Wow Korea 3rd Trip [Day 2]

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

On the second day, we woke up to an amazing spread at the breakfast buffet. Even though I was really sleepy, I dragged myself out of bed for some awesome American buffet breakfast that hotels usually offer. Just thinking about the sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon... drools. Anyway, since we stayed a night in Namoo Hotel, I had a really high expectation of the food, since the room was already so great.

After a hearty breakfast, we got ready to move on to our first destination of the day, Gongju! Apparently Gongju is a place where you can do so many activities, such as water sports, food tours, scenic tours and many more. We went to visit the Royal Tomb of King Muryeong, where of course, we weren't allowed in, but we got to see the replica of the royal tombs for the different kings, how they were built, what was used to build it and the different inscriptions used within the tombs. It was quite an enriching tour since you hardly have tombs in Singapore. The tour guide was an elderly lady that majored in English Literature during her days in University and she spoke impeccable English, with an accent too.

How tombs were made

Replica of one of the tomb's interior

Artifacts found near or within the tombs

Replica of another interior

After the royal tomb tour, we moved on to the Gongsanseong Fortress where we got to visit a little bit more of Korea's history. Apparently in the past, Gongju was such a great place for the royal people of Korea to live in because of its strategic location; its high peaks contributed to warding off enemies and preventing any accidents from happening. 

The view was pretty spectacular from up above, and even though the fortress tried its best to be kept as original as possible, the scenic views of iconic developed Korea could still be seen from the tops of the walls. It was another little hike towards the top where we heard more about the different points within the fortress itself. Our tour guide hadn't gotten around to memorizing or remembering all the things she wanted to say, since she is volunteering, so she was carrying around flashcards to help her remember. She was really cute.

On top of that, we got to try archery! Unlike in Singapore, safety is not much of a concern here because people probably aren't that stupid or crazy. We were all given 4 stations with bows, and almost an unlimited amount of arrows that people just kept firing non-stop and then handing the bow over to the next person. It was pretty fun, and I remember when I was young and playing with those toy ones in my kitchen where the wall was tiles and the suction arrow could stick on it.

After much persuading and egging, everyone finally came out from the archery point and we took a group photo before heading over to our next destination: LUNCH! So there's this food in Korea called the kukbap (국밥) which essentially is soup + rice. In the past, whenever people ordered that, a bowl of beef soup came with the rice already inside, and this was how it was all over Korea. However, in Gongju, they first started serving it separately, and allowing the customers to eat it whichever way they wanted: dry, or in the soup.

So from Gongju, this little trait started spreading all throughout Korea and nowadays kukbap is served separately. Quite an interesting piece of knowledge to probably share at the dinner table when having that for a meal, rather than a trail of awkward silences. :D

We had tonkatsu as side dish (which meant free refill lol)
[this is the first time I had free tonkatsu refills]

These appetizers were simply delicious

Tadah, kukbap (separate)

Next up, the highlight of the trip: Boryeong Mud Festival! We had a 2 hour bus ride all the way to Boryeong, which took even longer because of the constant traffic jam towards that area. Apart from the mud festival, people go there for the beach because Daecheon Beach is one of the more beautiful ones. We were all encouraged to wear what we were going to wear for the mud festival underneath our clothes so it would be easier to just remove because places to change would definitely be packed.

Finally, after getting told where to take our shower and where to gather by a certain time, we were off to the mud plaza! The place was extremely packed and I really wished I had a GoPro to have been able to take more photos to show you guys how much fun it was. I also left my phone in my bag (no idea why) so I was unable to even take photos outside and of the beach. :( But it's okay, I'll go again next year! It was really really fun and I enjoyed myself so much.

We also had dinner at a nearby restaurant which was the famous local food of Chungcheong-do, the crab and cabbage soup. Seeing as I didn't have my phone as well... I wasn't able to take photos. But I can tell you it was delicious. It didn't taste like the Singaporean chilli crab, but it had a more Korean feel toward it, where it's more salty & sour, than sweet & salty. After dinner, we moved on towards the Onyang Hot Spring Hotel in Asan (yes, last year's home) where it is one of the only hotels to have an in-built hot spring in the basement. It doesn't come with the room, so you have to pay extra for it. Seeing as I had TOPIK exam the next day, I couldn't bear to force myself to wake up at 7am just to take a bath so... next time :(

Breakfast was amazing as well, another buffet! Hehehe, I can never get enough of sausages, bacon and scrambled eggs. Breakfast food should not be limited to just breakfast because it's so good and it's nutritious and adds so much color to meals. After breakfast, everyone gathered to prepare to leave, while Samia and I parted ways as we had to go to Seoul. 

Ended up giving up on taking the normal train and getting the KTX because nothing beats being early than having to rush and perspire. The worst thing that can ever happen to you on an examination day is finding out that you might be late, perspiring while you run to the venue, and being all flustered.

I took my TOPIK examination in Dongkuk University, and I must say I am so glad I do not study there. The hills were steep and it was simply ridiculous to see myself walking through the school to classes everyday. The probable good thing was that the school was high up and had a good view, and it was near to Dongdaemun as well. But seriously, I believe this is the reason why Koreans generally have really slim legs, and a normally slim body: WALKING. If I'd stop complaining about all the hills and start appreciating it maybe I'd actually shed some weight.... nah hahaha.

After my examination, I went back to Sinchon and met up with Nicole for dinner to talk about the examination and other stuff. On top of that, I wanted to see the City Slide that was such a big thing. I initially wanted to go play, but we had the trip and I had my examination as well so I settled for just taking photos. I'm glad that I actually got a chance to see it happening instead of just hearing about it and seeing it from other people's photos.

It was a pretty amazing weekend, and I really enjoyed myself to the fullest. Especially since I'm in Songdo, one of the most calm, serene, beautiful but boring places during the summer holidays, which makes it even worse because there's nobody around to entertain me. Apart from teaching tuition, I spend most of my time cooped up in my room, watching movies and series, sleeping and playing games. Stay tuned to my blog for the next post: The Watergun Festival in Sinchon!

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