Itaewon: 10 best pictures from Flickr (My retarded opinion..again)

One of the many reasons that I want to go to Itaewon is because there's a big mosque there and amidst that are fusion of culture western, asian and everything jumbled into one. The place seems to emerge a whole new small world on its own in the middle of Seoul.

Another perspective by machomikemd from Virtual Tourist. "Itaewon is a kitchsy, touristy area of seoul. It is the international part of seoul since it is in proximity of yongsan garrison of the US Army. However, it is not a representative of seoul since it mostly caters to tourist and US Troops. The main street runs for 1.4 kilometers between the Itaewon Junction at the west end and the Hannam 2-dong ward office at the opposite eastern end. Off this main street lie a score of alleyways and underground arcades crammed with stores, eateries, nightclubs and bars."

Here are the top 10 pictures (from my opinion) taken from Flickr that embodies the epitome of Itaewon:

1. jump in snow! by youngdoo
Particularly like this work of art because of the fallen snow and the energy by these people. Hmm..Itaewon, the name itself sounds very energetic with its fusion of culture.

2.Seoul Central Masjid, Itaewon by Mohamad Faizal Omar
Great angle! Most of the shot taken of this mosque is from the front which I don't feel the serenity evoked in me but this one does. ^^. No doubt, a huge landmark in Itaewon.

3. Way Too Much by Ronnie Fung
Frankyly, not a good shot at all from a photography point of view. But the way Ronnie describes Itaewon is mind blowing..haha I agree, indeed. ROFL
"Itaewon, Korea. This was taken on a Saturday night. There is a man busking in a Spiderman outfit, he can't play guitar. There is a man selling watermelons, some may be rotten, some not, either way, in between sales he scratches his boys with no shame. There is also a prostitute in a doorway, sending a text message and a blur of motion from a group of MP's taking away a criminal of some sort. Lord knows what else is going on. This place is mind blowing. "

4. The street in Itaewon II by awe2020's cold. An evening after work. Look at the lady snuggled with her muffler. Itaewon couldn't be much prettier than this right?

5. A sprinkle of light by Lindsaymp

Simply because of the comment.
I just feel that the picture is quite ok but one of the comment is so hilarious : Cosplay?
Haha..It's not even nearer to that in Harajuku, eh?

6. Itaewon market by mister bokeh

Just because.. I like Mr Bokeh!! Hahah..I just admire all his pictures. It can conjure subtle feelings. Wish had that gift in me. This bike is sooo..lonely.

7. I have a Rotiboy problem by superlocal

If I ever got to Itaewon, I will..oopss no..I MUST visit this shop. Why? Cause Malaysia has this bakery too. But not with this option: Vanilla ice-cream as filling. Hmm..I'm a fan!! The smell is just so irresistible even from far.

8. Itaewon Scene: Underwear Street Store by RMJimenez

Hmm..a racy, saucy image. Nothing better than an ahjumma to sell this stuff. offense to all the ahjummas. Ahjumma fighting!!

9. ebikka by numberof

2 korean friends making a fool out of each other. Sweet!

10. Itaewon Alley by oceandesetoiles

My most favourite picture out of the 10. Reminds me the sunshine in Malaysia. Arghh..I love the warmth and the girl holding her puppy, isn't that sweet?

Winter clothes in South Korea

I had two coats prepared for winter but after getting some advice from my korean friends, it would be better if I shop once I reach Seoul.

Around February, I bought two coats for my travel to Hong Kong from this website : Color Shopping. Hong Kong is on winter season around February but not that cold around 15 celcius. Luckily the clothes helped especially when we need to sleep in the airport for a stayover. Hehee..

The site is worth a look. Shipping to Malaysia plus the coat price on average roughly around MYR120 which is cheaper than if you buy in local shopping outlets.

The downside, the fashion a bit outdated. Let's say if you want to use for autumn 2009, the listed fashion would be from autumn 2008. Tested clothes postage took me around 5-7 days delivery which was quite fast and the owner never fail to reply my email for any queries.

Though the fashion stated its from Korea but the factory comes from China which justifies the cheap price.

Another downside is that online shopping will minus the experience of having to inspect the whole clothes before you buy, the color of clothes would be slightly different from what was shown and the return policy is a bit absurd. You can't simply return it like you buy it next door.

Cheapest single room in Seoul : Hostel Korea

Hostel Korea

My hunt for cheapest single room in Seoul is not over yet. My thought of taking the dormitory option might stop here if it could be this cheap.

Hostel Korea cheapest rate for single room per night : 22,000 won ~ MYR66 (with breakfast and WiFi in the room). Marvelous!! Privacy is the bottom line between dormitory and single room.

The downside: Location is a bit far from Center Seoul. They are around 5-10 minutes walk from Sinseoldong station. 3 station stop from Dongdaemun. 6 station stop from Myeongdong.

Good enough for me. I'm game.

What really attracts me is this:

50% discount on the first day rate IF you stay more than 2 nights.
If I decide to stay 3 nights, the rate per night for single room is 22,000 won and the discounted rate would be 11,000 won. My total would be 55,000 won ~ MYR165

*Hi everyone, by now (22nd August 2009) Hostel Korea has changed their landing page and I believe this coupon is no longer available and their cheapest single room now is 25,000 Won :(. Check out their web to get the latest rate or head over to my post for single room for less than 30,000 won.

Insadong: 10 Best Pictures from Flickr (in my retarded opinion)

1. Lantern Festival Kid - by Derekwin
I love children especially bald and with one-lid eyes. Haha..which is so oriental. These boys really cute.

2. 1842/1816* - by june1777
The red here is so sexy don't you think? It reminds me of Wong Kar Wai's movie: In the mood for love

3. We all need a shoulder to cry on... by Looloo's not tears but snow. The sky is crying. Arghh..I hate cold but I don't hate snow though. It's such a pretty sight. Will insadong snow in Christmas?

4. At Ssamziegil by jetsetcd
This is vandalism at its best condition. Haha..a cute and artistic graffiti.
If it's just words in roman character it wouldn't look this nice rite?

5. Paint Brush pots by Derekwin

What about chinese characters and its beauty? I don't know. Eventhough I don't understand but it just reeks awesomeness and beauty.

6. Street Vendor by Centrax
Chestnut- a delicacy that appears during winter time. Hot and tasty to douse that winter cold. Yummy..

7. Korean Starbucks by Superlocal
Starbucks in Hangul. The first one ever..exceptional. Gonna go on this one!

8. Fish cakes by xoxoryan
I ate the same thing in Chiba, Japan. What's about Japan and Korea sharing the same recipe? Anyhow, I really love this fish cake. The last time I didn't get to try the cheese filling, right now on a hunt for that, if there is.

9. I call this gorgeous charm by Aaron Raisey

10. Insadong Wedding Performance by mjohnexmsft
Pretty dancers in pink hanbok - my favourite color. So refreshing to see ^_^

Hallyu and Kpop : Silence Tourism Machine for South Korea

I can't deny the fact that one of the influences for Korean madness comes from Hallyu and Kpop. According to Wikipedia: "The Korean wave or Korea fever[1] refers to the surge of popularity of South Korean culture around the world since the 21st century, especially among the Millennial Generation. While popular throughout the Asian continent, its influence is strongest in East Asia, especially dominant in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, spreading to India,[2] the Middle East,[3] Central Asia,[4] Iran,[5] Israel,[6] Turkey[7] and Russia.[8]"

Without realizing it, Hallyu or Korean wave has become a silent tourism machine from South Korea. Most of my friends would at least know one of the singers/actors/actress/groups from the entertainment. Since Malaysia only has one channel KBS from Astro, so basically that would be the main source. Otherwise, internet has become the main point connecting us nearer to others culture and either way it is as if I'm staying in Seoul even though I'm not. You gain latest updated news of your favourite Hallyu artist on your fingertips. I check them mostly from Youtube.

These are among my top 5 favourite singers based on talent (especially not looks..hehe):
1. G-dragon from Big Bang (* Not really a singer, I just like him cause he's a genius!)
2. Kim Hee Chul from Super Junior (He's just crazy, crazy, crazy and wicked! hehe..)

Kim Hee Chul
Picture courtesy of Style Hapaa

3. Epik High
4. FTTS - Fly to the sky (duo consisting of Brian and Hwanhee
5. Hwayobi, Gummy, Ji sun - ex-singer of Loveholic and Lynn

My 5 top favourite drama:
1. My name is Kim Sam Soon
2. My attic cat
3. Thank you
4. I'm sorry I love you
5. Full house

My 5 top favourite movie:
1. The art of fighting
2. My Sassy Girl
3. A moment to remember
4. Wolves temptation
5. My tutor friend

Hanbok: Korean traditional clothes

Hanbok and its root

Pictures courtesy of jø°'s photostream.

Hanbok's modern style is so pretty and somewhat similar to Malaysian's Baju Kurung. The roots might come from different origins but the style is conservative and often used during ceremony or major formal occasion.

From Wikipedia: Hanbok (South Korea) or Chosŏn-ot (North Korea) is the traditional Korean dress. It is often characterized by vibrant colors and simple lines without pockets. Although the term literally means "Korean clothing", hanbok today often refers specifically to hanbok of Joseon Dynasty and is worn as semi-formal or formal wear during traditional festivals and celebrations. Modern hanbok does not exactly follow the actual style as worn in Joseon dynasty since it went through some major changes during the twentieth century for practical reasons.[1]

30 suggested souvenirs from South Korea

Every time I travel, I wish I could prepare everyone a souvenir; that's what I thought. However due to budget, I wouldn't be able to (my dearest friends, please understand..hehe). However, after doing some research from Flickr, Youtube, Google search and Trip Advisor here are few worthy souvenirs that I wish to check on in Seoul, South Korea:

1. Mink (artificial) - blankets or robes
2. Korean lamp
3. Korean chess set - Janggi (Korean Chess-like game) , another one, another one and finally
4. Traditional Korean mask
5. Korean T-Shirt
6. Kimchi candies
7. Packed kimchi and another one
8. Dried seaweed snacks
9. Fashion accessories - hair pins/ bands
10. Korean Makeup
11. Scarves
12. Korean dolls
13. Handphone accessories
14. Wooden wedding ducks
15. Key chains with the Korean flag
16. Pouch
17. False eyelashes
18. Phone accessory
19. Hangul Stamp
20. Hanbok
21. JejuAir Hello Kitty
22. Rice Cake , another one and another one
23. Ceramics
24. Paper fan
25. Korean drum (miniature)
26. Kimchi chocolate - eat at your own risk..hehe
27. Korean tea
28. Korean tea cup
29. Hallyu Kpop Souvenirs
30. Hoodies

There is a Seoul Tourists Souvenir in Insadong where you may browse through.

Kimchi in the making.

Making kimchi seems like an easy feat. Unfortunately, it is not everyone forte. Just like mine, I tried to make it but always seem like over salty, over spicy and everywhere is in the 'OVER' region. Hahaha. I'm not a good cook, I agree. I'm not shameful to confess on this one of my 'amazing' qualities.

There's one good website where I stumbled upon the video from youtube called Maangchi.

Introducing Gumteo : Grilled fish restaurant

Picture courtesy: ZenKimchi

A considerable chain-restaurant based on its price. Why am I always stressing on food? Hahah..I love food but I'm always curious about Korean food. How does it compare to Malaysian food?

As I browse the web today, I came across this restaurant called Gumteo. I wish I could understand what it means though. Their forte is grilled fish. I love fish!!

The price for standard meal is between 5,000 to 10,000 won- which is between MYR15 to 30. Cheap right? Ok? I hope it will taste good and yummy and tasty.

Arghh..I'm hungry!!

3 months in Korea: My Goal

Most of my friends just wonder why do I want to go for a trip that long and even sacrifice a job that very laidback and easy. Typically, they would just take a 1 or 2 week trip in a group, take annual leave off and later return to work as usual. But why am I doing this?

I don't know...Can I say that?

Hehehe..I wish I could say I don't know the reason but there are a few reasons why I want to do it.

1. WWOOFing at least 4 area - Gwangju, Gyeongju, Busan and Gangwondo
2. Learn conversational Korean with natives
3. Take at least 5,000 pictures of Korea for my travel journal
4. Survey Korean language school
5. Finding job opportunity
6. Meeting G-Dragon (I wish this to be true..)
7. Experience autumn (my favourite season) and winter (my least favourite season..I hate cold)

3 months in Korea: Comments?

3 months in Korea..not a big deal for a seasoned traveler though.
3 months in Korea for RM5,000 ~ USD1400..are you insane??

After notifying my circle of friends about this trip to Korea; I received not only few positive support but not to mention numerous negative remarks. Those who know me better will not give it a day..but those who just starting to know me would be quick to generalize me as a weird, quirky and out of this world lady. The reason being:

1. I'm a muslim and wearing a scarf which amplified me as being a muslim (constant annoying stare if I'm in a non-muslim country)
2. I'm a lady
3. I'm a lady in very early 30's
4. I travel alone
5. I love to travel to countries with language barrier
6. I travel with shoestring budget
7. I hate to be wired (handphone, laptop, basically mobile device)
8. I love to be different
9. I hate 9 to 5 jobs
10. I hate to follow the crowd, I just wouldn't

Most common remarks I received:
1. Crazy
2. Don't you have anything better to do?
3. You are very rich
4. How to be like you?!!
5. I'm jealous, I wish I can just go and travel like you
6. Aren't you thinking about your future?
7. What happen after the trip ends?
8. What is your plan after the trip?
9. ...(utterly speechless..hehe)
10. You really live your life, don't you?

Korean culture: Jjimjilbang

*Picture courtesy Tour2Korea

What is exactly jjimjilbang?
Apart from the tongue-twisted pronunciation..hmm..
Jjimjilbang is a spa, sauna, shower, a place to overnight and chill out after a hard day of sightseeing in Seoul. (for budget traveler, this is a plus!)

What's so great about it:
  • hot pool in various temperature, hot, medium hot, super duper hot and cold pool
  • sauna room with different varieties to choose; a jewelery sauna room?
  • you can show off your S curve , if you have any though to Korean..hehe (which is being naked while you shower)
  • a cool place to chill out - internet, karaoke, movie room, comic room, exercise facilities
  • massage hard or soft, up to you
  • you can sleep over from 8pm to 11am (time differs between jjimjilbang) for very minimal fee like around 12,000 won/nite ~ MYR36
  • it's open 24 hours
You would be thinking..crazy want to be naked over there?? Well, you can skip the naked and S-curve show off and straight to the sauna. No harm done, right?

Me and my friends would definitely consider the option for staying overnight there. Why not? It's cheap and it's like living in one large luxurious house with all the things you want, all roll up into one. Preciousssssssssss...

Here are some of the list of famous jjimjilbang in Seoul:
  1. GoldSpa
  2. HappyDay
  3. Seocho Spa
  4. Silloam Sauna

Tour2Korea has step by step guideline to enter jjimjilbang here.

Friends of Budget Travel to Korea


Those websites or resources which can help us to reduce expenses and enjoy the sights and trip more in Korea deserve to be called a friend. Perhaps BFF? (Best Friend Forever)

*Assuming you are not acquainted with any Korean natives

List of friends would be:

1. Newsletter from Airlines

My advice is to subscribe to all applicable airlines. They would from time to time send a lucrative deal to grab for different sectors. The offer will be limited to certain travel period and most of the time you can’t refund if you cancel your plan. Nevertheless, through this you would be able to reduce your flight expenses significantly.

For example; I went to HongKong on February 2009 for one week via Cathay Pacific offer equivalent to RM500 ~ USD138 for a return ticket. Normal ticket would double or triple of that price.

You may subscribe to these Airlines (with online/e-ticketing), as I did:

Malaysia Airlines

Cathay Pacific

Singapore Airline


2. Tour2Korea

I am very impressed with their website. It is very informative and almost a one-stop destination of all the things that you need to know about Korea. Superb! Seventy percent of the information here is enough for you to track the places but for budget travel in Korea, you may need to rely on a few other resources.

3. Lonely Planet

Most of budget traveler definitely know what Lonely Planet is. I frequently visit their thorn tree forum for Korea to get some advice from experienced traveler and even locals who replied in the forum. It’s online and most of the time is the latest information that you can absorb. 100% helpful and definitely will help to reduce your expense with proper planning.

4. Trip Advisor

Research..research..research. I can’t stress enough on this word. Even before going that road, I would only survive with tips and advise from this website. They are really systematic and structure their website in a very user-friendly mode. I like it when all of those travelers joined ideas and experience for other newbie like me. Massive information can be gained from here and in fact I did a lot of research on budget accommodation from this site as well. All those reviews are pretty reliable. One more thing, don't forget to subsribe to their newsletter.

5. Youtube

Seeing is believing. Right? Glad that other kind souls out there put extra effort and broadcast their videos in Youtube. Youtube is really a work of art. In terms of budget traveling, the pros are all on us. The travelers basically giving advise through this videos whether a place is worth a visit or happening places that you just cannot miss during your travel. I’m glad that I surf through youtube.

6. Fellow bloggers

If you can see that I link to a few bloggers in my blog. This is for me to keep myself up to date on the places that I want to visit. For example, Gwangju is definitely going to be my spot. Thanks to Kimchi and Cornbread, I could keep abreast with what happen around that area. Most of the bloggers that I link to, they are either have been there or currently there. It would be better if you could find a native blog but finding an English written blog by native Korean is a challenge for me. A mission for me though.

Budget accommodation Korea : Goshiwon

Sorry guys..I'm gonna stick only to budget places..everything on a budget. Well you see, I come from Malaysia and our currency is not at par with Korean Won, so that's it. This is the whole meaning of this blog anyway ^__^. From Malaysian for others (not only Malaysian) to enjoy Korea on a BUDGET : My mission.

I'm gonna stay there approximately 3 months..a short term; not too short not too long. End of Sept until end of December; I get to enjoy Autumn and Winter yeay!!

Right now, I am torn between two options; either to stay there AGAIN after December or not. Well, I bought a return ticket from Seoul to Kuala Lumpur. If I decided to return to Seoul, it's gonna be 29th December. Phew.. but it's still a long way to go girl?! We are talking December here! But..doesn't mean I can't research first right, right? hehe..

Me and my girl mate came up with this really really crazy idea to study korean next year in Seoul!! We did some research on budget accommodation if we decided to settle with that korean study idea.

We stumbled upon - Goshiwon
Goshiwon, depending on location and sizes will range between 200,000 won to 600,000 won.
You may get concise description of it here and extensive list of Goshiwon in Seoul here .

This is a freaking funny 2 and a half minute video of Goshiwon..hahaha. Courtesy of Kevin's Travel Series.

Budget: 10 days itinerary sample in South Korea

Both of my friends have confirmed coming to Seoul from 30th Oct - 8 Nov for T, and 30th Oct - 21st Nov for H. The three of us will be painting the Seoul town red from 30th Oct till 8th Nov; approximately 10 days. After that H, will go WWOOFing with me for the remaining days.

Here's the tentative itinerary and budget:

30th Oct
Flight from Kuala Lumpur - 2330 hours

31st Oct
Arrive at Incheon airport - 0710 hours
Meet H and T at Myeongdong Station -0900 hours
Check in Namsan guest house
Namsangol Hanok Village
Lunch & Itaewon
Seoul tour bus
Namsan tower
Dinner & Cheonggyecheon Stream

1st Nov
Yeouido Park and Seoul Park

2nd Nov
Everland (1 whole day)

3rd Nov
Nami Island

4th Nov
Mount Seorak

5th Nov
Return to Seoul (Morning)
Seoul Coex Mall + Kimchi museum (Evening)

6th Nov
Hands-on Traditional Culture Programs at Korea House
Visit the Palaces + Coffee Prince
NANTA show

7th Nov
Final shopping

8th Nov
Flight to Kuala Lumpur 1100 hours

Budget : Flight - MYR 1000, Seoul -10 days MYR1,300, Shopping - MYR700
Total: MYR3,000 ~ approximately 1 million won.

Windroad & Windflower Guesthouse

Rugged, old, loud place? Just next to SungKyunKwan University (my tounge twisted to pronounce this) and the Ediya coffee lot that I want to test. Hmm..but it's dirt cheap..dormitory bed for 13,000 won/night and single bed for 28,000 won/night. Have been searching high and lows for reviews, most of them commented that this place rocks! Not the quality though..cause what you pay is what you get, but the manager has a friend who hosts a WWOOF Farm. Ding..ding..I should befriend this manager shouldn't I? Anyway, right after a few days in Seoul, I'm off to WWOOFing..

I will think about it..and will put my worthy comment once I stayed there. But all in all from the journal this place seems happening. ^__^

Loving Hut, vegetarian food in Sinchon

As I browsed through happycow site for vegetarian food in Seoul, I stumbled upon this chain vegetarian restaurant Loving Hut. They have a branch in Puchong, Selangor. Wow??

All the menus are from vegetarian..hmm I will be a vegan temporarily (3 months) + seafood + fruits = seafru vegan..haha. I'm just making that up. No pun intended.

The menu shows mix of korean and western food. They only have one branch in Sinchon, Seoul though. Tried to find the review and surprisingly encouraged that even the 'cold burger' tasted yummy for this blogger - Kelly. Loving Hut website have the map shown but really... not helping at all, for me at least. Situated near Yonsei University gate, I supposed I have to take subway Line 2, Sinchon Station? Hmmm..from there, I supposed I have to ask around with my limited Korean language. God, please save me.

No!! They don't have bibimbap in this branch..arghh..heck it, I will try other food then. Hmm.. Jjajangmyun, anyone?? Hehehe..3,500 won for Large - approximately MYR10. Quite ok..

Korean Menu

Well, Halal food is a bit difficult to find in Seoul/South Korea. I will try my best to try permissible Korean cuisine by Islamic standard.

Basically, I'm gonna be half vegan over there. Fruits, vegetables, seafood...hmm..totally organic. Say hello to slimmer, svelte figure Zarina with S-figure to boot. Hehehe..

Here are the list of menu in Korean with pictures that I would like to try in Seoul. However the menu would be customized for Muslim ^__^:

Menu taken from Kimbap Nara compiled by Mary Eats.
*Price will differ.

1 - 야채 김밥, Yachae Kimbap, Vegetable Kimbap, 2,000 won: Filled with various veggies including carrots and spinach. Little variation from Won-jo Kimbap.

Picture courtesy of

2 - 순두부 찌개, Sundubu Jjigae, 3,500 won: Sometimes fiery bubbling cauldron of soft tofu, freshly cracked egg (don’t stir if you’d like it hard boiled), chili peppers, inoki mushrooms, a couple clams, onions and deunjang (Korean miso) paste. Served with the ubiquitous fire
retardant sticky rice.*

Picture courtesy of Ottawa Foodies

3 - 된장 찌개Dwen-jang Jjigae, 3,500 won: Sometimes slightly spicy bubbling cauldron of dwen-jeong paste, inoki mushrooms, onions, clams and the odd cube of tofu. Korea’s answer chicken noodle soup. Served with the ubiquitous fire retardant sticky rice.

Picture courtesy of Ambitious Deliciousness

4- 돌솥 비빔밥, Dolsot bibimbap, 4,000 won: See above served in a hot stone bowl and topped with a (usually) fried egg.*

양푼 비빔밥, Yangpoon bibimbap, 4,000 won: Bibimbap served in a large metal bowl, usually serves two people.

호박 죽, Hobak Juk, 3,500 won: Thick pumpkin like porridge.

단팥 죽, Danpat Juk, 3,500 won: A thick red bean porridge.

떡볶이, Ddokboggie, 2,000 won: The street snack with chairs. Simmered rice cake (log form) swim in a sea of spicy pepper sauce augmented with odang (processed fish), cabbage, carrots, onions and leeks.

라볶이, Raboggie, 2,500 won: See above and add Ramyeon noodles. Bonus!

치즈떡볶이, Cheese ddokboggie, 2,500 won: See Ddokboggie, add cheese. Bonus!

It's OK @ It's alright in Korean

Sometimes is not fun only to decline or refuse an offer by saying "No" in Korean. Another option is you may decline using "It's okay" or "It's alright". To say it in Korean would be:

gwaen cha nha yo = - Learn Korean with Free Daily Podcasts

"Kebanggaan Seoul" came out on TV3 Main news

While having dinner with my friends in Kerinchi, we were discussing about plans to go to Seoul. Right after I finished explaining the budget and the itinerary, suddenly news of Seoul popped out on our Local TV News.

It felt surreal cause there we were discussing on the place and suddenly the same place popped out on the news. I really felt the goosebumps!

The place that we were discussing is Cheonggyecheon Stream.

Please click on the picture to check on other amazing picture of Seoul taken by caveman_lee

How to say "Yes" and "No" in Korean

This phrases is very very important when you want to agree and decline.

Yes =

No = - Learn Korean with Free Daily Podcasts