in Seoul. For the whole of Korea there are about 35,000 Moslems. This mosque in Seoul is located near another Moslem restaurant where we came for our dinner. The mosque is perched on a small hill and we had to walk slowly past it to reach the restaurant.

For the second day our itinerary was the much waited visit to Nami Island in Gangwon Province. The island was made famous by the television series Winter Sonata. It is popular even among Malaysians.
Before the departure we had breakfast at the hotel. For the first time I tasted Korean food and I fell in love with kimchi, which is cabbage pickled with chilli. I had some cereals and toasts too for good measure.

Beside kimchi, sea weeds and mushrooms are the other ingredient that I could identify.

Tuan Haji Shafie was caught buttering his toast.

Some of the ladies will not leave the hotel without having their photograph taken in front of it.
The ride to Nami Island was a good ride. There wasn't much incline for the bus to negotiate as many tunnels were built where hills were involved.
Though subways are available at about 12 meters underground, Korea is set to be underground highways at 60 meters deep. Did you hear that?
We reached the jetty at Nami Island. Since we were on a package tour, we did not need to buy the ticket which be considered as the Visa to enter the Republic of Nami.

Since you need a Visa to get there, you have to pass the immigration checkpoint where you have to show your ticket to the staff on duty.

The ferry to Nami Island has standing room only since the ride is only less than 10 minutes. Fortunately the idea to build a bridge to the island was scrapped as it would only lead to pollution. The only vehicle allowed on the islands are electric powered vehicles or mechanical contraption that require leg muscles to propel it.

A briefing about Nami Island upon arrival. We were told that the grave of General Nami after whom the island is named, is found on the island.

Not far from the jetty we saw a group of people in traditional costumes making offerings to the dead.

They were singing while accompanied to drum beats and a few other traditional instruments.

Lucy has decided that those couples in the group must make some form of proposal to their spouse. There were 5 couples in the group but only two couples were game enough to do it. One of the two couples is of course Pak Zawi and his wife Fatthiyah. The rest of the group were witnesses to the proposal. In Pak Zawi's proposal he gave Nami Island to his wife.

There is a 6 star hotel on Nami Island. It is the only 6 star hotel without any television in the hotel. After waiting for almost a year for it's rating from the Korean Tourism Authority without any response, the hotel management decided to award itself with a 6 star rating.

The hotel reception is set some distance away from the hotel thus guests staying at the hotel will not be bothered by people making room inquiries or when checking in.

The hotel from a distance.

There were lots of sculptures on the island. My guess is that these works of art were made from whatever remnants of construction left on it.
This one is made of wood.
While this one is made of steel plates.

The most photograph picture on the island is of course of the actor Bae Yong Jun and actress Choi Ji Woo. Most people would sit on the bench and be photographed against the backdrop of the actor and actresses.
In real life Bae Yong Jun was once a little Mafia terrorizing the neighborhood children. He changed his ways after gaining popularity as an actor. As a form of repentance, he employed the very people that he had bullied during his youth.

If you can't afford the 6 star hotel on Nami Island, you can always sleep in this thatched igloo like huts available not far from Nami Island Hotel.

Beside electric bicycles and tri cycles available for hire on the island, there are also quad cycles available. See how eco friendly is tourism in this Republic.

By noon we were done with Nami Island. While waiting for the ferry ride to the mainland, we did or Zohor and Asar prayers near the jetty.
A short bus ride took us to a Korean Restaurant for lunch. It was authentic Korean lunch and instead of grilled chicken we were served grilled fish with rice to ensure a truly halal meal. The restaurant owner and our local guide was so happy since we enjoyed the food served there. The restaurant owner was overjoyed when I mentioned in Korean 'Ma Sit Sum Ni Da' meaning 'It is delicious' some Korean words I picked up from the travel pamphlets.
After another long bus ride, we reached our hotel The Songtan Tourist Hotel loacated in Gyonggi-do Pyeongtaek City.

I like this hotel as it is quite comfortable with free internet connection. If you have no broadband cable, you can ask from the counter with a 3000 won returnable deposit. From now onward, I will not forget to bring along such a cable when I have my laptop with me on my travel.

For dinner, Lucy Kim the local guide had arranged for us the Japanese seafood restaurant.

This is what we had, some crabs, cuttle fish and whatever else to be shared among the four of us sitting cross legged around this low table. Noticeably absent is the octopus tentacles to be swallowed live as an authentic Japanese food.

Since there was ample time before breakfast is served at 7 AM, I took a walk around the hotel area to sample part of Pyeongtaek City.

Sign of the French influence in Korea, a French bakery.

I saw workers cleaning up the streets after a street market the night before. Look, the workers had to run to keep up with the vehicles which moved ahead to the next pick up point. That way no time is lost for the workers to hitch on the vehicle since it was a short distance away.

City taxis waiting for customers. Luxurious Koreans vehicles were used.

This street was a busy street market in the evening.

Hang Ten, the brand that I used to wear when I was living in Labis Johor in the 70's. The material is of a very good quality.

Free newspapers on a lamp pole.

A luxury car parked so close to the railway line. I guess this line is not in use anymore.

Branded goods.
By 7 AM I was back for breakfast at the hotel. Lucy Kim told us that in Korea labour is scarce and we have to send our used dishes after use. Non of us remembered to do that and Lucy reminded us after that.
Labour (cheap labour) is scarce in Korea. In all of Korea only about 30,000 expatriates are available. Compare that to the millions that we have in Malaysia.

Lucy Kim, our guide and Pae Yun Jun, her assistant cum cameraman, joined us for breakfast. Pae used to work elsewhere before earning about 1.7 million Won (equivalent to RM5,000) a month which is a very low income in Korea and will not be sufficient to make ends meet.

I saw a stair leading up to the hotel rooftop so I sneaked up to shoot some photograph and video of the city from the roof top.

Before boarding the bus for our visit to Everland theme park, I saw these 3 girls from our group posing for the camera. We the elderly were perplexed as to what they were doing. They were making the heart sign as a symbol of love with their hands.
Everland, here we come! This guy was directing our bus to head for the bus parking lot quite a distance away. Only cars were allowed to be parked near the entrance to the park. From the bus parking areas, shuttle buses will take us to the entrance.

Queuing to ride the shuttle bus.

The main entrance to the park.

A huge colorful tree greeted us upon entering the main entrance. Upon checking, the tree was a synthetic tree so the colors will remain throughout the four seasons.

Any way the flowers in the planter box at the base of the tree are real flowers.
The first thing we were shown was the landmark building where we must gather at 1.30 PM at the end of the visit to the park.

We rode the cable cars to get down to the area where the action is.

The highest roller coaster as seen from the cable cars. This roller coaster is of course not recconmended for the faint hearted elderly people like me.
We took another bus ride to visit the zoo within the park compound. Unlike our Zoo Negara, the animals here are not caged up. They have ample space to roam like they do in nature. Only difference is that they are fed.

Some Siberian Tigers.
Beside the tigers we saw some bears, lions, giraffe and elephants. The most exciting was of course the ligers which was a cross between the Lion and the tiger.
Next we were taken on a water ride which simulate the raft ride on a fast flowing river of the Amazon. It was quite fun. Before we were allowed to see the rest of the park on our own, we were taken to see a 3D movie. The characters seemed to come close at us as if they were the real thing and our bodies moved in tune to the movement on the screen.It was an experience that first timers like me enjoyed immensely.

Waiting to enter the 3D cinema hall.
Then we were free to roam on our own. Since no lunch were provided, we had to survive on whatever we carried in our lunch pack. Most of us brought along instant mee in cups where only hot water need to be added to give us instant noodles.

The cascading water wall.

The Four Seasons Garden in full bloom.
The rose garden near where we had some bread for lunch and did our Zohor and Asar prayers to the stares of passerby.
There is a lot more to see and experience in Everland but being a hot day, we now crave to be back in our air conditioned bus to head back to Seoul City.
We did not head directly to our hotel but instead we were taken to another part of Seoul for a bit more shopping while waiting for an early dinner at the restaurant near to the mosque in the top picture above.
It was already dark when we checked in at our hotel. My friend David had come to the hotel earlier and the reception had told him that our group would be checking in at 9.00 PM. By a twist of fate the lift we were in didn't stop at my floor and we somehow were brought back to the lobby and when the lift door opened, there I saw David talking to the receptionist. My one wish to meet David Ritchie in person in Seoul was fulfilled. After sending my wife to our hotel room, David and me adjourned for a cup of coffee at Starbuck not far from hotel Stay Seven where we were to stay for the night.
While surfing for more information about Winter Sonata, I was shocked to learn from the internet that Park Yong-Ha another actor who shot to fame from the TV series Winter Sonata was found dead from an apparent suicide at his mothers home in Seoul some 2 hours ago.


pretty_happy said...


I also just went to Korea recently..almost the exact place you went.

And i think we're using the same travel agent because i saw a picture of the tour assitant, Yong there..he was with me too when i was there..

Korea was great, isnt it? = )

Pak Zawi said...

Was Lucy Kim with you too? From Malaysia we use POTO Travel and the company handling the ground service in Korea appointed Lucy and her assistant.
Korea is great and clean.

pretty_happy said...

Mine was Mr.Bill and his assistant was Yong there.

Yes, Korea is great and clean, and the people are very friendly!

Pak Zawi said...

Mr. Jung must be working for the same company as Lucy Kim. Beside helping the tour guide, He is a photographer and by the end of the tour, Mr. Jung sold us the pictures he had taken and will be selling them at 5000 won each. You can decline the purchase. I just bought two.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Halo Kim Zar Wee,

I'm pretty happy 4U2 :)that u re-newed ur vows on ur knees too (hehehe I'm surprised u can still bend down)You should have made that love shape sign too whilst on your knees, so cute...kakaka.


P/S - I love 'pretty happy' kind of people, u too PZ have that pretty happy attitude too - stay young & cool & vibrant!!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Salam, Abang Zawi!

My favourite photo is the one of you proposing to your wife! I'll bet your children had a good laugh about it.

The mosque looks so futuristic and industralised... like a shop or office building.

I like the wooden sculptures. They remind me of Pinocchio. The bike-trike-quad-trishaw-whatever is nice too. And the thatch hut must have been a surprising find. I would expect to see something like that in Africa, not in Korea.

The streets are so clean and the plants are so colourful (I don't mean the synthetic tree).

Thank you for taking us on a trip with you.

Pak Zawi said...

I was surprised myself that I could go all the way on my knee. I decided to do better than what was done by the hero of Winter Sonata who dd it while standing up. The worst thing was that I was made to do it twice as the director (Lucy Kim) wasn't ready yet and asked for another take.
Do the love sign? I learnt about the love sign only the next day. we people from the Jurassic age only knows the V sign for peace, cleched fist with the middle finger up also means something to us but what does a clenched fist with the small finger and thumb up means? my grand son told me it means 'You Rock'!
Yeah I am pretty happy myself hehehe.

Pak Zawi said...

ee Lynn,
Salam kembali.
I am glad you like it as it means my effort to do it and post the picture was worth the while. I haven't receive any feedback from my children so i don't know whether they had a good laugh or justa smile. They may not even read it unless I post it on facebook.
I believe they are after Pinocchio. I don't have the pictures of the other mode of wheeled transport in still as i took them on videos. Must post some videos soon. The thatch hut was my favourite. I posted it as I don't expect many visitors would do on such a structure.
I still have to post Part 3 for the final part. Pls come back will ya?

Pat said...

Hi Zawi!

I did a two-in-one and caught both your posts on Korea in one sitting :)

It's a beautiful place - and is it really as clean as it looks in the pix?

I love that you gave your wife an island during your proposal! But you missed out something: You don't say is she accepted you/the island or not! ;)

Pak Zawi said...

Korea is clean. As clean as Lucerne in Switzerland minus the smell of dog poo. Ask Ee Lynn why it is so hehehehe.
Though there was no dialogue in the script for her, her eyes said it all that she accepted me and also the pictures of Nami island hahahaha.

chiabh said...

hi zawi... thanks for another excellent piece of writing... yes, like others, i like the photo of the renewal of vows on bended knees... yes, korea is clean... we should learn more from others... like you, i always have an early morning walk around the place where i stay whenever i go... my favourite is the local wet market where you can learn a lot about local lifestyle... you should have seen the way and the enthusiasm that goes with it, when they clean the streets of hatyai (southern thailand) with water and hose every morning...

they also have these bicycles in danga bay in johor baru... you can cycle around the area o these... i took some photos of them too... regards..


Pak Zawi said...

What an amazing similarity between the two of us! The early morning walkabout and the penchant for the wet market. I love to visit the wet market to see how clean they are as it is the place that reflect the culture of the people as regard to cleanliness. Of course our wet markets are always a let down. Fortunately for us we have a choice in the form of better place to go to at the supermarkets.
I have not been to JB for such a long time. I guess it is time to return to the state where I have spent almost 10 years of my life since 1972.

Puteri said...

From the places you visited while in Korea, joining a tour, doesn't sound too bad an idea! Love the pictures!

Would love to visit Korea again! :-)

Pak Zawi said...

Joining a tour will eliminate the hassle to look for transport, accommodation and where to go. You may miss some sites as it may not be on their itinerary.
Please go again as Korea isn't the same anymore. They are better!

Azmi Murad Alias said...

it is really a joy to read about your experiences of Korea and look at the pics posted. Many beautiful things are uncovered. I wonder,like you too, about the hut there. Has it been hired? :-)

Pak Zawi said...

Likewise it is a joy on my part to know that you enjoy the post. I am not too sure myself if the huts are for rental or not. Since there is nothing inside the hut, you must bring your own sleeping bag to sleep inside it. Or it may be just for decoration.

Pak Zawi said...

There will be no new postings on this blog till I manage to resolve the breach of security into my site. Please accept my humble apologies to all my readers.

louis said...

Well Zawi, did you know that you are holidaying in Glasgow, Scotland, and forgot to tell me you were there, and that you lost your wallet, got into serious trouble and was urgently requesting me to send you a significant sum of money to an address in Scotland? At least that is the story in an e-mail purporting to be from you that I received today (July 8). Of course I knew it wasn't from you. It's an old scam.

Pak Zawi said...

Can u imagine how low some people would go to make some money by cheating? I am happy to note that you didn't fall for the ruse.

Pak Zawi said...

Dear Readers,
All new postings will be done at LAISI

Please visit the new blogsite as I can't make any new postings here.

Pak Zawi said...

Dear readers,
I am unable to update this site so please go to for new posts.
I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Temuk said...

Salam Pak Zawi
Thank you for sharing those lovely pictures. Memang seronok melawat negara orang, apa lagi jika pemandu pelancongnya bagus & gang yg bersama juga bagus. I could see that Korea is clean and attractive. The 4 seasons garden is really fascinating! Bilalah nak sampai...

Anonymous said...

salaam pak zawi,

u are one of a kind!!
the nani island- u n ur wife.

i have much respect & regard for a man who loves, values & upholds his 'other half' n have gut to show it to the world.

i've seen thru times, such a man lives a bahagia life with their loved ones. most of the time, sentiasa dicukupi oleh Allah swt.

may Allah swt bless u & family always.


JAJA said...

Salam Pak Zawi, do u have contact of your tourist guide, kim? i plan to go to korea next year. wana get some info from her