Before ending our first day in Japan, my sister and I decided to walk a bit in areas near the hotel leaving our parents behind and let them have enough rest. Our accommodation was located strategically in Central Tokyo, as it is accessible via metro subway train. While walking we got a chance to see some part of Tokyo at night. It was Friday night, we left the hotel for a walk around 8PM in the evening. We walked along Eitai Dori, then we turned left and continued the walk along Chuo Dori. Here, we saw line of buildings where most of the ground level are stores and restaurants. Some buildings are malls. Along Chuo Dori, I already enjoyed the lined-up of buildings in it. Though we only did a quick walk, the impression I had while passing the buildings, I felt the relaxing ambiance of the surroundings even though it’s an urban place, though I’m not sure if the feeling is the same case during the day.
We walked at Chuo Dori because it leads us to Ginza where one of the popular shopping district in Tokyo can be found. As the peak hours had passed, we haven’t seen too many people in the road. Probably some just began having good time with their Friday night or majority of them gone home, leaving the downtown for the weekend for a while. During the walk, my sister and I observed that people we passed by looks like they came from work as both Japanese men and women were in their professional dress code. One thing to note, the fashion style we noticed specially for Japanese women from hotel to Ginza area were wearing modern and yet conservative clothing because most of the dress or skirt length they wear were up to knee-length. Honestly, I like the way they dress because it shows their character and values of simplicity.
Our walk that night, made me amazed because in simple thing that I witnessed, the discipline that Japanese has in crossing the road. Even the road is like an alley and even no vehicle is passing through, if its red light they really stopped and waited for green sign to cross the road. At the back of my head, I myself practice it as well even in my country but sometimes I myself neglected following traffic rules and being impatient, some of my country men doesn’t do it, specially if the vehicle are on park mode while waiting for green light, even it was stop sign, people are crossing to almost all kinds of roads, which shows of people being impatient in waiting or let’s say people with no discipline at all even in small thing such as road crossing.
As we approached Ginza area, the bustling lights coming from different stores along Chuo Dori were imminent. Because the lights are quite intoxicating we took photos of ourselves with the stores, we took selfie photos, and we took some photos with the road.
It’s almost 9PM in the evening and we were looking for western food chain like Mc Donald’s or KFC as we were hungry (we’re not really type of people who adventures local food but we’re open to taste it). From Chuo Dori road we turned right at Harumi Dori towards Tokyo Expressway then turned right again at Sotobori Dori and walked for a short distance until we found KFC. That night, we found out that food are quite pricey in Japan, compared to other countries we had visited. After dinner, we had some takeaway food for our parents. We took Metro Subway to return to the hotel, from Ginza Station to Kayabacho Station.
My impression to Ginza area, I think a lot of people will enjoy the place as there is lot to see specially if preferences of the visitors is into shopping. The area is a place of combined shopping centres, dining places and entertainments.
When I am researching information about Tokyo, there is a curiosity about the history of one of the popular or famous city in the world. Tokyo’s former name was Edo which was part of old Musashi Province (information from Wikipedia) wherein fortified by Edo clan. Edo was a small fishing village around 18th century, but seeing Tokyo right now, as I knew that it was a city until I understand that it’s not just a city but a metropolitan prefecture of Japan. It is the most populous metropolitan area of the country and where Japan’s government located.
After seeing some part of Tokyo, knowing what it was before is an amazing thing to discover. Realizing how far it progressed from where it was before is truly considered exponential growth and success of the small village.
A Metro To Remember
The inbound flight that I was able to book to Japan was through Narita Airport. The said airport is 1 hour train to Tokyo Downtown. At first, when I started planning my family’s itinerary, Narita area was first on my list to visit while in Japan with the reason that it is near from the airport and considering utilizing our time. Then I changed the list when I was finalizing the itinerary, I replaced Narita with Tokyo.
We left home from Dasmarinas Cavite around 1AM of September 11, allotting 4.5 hours before the scheduled flight. The past few days that week in my country had gloomy weather as almost every afternoon to evening, in Metro Manila and its outskirts had been raining. We left early as we were trying to anticipate road traffic challenges that may arise if the weather will be the same. I was really glad that Friday early morning, the road was quiet as we travel on the way to the airport. We had smooth travel from home to the airport and the good thing about that morning, it wasn’t raining at all. Around 2AM we’re already at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3.
At the airport, we followed the norms of people traveling international such as paying travel taxes and flight checking-in. After checked-in, since it was still early and we had ample time to spare, we had our breakfast at local food chain in the airport. Next, we went to immigration gate. After passing immigration, we went straight to the airline’s gate. While waiting at the designated gate of our flight, I was thinking about Japan. In my mind, in just less than an hour or so, I will be on my way in a country called “Land of the Rising Sun”. A country which for me was only a dream. At that moment of my life, I felt excited because soon the dream in my mind will become a reality. And the momentous about it, I’m traveling with my family.
The flight was more than 4 hours. The plane took off around 5:30AM in Manila. We landed in Narita International Airport past 10:35AM. Japan was 1 hour ahead in Philippines. We disembarked the plane and walked towards immigration section. Standing in one of the airport in Japan was the realization of my thoughts that I was really in Japan. When we passed the immigration officers, that was the time I believed we will really see and experience Japan.
After the immigration, one of the first thing that’s unique with Japan at the airport is their toilet where you have a lot of options to do aside from the normal stuff that people does. What I’m referring to is that, their toilets has options to play some music or soothing sounds while doing your business. And most of the manual stuff like flushing before and after, it will be done automatically for you. Well, in my country that’s not the case, though some malls has toilets with automatic flush after doing your business.
We were adjusting in the airport and I was thinking what’s the next thing to do, we tried to figure out how we were going to Tokyo downtown. We found Skyliner desk, Skyliner is a train line that directly goes to Nippori and Ueno Station (another option is Narita Express train line that goes straight to Tokyo Station). I chose Skyliner because our Japan Railpass was not yet activated and it has only 7 days, we will be in Japan for 10 days so we were saving the other 3 days. I also knew that we still have chance to experience Narita Express train once we return to the Airport, for our scheduled flight back to Manila. Skyliner is just one of the great trains that we were able to ride while in Japan. I bought the tickets for four and then I looked for ATM to get some money. We went upstairs (where the departure floor is located) to pickup the pocket WiFi in Japan Post Office that I reserved for rent prior arriving in Japan, WiFi will enable us to connect to internet while roaming around the country which is a LTE connection, unlimited data and cheaper for 10 days compared if I will activate data roaming in my mobile from my country and the best of all, all in the family can connect internet seamlessly. After I picked-up the wifi, my father told me that he lost his jacket somewhere and it seems he left it after we passed the immigration officers. My father and my sister went to Information Desk at the airport and requested to looked for the jacket. It was a good thing that we had some photos of the jacket and we were able to show it to airport officers. In few minutes of waiting, my father’s jacket had been returned to him immediately. That kind of experience in a new place was really a great thing. I appreciated how people in that place were so efficient and trustworthy that they can easily find my father’s jacket. It may be a different situation if we were in another country.
Because of the incident, we came back to the Skyliner train desk where we bought our tickets and we requested to replace our tickets as the ticket schedule has passed already. They issued us new tickets for next train which will be leaving soon. We hurriedly went down to the train platform but the train doors were already closed when we arrived and its departing, we missed it for the second time. I came back upstairs and let my family wait in the platform as it’s quite inconvenient if all of us going up with our luggage. I talked to the train officer and advised me to get new ticket. I returned to the Skyliner for the second time, the third schedule given to us was at least an hour waiting time, a very sufficient time for all of us not to miss the train. Missing the train is not really something that’s surprising for us to experience because its our first time to find the train platform and it’s also first time to ride a train in Japan.
From Narita Airport Station (because there is Narita Station which different station), we arrived at Ueno Station after an hour. Japan is a country where train is the most common and most efficient public mass transportation. After arriving in Ueno Station, we started to use our Passmo card I bought together with the Japan Railpass. Passmo card are usable to all trains and buses around Tokyo, but it cannot be used for long travel. Passmo card are accepted to many cities in Japan, maybe in the next coming years they have one card for all transportation which I will be looking forward to in the future. I did my research about public transportation in Japan and understood that there are specific tickets for some train lines. That’s why I made sure that we have the appropriate ticket for the train line we will be taking. From Ueno Station, we transferred to Tokyo Metro Subway and took Hibiya Line towards Naka-meguro and got-off at Kayabacho Station where our hotel for 4 consecutive days in Tokyo is very near and the hotel we will be staying is Sotetsu-Fresa Inn Nihombashi Kayabacho.
Honestly, based on my plan, after we arrived in Japan, we planned to see some places in the afternoon as part of our activity to end our first day. The original plan was to visit Ueno Park, but the plan did not happen because both of my parents were already tired as we haven’t slept due to early flight that day, I decided to cancel the planned activity.
The following places we visited in Tokyo are: Ginza for the first day, Ryogoku, Akihabara for the fourth day and Ueno, Azakusa, Tokyo SkyTree for the 9th day in Japan. Detailed stories of each places are posted or will be posted separately on the link given below.
Our second and last Saturday in Japan spent another day in Tokyo. Early in the morning, we took Shinkansen train from Kyoto to Tokyo. We left Kyoto Station around 6:23AM and we arrived in Tokyo Station around 9AM. Though these two cities far from each other, the Shinkansen train made us felt that both are just near each other. The estimated distance between Kyoto Station and Tokyo Station are around 500 km and it only needs more than 2.5 hours travel within the two stations. It was 3rd time we had Shinkansen Train, though it was not the fastest Shikansen, but it still comparable in terms of its speed, for what I’m aware of the Shinkansen train we took just late of 10 minutes compared with the fastest bullet train. Because it was long weekend (as September 21 is a public holiday in Japan), I anticipated that a lot of people were traveling and we reserved our ticket a day before and it’s almost fully booked when I reserved our tickets, the seats we got were not beside each other and one seat was in another car train. I let myself apart from my family as I can be on my own and let my youngest sister be with my parents in another car train.
When we were at Tokyo Station, we looked around for luggage locker because our hotel for the night is near in Narita International Airport. After checking-in our luggage, we roam around again for the last time in Tokyo.
After taking our time with photo shots in Tokyo SkyTree, we decided to go down as we need to catch-up train going Otsuka to attend an event. From Tokyo SkyTree Station in Tobu Line, we returned to Asakusa Station, then transferred to Ginza Line. We got off at Ueno Station. At Ueno Station I just realized that I have to cancel our travel in the place that my family need to be, due to my unintended mistake, we had to take train to Tokyo Station instead to Otsuka Station as we need to catch-up the last trip of Narita Express train from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport Station, as our hotel for our last night in Japan was near the airport.
At Tokyo Station we walked so fast as we need to find the luggage locker we used to checked-in our luggage and bags at the station. We arrived at the train platform for Narita Express train at least 5 minutes before its scheduled departure as we were catching our breath. For all of us it was really a nick of time because if we missed the train, we have to take a taxi which was really expensive coming from Tokyo to Narita.
We arrived past 9PM at Narita Airport Station. Then, we took the shuttle bus to the hotel we booked. We checked-in at the Narita Tobu Airport hotel before 10PM. Before we ended the night, we had a wonderful and delightful dinner at the hotel as both of my parents complimented the food we had that night and I felt relieved to what I heard.
We woke-up early and did last-minute packing of our luggage and checked-out the hotel. We took the shuttle bus back to the airport. We arrived at the airport, had enough time before our flight. I went back to the Post Office booth and returned the WiFi device I rented. We checked-in in our flight and passed the immigration. We went to the designated gate of our flight and waited for our departure. At that time I felt that days passed so fast. I remembered 9 days ago, we just came in to Japan and yet that moment we’re about to leave the country. I sensed that in few hours I and my family has to go back in reality of our lives again.
I had a great time in Tokyo and oveall in Japan, though there are lots of places that I haven’t seen but we had wonderful time and we had fun as Japan offered us a lot of places to see to enjoy our trip in this country called “Land of the Rising Sun”.
View At My Window (Post#23) : Strahan – Risby Cove
When I got a chance for 3 days adventure in Tasmania, next biggest island to the mainland of Australia, I had opportunity to experience the island. Part of the itinerary is to stop over for a while in Strahan, a small town located near the cove. For me after seeing the harbour from upper area, I had a glimpse how beautiful the places is. For me it is a perfect place for a rest house used for a getaway from busy life in the city. Photo captured during my adventure in Tasmania last June 2013.
When we arrived in this place for walking and trekking adventure, I fell in love with the place. MacRitchie Reservoir is one of my favorite place in Singapore as the area has nature surroundings that helped me forget that I live in the city. The reservoir shot has relaxing view that kept me standing there for a while to appreciate the beauty in front of me. Photo captured last June 2010.
On this post, I am not really going to tell a story but just to show some photos that I randomly took while walking in some areas of Seoul and other places while doing nothing or just looking for something. And this will be the last standard post that I had with the topic about South Korea unless I come back again to this country that I fall in love with. For single photo or image post, South Korea may still appear in random pictures which I usually published everyday.
1. Incheon International Airport
After we got off the plane and walked to the arrival area of the airport, there were few people around since we arrived past 8PM in the evening.
2. Nonhyeon Bus Stop
I captured this photo because we were trying to see if we were able to use the bus instead of train to go somewhere until we realized we never understand what’s the information in front of us.
3. Jeonggak Station Exit
When we were on our way to Insadong, we got off at this exit as we understand its somewhat the nearest exit in Jong-ro to the market until we found Tapgol Park along the road.
4. City Hall Station Exit
I had this photo after coming from Insadong market and we planned to go to City Hall Station to buy a discounted ticket to Everland at Hotel President. All of us were fascinated with the hanging umbrellas displayed at the exit stair we took after getting off the station. We also found a modern style of entrance/exit transportation card reader.
We had some time to walk around the area where we saw City Hall itself. We saw one of the main gate of Deoksugung (no photo captured), a palace that we haven’t had a chance to see though we have ticket for it.
5. Seoul Metropolitan Library
6. Hotel President
This was the place where we bought our discounted ticket and memory of the Philippine Tourism center near City Hall area.
7. Taepyeongno 2(i)-ga
This was the street that we passed through while we were on our way to Sungnyemun Gate. I enjoyed the short walk in this street because both lanes has Korean restaurants. After walking at the side of Sejong-daero, we saw Namdaemun Market.
8. Gyeongbokgung Station Exit
During our first day adventure in Seoul, the photos captured while we were on our way to Gyeongbokgung Palace after getting off the train.
I captured the photo above after we came from Gyeongbokgung Palace on our way to Sejong Center.
8. Sungnyemun Gate
We saw this gate while walking along Sejong-daero after we came from Hotel President where we bought our Everland discounted ticket. This gate is said to be one of the eight gate that surround Fortress Wall of Seoul which surrounded the city in the Joseon dynasty.
10. Seoul Station and Surrounding Area
Photos taken after we came from DMZ Tour, got off at Seoul Station, walked a little until we found Concos The Galleria where we had our lunch before returning to our hotel to pick-up our luggage for our flight the night of that same day.
11. Seoul City Tower
One of the building around the area of Seoul Station, captured this photo when we returned from an activity we attended in Seoul.
I captured this while walking along Gangnam-daero after our Everland adventure. To be honest, we stayed in a hotel which in Gangnam area but unfortunately we never really had time to explore it. The only chance we had after we came from Everland, we walked along the road and discovered we stayed in one of the busiest district in Seoul.
13. AK Plaza – Suwon Exit Station Mall
Snapshot captured while we were trying to figure out how to go to Hwaseong Fortress. It is one of the noticeable building as the location is both foot and automobile traffic area.
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#16) : Mount Tangisan
I am a member of mountaineering group in my country wherein we used to help and aid group of people and mostly students who live in remote areas that does not have easy access of help from other charity groups. Unlike other communities that easily receive help and easily reach out by other non-government group we made a simple vow to help others. Because we used to climb mountains and we are exposed in difficulties, challenges and quite adventurer, our group combined some of the climbs with charity events. There were cases that it’s only charity focus. When we went to San Pedro in San Jose, Tarlac we did a charity activities for the students in the area. The place is actually quite remote as we passed huge farm and to my surprise I never expected such community as no concrete roads towards the place, we drove long rough road in the middle of farms. Beside the community, Mount Tangisan is also to be found. Since it’s near the area, the group decided to trek the mountain. Photo above captured last July 2012.
After Mount Apo trek, I stayed in Davao for another 3 days so that I can see more of Davao. One of my mountaineer friends stayed behind as well as he will also spend holidays in Davao at that time. One of the side trip that I did with my friend were water tubing and snorkelling in Santa Cruz Davao del Sur. Sibulan River was the river we visited to experience water tubing and the whole group enjoyed the adventure with the rapids of the river. Photo captured last March 2009.
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#14) : Mount Apo Boulders
Mount Apo is the Highest Mountain in my country. I only knew this mountain by its name and by being the highest mountain. I never imagine before that time will come that I will be able to reach the summit of this mountain. I will never forget a risk life climb that I experienced on this magnificent mountain. Photo above was the boulder parts before reaching the crater and summit of the mountain which captured last March 2009.
One of the place that I loved is Rodriguez Rizal because of the combination of panoramic natures that I was able to witness when I attended Basic Rappelling Course conducted by the mountaineering group where I belong. I was there before it hit Metro Manila by one of the major typhoon named Ondoy (local name) last 2009. After that event I am not sure if the same panorama that I witness are still there, I hope time will come it will return to what it was. Photo above is the Wawa River last September 2009 where the water came from Wawa Dam (previous dam that supply Metro Manila for its water resource until it was replaced by Angat Dam).
Alice Springs is located at Red Centre in Northern Territory. Red Centre is the first on my must see list in Australia as for me it represents one of the place for “Outback Adventure” which I haven’t experience before. I flew to the Town of Alice Springs as my gateway to see Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon which are all located in Red Centre. Photo captured during my camping tour last April 2013.
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#12) : Cradle Mountain
When I visited Tasmania Island in Australia, I included a tour for Cradle Mountain. The said mountain is located in the Cradle Mountain-Lake Saint Claire National Park and it is one the main tourist site in the island. During the tour we did one of the available walks in the said park. I love the photo above because of the scenic view of Crater Lake from within the Cradle Mountain. Photo captured last June 2013.
It was Friday and we were set to visit two palaces in Seoul. The two palaces are: Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung. The original plan was to visit first the Jongmyo Shrine, but unfortunately, we missed the English tour at the time we arrived at the gate and it is not allowed to go around the area on our own, tour guide is a must while inside the shrine. Because we wanted to maximize the time and not just waiting outside, we decided to go back after the two palaces.
From Jongmyo Shrine, we walked at the road at the right side of the shrine named as Seosulla-gil and then we turned left after we saw the rooftop of Changdeokgung Palace gate called Donhwamun. Same what we did in Gyeongbokgung Palace, before we entered, we bought the map guide. We have the tickets already for the said palace as we bought combine tickets (integrated tickets) when we were in Gyeongbokggung.
–Open space after Donhwamun
–Geumcheongyo and Jinseonmun
We entered the Palace via Donhwamun, as per the handbook guide, this gate is a two-story, pavillion-type wooden structure and the largest of all palace gates. After passing the said gate, what we saw was a huge space. And then we turned right where we saw the small bridge called Geumcheongyo. This bridge is known as the oldest stone bridge remaining in Seoul. After passing the bridge, the way leads to another gate called Jinseonmun. Based from handy guide, on this gate has once installed a drum called Sinmungo where anyone can strike the drum to file a petition to address grievances but striking the drum requires approval to a lot of government official and this system did not serve its purpose and been useless to many. It’s sole purpose is by the name only.
–Sukjangmun (Front) and Injeongmun (Left)
After passing Jinseonmun gate, another open space welcome us. From where we stand and looking at the map, another gate in front of us called Sukjangmun and the gate in our left side is called Injeongmun. As we reached Injeongmun, we saw Injeongjeon area. Injeongjeon is the throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace. Based from the guide, major state affairs took place here such as coronation of new king and reception of foreign envoys. Next area we visited is Seonjeongjeon, this building where king worked at his convenience to discuss routine state affairs with high-ranking officials. And this is the only building in the palace with blue-tiled roof.
–Seonjeongjeon and Huijeongdang
Beside Seonjeongjeon is Huijeongdang. Huijeongdang is the king’s bed chamber. This bed chamber became king’s workplace and become the actual main hall of the palace instead of Injeongjeon.
–Entrance to Secret Garden
As we are awaiting for the English Tour schedule to Secret Garden, we went out the area of Huijeongdang and we waited at the entrance of the garden. Time had come and the tourist guide arrived. The guide made introductions and reminders while touring the secret garden.
Secret Garden or rear garden (Huwon) was a forbidden place for the purpose of the sole use of royal family. Since the palace was built at the base of the mountain, in the rear end of the palace, the garden was placed. And after seeing the garden at the tour, I can say that the design of the secret garden is still in harmony of the nature. This kind of place, I can think that any king can reclaim peace of mind because it is surrounded of nature. Our guide led the group at first stop which is Buyongji and Juhanmu.
–Buyongji (Pond), Eosumun (Gate) and Juhamnu (Main hall at the top), Seohyanggak (library) left hall in the top
–Buyongjeong (left) and Sajeonggibigak (right)
–Seohyanggak (only roof) as I can’t go beyond where I was standing
–Seohyanggak (left most hall) , Eosumun (gate) and, Juhamnu (right most hall)
–Seohyanggak(left), Eosumun (gate), and Juhamnu (top)
–Juhamnu (second level), Gyujanggak (first level) and Eosumun (gate)
–Juhamnu (second level), Gyujanggak (first level)
–Stairs to Cheonseokjeong (not visible – not sure of the building still stand at the top)
I like the setting of the area. There is rectangular pond called Buyongji and most of the building built here surrounds the pond. The main building we saw is called Juhanmu Pavilion. Two libraries are nearby as well called as Gyujanggak and Seohyanggak, another pavilions exist are Yeonghwadang and Buyeongjeon. The said area is in the heart of the Secret Garden.
–Buyongji (Pond) and Sajeonggibigak
–Buyongji (Pond), Eosumun (Gate) and Juhamnu (Main hall at the top), Seohyanggak (library) left hall in the top
Our next stop was Aeryeonji and Uiduhap. Here we found another pond, this time, the pond shape is square. It was mentioned that it has islet in the pond with pavilion but now it was disappeared but the pavilion still there. The pond named by King Sukjong (I know he is the King in love with Dongyi) “Aeryeon” that is why the pond is called Aeryeonji. The grandson of King Jeongjo which is Crown Prince Hyonmyeong built Uiduhap Pavilion near the pond. I remember that the guide told us something about one passage way in the area, it was called Bullomun (or Bulromun) gate wishes whoever passes it will have long and healthy life which originally meant for king.
–Aeryeonji (pond) and Aeryeonjeong (pavillion)
Then, moved to Jondeokjeong area, here the landscape seems to be more natural, because the ponds looks great together with different pavilions surrounding it. There is pavilion which stands on the brim of the pond which is called Gwallamjeong, there is one near on the hill – Pyomusa, Sungjaejeong which stands on the highest ground in the area and the oldest pavilion which is Jondeokjeong.
We continued our walk in the next area called Ongnyucheon. Ongnyucheon is a brook flowing through the deep valley north to the Secret Garden of the palace. And he we found a large flat rock called Soyoam Rock. As per our guide, the story of the rock is related to poetry composition, where cup of wines are afloat while making poems, I checked the handbook guide and I learned that it was from Chinese when having parties, they composed poem by a floating wine cups in the waters and if they are not able to create poems, they drink 3 cups of wine as punishment (for me it’s not really punishment, they are still having a good time). There are five pavilions surrounded the brook, namely : Soyojeong, Taegeukjeong, Cheongguijeong, Nongsanjeong and Chwihanjeong. In that five pavilion, the one caught my attention is Cheongguijeong, because it has unique roof which is thatch-roof.
We moved to the last stop which is YeonGyeongDang. When we went inside the area, there is part where it seems one of the building is being used for shows during night-time. Then, the guide walk us around the area. Based from handbook guide, the area become an audience hall, the guide shows us separated quarters of for men and women. It was mentioned that during King Gojong, the area become a venue to received foreign envoys.
The tour ended well and for me I had a great time. I enjoyed the tour in the garden because it is like a nature trek which I really enjoyed doing. Historical sites in a natural settings is amazing for me. Before we ended the tour, while we were on our way to exit the Secret Garden we found a tree called Chinese Juniper. The tree believed to be 750 years old and aromatic which provide incense for ancestral rituals at Seonwonjeon Shrine.
We parted ways with our tour guide in the Secret Garden. Then we continued our walk in other parts of the palace. We moved to Gwolnaegaksa area. Based from handy guide, the area are mostly used as government offices.
–Gwolnaegaksa and vicinity area
Next was Old Seonwonjeon Site, it was called Old because there is a New Seonwonjeon Site, but we were not able to visit the area, it seems the area are still restricted from the public. Old Seonwonjeon was the place for royal ancestral rites performance. Former king’s portraits were enshrined here.
–Seonwonjeon and Naechaldang
–Seonwonjeon and Vicinity
Then we moved to Daejojoen Area. As per guide book, the area are the scene of tragic history. Here was the place where the last meeting of the cabinet was held to discuss the Japan’s annexation of Joseon and the bed chambers of the last king and queen are still remaining in the area.
And the last area we visited inside Chandeokgung palace was Seongjeonggak. The area was the crown prince residence and has been home of many buildings. Seongjeonggak was also used as royal hospital during Japanese occupation.
During the time of our walking tour between Daejojeon and Seongjeonggak area, it rained so heavy and we waited for sometime until rain was over. While waiting at the stair in the doorway of entrance to Huijeongdang, we met a Filipino which touring around the palace as well. And we talked to him for a while, until we discussed the next palace which is ChangGyeongGung which can be found beside Changdoekgung. He mentioned that the palace is small and can be finished in 1 hour. Because of that conversation, we hurriedly decided to visit ChangGyeongGung as well. We have at least 1.5 hours left before closing time.
One of the country that I dream to visit is South Korea. Main reason, I fall in love with their history through historical drama that I watched. I am not used to watch all Korean dramas, but if its historical, I definitely going to watch it. I can say that I am somewhat familiar with their history though I am aware that probably not all things shown in the dramas are all correct but at least some of the facts can be search online, especially people if they are real or imaginary character. These historical drama were aired as well in my country, and some seen online. I can sense that there is good relationship between my country and South Korea. One of the sign of this good relationship is the continuous visitation of the Korean actors/actress/artists in my country to either promote their albums or films.
When I came from Australia after my recent project assignment last May, there is at least two weeks left before our flight to South Korea. I booked the flight a year ago, without assurance that I will be able to visit this country. It was 1 peso sale in Cebu Pacific (one of the major budget airline in the Philippines), base fare is 3 pesos, but in reality the total airfare is not just that amount, it’s more than that.
I booked three tickets and I planned to go together with my mother and my youngest sister. And in less than two weeks, we don’t have yet the visa since I cannot apply it a bit earlier since I am not around in my country until I returned from Australia. I worked with all the paper requirements for the application of our visa and the three of us visited South Korea embassy, 5 days after I arrived in Manila. And we waited for a week for the result of our visa application. Our visa were approved released just two days before the scheduled flight which is very tight. Until we received our passport and visa, that’s the only time we were sure that we are really going to South Korea. I already accepted before, that the hotel and flight booking will be forfeited if our visa application was not approved. And we were lucky that everything went smoothly.
It was Friday (June 6, 2014), my mom, my sister and I were waiting at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport), Terminal 3. At the time that we were boarding the plane, that made me realized that my dream will come true in a matter of few hours. I just thought about traveling South Korea, but never really planned it so well because of the concern regarding our visa. I am a citizen of the country with limited visa free entries to other countries. This is one of the main reason why my travel to other parts of the world are being limited.
After four hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, we finally arrived at Incheon International Airport. It was past 8 in the evening, we were not like other travelers that all things were arranged. The only thing we booked was our accommodation because we were not really sure if we will able to get a visa. After getting off the plane and passing the immigration area, I thought it still early, therefore, we tried to figure out how we were going to the hotel service apartment that I booked. After asking something at information center, we bought our transportation card called T-money card, this money card can only be topped up by cash (not sure if there is a way to top it online via credit card). We decided to take train to go to Seoul and the plan is to transfer to metro train in Seoul. After withdrawing some cash, we took the “All Stop Train” of AREX line (“Express Train” is the other type of train, which is non-stop, straight to Seoul but more expensive than the All Stop Train). We arrived at Seoul past 10:30 PM. Looking at the time, we hurriedly transferred to one of the Seoul Metro Subways which is Line 4 going to Oido. It’s past 11:30 PM, we got off at Chongshin University or Isu station, then we transferred to another line which is Line 7 going to Jangam. At this time, we never able to arrived at the right station where our hotel is just around because the train stopped its operation even before we reach the station we are intended to.
We stopped at Naebang station as the last stop which means the next train will be coming the next morning, 3 more stations to reached Non-hyeon where our hotel is almost near, we went out at Naebang station and tried to find a cab that will bring us in our accommodation for the next 9 days and it was past 12AM in the morning and we were still outside in a place that was foreign for us, quite adventure but risky as well. There are several cabs stopped but most of the driver rejected us, either they don’t understand the way I speak since I am asking them in English or they don’t really want us as their passenger. We waited until another cab stopped and agreed to drop us to the hotel. One disappointment on that situation was, the driver never helped us to fetch our luggage to put it in the trunk of the cab. While on our way to the hotel, the driver keep on checking and looking on the map and address that I have on my hand to make sure that he’s on the right track, I keep on talking to him in English but he usually smiled at me without other words to say, in that situation I understand that he does not really know how to speak English either.
At last we arrived at the hotel service apartment at Gangnam-gu and the name of the 4 star hotel is Inn the City Serviced Residence, Gangnam. The clerk at the lobby of the hotel accommodated us quickly, we went straight in our room after we got our key. My impression to our room is nice, it has two double bed and all the necessary appliances as expected were there. After few minutes of being familiar with the room, we knew it was really late like almost 2AM, we have a big day ahead of us for adventure and because of that we crawled in our bed and fallen asleep shortly.
I will tell stories of our adventures of each places that we visited in South Korea, most of the places were in Seoul and around Gyeonggi-do province. I enjoyed all of these places in our 8 days tours in this country, though I am aware there are more tourist destination to see and I promised myself that I will go back in this country.
Here are the places that we visited in South Korea.
Panoramic View (Post#1) : Howqua Valley Trail Rides
This is just one of the scenic photos I got while I was in my horse back riding adventure in Howqua, Victoria in Australia last August 2013. One of the country places that I had been while staying in Australia for more than one year and half.
It was Sunday, my last day in Dubai as holiday. In Dubai or let’s say UAE (not sure if all Arab countries are the same), they started their weekday on Sunday and will last on Thursday. Therefore, they treated Friday and Saturday as their weekends. Because I will be traveling alone, I booked a bus tour which is hop-in and hop-out bus tour type. Though there are places included in the tracks that I already visited, I still join the tour since it is the cheapest way to go around the city since I can’t rent a car because I don’t know how to drive.
Here are the routes of the BigBus Tour that I booked:
1. Red Route (City Route)
b. Creek Park
c. Creek Walk
d. Al Fahidi Port
e. Old Souk
f. Heritage Village
g. Gold Souk
h. Spice Souk
i. Abra Station
k. Deira City Centre
2. Blue Route (Marina Route)
b. Union House
c. Jumeirah Mosque
e. Jumeirah Beach Park
f. Jumeirah Public Beach
h. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
i. Atlantis On The Palm
j. Mall of Emirates
k. The Dubai Mall
3. Night Tour
a. Sheikh Zayed Road
b. Burj Al Arab
c. Palm Jumeirah
d. Skycraper City
e. Burj Khalifa
f. Downtown Dubai
g. WAFI Light and Sound Show
Self tour within the area: Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and Mall of Emirates
Since I have one day left, I did not go anymore to the places that I already seen and visited. And because it still summer in Dubai, the hardest part is walking outside in a hot sunny day. During the day tour, I went outside the bus when we arrived at the Public Beach of Jumeirah and Souk Madinat Jumeirah which both belong to Blue route or Marina route. I stayed inside the bus in other location because I am maximizing the time that I still have to see much as I can. The places I saw from the bus in this route are: the 2nd of December Street (from the formal date of nationalization of UAE from British), Union House (where the UAE was form and the huge flagpole of UAE located), Jumeirah Mosque, Mercato (an Italian themed mall), and Jumeirah Beach Park (which exclusive only for women).
At WAFI (day time)
Raffles Dubai in WAFI (at day time)
Around WAFI (at daytime)
Khan Murjan Entrance (at daytime)
Etisalat Tower 2 (along Sheikh Zayed Road)
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
I got off from the bus when we arrived at Public Beach of Jumeirah because I thought I can take pictures there, but unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures in the beach that was why I was not able to take pictures of Burj Al Arab from that place. My disappointment in the beach was gone when I went to Souk Madinat which can be found inside Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I was really fascinated with the place because of unique style of the market and the structure design of the hotel that you will really feel you are in an arab desert place. I went outside the souk and found a great place to capture Burj Al Arab hotel from Souk Madinat or from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I realized that I was standing in some part of the luxurious resort hotel in Dubai. Though not all part are free to all tourist, it was just part where there are restaurants outside the hotel. I enjoyed the place and if I will be given a chance to come back, I hope I can stay in Madinat Jumeirah Hotel resort.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah Entrance
Inside Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Burj Al Arab from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Around Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Another area that I enjoyed without getting off the bus is the Palm Jumeirah. A famous man-made palm shape structure island, where you can find luxurious hotels and residential homes of rich people. I never realized how big Palm Jumeirah until our bus entered the island. There are lots of residential and buildings already exist and other structures are still being built. For me the place is already beautiful and I was excited when we saw Altantis The Palm hotel from a far. I can’t believe my eyes that I am seeing the hotel which I only saw in the movie of “Sex and the City”. It is a huge hotel that I was not able to capture the whole building with my phone when we were at the front of the hotel. Atlantis is another luxurious hotel that exist in Dubai, I can’t imagine how much it will cost when you stay even for one night.
View while entering Palm Jumeirah (Burj Al Arab from a far)
Atlantis The Palm (at Palm Jumeirah)
View of Dubai Marina from Palm Jumeirah
Next places I saw in daylight are Mall of Emirates, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, I took photos of these building again while inside the rooftop of the bus.
Novotel (at Sheikh Zayed Road) where I stayed in my first 5 nights in Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel
Mall of Emirates
Souk Al Bahar (near in Burj Khalifa)
After completing the blue route, I transferred in Red route or City route bus and in this tour, I saw more of Deira area and its old downtown. I saw the Creek River, Creek Park, wooden Arabian Dhow, Al Fahidi Port, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Abra Station, Baniyas and Deira City Centre.
Creek Park Main Gate (at Al Riyadh St)
wooden arabian dhow in Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Wooden Arabian Dhow
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Deira Old Souk
RTA Marine Transport at Baniyas Road
Deira City Center
While waiting for my night tour, I did some souvenir and gift shopping, these gifts serve as a token to give to my relatives and coworkers when I returned in my country.
The last part of the tour is the night tour where I witness and discovered how grandiose the city of Dubai at night-time. We drove again at the same route of Blue route. Here I saw Dubai differently and witness how beautiful Dubai City is during night hours.
The night tour concluded. And I returned straight from Deira City Centre to my hotel almost 11PM. This was how I ended my last day in Dubai. I hoped that I can go back again in this beautiful city someday because I know there are more places to discover and my few days are not enough to see them all, if I will be given a chance, at least I wanted to live here for almost a year to learn more about Arab culture and its country.
This was the last day of the training, we started the training a little bit earlier and we ended it a bit earlier as well. I went out together with my Pakistan mates in a unique Arab adventure which is called desert safari tour. Though I was invited early on, I did not confirm ahead of time if I am going since I am not sure if I have other commitments. It was a little bit late that I confirmed that I am going to join them. Because of this, I made the group a little bit uncomfortable in terms of seating arrangement in the safari vehicle. But even that was the case, the group still able to managed the seats and the adventure has begun.
Desert where we had our desert safari adventure (photos above)
I thought that desert location was near in the city, but it took us sometime to reach the location. Based on the photos that I captured using my iPhone, we started the desert safari adventure near in Al Badayar near in Dubai-Hatta Road which is part of Sharja (Sharja – one of the seven emirates in UAE). At first I did not know what to expect in this adventure. We parked our vehicle near the road and there we waited for sometime. While waiting, we took some photos of ourselves, the whole group and of course the desert. I asked what is the name of the desert and someone answered me, but I forgot the name of it. After waiting for few more minutes, still unknown what we are going to do, I saw some groups of vehicles from a far in the middle of the desert, they are aligned to each other like they are in queue and they are driving together within the desert dunes. From the distance, it seems it’s just nothing until I realized what we are up to when we got back inside the vehicle and we started rolling. To my surprise, since there is another vehicle in front of us, we are like a convoy following the tracks of the vehicle in front of us. I understand that we are driving at the tip of the sand dunes in the desert. I saw the front vehicle that it seems its falling but it’s not then its drives on sideways, that makes your heart flutter if you will be surprised. The desert safari rides is like a roller coaster, we enjoyed the whole ride, until we reach the other end of the desert near where the Lahbab Desert Safari Camp is located which is already part of Dubai. The safari camp is where we will witnessed the famous belly dancing show as part of Arabian nights experience.
Lahbab Desert Safari Camp (above photos)
At the safari camp, all of the tourist were gathered, majority were seated in the middle and each group of tourist (based from tour company) has their own designated seats. Each has long tables and has pillows that serves as a seats, the setting itself feels the ambiance of Arabian nights. Few more minutes passed, the show started when the first woman entered at the middle stage. The woman started dancing, it was belly dancing. Another dance number followed and it also performed by another woman. Though its belly dancing, the style is different from the first one. It was the first time to experience watching belly dancing in a desert safari camp. The last number seems the biggest performance, the big man went to the middle stage and started turning around without moving its position from where it stand, a lot of people amazed because the man doesn’t show if he’s dizzy even though he’s doing it for quite sometime. The big man is wearing a costume with lights with vibrant colors. Because of this, the effect of the lights while he is turning around are like illusions and the view was fantastic. Before the show ended, he asked volunteers from the audience to do the same thing, there are few volunteers tried doing the same thing that the big man did and we had a good laugh when volunteers immediately felt dizziness. That’s how our Arabian nights experience ended. I had a great time. The whole group had a great time. After the show, we went back to the hotel, which means the night was over. That was the same night I saw my mates from Pakistan for the last time because they are going to back in their country, the next day morning, while I myself will still stay for few more days in Dubai to continue holiday.
I selected the title above for this post because this was the tour that I engaged without so much preparation. I booked the flight just two days before the schedule which was made last December 22, 2012 Saturday and the flight schedule in Cebu Pacific was December 24, 2012 Monday (yes, it’s Christmas Eve for Catholics) and the great thing about it was, the flight fare was lesser because of the festive day. And that’s the main reason as well why I decided to travel at that time.
Why I selected Malaysia? My reason was, this is one of the South-East Asian countries that I never been really visited as a tourist. Yes, I first visited Malaysia last 2008, when I joined a mountaineering group and decided to climb Mount Kinabalu. I traveled Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. But after that, I never been to Malaysian Peninsula where the capital city which is Kuala Lumpur located.
I traveled with my younger sister. We left Manila without so much plan what to see and where to go in Malaysia, but I read some tips from locals and foreigners that already traveled in this country. At least I made a hotel booking, taxi booking and some information of public transportation.
This post will be somewhat summary of all the places that we visited in Malaysia. The tour in general took ten(10) days including the flight time which just need less than half a day to complete, we traveled 8 days to be exact and went around Malaysia.
The chance that I got to be able to visit some parts of British Columbia was not an ordinary chance. When I got a single entry visa to Canada, I knew that it was a one-time chance to see this huge country at North America. After grabbing all my opportunity to see Alberta, the province of Edmonton where I was assigned for few weeks of work and training, I tried my best to get the opportunity to see British Columbia as well.
I remembered that it was less than two weeks before I left Canada to go back to my country, I requested my boss if I can fly earlier to Vancouver since it was the same route when I fly back on the actual date of my return in Philippines. I told my boss, that my route will be Edmonton to Vancouver and then Vancouver to Manila. At first he never agreed because he thought at first that my route was Edmonton to Toronto and Toronto to Manila. After correcting his thoughts about my flight, he told me that he will think about it.
After few hours passed, my boss called me back and told me that he was going to make my travel a business official, because the team that I worked with has collaboration with the team in Vancouver, my visit becomes semi-business trip, because there were few days left and the only thing that I can do in Vancouver was to meet the team.
My last day in Edmonton was Thursday (June 12, 2008) and that was the same day my colleague celebrated the 10th year anniversary in the company and somewhat my farewell to the team as well.
When I came to Vancouver, I tried to plan ahead the five days that I spent in British Columbia.