Saturday, February 14, 2015

GMGH's Winter Vacay to Beijing and Seoul!

I went to Beijing and Seoul!

So anyway, since I came back last Sunday night, it has been just work work work for me. I didn't really have time to talk about my holiday, so I guess now is a good time as ever!

I left for Beijing on Monday for 2.5 days and then I went to Seoul for 3.5 days. I spent the whole of Sunday on the return flight back. A good question to ask is why I didn't leave Friday night or Saturday morning to squeeze out 2 extra days overseas. The answer to that question is that although I was travelling solo, I was going to meet up with friends in those cities and I couldn't have done it any other way. I wish I could have stayed an extra day each in both cities though, it was pretty awesome!

Airfare 
Unfortunately I don't think I got a very good deal for my plane tickets. I broke my own rule and booked my tickets only about 3 weeks beforehand. It was just a lot of last minute logistics finding out who is in town and when they are free! In any other case, I would've booked almost 2 months in advance!


Currently now, a ticket 2 months out to go on a return trip to Seoul and back is only $483 with a stopover. Return flights to Beijing is only $339 with a stopover. However, the route that I took which was SIN-PEK-ICN-SIN, all direct, costs $805 now.

Since I was slow to book, I ended up paying a premium for my tardiness. Total damage for my airfare was $996. Ouch. I cringe when I see that number, knowing that if I broke up each trip instead of doing it together, it would have been cheaper!

Accommodation


Tian Tan, 15 mins walk from my hotel

In Beijing, I decided to stay at the hotel that my friends were going to stay in so things would be logistically easier. This was a nice decent hotel located about 15 minutes walk from Tian Tan (天坛). Because it wasn't a seedy hotel and located in a pretty decent location, that set me back $73 per night for 2 nights, although breakfast was included. As with any location within the heart of Beijing, it takes almost an hour by taxi and cost about 120RMB ($26 SGD). Cabs in Beijing were not expensive.

Streets of Hongdae, just outside my hostel

In Seoul, I stayed in Hongdae area, which is known for it's lively spirit with the Club Street located there, surrounded by many universities. I stayed in a hostel that had a FANTASTIC location. It was like a 2 minute stroll from the entrance of the metro station. I stayed at this hostel for 4 nights, with it costing $45 per night. However, as this was a hostel and not a hotel, there was no luxury of my own ensuite bathroom, fresh towels daily or free disposable toothbrushs. This was just the same old basic hostel kind of living that I was used to... great! However, since I have more disposable income now, I decided to treat myself to a private room so I didn't have to worry so much about the security of my belongings and being tidy. Transportation from and to the airport was slightly under 5000SKW ($6) and it was by the Airport Metro and takes about 45 minutes.

Sightseeing / Activities 

In Beijing, I think I managed to cram a lot of things into the short time I was there! We went to explore the whole area of Tian Tan, which is pretty huge. We went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Although I actually have been to Beijing before (but not as a tourist), I never did any of these things except for Tiananmen Square. For some reason, the person who planned our R&R thought it was more cool to see the hollow remnants of the Beijing Olympics. It was not, haha. This time, we climbed up to the top of the Jingshan which is the park just behind the Forbidden City. I think this was actually one of the nicest, most peaceful and scenic places in Beijing! We went to Wangfujing street to feel the commercialization and globalization of the world and we went up to Andingmen to get drunk after that.


View from the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests


 At Tiananmen Square, chilling with Mao

The totally underrated view from the top of Jingshan Park

In Seoul, I was a bit more chilled and laid back because I knew I definitely wasn't going to shop, so that left me a lot more time to slowly do what I wanted to do. I explored the entire Hongdae 홍대 area and I think I now know the area pretty well, especially the area around the metro and my hostel. I walked from City Hall, all the way past the famous Cheonggyecheong river 청계천 towards the Gyeongbok-gung palace 경복궁 to see the palace guards. I swear, their beards are FAKE. I carefully inspected a few of them. I bet they felt extra awkward when I was doing that, haha! I went around the Myeong-dong area and walked around Namdaemun and was pretty impressed by the amount of crap they are selling there. I went up to Buam-dong 부암동 to go to a very secret park with a fantastic view of Seoul city! I also walked around Itaewon, which gives me the same vibes as Holland V! Surprised that I didn't go to Gangnam? I heard there's nothing but expensive stuff there! Oh, I also went to a club along the famous Club Street!

 Cheonggyecheong river 청계천

Fake beard palace guards

Hongdae night club

Food and Drinks

I guess food is one thing that doesn't require a lot of explanation. Nomz!


 Famous Peking Duck 北京烤鸭 at 全聚德

 Starfish, snakes or scorpions anyone?

 Super ugly, but it's my banchan 반찬 and my doenjangjjigae 된장찌개

Tteokbokki 떡볶이, kimbap 김밥 and bibim noodles

 Famous Homilbat 호밀밭 patbingsu 팥빙수

 Some Korean Fried Chicken 치킨 and beer

 Live octopus chopped, not whole!

 KBBQ

Famous Hongdae Fish Ice Cream!

As a true blue Singaporean, I think the bulk of my holiday was spent thinking and planning my meals, haha! I ate a lot more things like this super mega spicy budaejjigae and also a bucket of Korean popcorn chicken with spicy cheese sauce (!!), but I either forgot to take a picture or it came out really blur. Noob right? Sorry! Will work on that by punishing myself to visit cafes on the weekend and instagramming such photos.

Perhaps you might have noticed, but one of the things famous in Korea that I did not have is boshintang 보신탕 (dog meat soup) which I will talk about in another post. For me, that was actually quite an epiphany moment when I finally managed to wrap my head about the subject of eating dog meat. Looking forward to sharing my thoughts on that soon, but not looking forward for all the blowback that I will get. Oh well.

My Bill

Airfare: $996
Hotel (Beijing): $146
Hostel (Seoul): $180
Cash spending in Beijing (Sightseeing / activities / food & drinks): $123
Cash spending in Korea (Sightseeing / activities / food & drinks / gifts): $234
Total: $1679

If I had broken up my holiday into 2 separate trips, I think I would have saved quite a bit. But alas, to meet the schedules of my friends, this was the best I could do.

I don't think travelling around Seoul was very expensive at all. In fact, just a night out in a club here in Singapore with that much alcohol that I had would have easily set me back $100 for that 1 activity alone. Because my friends were local, we went to great places with amazing food at really good prices! I doubt a normal tourist without much Korean knowledge would be able to hunt down and find such good places.

Since I started blogging, I have gone to Hong Kong for 5 days for $800 and I've gone to Bali for 6 days for $1050. I think I did HK quite cheaply, but I definitely could have done Bali a lot cheaper, especially if I was more of a beach bum instead of gung-ho sightseeing tourist. This trip to Korea has been my longest holiday since I started working thus far and this 7 days set me back $1679. I think if I had just done a full week in Korea, I would estimate that I would have spent around $1200. I don't think I could stay in Beijing for a week though, haha!

Anyway, it was good holiday! I met up with many of my friends overseas, I am really happy about that. It is great to know that in this huge world we live in, I can drop off a facebook message to friends and a month later, there we are, having a drink in a random location in some foreign country, catching up! Since I was travelling solo, I also had a lot of time to myself also to think about things which I was quite happy about. I didn't have nearly enough time though, I had wanted to finish a book!

I have another holiday already planned in April, but I think after that I will be working pretty hardcore for the rest of the year. The next time I can probably hope for a holiday after the one in April would probably be just a short getaway at the end of the year. Maybe I can go somewhere sunny to escape the rainy season! Boracay? So many places to see, not enough time, could always use more money! Haha!

6 comments:

  1. how come ur hotel bill is so cheap? how many days did u stay? did u join tour package?
    anyway, nice photoes taken and u seem to have a great time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Richard,

      I booked the hotel through Agoda, I think the prices there are usually pretty good. I stayed for 2 nights and I was not in a tour package, did all the planning on my own!

      Glad you enjoyed the photos!

      Delete
  2. Wow seems like you had a really fun day at beijing and seoul. Its a great combination by enjoying two different cities at the same time.

    Slurp slurp...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ehehe, it was great B! Have you been there before? It would have been a lot better if I knew some basic Korean! Maybe next time!

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Stay tuned to find out Retail Trader! :D

      Delete

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