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(The first part of my travel log series to Seoul, South Korea.)
This time last month, my dad asked me if I wanted to tag along with my Aunt & cousin for a short trip to South Korea. Being an enthusiast of almost anything Korean–food in particular, I immediately said yes. Never mind that I’m not close with my cousin as long as I’d get to visit The Land of the Morning Calm again (My 3rd visit now). Within a month, I arranged every document needed, shopped for some fall/autumn clothes and on the first week of October, I found myself on board a Cebu Pacific Air flight to Incheon.
It was my first time to try Cebu Pac and just a friendly advice, if you’re not on a budget, I suggest to take other airlines instead. Those rants from your friends on various social media sites about this airline–notorious for having delayed flights and overpriced food, drinks and stuff to keep you comfortable on board–believe them! Sadly, I experienced the same plight. I have tried Air Philippines, PAL (needs to update their seemingly vintage video from the 80′s) and Asiana Airlines (best so far!) and it is only in this trip that I experienced delay. Our flight got delayed for around 2 hours! (Instead of waiting for what seemed to be forever, I could’ve used it to walk around Seoul…) My friends said, I had it easy since some flights actually get delayed far more than that!
On to the trip!
Nothing much happened except we arrived at Seoul at 11PM.
Right after exiting immigration and customs, a cab driver approached us and offered to take us directly to our guest house for a hefty price. Oh, you know, just 85,000KRW that’s around 80USD or 3500PHP! Sure we were a group of 5 (see Tip #2) but anyone could tell that he was trying to take advantage of tourists. You do the math. Naturally, we declined but it was a hard-fought battle.
An hour’s worth of subway travel later, we finally reached our stop–Myeongdong Station specifically Exit 4. Our two older companions still had to endure one last flight of stairs. After successfully tugging my luggage all the way to the top of the stairway, I was supposed to go down and lend a hand to my Aunt but to my surprise a young lady was already doing it. Dead tired and food deprived (Cebu Pac does not offer any free meals. They are called budget airlines for a reason.), my Aunt’s friend decided to ask the nice lady where it was. I could already tell that these group of young ladies were tourists like us. For one, they did not look Korean at all based from their facial features (Being racist is the last thing I want to do!) and how they did their make up. Also, they had with them confused looks too, still some of my companions went on with their inquiries anyway. So she asked around for us! Finally, there were two men whom she asked for help. Later on, I figured out that the nice young lady and her friends we’re Japanese and I asked her just to confirm. Of course I said “Arigatou gozaimasu!” to show appreciation. Anyway, these two men probably just got out of a pub but they were sober enough to lead us to our guest house.
Moon Sun Guest House (henceforth will be referred to as MSGH) is next to a souvenir shop called Hot Station. You need not go far to look for presents to friends back home as Hot Station offers traditional Korean items like fans, utensils to K-pop items like socks, pens etc. I don’t know about the price though but I think they are reasonable enough. Also, if you check in at MSGH, you’ll get 5% discount at the mart located at the basement.
Based on the facilities and information online, I think MSGH is rather new. We stayed in the “Triple Room” which has three single beds, a small fridge, flat screen TV, cabinets, free wi-fi, air-conditioning system, heater and ensuite bathroom with toiletries & towels. There is also complimentary bottled water. Breakfast is not included, though.
Having said that MSGH is new, I commend the management for keeping it clean and free from specks of dust. The only thing that I didn’t like about this place is that the people running it have limited to no understanding of English at all, but that’s not a problem that can’t be solved by calling a professional translator. Also, it says in MSGH’s page in booking.com that they have a 24-hour front desk (located at Hot Station), but HS closes at 11PM, same goes for the mart at the basement. The management was very generous and accommodating that it compensates for the language barrier. For instance, I needed extra towels (which I believe have to be paid for), and asked “Free? No pay?” (Tip! You have to use simple English) and he said ”Ah. Okay, okay” with a smile.
Moon Sun Guesthouse is located at 14-5, Namsan-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu, Jung-Gu, 100-041 Seoul
On the 34th run of the Manila International Book Fair (henceforth mentioned as MIBF), my friends and I braved Metro Manila’s public transportation during the monsoon season–you could only imagine what the daily commuter goes through every single day. Half an hour and unruly heads of hair later, we arrived at the SMX Convention Center or the “holy grail” of books.
As first-timers, we didn’t know what to expect. Upon entering the venue, we were welcomed by a staggering number of people. Imagine flies and maggots circling around on a pile of
sh- yeah, using that as an analogy was very distasteful, sorry. If possible, I go the extra mile to avoid crowded areas, and going to MIBF was how my fate was mocking me. Thank you for leading me to a closed, jam-packed area.
What to expect at MIBF:
My rants aside, I think the week long event was successful. This year’s MIBF and perhaps the ones before, made bibliophiles buy more bookshelves or clear some space to accommodate their book hauls.
What I liked about the MIBF was the discount, though at a minimum. It seems that the bigger bookstores like Fully Booked and National Bookstore, only gave out 20% off in most, if not all books. Logistics-wise, there was a fully functioning air-conditioning system (Yes!), booth layouts were a little above satisfactory (people flow needs to be improved), a reliable PA system (read: like lost and found except for people ha ha), there was a map, and the place was clean.
Above all, I didn’t hear of any accident during the event…except for mine. The scenario: a signage by the information area. I was preoccupied with blabbering about while fixing some of the contents of my rucksack which I put on top of a table. My rucksack, with still some things left inside had enough weight (plus a little of my force) to topple down a flimsy object, and in this case, the signage behind me. Cut to the scene of my friends’ horrified faces. And just in time, a passerby managed to grab the signage. Unbenknownst to me, while I was fixing my stuff (which is a rare occasion), someone was saving me from a possible injury. Thank you, random citizen! All these unfortunate events were witnessed by one of the organizers which was dealt with accordingly.
As a casual way of celebrating my sister’s birthday–without turning it into a gala affair–we bought her a cake. Mom and Tina’s Bakery and Cafe in Katipunan is usally my go-to place for a quick cupcake or pastry fix, but would I recommend their Mocha Buttercreme Cake? No.
For the record, I am not a fan of buttercream. I do not like its overly silky texture and how it greasy it is, and this is exactly how I would describe this cake’s icing. It was not too sweet though, which I liked. The cake itself was not dry, yet was not moist and fluffy enough for my liking.
At 795PHP (8″), I think you’re better off with another cake for the same price. Buy the Dulce de Leche Butter Cake instead.
Pencil on watercolour paper
I don’t know if you guys can see this ha ha. Should I ink this or not?
10 July 2013
An experiment on watercolor with some celestial bodies as subjects. No photo reference used.
I don’t have access to a scanner so this was taken with a digital camera.
It’s been 3 years since I bought my Instax Mini 7s. Now, everybody seems to have one, or even two. No one seems to be amazed at the sight of this camera anymore. However, I have more access to the film cartridge refills now. In the past, I had to let someone who was visiting Korea, HK or Singapore buy a box of film cartridge.