Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Korean Folk Village and Everland

The next morning was spent in a Korean Folk Village at Yongin. The light rain had come on and off that morning, so it pleasantly cool and a nice day to wander off on my own to take some photos.

The place was breathtakingly beautiful, it was so serene and tranquil. My thoughts drifted off to one of the many Korean historical dramas I had watched previously and I imagined myself in this little village during those period. What a simple way of life, it was then. The morning air was crisp, I found myself walking along the river, listening to the water trickling. The houses and cultural display around the village were authentic, they have been well preserved, it's like I am walking in the streets of a Joseon period.

Far away, I could hear the echoes of the drums beating. There is a performance going on in the marketplace. It's beckoning to me, pulling me towards the old market. I didn't want to leave the Pavilion where I had sat down for a rest, the painted ceiling was beautiful in vivid colours.

I looked further down across the river and my gaze was transfixed on the rushing water over rocky bridge path. I was imagining being a child playing and running loose in this village, throwing pebbles into the water. Sigh. It was a wonderful experience exploring this village.

Still in Gyeonggi province, we visited Everland later that afternoon after a Bibimbap lunch at the Korean Folk Village restaurant. I needed to walk off that big, hearty, generous portion of Bibimbap, what better way to do this, than to explore the beautiful Everland resort.

I spotted this and wished myself a Happy Birthday. This trip was the best pressie ever... I will not be telling you how old I am... I will just say this though, that I am very happy to be finally living my Korean dream trip with the most awesome group of photographers from all walks of life! They have so much to teach me.

Eric Ooi, one of the mentor on this tour, took time to show me how to compose and plan a shoot. I am just amazed that there was so much to learn, prior to this trip, I was just a crazy trigger happy snap crazy auntie! Now I have to think, as well before I click :) Oh dear!

On a serious note, I am now more aware and I am determined to be a better photographer and will continue to learn everyday. Yup, even when this trip is over! Surrounded by beautiful vivid colours of Tulips and evergreens, how does one not feel blessed? I am thankful everyday that I am alive to appreciate the beauty of this world.

Now can we have a tea party? Oooh yummy flower cake, just the way I like it!

Ermmm, please don't spit at me, Mr Giraffe!
Some of us decided to go on the rollercoaster ride after the safari at The Lost Valley. I, on the other hand, chose to go back and immersed myself in Tulip land for some colour therapy :)

To be continued....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

NANUM “gracious and unconditional sharing.”

Nanum is a word that I hear of, a lot whilst in Korea. I did not know what it had meant till now, after spending a week in South Korea, I finally understood it's meaning. Nanum means sharing in Korean and on this trip, we certainly shared a lot about ourselves, our passion, our experiences and love for photography and among other things, a whole lot of Korean food.

Our hosts, Korean Tourism Organisation and Samsung has certainly outdone themselves. The group of people on this photo tour came from the Phillipines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. It is not an easy task catering to everyone's culinary taste and preferences. Some of us may have religious reasons, for not being able to eat certain things, others simply have allergies and then there's me, whom through personal choice, prefers not to eat pork.

I like that we were taken to International buffets when not having traditional Korean food, where we could indulge in the various dishes on offer. This allows for everyone to choose what they they would like to eat. As for me, I was eating kimbap, sushi, sashimi, prawns. There were crabs too. However, one must make room for lots of Korean Fried Chicken when possible. I think I overdosed on Kimchi on that first day and had to go on sorethroat medication the next day. Once my sorethroat was cleared, I was back on the Kimchi bandwagon again. Better hide your Kimchi pots!

There were an abundance of seafood on this trip as we travelled south towards Busan. We feasted on food of the land when we were inland up in the mountains, there were mostly vegetarian meals with some pork. I love the vegetarian meal. I didn't eat the pork but I am sure the others would have love it. I enjoyed the bean paste tofu soup. It was warm and delicious on a cold and wet windy night up at Taekwondowon.

On our last day, we were treated to an epic Royal Cuisine before we headed back to Seoul. These are similar to the meals one would served to the King during the Joseon period. So lucky!

I see lots of kimchi in the pots

I was fascinated by the amount of side dishes that were served with the mains. Unlike western meals that comes out by the courses, these Korean food are served out in a communal way for us to share, where all the dishes came out, all at once, to the table and it was surrounded by so many little side dishes called banchan.

The banchan could have ingredients from the land or the sea. We had raw veges, salad leafs, preserved root vegetables, fermented veges like kimchi, raw crabs, sauteed clams, chilli sauteed stingray etc. Dessert were mostly freshly cut fruits, flavoured rice cakes, similar to Japanese Mochi balls. There was also cakes when we had International buffet.

Mealtimes are always the happiest times for me, I like seeing people eat heartily, and be happy and satisfied. During that one week we spend together, we would have shared conversations, as you would in a large family gathering. It was a lot of fun, sitting together and eating and joking about our day. It was good to see such kinship.

The photos are a summary of a whole lot of eating going on that week in South Korea. I feel like my job here is done, when I saw people snapping away food photos before they ate :) because the camera always eats first, right?  Catch you on the next blogpost!

Samsung Innovation Museum and Hwaseong Fortress

Shortly after the lunch, we boarded our bus again to travel to Suwon. In the afternoon, we visited Samsung Innovation Museum. Along the way, we stopped to take some photos of the cherry blossoms in season.

Samsung Innovation Museum is an interesting place to visit. It's an exhibition of Samsung's history of electronics and their vision for the future. We were not allowed to film the video presentation due to copyright issues, but we were allowed to interact with the devices, and to take photos of the display.

I was impressed with the video presentation and would love to live in the futuristic home in that video. I couldn't help but think to myself, whilst watching the presentation, "Hey, I want that.... oh I thought of that too, should have patented it :) .... they are making that already? Ingenius, oh, it so clever, how innovative!"

Some old TVs

Our gorgeous model Stephanie Lim showing us the tiny cam keychain :) 

After the visit with Samsung Innovation Museum, we checked into our hotel and walked to our dinner restaurant which was nearby. Dinner was a delicious seafood buffet. I will be blogging about the Korean food eaten on this trip in a separate blogposts. Shortly after dinner, we hopped back onto the bus again, this time, to drive up to Hwaseong Fortress for some night shots of the fortress. It had begun to drizzle a bit.

As we armed ourselves with umbrellas, all rugged up against the bitter cold and wind, some of us with our scarves on, coats and beanie, we huddled together for some warmth and took lots of photos of the fortress and surrounding areas. 

My night shots were pretty bad, lots of noise in the background due to the high ISO. Oh well, I am still learning. I will get better at this.

To be continued....

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

My Korean adventure, the beginning.

Disclosure: Travelled to South Korea on a sponsored trip, as a prize winner for Samsung NX Traveller, Smart Photography Asia, photo competition. This trip was also co-sponsored by the Korean Tourism Organisation.  All opinions are of my own personal view and does not reflect the opinion of Sponsors. 

I screamed out loud and was jumping for joy in my office, when I read my email that I had won a photo trip to South Korea, from a Samsung photo competition that I had submitted earlier in February. Firstly, I am a novice photographer, an amateur, really I am, and I never imagined that I would ever win! So, I was really happy and surprised that I had won! 

In less than ten minutes after responding to the email that I would be happy to attend the photo trip to South Korea, I was on the phone, organising my travel insurance, boarding kennel for the furkid and plans to offload the boy to stay with his Nanna during that period. 

Finally, the day came, when it was time to fly off to Seoul. I had the jitters about flying, plus that I would be with a bunch of top, respected, well known, experienced photographers. I feel like a fraud! However, I had to remind myself that this was a great learning opportunity, to be among the learned ones, to learn and be mentored by the professionals. 

And that at some point, I will have to step into a plane and this trip was the great incentive to get me to board a plane. I did managed to get on without any dramas, and was fine as soon as I saw the white fluffy clouds. 

We arrived late in the evening at Incheon Airport, to be welcomed and picked up by Korean Tourism Organisation (KTO) representatives. Wow, I am already feeling like a celeb! It takes about an hour to drive from the airport to Gangnam. I was very excited to be staying at a top 5 star hotel Intercontinental COEX at Gangnam. Ooh ooh can we go celeb spotting?? 

As soon as we arrived, we were hustled over to the convention room to join the other teams for a briefing. There were teams from the Phillipines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. It was a friendly atmosphere as most of us had been chatting on the Whatapps chat application from our phones prior to the trip. After briefing and check-in, I went up to my room. I have no words for it, it was just wow! I love the room!

The next morning, we went to Samsung Dlight, in the city for our Welcome ceremony. After the ceremony, we had our last western meal because from there onwards, we would be eating Korean all the way. Yippeee for me, as a food blogger, this was another great opportunity to widen my culinary experiences and my waistline. Heheh!

I thought that the Mad For Garlic Italian restaurant was fantastic, I love garlic! The pasta was al dente, the sauce was rich, the garlic pizza and breads was phenomenal! It was dripping in garlic butter! Noms!

To be continued... 

My heart twinkle twinkle for this phone :) 

Some light refreshments.

Yeppuda! A reminder of more Blossoms to come our way!
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