Monday, June 30, 2014

Temple Stay in Gyeongju City

As part of the summer programme (SPIKE) at UNIST, we went for a 2 day 1 night temple stay in Gyeongju City. Temple stays are getting more and more popular as a tourist activity in South Korea. We did not get to sleep in a real temple but we had to eat vegetarian food for the two meals there and we had to attend the evening and morning prayer sessions.

All the happy faces.. not knowing what they will be facing the next morning...




There was an English-speaking monk that showed us around the area.

Then, we were led into a hall to watch an introduction video (in English) on how we should behave in the temple, how we should always be silent and only speak when necessary...



At night, we were brought to this.. location. I have no idea where this is because half the time I was busy snapping pictures instead of paying attention to the tour guide (aka the monk). It is a pretty romantic site, very suitable dating location for couples to go after sunset. I wanna go there again with Kimchi boy!!

As an amater, I am satisfied with the pictures that I have taken ^o^ HAHA. I'd only own my camera (Fujifilm Finepix s6800) for about 2 days and all pictures were taken using the auto mode.



The next morning we had to wake up at 4am to attend the morning prayers. Everyone had to bow 108 times (because according to buddhist teachings, there are 108 sins in this world), except the christian and muslim students. We just sat at a corner and watch them. It was no kidding... Imagine bowing 108 times while being half-asleep at 4 in the morning.

After breakfast we did some yoga. As you can see, the morning yoga session was the highlight of this temple stay. At least for me. This is the view from my yoga mat.


After the temple stay, everyone was meat deprived so we went for shabu-shabu at night!



Friday, June 27, 2014

SPIKE @ UNIST 2014

I am currently in Ulsan city, participating in a summer programme called SPIKE at Ulsan National University of Science & Technology, UNIST. I never thought that I would participate in any summer programme because I am already in my last semester.

Ulsan really looks different from other cities in Seoul. The university that I am staying in is surrounded by mountains. I think we ARE on a mountain.

NUS is not a partner university yet, so we have to pay for school fees and dorms. Students from partner universities like Uni of Michigan, HKUST etc do not have to pay for this programme.

It is a growing university so most of the facilities are still new. It is conveniently located less than 30minutes away from Ulsan KTX Station and there is a bus inside the school.



Student dorms.
 

  




This is a secret trekking path that we found, hidden behind the tennis courts.


 

(Daejeon) Camping at Gyeryong Auto Campground

On one sunny day we decided to go camping with my friend from my university. She came to Korea because we are participating in a summer programme at UNIST (Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology). Kimchi boy's father fetched us to the camping site, helped us set up the tent and left. He is a really sweet father! The camping site (Gyeryong Auto Campground) is not far from where we live. You can drive your vehicle right into your allocated spot.

 
Took them an hour to build the tent.
 
Our tent was much smaller than our neighbour's. Ours is a really old kind of tent which was quite popular in the 90s- early 2000s. Small, but enough to sleep 5.
 
Maxi's first camping trip with us.
 
 
At 3 months old, he is starting to get really playful and naughty.
 
 
Typical camping food - Korean ramen (라면). We forgot to bring eggs T.T
 
After lunch, we went to a nearby stream to play.
 
 
Maxi looking at me with hate. HAHA. I kept pushing him into the water because I wanted him to learn swimming. (Water was freezing cold.)
 
 
During dinner, his parents joined us. They brought lots of BBQ food like hot dog, meet, prawns, mushrooms etc. Korean families love to barbeque during camping trips.
 
 

I really enjoyed this camping trip because it's been a long time since I last went camping. We used to go camping in Taiwan when we were much younger. My mother's side (there are about 13 of us) would take my uncle's 7-seater van to different camping sites. All 13 of us would squeeze into that van. Sometimes uncomfortable, but the whole family was there and that's the most important to me.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

(Japan) U-en Guesthouse Osaka

When I was in Osaka, I stayed in the perfect guesthouse. It's location was not the best, a 5mins walk from Fukushima Station, but it was reasonably convenient to major places like Tennoji, Namba. I had done many comparisons before hand and found their rates to be very affordable. I'd paid a total of ¥6,200 for one night in a 4-bed girl's dorm and one night in a private double room. 

I love how they reply emails promptly and their guesthouse staff were all friendly, have good knowledge of Osaka places & travel recommendations, very helpful and very very pretty. 

The place has a very interesting past and most of its interior and architecture are preserved. It's facilities are very modern though. Definitely worth a visit and I will be back for sure. 

It is hidden in a little alley. Their website provides very clear directions on how to get to their guesthouse. 


Rooms, lounge, bathing facilities are all on the second floor. It is a really small cosy living environment. There are probably less than 50 people on any night.


Japanese style futons are so comfortable I absolutely did not feel like I was sleeping on the floor!

Even though bathing and toilets are shared facilities, they were so clean I felt like it was my own private toilet and shower room. Each shower cubicle consists of a shower area and dry changing area. You get your own private changing space to comfortably apply lotion and change after showering! Shampoo and soap are provided free or charge, but you have to rent a towel for ¥100 if you didn't bring your own. 

On the second night, we had to move to the girl's dorm which was just as comfortable. My own private space was more than enough for a petite girl like me. You get your own storage area (with lock), power plug/source, lamp etc. 

You can draw the curtains for more privacy. 

This has got to be the best guesthouse I have ever stayed at. I literally felt like it was my home. The lounge had a soothing ambience and was equipped with basic kitchen utensils, tea, matcha powder.. The only downside is that it might not be suitable for families because of their limited room types and you had to be very quiet as the walls are thin. 

For more information, their website is  http://u-en.hostelosaka.com/index_en.html 







Friday, June 13, 2014

(Japan) Highlights of Osaka

I went to Osaka for a short trip to do a visa run. Ended up spending more than expected. 

So this time, instead of taking a ferry, I took Peach Airlines from Incheon to Osaka (Kansai). I had been sourcing for cheap tickets before that and finally bought it at ₩180,700 round-trip without check in baggages. Their services are better than any other budget airlines that I know. Legroom was sufficient (I am only 155cm) but the seats were too upright. The only thing that made my experience unpleasant was the three hour delay for the return flight back to Seoul. We were only notified via email about 2 hours before departure.

The following pictures are some of the highlights of my trip. 













It was one expensive visa run that cost me almost 1,000 sgd (incl air ticket) for a three day trip. I should have just paid 50 usd for the visa -.- 

Here are some goodies I came home with!