Archive for the Tourism Category

Adventure on 2 wheels across South Korea

Posted in 4 rivers, Blogroll, busan, Seoul, Tourism on Monday, September 19, 2016 by Colin Quek

September this year was finally the time for the biggest goal of 2016.

Having spent 10 months waking up before the sun is up on each weekend to cycle, to train.

3 months to get use to a Korean diet, as I figured that my body has to get nutrients from a very different culture. Korean diet is primarily veg and carb based. While my usual diet is very protein and carb based.

image9

The whole route.

14379711_10153874155693837_6551091426663132038_o

Goal setting, I set this goal in 2015 and planned for it.

Yes I set the goal a year earlier to do this. And planned for it.

The wife herself (one amazing woman, decided to come along and had some training), in actual fact is only 1/4 of mine.

So we flew to Seoul, luggage and all.

On Saturday we picked up our rented bikes. Do note that in Korea only the Mugunghwa allows full sized bikes onboard, and that only the 1820pm and later trains.

We were hit with this snag as we assumed that the KTX allows bikes. So on Sunday morning we rushed to Yongsan train station to purchase the Busan to Seoul Mugunghwa tickets. The counter staff was unaware, until we told him to check the system that the train allows bikes.

The Sunday afternoon was spent walking madly looking for the start point. We should have taken our bikes along. We walked like 3 hours to locate booth 1.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Start point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Notice the 633km on the other side, the end point.

Above shows the start point of the Cross Country 4 Rivers cycle-path.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paldang station. Our start point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can take your bikes into the subway provided it is not rush hour and only the last and first cabin.

On Sunday, or was it Monday we loaded our bikes and went to the Paldang station to begin our adventure. We left the Seoul Ara Waterway for the last.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A typical signboard telling you to go ahead on the cycle-path. Keep to these and you be fine.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then again, what is this? Yes, we came across many of these, thankfully we have a GPS of someone who did it before.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A bike rest point, which was supposed to be serving some coffee, but is since abandoned.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our bike passports.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The road condition, not bad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Typical Korean dam.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If I’m correct, that is Ipobo dam at the back.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most days, we were just cycling along stretches of road.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And if you see the sun this way, it is time to find lodging.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This says the next stamp booth is 2.5km away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We actually ended day 3 with more pedaling, boy were we not aware, the fun is ending after this part.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Somewhat iconic, after this sign, it was uphill all the way, literally.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our local Korean energy bar, very good and effective.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Says Chungju dam is 8km ahead, a very boring 8km i must add.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Korean golf

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chungju Dam’s booth, so hard to find.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pushing up Ilwarheong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And we reached!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Look at this view.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And we reached!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This stretch is after the steep slope, we continue to push to the last booth of Saejae.

We made the mistake of pushing through after our set time of 5pm. Instead of looking for lodging, we continued to push. Big mistake. The last part of Saejae path is STEEP! In the rain, and in the dark, boy the vacation is getting very tough.

We literally motivated each other to push up the hill. And after reaching the top there was no lodging.

At 8pm, we were riding down the slope and saw this campsite. I was desperate and decided to give it a shot, even if they charged us 200,000WON a night, I would have accepted.

Lesson: never break the rule of time to find lodging. If you set it to 5pm, obey it. As the next lodging may be 1 hour away. And it may be raining heavily.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the inside of a camping tent. Rental at 90,000WON a night.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cycling in the rain is not fun, especially when there is headwind all the time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Another dam.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nice view, sometimes we really gotta stop and admire it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the top of Wuxing Temple… the slopes were VERTICAL!

We actually rode and pushed up Wuxing Temple’s hill, could have avoided it by skirting to the left of it. We were told only AFTER the attempt… 😀

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the vertical up and steep downhill ride, we arrived at this dam.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Crossing over to Busan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A coffee van in the middle of ermmm, no where…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This guy was a God-send. He appeared out of nowhere to guide us through the toughest part of the whole route. Not just because it was steep, but it was raining until we cant see the road.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally we arrived.

The journey was more of a learning about each other experience for me and my wife.

It was a tough vacation and she swore never to do this again… maybe 😀

I would strongly encourage avid cyclists to give it a shot. The adventure is worth the pain.

Korea 2015

Posted in Blogroll, Places, Tourism, Travel on Sunday, December 6, 2015 by Colin Quek

A mosaic of photos from our recent trip to Korea.

(mouse over the photos to read a short description, I’ve described most of the photos.

Korea – Busan

Posted in Blogroll, Tourism, Travel with tags , on Saturday, August 31, 2013 by Colin Quek

Here are some highlights of my trip to Busan recently. Being tropical folks, the cool breeze of Busan is a nice welcome.

Also to allay all fears of the non Korean speaking folks, the locals speak a pretty good smattering of English. Especially  the younger generation. And almost every sign has an English translation. Of course you get a nice pleasant surprise and encouraging smile when you attempt to converse in their local language.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Haeundae Beach – this place is packed during the school holidays.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sand sculptures – Psy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sand sculptures – Wife… i mean Hulk 😀


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Falling for each other 😀

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, apparently the locals do not really like to go into direct sun light. So the beach is dotted with these.

Of course being an unguided trip, we decided to venture into the daily lives of the locals, hence we went to places like the wet markets, coffee stalls, eateries, etc.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is a central location in the wet market, which actually turned out to be a “end of the day dumping ground” lol.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yup, tons of garlic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The wife deciding what to buy for dinner 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is an underground shopping mall that was connected to the market, which is actually very common in the country.

Every trip to Korea should have a hike up one of it’s famous peaks. And that is what we will do.

Today we are doing Mt Jangsan.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABefore we start the hike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An ice cream stall as we near the peak. The kind gentleman obliged us with a photo, actually Koreans are very shy and reserved folks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bumped into a church 3/4 the way up. It looks deserted, but fresh tracks around tells us this place actually had 2 or 3 vehicles earlier.

And of course, the place we were staying in. It goes by the name of Miss Egg Hotel. The place is fabulous to stay in. It is a guesthouse, and yes, we get to meet alot of travellers.

A special note, this hotel is really very conveniently located. It is just a few minutes away to the beach. And the train station is a stroll off in the other direction.

Add to that , when you step out, there are convenient stores. And next door is a 24 hr internet cafe, where you can do some printing as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Photo opportunity with the boss. Yes, this young chap owns the Egg Hotels!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Leaving a memorabilia. Ok my arts and craft a bit of rusty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There is also a slew of local eateries around. Serving delicious local food of course. And a bar just a building away.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A local BBQ place. And the food is nice!

At night, Busan comes to another stage of liveliness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Says “food from 500 won”, I think, but street corner stalls like this is common place in Busan. And the food not bad.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What we did was to select the pieces, and the owner will either microwave it up or fry it.

Once done, we dipped them into the sauces (black bowls) before eating.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At the end of the 3 days, we headed to Seoul… on Rail!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ain’t this like a time machine?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Final call for Busan to Seoul 😀

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A view of the exterior of the station.

Taiwan 2012 – 2 of 2

Posted in Tourism on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 by Colin Quek

Taiwan is a bustling place, back in Taipei, we took the high speed rail for 8 minutes to this place called Banqiao.


IMG_2113

IMG_2109

IMG_2107

IMG_2105

Taipei Train Station

Of course one must visit Taipei 101 to complete the visit yes?

IMG_2088

Colorful transparent tiles outside Taipei 101.

IMG_2086

IMG_2081

Look what we found?

IMG_2072

 

 

Taiwan 2012 – Landscapes

Posted in Blogroll, Tourism with tags on Tuesday, January 1, 2013 by Colin Quek

Having spent 8 days around Taiwan and returning with a ton of photos of the simply marvelous island, I decided the best way to showcase the photos of the place is via various categories e.g. Landscape, Food, Recreation, etc.

I will start with Landscape as this is where Taiwan captured me the most. With its numerous mountains, hills and knolls. And of course their beauty as one glance at them. Why the numerous highlands? Because Taiwan is very active geologically. Situated such that the it is on 4 tectonic plates. As they move, they form hills and mountains on the island’s face.

Some shots of the highlands.

 IMG_1926

Taken early in the morning as we were up this mountain resort.

 IMG_1940

Midday shot

IMG_1955

Certainly looks like we were in Europe isn’t it?

IMG_1911

Different colors start to appear towards evening.

IMG_1900

Beer and sunset. What else is better?

Partly due to the numerous highlands, Taiwan has become home to a number of famous lakes.

 
SunMoonLake

The most well known being Sun Moon Lake.

The water is indeed crystal clear even know (http://wikitravel.org/en/Sun_Moon_Lake). Still on the topic of Sun Moon Lake, here are some closer photos.

IMG_1857

IMG_1837

Palace of Chiang Kai Shek.

This lake has been home to the aborigines of Taiwan for many of years. It has served as a center of their activities as well.

To top it off, Taiwan has a wonderful view of the sea, and shipping and sea commerce is still a thriving trade.

 TamSui

Panaromic port view in Tamsui

IMG_1572

A fishing boat heading out, If I am not mistaken, to catch squids.

To close this post now really don’t do justice to the natural beauty of Taiwan, I would really encourage you the reader to pay a visit and take in the other elements that make up the entire human experience of the place.

On a short trip to Bali (Part 2)

Posted in Bali, Blogroll, Food with tags , , , , , , on Sunday, January 1, 2012 by Colin Quek

This part of the series brings us to around the sights and sounds… and of course food of Bali.

In the morning, our driver, Made (whom we hired via http://funwithsila.blogspot.com/), drove us to Kat’s Kitchen. Breakfast was western. With bacon and again my favourite Balinese coffee.

My breakfast set, just the way I like it, meaty!

Close up of my first coffee of the day!

A little note about our driver: Made is a very friendly and honest driver. With excellent command of the English language, he explains in detail the places where we visited. Highly recommended. (*Update: a friend of mine already hired him for their own Bali trip)

First stop of the day, Made drove us to visit a Batik crafts shop. Batik Bali is one of the more popular Batik brand in the whole of Indonesia.

Some of the tools used for making Batik.

Here’s the wax for masking out the areas to avoid by the dye. The pen-like instrument is a Tjanting tool.

The intricate art of Tjanting.

I splurged on myself in the place, buying over $300 (SGD) worth of Batik products.

After that, we went to visit a village. All the households are surrounded by brick walls. Inside the perimeter are several houses, a temple for the household, a mini-farm, a kitchen and of course the loo.

The stove, fire is fuel by firewood.

This is one of the 3 ~ 4 houses typically found in a family. According to Made, this unit is for young married couple.

With the sweltering weather in Bali, you must be wondering where’s the aircon? Well they got better…

The walls are made of mud, accordingly it keeps the heat out.

Thatched roof, this keep the heat out too.

And yes the insides of the houses are sufficiently cooled by the above mentioned techniques.

Parts of the family temple.

The altar.

Each family has its own temple, where they worship the Hindu gods of Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. Each temple is handed over to the male child of the family. Together with the style of worship, this forms a vital anchor for each family.

Here’s the the PUB, Private Utilities Board. The well where each family has its water source. That’s Made at the side of the well.

Speaking of religion, Bali is dotted with numerous temples, with Hinduism being the main local religion. Of course the mainstream public temples are huge and very intricately adorned. Just take a look at the following.

Just outside the temple, a towering statue.

I especially like the following 3 carvings. Excellent paint job as well for the first 2.

Part of a pillar.

This is found beside a wall. Examine the details in the stone carving.

The temple we visited is some special cleansing temple. Hence we see groups of devotees washing themselves in the temple’s holy water.

On that note, we headed for dinner, I believe it is the famous flat-chicken rice. Where the chicken has been cooked until the bones are crispy and can be eaten.

Sambal Bali, super spicy chillies of Bali. Mixed with coconut oil and a dash of fried onion. Delicious!

On a short trip to Bali (Part 1)

Posted in Bali, Blogroll, Changi Airport, Places, Tourism with tags , , , , on Monday, December 26, 2011 by Colin Quek

The holidays are finally upon us and it is time for another trip. This time we decided to go some place tropical, and Bali came up in our minds.

We spent about a week there and it was very fun. Bali is no doubt very different from the places we have went before, first off: it is much warmer than Australia, all parts of Australia. But that warmth is also translated into its people.

Here’s the wife making funny faces in the departure lounge.

Departing Singapore from with Jetstar airlines on a rainy (and cold) morning didn’t quite prepare us for the sunblast heat in Bali lol.

A view of 2 mountain peaks in the air above Bali.

We touched down at Ngurah Rai International Airport and headed to buy a local SIM card. Yes, being citizens of modern Earth, we didn’t think of getting ourselves some food or drinks first.

Of course after the SIM card purchase we decided to sit down for some refreshments.

Outside the cafe.

Go out from the arrival hall and turn left, you should see the first cafe. The Balinese coffee is good and took away the weariness of the flight.

Tip#1: Buy the SIM card from the cafe, it’s 5000 Rupiah cheaper.

Tip#2: Get bread from the convenient store at the departure hall if your hotel is far away from civilisation like ours was.

Tip#3: Turn right from the arrival hall and purchase a taxi ticket from the taxi counter there.

We arrived at the Hotel Pink CoCo at about 3 pm. First thing I did was to head for the showers, yes it is that hot there.

That is the shower head, neat right?

Our room was on the 2nd storey, facing the sea. And it is huge. Take a look at the photos below.

This is the bathroom. The other half is where the basin is.

Notice the little touches? This here is a soup holder.

And the bedroom, and yes still the other half is where the tv is located with a big couch. Notice how high the ceiling is.

And this shot was taken in the balcony.

Still the photos don’t do justice to the size of the room. You have to see it for yourself.

Located 100m from the beach, also known as “padang” in Balinese, we decided to take a stroll to the beach.

A beautiful rock outcropping that probably used to be a spur.

The water is very clear, evidently this is a newly opened beach as I heard from the locals.

The sand is fine enough for beach volleyball. the dudes are almost here everyday for their game.

The walk at the beach was a pretty short one as the tide was fast coming in. And well it actually got dark fast too. Heading back to the hotel, we noticed alot of businesses along the way were opened by foreigners.

One of the many surf shops. They provide surfing classes for a fee.

Dinner was quickly settled and we retired to enjoy the room facilities. For all you tv addicts, there is cable, not to worry.

Next post, let me guide you through the various tourist spots in Bali.