My Winter Sonata Experience

The final choice was between a trip full of adventure, searching for the Lost Horizon – The Shangri La or the romantic breakaway of Winter Sonata. The trip was actually planned almost a year in advance and I was so keen to go for the more adventurous one, with breathtaking landscapes, ancient towns and kingdoms, silk road and colorful tribes for my photography escapade. But due to my back problem which is still in the healing process, we finally decided to go for a relax and leisure kimchi experience. And it turned out to be one of the coolest (and coldest) experience ever.

To start with, the itinerary was so packed with sightseeing and stopovers, I felt as if we were one of the participants in the popular TV program – Explorace. Daily wake-up call was at 6.30 a.m local time (GMT +09:00) and the program finished at 9.00 to 10 p.m at night before we retired to our bed. Since there were so many places and so much interesting stories to share withing that span of time, it is quite impossible for me to put everything down in this limited space, thus only the highlights of the visit will be featured here for your viewing pleasure.

The 8 days and 6 nights trip started with a very pleasant Spring weather in Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Upon departing from the flight, our tour guide straight away brought us to the first itinerary of the day (Chandeokgung Palace and Namsangol Hanok Village) before we boarded our next domestic flight to the scenic island of Jeju-do.

I was told that Jeju Island is a paradise for newly married couples and a very popular destination for honeymooners. With so many natural beauties, magnificent landscapes and local attraction surrounding the island, no wonder the place is a real magnet to locals and foreign tourists. Since Jeju is actually a volcanic island, the shore lines are made up from vast area of lava. Lava tubes and special formation of lava called tephra making the place a World Natural Heritage site by UNESCO. Hallasan (Halla Mountain- 1,950 m) in Jeju is the highest mountain in South Korea. Locals got their water supply from this area and also honey from special flowers that is endemic to this region.

We spent 3 wonderful days getting around this spectacular island and headed back to the mainland for another interesting experience.

The next three days were spent travelling north to the mountainous and magnificent place of Nami Island (the original place where the popular TV drama Winter Sonata were shot), breathtaking beauty of Seoraksan National park (it was snowing when we arrived at this park!), visiting museums and orchards and back to Seoul for the final leg of shopping spree in the many street markets lining the urban street.

In short, Korea has presented us with many nice and remarkable experiences. The people is very nice and polite. The place is super clean. There is no beggar at all. A very safe place to travel even at night. The local food however is a little bit out of our league and kimchi (fermented vegetables) is a must in almost all meals, even though quite tasteful but has really upset my tummy.

Korea – a wonderful honeymoon escapade and one amazing trip to be remembered for years to come.

Gamsa Hamnida!

One of the hanoks (tradional Korean house) resemble houses during Joseon Dynasty in Namsangol Hanok Village. White is a very popular color in Korea as depicted in this house (so as the car).

The Throne Hall is one of the villas in Chandeokgung Palace. Built in 1405 during the Jeosan Dynasty. Changdeokgung was the principal palace for many of the Joseon Kings, and is the best preserved among the five remaining royal Joseon Palaces. The Palace was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1997.

Behind this majestic palace wall was 78 acres of Huwon (rear garden) which was constructed originally for the use of the royal families and palace women. The Secret garden was also in the vicinity. The garden is now open for the public. As it was early spring, there was not much colorful vegetation can be seen in the garden.

A calm river along the landscape trail toward the Cheonjieon waterfall in Jeju Island.

My significant half laughed at me when I took this pop yehyeh pose in front of Cheonjiyeon Waterfall. Cheonjiyeon, meaning “God’s pond”, derives its name from the legend that the seven fairies serving the King of Heaven came down to the pond on stairs of cloud and bathed in its clean water. The waterfall is 22 m high. The pond is renowned as a habitat of Mutae eels or Marbled eels.

Magnolia is among the few flowers that can be seen during this time as it was only too early in the Spring.

It may looks like a cherry blossom, but this one is the flowers of an apple tree. We were a bit early by only few weeks to witness the spectacular view of cherry blossom that is abundant in this island.

Black lava rock surrounding the coastal lines of the Jeju Island.
The last remaining Haenyo (female divers) in Jeju Island. I think meeting these women was one of the highlight in our trip. It was during our visit to Seongsang Ilchubong peak (the volcanic peak) that we found this unbeaten path that lead us to this discovery. We had our first delectable encounter with mouth-watering turban shells and ascidians here.
Mystery road in Jeju Island. Experience climbing the hill in a vehicle that has been switched-offed the engine.

Nami Island – original site where the popular TV drama Winter Sonata was shot.
Having a Winter Sonata moment with my significant half.
Snow bestowed on us with this beautiful sight when we arrived at the peak of Seorak Mountain with a cable car. We considered ourselves lucky as we actually got a 2 in 1 package – spring and winter package at the same time. It turned out the Siberian wind was knocking on the door and the temperature dropped drastically close to the frostbiting coldness.

A gigantic sandhour near Jeongdongjin Train Station (the train station closest to the sea – in Guinness book of world record). The wheel will turn upside down when it complete its one year cycle.

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