Haedong Yonggungsa, Busan (해동 용궁사)

Korea is known for its beautiful palaces and temples, especially Haedong Yonggungsa Temple situated right on the coast of Busan.

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We started our day by making the 5-hour bus ride from Incheon to Busan, and since we couldn’t check into our hotel until 6pm, we had a lot of time to explore. Our first stop was the temple – we took the subway from Busan bus terminal to OSIRIA station to grab something to eat at the Lotte Outlet before walking over to the temple. It took us about 25-30 minutes to walk from the mall to the temple itself (however there are a lot of guides out there to tell you a more efficient way of travelling there). The temple is at the top of a small incline, so wear your comfortable shoes!

Before you arrive at the main temple, you are greeted by a plethora of street food stalls, so if you’re peckish make sure to grab something here!

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The temple was jam-packed with people, and it’s easy to see why. The structures and statues paired with its location on the coastline make it one of the most picturesque places in Korea.

Taking a left midway down the main stairs will take you to an area where you can get a great view of the temple, and a path along the coast where you can access the rocky seafront.

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Even though it’s the middle of winter (it was about 5 degrees C by the time we got here) we were lucky to have clear skies and turquoise waters to accompany us.

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Heading back down the main staircase takes you over the bridge towards the main part of the temple. Here is where the main worship sites are, and below the bridge is a wishing well, so bring some spare coins!

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I honestly wish I’d had more time to research the different parts of the temple and the history behind it, however we were behind schedule and there were too many people to navigate around. Definitely try to come at off-peak times to enjoy your time!

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I will definitely be taking a trip back here when it’s a little warmer!

Check out J’s video here!

Seoul Christmas Festival 2018 (서울 크리스마스 페스티벌)

For me, Christmas cannot be Christmas without some twinkling lights – whether they be on a tree, hanging from your banister or wrapped around your cat when it destroys the tree for the 40th time this week.

I don’t have a lot of decorations at home because of that last reason, but luckily for me Seoul city always gets into the christmas spirit come December, and Korea does Christmas (decorating) well, even though it is not celebrated here in the same fashion. (Christmas in Korea is more of a novelty – along the same lines as Valentines Day or Halloween)

Running through the middle of Seoul is Cheonggyecheon (청계천) stream, a remodeled waterway which holds the festival every year. We got the subway to Gwanghwamun and walked down to the plaza to be greeted by a giant castle structure completely made out of fairy lights!

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Coming out at the other end brings you to a giant Christmas tree adorned with little nutcrackers and toy soldiers.

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The festival continued down into the stream itself. Both sides lined with lights and sculptures. Even though it was in the minus degrees, there were still a ton of people about! Tip: go at dusk and wait until its dark. There will be noticibly less people.

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The festival runs until January 1st, so if you’re in the area, check it out!

Winter at Haneul Park, Seoul (하늘공원)

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Haneul Park is situated right next to Seoul’s World Cup Stadium, one of 5 parks that surround the area. It is famous amongst instagrammers and budding photographers due to it’s abundance of eulalia (or pampas grass) which blooms a beautiful pink, silvery color during the autum, perfect for getting that nature shot!

Unfortunately, now that it’s december, the bloom is long since over – but the grass is still standing taller than ever.

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Haneul (하늘) literally means ‘sky’ in Korean and thats what i thought I was going to reach climbing those 500 (a lot of people say 291 but I  DISAGREE sir.) stairs to the park. Let me tell you there is a tram that runs from world cup stadium to the top of the park – if you don’t want to hike, take the bus-tram.

The park is literally built on a landfill. Literally. From the late 1970s until mid 1990s, the place was a trash pile. However, once the landfill reached capacity, it was filled in and the park was allowed to floursh. Even in winter, there were a great variety of birds and other critters around. There are actually vents scattered around the park for the safe release of the methane building up beneath your feet. Cool, huh?

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Bird houses. Many many bird houses.

We got to the park before midday  and we passed maybe about 30 people in the whole park. The grass grows so tall it gives you a great sense of privacy and the illusion that you’re alone.

The park offers a great view of seoul and it’s surrounding areas, I couldn’t stop myself taking too many panoramas (ㅠ_ㅠ) There are a lot of viewing platforms to take advantage of to see sights like Namsan Tower, the World Cup Stadium and several mountaisn surrounding the Seoul area!

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You can climb this! The view from here is super beautiful!

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Harry Potter in Hongdae? (Kings Cross 934)

Korea right now is on a harry potter binge (Which is honestly a regular monthly occurrence for me anyway) With the recent release of the new movie “Crimes of Grindelwald” and the new Harry Potter clothing collection at SPAO (Of which I am currently sporting whilst writing this – not sponsored but if you’re reading this SPAO ;););) ) it came of no surprise that a Harry potter themed cafe popped up in the middle of Seoul .

Right in the middle of Hongdae lies a whole 4 floors of magical themed goodness to accompany your daily caffeine fix. Being a huge harry potter fan I immediately set out to travel the 1 hour and 30 minute journey from my home in Incheon to Hongdae. And let me tell you IT WAS WORTH IT.

Once you find it, the cafe isn’t easy to miss. It is a standalone building and it is HUGE. The cafe has a lot of details outside as well as inside, providing a lot of photo opportunities for fellow Potterheads to spam their Instagram followers with.

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(Also it took us a few tries to find the actual working door to get inside – it’s around the side without the trolley, but not the door with the windows. Look for the door near the sign)

We arrived at about 11:30 am so there weren’t many people around, but as we were coming out at around 12:10 there was a line outside – so try to get there early!

The menu was pretty normal, offering different types of coffee and other drinks. They also had cakes, and BUTTERBEER but it was sold out so I don’t want to talk about it. I’m ok I promise… DSC04483

After you enter, you must order – then you are free to move around the floors to take pictures. We chose a hot vanilla latte and iced cafe mocha combination, which were good but not any better than your average cafe.

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The first floor is where the magic is, there are a few areas to take pictures like the wall of wand boxes and the stairs, and there is is an opportunity to take pictures wearing your house robes (Which we didn’t really have time to wait for)

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Floors 2 and up are seating areas for you to take your desired beverage to. There was something very cosy about wandering about the floors with the Harry Potter OST guiding you around. All the feels!

The seating areas are also decorated, but not necessarily Harry Potter themed. They are cosy, dimly lit and eclectic. It felt homely, especially being 1 degree C outside!

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The stairs are lined with portraits, making it feel as if you are truly climbing the floors of an old stately home.

DSC04472DSC04470DSC04473All in all, do I recommend it? Absolutely. Even if just for that instant hit of nostalgia, it made me remember how it felt to be a child and I forgot my worries for an instant. If you’re in the area, definitely check it out.

I’m off to listen to the Harry Potter soundtrack. See ya next time!

– Jeni

Alpaca World!

About 2 hours from Incheon (or about 1 from Seoul) Lies a little secret fluffy haven in Hongcheon, Gangwondo. Alpaca world is a ‘farm’ where you can meet alpacas alongside many other animals!

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     Disclaimer: The park is clean and friendly. The animals are VERY well cared for and have a lot of space to roam around. Visitors are encouraged to report any signs of abuse by staff members AND members of the public. I refuse to blog about animal experiences with unsatisfactory conditions.

Alpaca world offers visitors to get up close and personal with an array of animals, including ponies, sheep, goats and even reptiles!

We arrived by car, and at the parking lot there were shuttle busses up the hill to the entrance. Alpaca world is built in a slightly mountainous area so have your comfortable shoes on! The bus was free, however you can walk up the hill if you choose. (we chose to walk down it because the line for the bus was long, but not up it)

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The price of admission is W15,000 however some of the attractions and shows are not included in the price of admission (The train safari costs about W3000, and some of the shows up to W5000) The ticket booth is right at the entrance, and there is also a small gift shop/cafe!

 

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The safari train, in my opinion, was a little rickety. I felt like it wasn’t going to succeed in pulling my big butt up the hill, but it did! The train seats about 8 or 9 people in single seats. The conductor gives a small handful of carrots for you to feed the alpacas that are taking a rest in the area! (There is also a train that runs through the deer enclosure, however the day we went was a rest day for them)

 

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We had food, but apparently shirts are more delicious??

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CAROOOOT

Now, heres the main attraction. For a small fee, you can take an alpaca for a walk in the park. Except alpacas aren’t dogs. And they don’t really follow directions. so basically its just like “Here’s an alpaca. Heres some food to lead it. Good luck”

Our not so good boy was called Taeyang, and he just wasn’t feeling it today for some reason.

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This is the food you have to convince them coming with you is a great idea. Once you run out theres no getting them back to base though so be careful.

The sessions are closely monitored and individuals are allowed no more than 10 minutes with their companion alpaca. after the session is finished, the alpacas are returned and allowed to rest away from people.

Near the alpaca walking area is a bird house, mostly filled with budgerigars. The room has a lot of rest times to avoid stressing out the animals, so you may have to schedule your time carefully if you want to visit.

The birds were in good condition, and we paid for some food for them. (some of them are a little too mouthy, so be careful if you’re taking children!)

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maybe he just missed the food? either way this HURT 

Although they were looking a little less majestic than usual (It’s shedding season!) the peacocks were beautiful! There are a lot of little friends free to roam about the park including chickens and rabbits!

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There is a restaurant in the park that offers a few good options. The portions were big and the food was good! J ate pork cutlet, and I opted for the pasta.

All in all it was a good day out, and I was satisfied with the caring of the animals. I’d recommend it if your’e in the area and want to spend some time around cute animals!

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(Ps sorry I missed a couple of days!)

 

I Love Every Type of Cat [2Cats Cat Cafe, Insadong]

Ok so by now you’ve probably heard of cat cafes. Many cities all over the world have at least one, including my little home..city,` Newcastle (I think we have 2 now actually)

Animal cafes in korea are everywhere. Not only dog and cat cafes but there are now “zoo” cafes containing exotic animals like raccoons, meerkats, foxes and the likes. (PLEASE be aware that the animal welfare laws and treatment in korea are often very poor. Please do your research before supporting any of these cafes.)

One of my favourite cafes is 2Cats cat cafe. Located right in the middle of insadong street, this cafe gets my check of recommendation for animal welfare.

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The cafe is cozy but not super small, and hosts a reasonable number of kiddens for you to snuggle! The cats are well cared for, and very healthy! (There is even a little hole in the wall the cats can use to retreat to if they are feeling overstimulated or need to go potty)

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Pee pee wall hole

Depending on the time the cafe can get quite busy (even 10 people in here can make the space feel quite crowded) and cars being cats, are often sleeping or doing that bendy back thing to avoid being touched. However the cafe has a relaxing vibe to it so it’s a nice place to just cut off from the world for a while.

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The windows are adorned with different cat trees and there are shelves on the walls for the cats to climb and run around. The customers are advised on how to keep the cats safe and happy, and there are a plethora of toys to keep them amused. The cafe has a 10,000w door charge, however that includes a beverage.

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Along with grabbing a drink for yourselves, the cafe also sells treats for the cats to be fed! we opted for the chicken breast:

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Let me know if you’ve ever been to a cat cafe!

Until next time, see ya soon!

–  Jen

Seoul International Fireworks Festival 2018

Every year Seoul holds its international fireworks festival on the banks of the Han River. Year after year over a million people flood to this event, which is the main reason that I’d never ventured there before. (Living in Incheon makes it hard to get home from Seoul late at night, plus the addition of 1,000,000 people also trying to get home just seemed like a nightmare)

We headed towards Yeouinaru station and arrived at around 4pm, and already all of the good sitting spots were taken. (TIP! Take a mat. A waterproof picnic mat, not just a blanket. Luckily we managed to get one there but they were overpriced, and it had been raining that morning so the whole of the place was wet. It’s a must that you sit down to enjoy the event or risk being shouted at by people who want to see past you… so just take a mat ha)

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The view of the famous “I Seoul U” sign. Oh wait that’s right. A million people are standing in the way.

We managed to get a floor space about 5 minutes walk from the main event, but we were still able to see it well. There are a lot of food vendors about, but the lines were loooong. Also I’d advise going to the bathroom 30 minutes before the fireworks start or you’ll miss the whole darn thing waiting in line to pee.

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Test launch at 5pm. The crowd was all for it.

The festival included shows from Spain and Canada this year, both of which included a lot of the countries respective flag colours, and lasted about 5 minutes each.

After a lot of waiting around the show finally started at about 7:20 with Spain’s contribution,  7:50 for Canada, and Korea started at 8:15. The shows were impressive, with some creative fireworks including stars, hearts, happy faces, cats and cherry blossoms!

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memeworthy

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Cherry Blossoms!

There was also a DJ after the show but we didn’t get to see much as we were on a time crunch to get home.

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Ok now here’s the catch. Getting home. During and after the event the subway stations directly around Yeouido are closed, so you have to walk to another one. We cut through the crowd in the opposite direction (thinking we were smart) and headed towards another one about a 25 minute walk away. LET ME TELL U THIS WAS A MISTAKE. the queue for the subway was insane. like 300,000 people waiting to get into the subway station insane. We dodged around the back of the queue, cut through a housing area, through a set of stores like i was being chased in some action movie and headed towards a bus stop. LET ME TELL U THIS WAS ALSO A MISTAKE. every. single. bus. was. full. Like white gloved men trying to push you onto a rush hour subway in Tokyo full. it took me 3x the usual time to get home. What I’m saying is, if its local to where you are staying – go. If it’s not local, watch it on TV.

See ya soon!

–  Jen

How I’m Surviving the Heatwave in Korea

Summer 2018 has been a hot one in Korea, as well as the rest of the world. With temperatures soaring to 40 degrees C in some places it is the hottest summer on record since 1994 – the second hottest since observations started in 1907. The summer has sadly caused a number of fatalities, mostly amongst the older generation and outdoor workers, despite a whole lot of warnings issued by the government.

Of course staying indoors underneath a fan (or AC if you’re lucky enough) Wearing sun protection and drinking a lot of water is a must to stay safe, but these are some products that have helped me stay a little more comfortable and keep my sanity during this summer.

Before We get into it, I have a giveaway on my Facebook page! Link is at the end of the post^^

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the suggested websites, nor do I take any responsibility if you choose to buy from them. They are merely suggestions 🙂

1. A portable, rechargeable fan 

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Any type of fan is handy when the weather gets hot, but this one is a godsend. It is rechargeable by mini USB, and the handle folds so that you can sit it on your desk at work or school. This one was W5000 from Daiso, but you can find a bunch online, such as these on eBay.

2.Face Masks

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Skincare is important every season, especially in summer when it is exposed to harmful sun rays and sunscreen (which I’m pretty sure isn’t too good for your skin either but hey-ho. gotta do what you gotta do!) These are my two favourite go-to masks right now. The Sampar Urban Defense mask helps protect my skin against days when there is a lot of pollution in the air, and the JayJun ‘so cool’ daily mask sheet just to keep my moisture level up (they are what they say they are too, even in my 30 degree house i almost froze my face putting one on!)

3. Skincare and Backpack Essentials

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Unfortunately it’s not really acceptable to walk around in a face mask outside, so I always carry my CNP propolis ampule mist with me. It is moisturising and refreshing when applied to the face. Just make sure to wipe any dirt or sweat off with a face wipe before applying!

I also carry around my sunscreen (I’m in the middle of converting to reef-safe, but I have stuff to use up first. Don’t worry, I’m nowhere near the ocean and I’m careful when applying!) and this cute little Hello Bear (Daiso – W2000) ‘cooling foot and leg mist’ which is actually just minty water in a bottle. It works though! Freshhhhh.

After getting a serious cooking in Okinawa last year, I also always keep a supply of aloe gel either on me (if i’m going to the beach) or at home to soothe my skin if i spend too long outside. When looking for aloe, the higher the concentration the better! I usually buy from The Face Shop, Skin79 or HolikaHolika, (all of which have 99% aloe) but this Daiso one does just as well if you’re on a budget!

4. A water bottle!

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Simple enough right? I’m trying to move away from single-use plastics (I’m sure you’ve all seen what devastation they’ve caused to our planet by now) so keeping a reusable water bottle with me is a must. Korea has many places you can find water fountains – banks, restaurants, parks etc. I fill it up before I leave the house and at any fountain I can find while I’m outside. I also bought a little jacket that is cute but also clips to my backpack so I don’t have to rummage around inside to find my bottle. It also has an aluminium coating to keep heat in or out, depending on what I have inside my bottle!

What are you doing to battle the heat this summer? Leave a comment down below!

Want to win some Korean stationary? Follow this link to my Facebook page and follow the instructions! ❤

Until next time guys, see ya soon!

England Has Beaches??

Yes. Are they cold? Yes. Are they sometimes just covered in tiny rocks that break your ankles? Yes. Are they the best place to get fish and chips? Heck yes.

England has thousands of beaches along it’s coastlines. Don’t get me wrong you’re not gonna feel like you’re in the Maldives with crystal clear turquoise waters and white sands, but they’re nice to get some fresh air or take your gran for a walk. One of the more well-known beaches near newcastle is Whitley Bay, and home to my personal favourite Fish shop (The Whitley Whaler, you’re welcome)

We got here pretty late and it was relatively cold due to the winds so we didn’t stay for long, just long enough to have a stroll.

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Check out J’s drone video here!

Tell me, where was the best beach you ever visited?

See ya soon!

Jesmond Dene -A Little Patch of Serenity.

One thing I miss most about living in South Korea is easy access to a park. Sure there are small patches of grass with a few trees scattered about here, but unless you go climb a mountain there is nowhere really to get ‘lost’.  Having become father to a very good boy recently, my brother asked us if we wanted to go for a walk through Jesmond Dene, a small wooded park close to the heart of Newcastle. The park  was originally planned in the mid 1800’s by William Armstrong to accompany his nearby house, but now belongs to the city and acts as a public park.

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The goodboi in question.

The park is home to ‘pets corner’ a small selection of cuties to look at! This area has been around since the 1960’s.

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Tell me: where is your favourite place to unwind? Drop a comment below!

Check out J’s video to see some drone views!

P.s. sorry I missed the upload on Sunday!

See ya soon!