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Thursday, 29 September 2016

Seoul, South Korea: A wonderful travel destination with kids (Part 2)

Night view of a local restaurant along the road to Mago Guesthouse, Chungmuro.

Hi again! So in Part 1, I shared some information about T-Money, the transportation and Mago Guesthouse that we stayed at during those 6 days. In this entry I will be sharing some of the essential items that must be brought along. As mentioned previously, we were there during the autumn to winter transition. So, the weather was cold. It wasn't extremely cold, but definitely cold cold. Especially coming from Malaysia, one would definitely feel the difference. So you must, must be ready, especially when you're bringing your kids along.

After that bit, I will be sharing the places that we went the day of our arrival. Now first things first, what to bring?

What to bring? (winter holiday)

1. Toiletries (I had to Google the spelling, hahaha).

So this is of course, you need. You gotsa brush yo teeth mmkay? No nasty travellers breath please. Towels too (the guesthouse we stayed provided towels, but it was rather small). If you want to bring your own shampoo, that's fine. You can get those tiny travel bottles at any pharmacy or Daiso. Do bring moisturizing body soap (cream type) instead of the bar soap (skin will dry easily with bar soap). Body lotion is a must. I recommend Nivea Creme (illustration below). Once you've checked in I suggest that you immediately lather your skin with this creme after taking a shower. This is to avoid your skin from becoming dry and rashes that can be very itchy especially in between the legs. Also don't forget to bring lip balm. I used Avène Cold Cream Lip Balm. Oh and wet tissues too. Can either get them from the pharmacy or Daiso. You can actually get a lot of useful traveling stuff from Daiso. We love Daiso!

Nivea Creme

For those who wear contact lenses, don't forget your solutions, contact lens case, and glasses! For the ladies, sanitary pads, just in case that time of month suddenly decides to tag along.

2. Medicines

Paracetamol for the adults and for your kids too, minyak angin, cough and cold medicine, ubat sakit perut for those with a sensitive tummy and vitamins. Some might have trouble adapting to the different weather, from hot to cold. So you'll never really know how your body will handle it. So it's important to bring along some of the basic medicines. And if you've a digital thermometer, do bring that as well. The ones that need to be placed under the armpits / under the tongue cost no more than RM20.

3. Winter wear

Inner wear is important. Long johns. We bought ours at UNIQLO. The top and leggings are sold separately. Available for both adults and kids. I also bought knitted leggings which were rather thick. For Luqman we bought him a pair of long johns and a turtle neck sweater. Then we went to Sox World to buy socks. We bought thick ones as well as regular socks. When going out, do pack extra socks as sometimes it can rain and get really wet, so water can get into your shoes. I experienced this, and it was really uncomfortable and cold. So do bring extra socks!

For the outer wear, we borrowed it from our relatives. Padded winter jackets, winter gloves, snow cap for Luqman, and winter scarves to cover our necks (mouth and nose when it gets really cold). It's best to get winter jackets that are water proof.

Shoes. You don't really need ugg boots or special winter boots. Sports shoes is good enough. Make sure though it's the type that doesn't have holes. You know those that have those net type material that allows ventilation. It's best to have ones that are well enclosed, so it can trap heat. So thick socks and sports shoes is the way to go. Sports shoes are the best because you will be doing a lot of walking, and you need to walk fast, because Koreans walk really fast. So gotta keep up with the pace!

You can also buy winter wear in Seoul, gloves, snow caps, scarves e.t.c.. It's cheaper too. But, problem is once you're out of the airport, it's cold. So you really need to be prepared.

4. Hand warmers / heat packs

Even with gloves it still can get cold. So, these pocket hand warmers come in handy. You can get them from Daiso. You just take it out of the bag, shake it, and put it in your pockets. So if your hands are cold, just stuff your hands in your pockets and feel the heat. So hand warmers is another must bring item! When we were looking for ours, the Daiso near our home was out of stock. We had to call other outlets. I guess a lot of people were travelling to countries that had winter as well and stocked up on these warmers. Make sure to buy a few packs. Photo below.

Daiso Hand Warmer (image source)

5. Canned food, instant noodles and 3-in-1 drinks

We brought along some canned Kurma Ayam, Kari, Tuna Ayam Brand (ate it with bread, sedaaaap), and Maggi in a cup instant noodles. My mother in law made us some sambal too, and we brought ikan bilis goreng as well together with beras and a rice cooker, plates, fork and spoon. Oh and a bekas to put in the canned foods to be heated in the microwave. Kita orang Melayu, tak boleh tak makan nasi. Hahaha. So with this, we managed to save some money instead of spending so much on food (will talk about the food we ate there in another entry). Oh, and Charlie the guesthouse assistant really loved the Chilli Tuna. Koreans love spicy food. Also, it's good to bring instant drinks like Milo and Nestum. You can have it during breakfast or at night time. Bolehlah alas sikit perut tu.

So this is pretty much what I can think of right now of the things needed for a winter holiday.

Day 1: Myeong-Dong & Namsangol Hanok Village

We hung out at the Incheon International Airport for quite a while. Since we've already had breakfast on the plane, we weren't really hungry. But was thirsty though. So we bought ourselves the infamous Banana Flavoured Milk from Binggrae (photo below).

Banana Flavoured Milk from Binggrae (image source)
For me it was okay. Husband and Luqman really liked it. We even went to a Korean convenience store in Desa Sri Hartamas to buy the milk. It was in a boxed packaging though. Tastes the same, but not as fun. The bottled version is unique and much nicer to hold. Not long after, we headed to our guesthouse. We arrived around 12pm. So it wasn't the check-in time (check in was at 2pm). We left our bags at the guesthouse and decided to go to Myeong-Dong. Afterall, it was only a station away. Was pretty amazed when we reached there. Endless rows of shops. A lot of Korean skincare beauty shops. They had a number of the same shops too. For instance, one row you can find Etude House, then another row, you see another Etude House and another. There would be cute salesgirls standing outside handing out free samples. The promotions were crazy! If we weren't on a tight budget, I would have definitely bought a whole lot of skincare products. Plus these shops are also here in Malaysia. So I was like, pfftthh I don't need this (padehal dalam hati meronta-ronta nak).

In the middle of the streets were a lot of stalls, mostly selling food. Some could even speak a bit of Malay. Pandai diorang menarik jiwa para pelancong dari Malaysia. But we didn't buy any of the street food - just yet. We mainly observed the surroundings, taking mental notes.. jaga haa, nanti aku beli kau. Hehe. So we kept walking till it was check-in time. We popped back into the train and went to our guesthouse). 

Once we checked in. We took a shower, and rested a bit. We went out at 4.30pm just to stroll around the neighbourhood. Jess Kim, the guesthouse owner told us about this Hanok village nearby called Namsangol Hanok Village. So we decided to check it out. It was lovely. But after about half an hour we were there, it was already dark. That caught us by surprise. Then remembered that during winter, the day time is much shorter. Subhanallah, itulah kekuasan Allah S.W.T.. So we decided to head back. We took a different route though, and along the way there was this aunty selling fried chicken. She suddenly yelled "Ayaaam, ayaaam". Aikk, we were surprised yet again. We just giggled, smiled and waved goodbye. 

Here are some photos taken at Namsangol Hanok Village:





The chicken aunty stall was not far from this pintu gerbang. As we walked back up the hill to our guesthouse, we stopped by 7-eleven, bought some drinks to quench our thirst. There were chairs and a small tv outside the store. We then got back at the guesthouse and prepared for dinner. We cooked our own rice and heated up one the canned food and of course my mother in law's delicious sambal ikan bilis
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So that's the end of part 2. More of the places we visited in part 3. See you soon.

Kamsahamnida!
{Sue Anna Joe}

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Seoul, South Korea: A wonderful travel destination with kids (Part 1)

Luqman on a stone bench at Nami Island, Chuncheon, South Korea.
Finally, after a long hiatus and much deliberation, I'm blogging once again. Hi!! I definitely miss blogging a whole lot! Okay, so in this very first post, I'd like to share about my trip to Seoul, South Korea back in late November 2015. We were there in between the transition of autumn to winter. Went there with my husband and son. And it was grreeaat I tell ya! It's really a wonderful travel destination for a family with kids. A lot of interesting places to visit, which of course I will be sharing with ya'all. Will also be sharing some tips and advice that hopefully can be useful for those who plan on travelling to Seoul.

T-Money

One very important and useful thing you should get once you land in South Korea is called T-Money. For Malaysian's it's like our Touch 'n Go card. The subway system in Seoul is very convenient especially if you've T-Money. It saves a lot of time, rather than having to purchase tickets. All you gotta do is just tap and proceed to the train of choice. And for kids, there's a discount. We met a Malaysian family at the guesthouse we stayed and was surprised as to how much we saved using T-Money to ride the train. It can also be used to ride the bus.

So it's a must have okay? Also, you can get a refund of the balance you have left. We got ours at GS 25, a convenience store at Incheon International Airport, the same place we purchased the T-Money. We topped up ₩40, 000  (South Korean Won) for our T-Money, ₩30, 000 for Luqman that we used for 6 days of our stay in Seoul (and we had ₩5, 000 balance each, Luqman's T-Money had ₩10, 000 balance left). [Click here] for more information on T-Money.

Transportation

From Incheon International Airport to Seoul Station the fare of the airport railway was around ₩4,150. The duration of the journey was about 1 hour. We got on the all stop train as we were on a budget. There's another option where the train goes direct to Seoul Station, which of course would cost more. Although it took a while, we enjoyed every moment on the train. We did doze off a bit. It was a pleasant journey, with it's warmed up seats and lovely view we felt relaxed after flying 6 hours from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

When we arrived at Seoul Station, we went on the Seoul Metropolitan Subway to our guesthouse at Chungmuro. The subway is the main public transportation that can be used to travel all around Seoul. Prior to our travel, we downloaded the Subway Korea app that became our map to plan our train rides as there is quite a number of different lines to choose from. It definitely came in handy. It's available on the Apple App Store as well as Google Play.

Mago Guesthouse


Mago Guesthouse, Seoul, South Korea (image source)
This is the place where we stayed. Mago Guesthouse. If we plan to go again, we will definitely be staying here. The owner Jess Kim and his assistant Charlie were really nice and super friendly.

Double Ensuite - Room H (image source)
The room and bathroom is clean, no weird stains or funky smell. The pillows are super duper fluffy. Pillow quality is important for quality sleep. Haha. They've a dining area, which includes a stove to cook, a refrigerator and a microwave oven. So you can save up some money and cook your own meals.

For breakfast, they provide:

Bread, butter and strawberry jam
Fresh eggs which you gotta cook yourself
Sliced cheese - so I made scrambled eggs with cheese, nyummy!
Cereal
Milk and orange juice
Instant coffee, tea and sugar

Mago Guesthouse is located in Chungmuro, which is only one train station away from Myeong-dong (crazy huge shopping district). You need to walk a bit though (around 500m), up the hill from the train station to the guesthouse. Alhamdulillah, My 5 year old Luqman had no problem walking. It must have been the cold weather that made us not mind going up and down the hill. There are a few convenience stores along the way. So if you get thirsty, you can just pop in and buy some drinks. Our favourite was this honey and ginseng bottled drink that was warm. Mmmm mmmmhh. For more information on Mago Guesthouse, you can visit their website [here].

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In part 2, I'll be sharing some tips for a winter holiday and where we went. See you in the next entry!

Kamsahamnida!
{Sue Anna Joe}
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