Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I almost didn't get to go on this lovely spring trip to Korea this April 2017. When the Pang Yeows were booking the airline tickets, I mentally gave it a miss since I and Jason would be in Korea in November 2016. April 2017 was only 5 months away and it seemed a little frivolous to visit Korea twice in 5 months . But as I contemplated how much I would enjoy the sakura with pang yeows, I decided to go again for my 5th trip to Korea. Thanks Bryan, for helping me buy the tickets. Thanks Trixie, for squeezing me into the transport and hotel accommodations. Thanks Lydia and Margaret, for being wonderful and fun room mates. Peter and Bryan were always the head and tail of our group to make sure us 7 girls were not lost or gone astray somewhere in pursuit of more flowers or shopping. We were a little anxious that we wouldn't see the sakura in Seoul as some reports said the weather was a little colder than usual. However the 2nd day saw us smiling as we saw several trees in bloom in Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Posing with  pretty korean girls in hanbuk
We soon discovered movie stars in our group. Bryan and Joanne, Peter and Trixie  looked very much the handsome Korean actors and actresses in these photos at Bukchon Hanok Village.

 We  were one happy group of  girls and guys in Seoul Forest. We also hinted strongly we would be very happy to come back to be supporting casts for bridal parties photo shoots.

Not just the cherry blossoms but also the lovely magnolia blooms.
Yoke Lan, we see you bloom everywhere.

We saw plenty of cherry blossom trees in blooms especially around  Seokchon Lake near Lotte World.

Peter tried to take home the Lotte Tower.

We were also very happy to cycle in Yeouido Park. Too bad we forgot to turn and cycle in the tunnel over to the Han riverside.

The next day, we travel north west out of Seoul to Nami Island, Petit France and to the Land of the Morning Calm

From Nami Island we travelled south to Petit France which is about 45 kms from Seoul.

We travelled down south towards Seoul until we reached the Land of the Morning Calm which is about 36 kms north east of Seoul. Nothing quite prepared us for the delights God laid in store for us especially at the land of the Morning Calm where we saw a mini Keukenhoff as in Amsterdam.

Tulips galore

Guys' kung fu stance over water

Photograph the photographers.

Deep in discussion -guys talk

Pastor Peter was the preacher and Bryan was the altar boy in that beautiful little church here
 The next day was our free day so we took the hotel shuttle to Namdaemun Market. We found the ginseng shop and also bought plenty of interesting stuff in the market. Later we went to Namsam Tower. The taxi took us to the base of the hill and the traffic further uphill was bad so he stopped us. The cable car queue was very long so we had no option but to climb up to the top of Namsam Hill. Well, I have been to Namsam Hill  so many times but I never had to climb up all the way to the top some 1.7 kms uphill. We enjoyed the hike up but Lydia and I took the cable car down to save our knees.

The next day we got up very early to drive 3 hours to Samcheok on the east coast. We had to arrive in time to take the 11 am Rail Bike trail.

We were delighted not only by the sakura in full bloom everywhere but also by the bright yellow canola festival. we really enjoyed ourselves. We also gorged ourselves on the strawberry picking.

Margaret enjoying the sakura

Beautiful cherry blossoms.

Sakura and canola in full bloom together.

On Monday, me and Lydia took the 2.5 hours train down south to Pohang to visit Handong Global University. We were graciously hosted by Esther Kim to a yummylicious barbeque beef lunch at Pohang. Lydia was pleasantly to be met by Sarah, a Malaysian student studying at Handong who came from Lydia hometown and alma mater in Teluk Intan. We also had lovely coffee at a boutique cafe near the university.

With Esther Kim of Handong Global University.
Thank you for your kind hospitality.

Yummy authentic Korea beef barbecue.

With Sarah from Teluk Intan, Lydia hometown.
Both Sarah and Lydia are from the same school.

We both so loved the huge cherry blossom trees in Handong

We were both very impressed with Handong Global University and the excellent lecturers there. HGU is ranked among the top Korean universities and yet its tuition fees are competively very low. I am very impressed with the high ration of international students. In 1 dormitory, we met 2 Peruvian girls staying with 1 Spanish girl and 1 girl from the States. We met Korean students who choose to return home from the States to study here. There were also students who transferred from other Korean universities to HGU because of the top quality education here.  I was intrigued to find the freshman took global leadership. The combination of interesting double majors offered made the students well rounded and balanced. We met Professor Jae-Chun Won who worked in New York before opting to serve as Professor of Law in Handong  International Law School which is linked to Harvard University

With Prof Jae-Chun Won

Different nationalities - 2 Peruvians, 1 Spaniard and 1 US citizen
 in  the same  dormitory.
Another coincidence was when we visited Professor John Bailey at his home. We realized his apartment had exactly the same number as our hotel room in Seoul. Was God speaking to us to connect to Handong Global University by these coincidences?

In this trip with the pang yeows, we had great fun and all sorts of poses in the photos due to the creative directors. The last day saw us shopping seriously at Namdaemun before we left for the airport. Thank you everybody for a great fun and enjoyable trip!

Another fun pose by pang yeows.