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Mount Sorak National Park -> Shingheungsa Temple -> Cable car ride up (Kwon Kum Seong Fortress) -> Korean Traditional Cultural Centre -> Dongdaemun -> Sheraton D Cube city hotel

View from our hotel room
We woke up at 5.30am and was greeted by the lush greenery view from our window. In winter, the field will become ski slopes where tourists will flock to Korea to ski.

tennis court?
We stayed at Phoenix Park hotel for one night only as we are heading to Seoul today.

Bed - once again, 1 single and 1 queen size beds
Teevee + full length window
The window can be opened automatically by pressing a button beside the window.


Toilet + showering facilities
Most of our tour members dislike the shower head as the water pressure is too strong. When it pours down, we can feel the pressure and it sort of hurts when the water hits our back :(

We woke up earlier today with the intentions to walk around our hotel vicinity.

our hotel @ Phoenix Park
Center plaza
There's a convenience store at center plaza that opens till 2am and we can get our supplies like toothbrush or water if necessary.
Sky grill garden + Ski locker + Jasmina Restaurant
And we saw the ski place!

The air was extremely fresh in the morning and we see people taking morning jogs around the field.
It was pretty cooling in the morning since the temperature is only 22 degrees Celsius and its summer!

Live temperature board
We saw sky lift there too that transport people to the top of the hill in the winter and then ski down. I must say this place makes an excellent ski center! Phoenix park is located in Pyeongchang and the place is a major winter sports region in Korea. Pyeongchang has also been declared as the host city of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. 

If you happen to come by here in summer, do take a stroll around the area in the morning!

We went back to the hotel lobby to gather at 7am. Colin informed us that our breakfast for the day will be at our hotel's level 2. We will be having breakfast first before we check out.
Hotel lobby
Breakfast served was international buffet style with dishes and staples like Bread, noodles and rice. However in terms of variety, we feel that Jeju T.H.E Hotel buffet win Phoenix Park buffet breakfast hands down.

During the breakfast, we met a few of the tour groups from Singapore too under ASA tours, SA Tours and Chan Brothers. The one from ASA tour departed from Singapore on the same day as us but with a later flight (midnight flight). It feels good being able to meet fellow Singaporeans abroad!

Hotel room access card
After breakfast we went back to our respective rooms to collect our luggage and checked out at 8am.

Our first stop for the day was: Seoraksan National Park! It was supposedly part of our Day 5 itinerary but was pushed back to Day 6. The bus ride took around 1.5 hours and we reach the national park at 9.45 am. 

Seoraksan National Park!
Ticketing Booth
Admission Fee chart
Seoraksan National park was designated the 5th national park in Korea in 1970 and chosen as a nature preservation area on November 5, 1965 Also, internationally recognized for its rare species, Seoraksan is the area in Korea to have been designated as a Biosphere Preservation District by UNESCO in 1982, and in IUCN recognized its rich natural resources and labeled it category Ⅱ(National Park). The total area of Seoraksan National park is 398.539㎢.
                                                                                                - Korea National Park Service official website

Colin brought us to the cable car boarding area with the intention of boarding the cable car to higher parts of the mountain and climb to Mt Sorak from there on. However it was too crowded and the next available ticket for cable car is half hour later. To prevent wasting time for waiting for the cable car, Colin bought tickets for 10.50am.

So crowded with people queuing to board the cable car!
Instead for the remaining 45 minutes, Colin brought us to the famous gianBronze Buddha of Sinheungsa. 

Seoraksan Sinheungsa Temple
Giant bronze Buddha!
This great unification buddha statue represents the crucial wish of the Korean people for the reunification of the divided country. It is known to be the largest buddha statue in Asia.

Sinheungsa Temple and its surroundings
For fellow buddhist devotees who wish to make offerings, theres an offering/incense shop in front of the buddha. They sell joss sticks and rice as offerings. you may write your wishes for the year and place it in front of the buddha statue.

As we walk further down away from the buddha, theres a bridge that link to another part of the area.

The Sinheungsa temple is a 2 minute walk away from the great buddha statue.

Sinheungsa Temple
On our way back to the cable car station where we are supposed to meet Colin and the rest at 10.35am, which is 15 minutes before we board the cable car, we saw a couple of black boards with visitors wishes written on them. A small fee has to be paid.

Wishes written on black boards
I guess it works the same way as sky lanterns (天灯).. We saw many couples engrave their wishes on the board.

Cable car boarding area
Cable car model
Cable car round ticketing
Cable car!
Colin gathered all of us and we entered the boarding area with him (there's only 1 ticket for group admission). Despite our cable car timing to be 10.50am, we boarded it at 10.45am. So do be early as the cable car might just depart off earlier!

The cable car can fetch up to 50 people at one go and the ride lasted 5 minutes. Both sides of the cable car brings you different views - mountains or sea.

View of mountain from the cable car
bird eye view
Colin brought us up to the the place where we can view Mount Sorak. Physical endurance is needed as there's plenty of stairs to climb!

Stairs to climb to the top
The whole walking journey/ climbing of stairs takes around 15 minutes.

And we finally reached the base where we were able to see the peak of Mt Sorak!

Peak of Mt Sorak
Our itinerary includes the kwon kum seong fortress however Colin did not inform us which part is the fortress. From the internet, I guess perhaps the plateau we are standing on is the fortress?

At the base, it is still pretty manageable to climb. However once you are nearing the peak, you need to go down on all fours ( see the middle part of the picture above). Nearing the peak, there will be ropes anchored for people to pull themselves up with the ropes. no worries there's Mt Sorak personnel there to guide you but still it seems treacherous! Colin warned us not to hike up, but just stay at the base.

Nevertheless, the view there is still pretty great! It's like we are amidst the clouds!

view from Mt Sorak
There's a vendor selling photographs. They can help you/family to take photographs at a cost of minimum KRW 10,000 (SGD$11.50).
Photography booth
We idle around to take photos before we headed back to the cable car station. This time round, we will be climbing the stairs downwards!
Rest stop outside cable car boarding area
Spot the peak of Mount Sorak!

There's a toilet when you climb further down at the rest area outside the cable car boarding area. However there's no sink area. So do bring wet tissue along to clean your hands!

We then boarded the cable car back to the main area of the national park.

Food stores
Colin told us that Korea do not produce pineapples, however it is funny that we actually see quite a few store vendors at the tourists attraction areas selling pineapples. Normally, they should be selling fruits produced in their own country instead of fruits imported.

Lunch place
We left Mount Sorak for lunch - Seafood steamboat at 12. Our lunch place is just 5 minutes drive away.

We didn't really enjoy our meal a lot as we were all perspiring as the weather was very hot and we were perspiring profusely especially after the morning outdoor activities of climbing stairs to reach Mt Sorak. There's air con in the restaurant however a its steamboat - there's a lot of stove being lit, it produced additional hot air. In addition, the seafood weren't exactly fresh too.

We left the place at around 1pm. We will be travelling out of Seorak region to Seoul. The ride journey is around 3 hours according to Colin. But he arranged for a rest stop in between. So around 2 hours into our journey, we arrived at this rest stop for washroom and food.

Rest stop
We were given 20 minutes. The prices of food products at this rest stop seems affordable and we saw most of the people there are Korean natives.

Convenience store and many stores around

We bought our favourite banana milk again at the convenience store there and we experienced communication breakdown with the cashier. The cashier seem to be asking us something but we couldn't understand what she is saying :(

We also bought a packet of rice balls from this stall as the appearance attracted us.

rice ball
It cost KRW 5000 (SGD$ 5.80). We find the skin a little too hard. Overall the coconut taste is quite overwhelming.

Food counter in the food court
Sanitisation of the cups
I find Korea invests in plenty of high technology devices in public area such as the sanitisation of the cups for consumption of water.

We travelled for another hour and we finally reached Seoul! Our first stop in Seoul is Korean Traditional hanbok experience and Kimchi Making station!

Our kimchi making teacher
She demonstrated to us how the kimchi is made. It usually consisted of a complex concoction of ingredients/sauces. There are different types of kimchi and the most common one known is the cabbage kimchi. However there can be octopus/squid kimchi too.

We were each given a plate of cabbage and a portion of the mixed kimchi sauce for convenience. We have to separate the leaves of the cabbage piece by piece and ensuring that each piece has been smeared by the kimchi paste then we fold it in half and tied it around. Thats one set done. Prior to that, we were each given a cup of ginseng milk to drink!

The sets of kimchi that we have done will be further fermented and delivered to old folk homes in seoul for the less fortuanate! Good cause done!

We then tried on the Korean Hanbok for Hankbok wearing experience. They have a variety of patterns to choose from and they are easy to wear - wear over. They have scenes set ups for us to take commemorative photos with too.
Traditional Korean culture experience
We left the place at around 5pm we are going Dong Dae Mun!!

We alighted at Doota and given 1.5 hours to shop in Dong Dae Mun.
The market is divided into five shopping districts -- A, B, C, D and a shopping town,[4] with 26 shopping malls situated over 10 blocks, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. 
                                                                                                                                        - Wikipedia
Colin told us that there's a new and old section of Dong Dae Mun. The area that we alight is surrounded by shopping centres like Doota, Migliore, Maxtyle. I believe this is the 'new' area of Dong Dae Mun and also the more pricey area of the market.

Doota sells more of the branded goods - upper price range products. We saw the subway station - Dongdaemun in front of Doota shopping centre too.

We went to Migliore and they mainly sells fashion apparels thats suitable for young adults. Mostly street wear.

Since we have such limited time in Dongdaemun and we are not too sure on where we can navigate, we went Migliore only. The prices of the apparels sold there are affordable! We can find KRW 5000/10,000 (SGD$11.40) shirts/dress. However the concept in Migliore is quite messy as each floor is make up of many tenants - like in Bugis street just that Migliore is air conditioned and Bugis street isn't. 

I feel that one has to be cautious while shopping in Migliore. Most of the apparels are a mix of china and Korean products. Do try to look our for the tags before you purchase the apparels since if one were to visit Korea, I believe you would like to purchase Korean products instead of other countries' manufactured products right?

There's only apparels, and shoes like sport shoes being sold. We didn't sell bags or other accessories being sold in Migliore. If Dongdaemun is just about Migliore, I guess there are other better shopping places in Seoul like the University Street (Day 8).

When we went back to the gathering point (outside Doota), we saw a lorry with a huge tv screen attached to it. Apparently it is playing MBC channel. Perhaps its MBC new advertising gimmick?

Lorry featuring Korea MBC channel
Compared to Jeju and Mt Sorak region, Seoul traffic is real bad! There's plenty of cars at any time. Car congestion problem is evident in Korea as purchasing car in Korea is quite affordable. Maybe their government should implement COE too haha!

We left Dongdaemun and went for dinner at Han Too What Korean Restaurant.

Dinner is steamboat again but with different ingredients. This meal isn't exactly the best but isn't the worst too! Starting to get sick of Korean food though :(

We finished dinner at around 8.30pm. We set off for our accomodation in Seoul for 2 nights: Sheraton D Cube City hotel - a 5 star hotel. Due to jam, we took around 50 minutes to reach the hotel when the journey should take only about 30 minutes. Along the way, we spotted BBQ Chicken (fried chicken) outlet.

Our room was beyond our expectation! It was real great and we truly enjoyed our stay with Sheraton for our remaining two nights in Korea.

You are able to view the bed/tv from the bathtub. Haha! But theres an option button for you to put down the blinds at the glass partition for privacy reasons

sink area
They provide bathroom scale too!

Toilet area

The whole toilet is almost as big as the bedroom space. It is separated into three sub sections - bath tub+sink/ showering area/ toilet.

If you happen to be attending business function and a blazer/suit is required, fret not about the wrinkles on your clothes as the ironing board is provided.

desk space

We feel that the bed can sleep up to 2 people per bed. Since they provided 4 pillows per bed and the bed size is quite big - queen size. In another words, we feel that for us a family of four, 1 room is actually sufficient. They don't need to allocate us two rooms!

The lobby is located at the 41st floor, with rooms above and below. There is a subway station located just at the basement of the building and other floors in the building is occupied by departmental store and offices. Sheraton D Cube city hotel is located near the heart of the business commercial district, like Singapore's Raffles Place.

View from our hotel
Seoul - night bustling city
Wifi is provided at the lobby area only. Access to room wifi is only available at a fee :(


Regular taxi in Korea
Colin told us that there's different type of taxis in Korea - Regular and Premium (Black) taxis. He advise us to take the premium taxi if we really want to wander around Seoul after the day itinerary has ended. He says that there have been frequent cases of tourists taking the regular taxi and get cheated by the taxi driver. Like for example travelling from Hotel to Dongdaemun cost around KRW 10,000 but the taxi driver will wander around and the taxi fare can come up to 2 times of the original cost. In addition, Premium taxi drivers tend to know how to speak basic English/Chinese as compared to drivers of Regular taxis. But of course premium taxis (Black colour) are more expensive to hire. They are normally found at Hotel/terminals.


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