Monday, November 30, 2015

Mummy's Solo Day 6: Gwangju to Seoul

Our day started early and we were all ready by 9am. We took a cab to Singwangju Station (nearer than taking the KTX from Gwangju Station), stored our luggages in the lockers available in the station and walked to a nearby restaurant for our breakfast. 

Lockers of various sizes available at Singwangju Station

Prices vary according to sizes.

English, Japanese and Chinese instructions are available. 

Song Jeong Ddok Galbi. Just about 10 minutes walk away from the Singwangju ststaion. Opened since 1976 and is now run by the third generation. Opens 9am and we were the only ones there for breakfast.
Visited by many celebrities.
The many programs that the restaurant have been featured on. 

Another wall of posters and signatures.

There are two sitting halls in the restaurant and some private rooms available. 

The menu. We ordered the hanwoo ddok galbi, ddok galbi and bibimbap. Hanwoo is the local's premier beef. 

Our breakfast. 


Beef rib soup. Very flavorful. Great for ribs lovers. 

After e satisfying meal, we had no problem falling asleep on the 2 hours ride back to Seoul. We checked into Metro hotel again and this time, we took a triple room.

A bed each. The small table at the foot of the table comes in very handy as we snacked and watched tv. 

The toilet even comes with 2 sinks. 

Lots of space for our shopping loot. 

Once we were ready, we had lunch in one of the many nearby restaurants before splitting up for shopping in Myeongdong. We agreed to meet up at 8pm in the hotel room for dinner. Meanwhile....gear 5 for shopping.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mummy's Solo Day 5: Gwangju

We slept in a bit more as our bodies were still aching and recovering from the camp but once we were all awake, we were ready to take on the day's adventure. First on the itinerary - Gwangju National Museum. As it was rather inconvenient to take the public transport (subway, bus, walk), we decided to just take a cab from the hotel. The hotel concierge not only called a cab for us but they were able to tell us exactly how long it would take and how much it would cost. Imagine our surprise when the information they gave was spot-on! It is really amazing how they can track everything...well, almost. 

Admission to Gwangju National Museum is free. 

Weekdays 9am - 6pm. Weekends and Public Holidays 9am - 7pm. Extended hours on Sat 9am - 9pm (March to Oct) 

Big garden just outside the museum. 

Call us childish but we did spend some time playing with the autumn leaves. 

The museum consists of 2 floors. The museum has English, Chinese and Japanese tour guides and we were very blessed to have an English guide, Mr Yoo Soo Woong, available when we were there. Mr Yoo was a retired principal of an elementary school in Korea and is now volunteering in the museum. 

The museum does not have much English description. Most just comes with the English titles so having an English tour guide was very useful. We gained so much valuable insights because of all the explanation and that made our visit to the museum so much more meaningful. 

Some of the pottery display.

The walkway outside the museum. Due to the lack of time, we had to move onto our next destination. Gwangju National Museum is definitely a place where you should spend a few hours in. We spent 2.5 hours and wished we had more time to unearth the marvelous history. 

Just outside the museum. It was really refreshing to see the city surrounded by so much nature. 

Next stop - Gwangju Arts Museum. Located about 10 minutes walk away from the National Museum, there are several exhibition halls and it would take another few hours to explore all the halls. 

Situated in a big park and there were many families having picnic. A good family bonding spot, with a nice cool weather to boot. 

Our view from the roof-top garden at the Arts Museum. 

Art installation outside the museum. It sure inspired me to get more shoes. 

Just a short walk away from the Arts Museum is the Biennial Exhibition Hall. 

After all the walking and learning, we were all ready for a good meal. We took a cab to the town's famous buckwheat noodle store. According to the taxi-driver, there is no one in Gwangju who does not know Chongwon Momil. Chongwon being the store's name and momil being buckwheat. We were brought to the store in a jiffy and when we got there, we realized it was already almost 3pm!

We took the recommended dishes - buckwheat noodles and buckwheat soba. 

No worries about ordering as there are pictures on the menu board. 

Enough for three hungry ladies. 

The store front. 

As we were all tired from all the cultural immersion, we decided to take a slow and easy ride back to the hotel. Gwangju definitely has more to offer and if you have the time, do spend at least 3 days there to enjoy the city.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mummy's Solo Day 4: Naju to Gwangju

Camp had finally come to an end and it was time to say good-bye to the children. It was a tiring 3 days because of all the brain-wrecking required and the children sure had lots of energy. Now, it was time for us to refuel ourselves. We were brought to another restaurant for lunch before heading to Gwangju. 

The famous crab stew on the way to Gwangju. It got really crowded after we sat down. Tour buses even came by to drop loads of patrons. 

We could see (and taste) the reason for the crowd. The crabs were really awesome. A set like this cost 20,000 won. Still a lot cheaper than what you can get in Seoul. And the taste...priceless. 

After a very satisfying meal, we were dropped at our next accommodation - Holiday Inn Gwangju. A relatively new business hotel located near the convention. The room is spacious and clean and we were so tired after the camp that we all laid in bed immediately, contemplating whether to sleep or to explore the area.

Wide space welcoming the guests

Cafe in hotel lobby
Our room for the next few days

Love the toilet! Lots of space in the standing shower area for us to pamper ourselves.

A choice of soft or firm pillows. If you need all your pillows to be firm, you can contact the housekeeping staff. 

Kimdaejung Convention Center is located just a short walk away from Holiday Inn hotel.

After an hour of rest, we decided it was better to explore the area since we would only be there for a short 2 days. First stop, a cafe highly recommended by the locals - Thesis Cafe. It is located just beside Kimdaejung Convention Center. Just look out for the mirrored building. It has two different floors and as we were there on a Saturday, it was very crowded and it took us a while to find a seat.

We missed the mirrored building as we were expected the name of the cafe to be clearly labelled at the top of the building.
Industrial-looking coffee place. 

Open view of the coffee roasting. 

Coffee drips right in front of your eyes. 

We ordered a tiramisu ice cream and two cups of tea. Sorry, I could't remember what we have ordered but I do remember liking the tiramisu. I am not a fan of tiramisu but this one hits the nail on the head as the taste of rum was made subtle by the taste of the ice-cream. 

The people sure love their coffee. The cafe closes at 12 midnight!
Next, we headed to Gwangju's main shopping district!

As Seoul's T-money is not accepted in Gwangju, we had to buy a ticket every time we took a train. Regardless of the distance, it costs 1,200won every trip. The ticket is in the form of a token. 

Station: Culture Complex. 
Their famous bakery, with years of tradition.

Fresh bread kept coming because they were swept off the trays so fast by the constant stream of customers. 

Wanted so much to buy them all! 

A pavilion stood in the middle of the modern shopping district. The log was attached so no one would ring the bell. Imagine the sound reverberating through the area. 

Next, we headed to the traditional market. Station: Yangdong Market. 

It was already evening by the time we got to the market  it wasn't crowded. 

A famous eatery - visited by ex-South-Korea president when he was elected. 

Featured on television programmes

Lots of photographs as proof of its popularity. 

Kimbap. Not the star of this humble restaurant. 

Pig intestine soup!!!! Two of us are not fans of animal intestines so we went for the rice (hidden under all the ingredients) and the soup. Nonetheless, still very delicious. Put a bit of the prawn and bean paste in each scoop and the taste is enhanced. We kept going at the dish and finished it in a jiffy 

Ordered a dumpling soup as well, in case we did not take to the intestine soup. Do not look down on the simple looking bowl of soup. Each dumpling was overflowing with ingredients and the soup had little dried shrimps in it, adding much flavor to the soup. 

A walk around the market after dinner. 

After a warm meal, we headed back home, determined to start our exploration early the next day...that is if Miss Fatigue doesn't get the upper hand...