Adventures of 나쁜남자 and Kancheong Girl

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Japan Travel step 2: Riding the trains

The first train you are probably going to ride would be the Narita Express which brings you to major stations like Ueno and Tokyo (takes about an hour). Narita express can be pretty costly and requires a reserved seat. It is comfortable to ride on and has sufficient leg room for you to put your luggage. If you are travelling alone, chances are that no one would sit beside you unless the train is super packed on that day. So, you need not bother placing your luggage in the specialised compartment behind each cabin because it's a real hassle dragging it out from there when getting off your stop.
You will be given a ticket which states the name of the train, the car number (=cabin number), seat number and the time of departure. That's the most important four elements to take note of. The ticket will not state the platform number. You will have to figure it out from the electronic boards so you need to know the name of the train you are taking.
For example, if the ticket states Narita-express 8, it doesn't mean platform 8. "8" is part of the name of the train (they differentiate the trains by their timing so 8 means the eighth train of that day). The cabin number is usually stated on the electronic board on the top once you have found your right platform. (The picture belows show cabin number 8).
成田エクスプレス: Narita Express
指定席 (Shi-tei-seiki): Reserved seat

After riding the NEX, you will most probably be catching a shinkansen from Tokyo. Shinkansens are pretty similar to NEX except that the leg room is less. You can't afford to squeeze your luggage into that pathetic space infront of you so park it in the luggage compartments. It is common for Japanese to buy bento (lunchboxes) for the long ride on the shinkansens. Buying your lunch box outside the station is cheaper than in the station and in the station, its cheaper than those selling on the platform. With convenience you need to fork out more.

Next would be the local trains. For most of the local trains, the door has to be manually operated. You will have to push a button for the door to open when you want to board. After boarding, push the "閉" close button. Likewise, when you want to alight, push the "開" open button.

Commonly used Japanese phrases when riding trains

Please give me a ticket on the 2pm train to XYZ: XYZまで二時発車の切符をお願いします
Pronounced as: XYZ ma-de ni-ji ha-(short pause)-shya no kip-pu o o-ne-gai-shi-mas

Where is the boarding platform for this train?: この電車の乗り場はどこですか。
Pronounced as: Ko-no den-shya no no-li-ba wa do-ko des-ka

What time is the last train?: 終電はなんですか。
Pronounced as: Shuu-den wa nan-ji des-ka

Does this train goes to XYZ?: これはXYZ行きの電車ですか。
Pronounced as: Ko-re wa XYZ e-ki no den-shya des ka

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Japan Travel step 1: Japan Rail Pass

Japan rail pass can be a hassle to buy in Japan. I have bought it twice, once in Singapore and once in Japan. So, here's a rail pass guide for those going to Japan.
Japan rail passes allow you to ride on the JR trains unlimited amount of time within a certain time frame (depending on the number of days your pass entitles). Except for trains which require reserved seats (Narita express, shinkansens and some local trains), you need not get any tickets from the ticket office. You can just show your pass to the station officer and get pass the gantry. The station officer will stamp your pass to indicate the date it has been used.

For trains which require reserved seat, you need to get to the midori office (ticket office) and show them your pass to get your free ticket (which indicates the time of departure and seat number).
There are several types of regional rail passes and one which covers the entire Japan. For the regional passes, there are no two passes that will cover the same route (meaning no overlapping stations) so you can't buy two and expect to use one after another when travelling from one region to the next. Unless of course you pay the fare to get to the nearest station which the second pass covers.

Since I have more experience with the JR East pass, I will touch on that more. There are 3 types of JR East pass, firstly, the 4 day flexible pass. It allows you any 4 days of travel within a month from date of purchase if you purchased the pass in Japan. If you purchase the pass outside Japan, it allows you to state the starting date and the pass will be valid for one month from that start date. The second and third pass is pretty similar. It's the 5 days consecutive and 10 days consecutive pass.
If you are buying the rail pass in your home country, you just need to bring the exchange order and your passport to the ticket office. The officer will issue you your pass from there. If you are buying your pass in Japan, please take note that you will have to bring your FLIGHT TICKET and passport. We forgot about the flight ticket on two occassions and there was no way they will issue you the pass without it. The pass will be valid for one month from the date you purchase it in Japan.

The Japan rail pass is definitely worth the price if you are taking the Shinkansen. You can check out the price of your train trip on and then decide if the pass is worth it. That website is good for planning your trip too as it shows you the train schedule and which connecting trains to ride to get to your destination.

However, if you intend to stay within Tokyo then the pass would be pretty worthless. The Tokyo subway is largely owned by Tokyo metro and not JR company. As such, you find that at certain stops like Asakusa, you would have to get to Ueno (JR owned) and then pay 230yen to get to Asakusa (Tokyo metro owned). It would be wiser to get the Suica express instead.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What to eat in Seoul

Let's first start with breakfast. Usually, we scrimp on breakfast by just surviving on milk and rice wrap (different flavours available). The milk taste fantastic there, I encourage you to try different types each morning.

You can also try the Jook (porridge) that became popular due to the drama BOF. One of the branch of the shop that Geum Jandi worked in is in Myeongdong.

Their Jook comes in many flavours (tuna, pumpkin, mushroom etc). Mine was tuna and cost 7,500won. The name of the shop is called Bon Jook ( 본죽). From Myeongdong subway exit 6, walk straight and at the first junction, turn right. It's located on the second floor, shouldn't be hard to find.
As for lunch and dinner, top on the list would be Samgyapsal (BBQ pork). Order cass beer (Korean beer, taste pretty light) to go with the pork, it tastes good. If you aren't a drinker, mix the cass beer with Coke.
Followed by dwenjang jjigae (stew).

Alternatively, if the weather is hot, I strongly recommend the Mul Naeng Myeong (cold noodles).

Next up is Bibimbap which cost me 5,000won (most Bibimbap in Korea contains beef, unless it's vegetable bibimbap). You can also order Gimbap (Korean sushi) to share with your friends. The Gimbap (cost around 3,000 - 3,500won) taste pretty good in one of the restaurant in Myeongdong. There's also a branch in Ewha. I forgot the name of the shop but it contains a chinese word 张 in it. The photos are not with me right now.

Koreans like to enjoy soju in tents that look like these. We wanted to try out the experience of dining there thus we went into one of the tents at Namdaemun. These were what we ate and it cost us 15,000won. The most expensive dinner we had in Seoul. The pancake tasted good though.
If you still feel hungry, you can always try out the street food. First up, fish cake (500won per stick).

You can find this old man selling yummy fried fish cake at Namdaemun.

Followed by Dokbokki (rice cake), chicken stick, sausage with dok inside, fried chicken and potatoes and the list goes on. These food normally cost less than 3,000won.
Still hungry? You can order delivery to your hostel. We tried the Jajyangmyeon (5,000won, black noodles, supposedly a chinese dish).
If not, head to the convenience store (cheaper than family mart) and buy some cupnoodles, snacks and what nots.

Recommended items, from left going clockwise: Cheese biscuit (800won), rice wrap (750won), Seoul milk (750won), Banana milk (1,000won), Yoghurt (the pink box, a really special yoghurt, 1,300won), Market O Real brownie (can only buy from the bigger marts).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Seoul travel itinerary

Day 1: We took CX from SIN-HKG-ICN. Reached the hostel at night at around 9pm and walked around the area. We tried to walk to Dongdaemun along the Cheongyang river, bought milk at the Family Mart and bought our prepaid subway card.

Day 2: Headed to SNU in the morning to meet a friend, went to COEX and then to Myeongdong for lunch and to shop. Since the weather was fine, we visited Namsan Tower that night (the cable car stops operating at 11pm). Ordered delivery in our hostel for dinner.

Day 3: We visited Yeouido park and walked to the Han river. All the major broadcasting stations (SBS, KBS and MBC) are there. Thereafter, we took a shuttle bus to 63 building for lunch. Supposed to go to Noryangin but skipped it cos we din have sufficient time. Went to Dragonhill Spa at Yongsan for Jimjilbang (Sauna). You cannot miss this!! Then, we went back to around SNU area to eat Samgyapsal. After dinner, we went to Dongdaemun to shop till past midnight.

Day 4: Headed to Ewha in the morning and spent half a day there. Thereafter, we went to Hongdae (Honggik) to look for the coffee prince cafe. Went back to hostel to unload our stuff before getting to Namdaemun. Had the most expensive dinner there (got conned). Went to Dongdaemun to shop past midnight again.

Day 5: Went to Myeongdong to eat Jook (porridge) at the shop that Geum Jandi worked in (another branch). Continued to shop at Myeongdong. Walked to Namdaemun to shop again. Headed to Ewha for dinner and bought stuff at the subway to spend away our T-money balance.

Day 6: Took CX back home from ICN-HKG-SIN.

Shopping in Seoul

How to plan your shopping trips

Firstly, you got to take note of the closing time of the shopping streets. For places like Dongdaemun which never closes (even on public holidays), leave it to the last slot of your itinerary for the day. Secondly, plan it such that you have time to revisit that place on the last day in case you forgot to buy something or would like to get more of something. Furthermore, you could have compared the prices at various shops before deciding where to buy your stuff. Thirdly, look at the subway maps and plan it such that you can cut down on transport cost. For example, Myeongdong is near Namsan Tower and Namdaemun.

Most people fly to Korea to buy their cosmetics. The kpop craze has generated much interest in the cosmetics that Korean celebrity uses (natural look). Product of top popularity there is of course their BB cream. So, I shall first start with cosmetics.


Myeongdong is definitely the place to satisfy all your cosmetic needs. You see replicas of stores like Etude House, Missha, Tony Moly, Hanskin, Skinfood, Face Shop and Nature Republic in almost every alley you turn into. There's Laneige too but there's only one outlet there. As for the other brands, you can try out Watson or other pharmaceutical stores. However, do note that only the official stores will hand out lots of freebies. In Korea, they don't call it "free gifts". They call it "service". So just say thank you when the salesperson tells you service.

It is very important for you to grab a free map at the tourist information centre before venturing out. The map lists out all the stores in Myeongdong and shows you how to walk to Namdaemun.

What cosmetics I bought

I did my research online before buying the cosmetics. I trust reviews rather than the soft sell from salesperson.

Personally, I have very sensitive skin. I chanced upon a brand known as BRTC that was said to have healing properties. It was used by plastic surgeon in Germany to help patients heal their wounds. True enough, I did not develop any sensitive reaction to this product and I think that it has good coverage on top of its oil control abilities. Nonetheless, it is very hard to look for this product. I combed the entire Myeongdong but to no avail. Watson has ran out of stock. I bought mine from W-store at Ewha (opposite Sinchon Korail station (not the subway station), the place where all the tour buses will unload their passengers).

I also tried Dreamy girls BB cream from Skin79 (the store is located just beside the Sinchon Korail station) and Dr Jart Silver Label Rejuvenating BB Cream. I bought Skin79 because it was selling at a really cheap price (1 for 1) however, I was disappointed with its coverage. Maybe it can be used as a sunscreen? As for Dr Jart+, I am quite impressed with its coverage, similar to BRTC. For more detailed writeups on BB creams, you can visit this website Singapore's watson is selling Dr Jart+, BRTC as well as Skin79 but at a higher price and without any freebies.

Another product I bought which I thought was really cool was the Lacvert eyeliner (used by Kim Yuna). It has two ends, one liquid and one pencil. Before buying it, I tried it on my hand and gave it a rub, it doesn't smerge. I have used it over here in Singapore on a really hot day. I perspired so much but yet, the eyeliner remained intact.

Next up is mascara. I bought a VOV mascara. I heard from my friend in Korea that the nail polish is also quite reputable. Thus, I bought one bottle of it from Artbox at Myeongdong.

As for skin care, I bought a sleeping pack from Laneige (popular product) and a sunblock which has oil control properties. Previously I was using La Roche recommended by the dermatologist but I find it a little oily. The laneige sunblock gave my face a matte look even after several hours outdoor. So far, I did not develop any allergic reaction to it.


You can shop for clothes at Ewha, Hongdae, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun. My friend in Korea recommended Bupyeong and Express Bus Terminal for really cheap clothes (unfortunately we didn't have time to travel there). T-shirts w/o hoodie usually sells at 5,000won per piece. Most shops do not allow you to try on. You can try to bargain for a cheaper price if you buy more than one piece.
Popular korean brands would include Banc and Colonize. I haven't seen any Colonize store but there's definitely a Banc store at Ewha near the subway exit.

Idol Stuff

My sis wanted me to help her buy DBSK stuff. My experience is that Myeongdong is not a place to get these stuffs. I bought a poster there on the first day which was way overpriced. I saw similar stuff in Namdaemun selling at less than half the price in Myeongdong. Also, remember to check the quality of the prints (expecially for posters that come in 12 pieces per pack). The price guide for posters is around 8,000won for a pack of 12. On the last day, after knowing the prices at Namdaemun, I purposely went back to Myeongdong to ask for the price of a DBSK mug and that person (knowing that I am a foreigner) told me 8,000won. You can get it for 3,000won at Namdaemun.

As for official stuff, you can get it from SPAO, that is if your idol is a SME artiste (Super Junior, SNSD, Shinee, etc.. unfortunately no more DBSK).
If you are looking for Idol keychains, earrings and necklaces, you can try out those accessories stores at Ewha and Myeongdong. Earrings are sold at 2,000won for a pair and necklaces ranges from 5,000won to 10,000won. Belts are sold at 5,000won and keychains are normally sold at 1,000 to 2,000won.
You can get sunglasses and spectacles from roadside stores at Myeongdong. These glasses are sold at around 5,000 to 15,000 won. I am sure you can bargain a little if you buy more. The style is pretty cool.


Need to buy some souvenirs back for your friends? Looking at those steel utensils around Namdaemun? Lemme tell ya a secret. You can get these utensils from Daiso (Myeongdong) at 2,000won for two pairs. We checked the prices everywhere and Daiso offered the lowest. Another thing we love to get from Namdaemun would be seaweeds known as lavers. I bought one whole big pack at 10,000won but I strongly believe that you can bargain the price down to 8,000won.

Accommodation in Seoul

Accomodation Tips

Some tips on how to choose accomodation in Seoul includes proximity to the 24-hour shopping areas, convenience store and subway. Since most trains stop operating before midnight, it is important to be within walking distance to places like Dongdaemun (the place that never closes) or if you like night life, to be close to places like Hongdae (will touch on that later).

As for us, being on a tight budget, we chose to stay in a hostel instead. We went to this site ( to source for suitable accomodation based on the ranking system which was a little hard to judge which was better. We settled on TravelersA as we were impressed by the information provided through their website regarding directions and its proximity to two of the subway lines as well as Dongdaemun.


You can do an online enquiry and booking through TravelersA website ( No deposit is required but you need to tell them your estimated time of arrival at the hostel (factor in about 2 hours after your estimated time of arrival at Incheon airport).

How to get to TravelersA

After your arrival at Incheon airport, get to the airport limousine counter (located at 1F (same level as the arrival hall), exit 4 and 9). You can get the map from

Purchase a ticket for bus number 6015 (Myeongdong) which cost 9,000won. Then, the receptionist will give you a ticket and tell you the boarding gate (either 5B or 12A) and the boarding time (interval of every 25min). When you reach the gate, the bus conductor will ask where you are going (which sounds something like Odie kaseyo in Korean). You will have to pass him your ticket and say Gukdo. At every stop, there will be announcement so do listen out for the gukdo stop.
Alternatively, you can choose to take the subway (not advisable if its your first time in Seoul and if you are lugging a luggage along). This is because travelling from Incheon to TravelersA (Euljiro 4 ga) requires a transfer. Most of the subway stations do not have lifts or escalators so you have to carry your luggage up long flights of stairs.
How to use the subway
To travel to the hostel using the subway, firstly, purchase a prepaid card known as T-money from the subway information counter. You just need to tell them T-money which cost 2,500won per card. Then, take the card and head to the reload machine (the card balance amount is 0 at this stage).

  1. Choose your language preference
  2. Place your card here and select how much you want to load into your card*
  3. Insert notes into here
  4. Get your receipt here
*Please note that the balance amount in your T-money is non-refundable. You can either use it to pay for the airport limousine (only if you have sufficient amount to pay for the full fare, partial payment using T-money and cash is not allowed) or purchase stuff from any stores located in the subway (only if you have sufficient amount to pay for the full cost, partial payment using T-money and cash is not allowed). We deposited 20,000won into our T-money for a 6 day trip (4 day actually if you minus out the first and last day wasted on the plane). We had about 7,000won leftover and we spent it all in the 7-11 shop.
Then, take the airport route subway heading towards Gimpo Int'l Aiport and transfer to line 5 towards Sangil-Dong. Alight at Euljiro 4 ga (pronounced as Euljiro sa ga in korean). The entire journey takes 94min and cost 4,600won. You can get more route information from
The trains do have reserved seats for elderlys which are usually found at both ends of a carriage. The seats are coloured in red. Avoid those seats as it is deemed rude for you to deprive an elderly of a seat. Korean elderlys are an interesting bunch from what I observed. In Singapore, the elderlys have to try very hard to hint to those sitting to give up their seats to them. However, in Korea, the elderlys will demand for their right to sit. Another point to note is that when the train gets crowded, you will have to push your way through to get out. Expect to get pushed around by people entering the train as well. You can put your belongings on the ledge above the seats so long as you remember to retrieve it when you get down.
Food and drinks are also allowed in the trains. Often, you will see Koreans watching live TV broadcast on their handphones in the subway. Take a peek at the screen and you will be amazed by the resolution.
An important point to note is that within 30min from exiting the subway, you can ride on the buses with a 900won discount. Similarly, within 30min from alighting from the bus, you can also get a 900won discount from riding the subway. (Basic fare in Seoul is 900won). If you found that you have entered the wrong gantry, do not try to exit the gantry even if that's that station you entered into because 900won will be deducted regardless.

How to walk to TravelersA from the subway

You can refer to the map given by the hostel website which I think is not very accurate. We tried to survey the area and found another way to walk there.
  1. After alighting at Gukdo, turn left and walk till you see a cross junction
  2. Press the button on the traffic light and cross the road to your left (as shown in the map)
  3. Cross another traffic light to your right and head towards exit 6*
  4. From exit 6, continue walking in the direction of the exit until you find an alley (cars can pass through) on your left which looks like this

  5. Continue walking for a distance and you will find TravelersA on your left (sort of hidden)
If you cannot find exit 6, fret not. Just enter any of the exit and look for the correct exit from the directions given in the subway station. If you follow the directions on the map and enter the alley from another end, it is likely that you will see a TravelersA signboard first. Do not be surprised to see that the hostel building is no where in sight. For a moment, we thought the hostel has closed down. Luckily, a couple led the way and walking further up from the signboard, you will see the building on your right.
Random facts about TravelersA
  1. There are no lifts or escalators so expect to climb the steep flight of stairs to your room (altogether 4 levels only)
  2. There is wireless connection (even on the 4th floor) and a computer for free usage on the first floor
  3. You can dial back to 6 countries (Singapore is definitely one of them, I have forgotten the rest) free of charge at the reception desk
  4. They provide towels and packets of shampoo and soap which is replenishable
  5. Room cleaning is done once every 4 days (must request for it)
  6. They sell instant noodles and snacks at the recep and you can ask the receptionist to help you order delivery (they have a menu at the lobby)
  7. They have a curfew at 2am
  8. You can get a free Seoul Tourist map at the lobby area and the recep can help you to book a trip to DMZ if you are planning to go there
Random facts about vicinity of TravelersA
  1. You can walk to Dongdaemun in 10min. In the direction of exit 6 of Euljiro 4 ga, just keep on walking straight till you see exit 14 of Dongdaemun History & Culture Park. You should be able to see the Hello aPM building from a distance (in fact, you can see it from your room) so just walk in that direction.
  2. Two lines (line 2 and 5) run through the Euljiro 4 ga station. Line 2 goes to places like Hongdae, Ewha, Seoul National Uni, Sinchon and Jamsil (Lotte World). Line 5 goes to places like Gimpo airport and Yeouido (63 building and where all major broadcasting firms are located).
  3. There aren't any appealing restaurants or decent convenience store nearby (within 50m proximity). The nearest is probably 7-11 (not 24 hour, closes by midnight) located in the subway station. There is a "family mart" and "buy the way" store across the river from TravelersA.
The hostel is located along the Cheonggyecheon river and you can walk to Dongdaemun along the river. There are maps at every exit of the river to guide you. You can cross the river by stepping on the pebbles (I remember seeing this scene in one of the drama).
So how do the rooms look like?

There's television, fridge and a safebox.
*If you need to post any of the information elsewhere, please remember to credit me and show my blog link. Thanks.

Hello Everyone!!

Just a little information about myself first. I am a final year university student and am having my holidays right now. Mid June, I will be travelling to Japan to do a 2 month summer exchange at one of the local universities.

I have recently been to Korea, Seoul for my grad trip with another one of my friends. We have been to countless sites and blogs to find information for our trip. There ae a couple of official sites that will list out the popular attractions and general facts. You get bits and pieces of information here and there but just feel that it ain't comprehensive enough. This has motivated me to come out with this blog to fill in the gaps and hopefully help you to create your perfect travel itinerary.

I am also exploring opportunities to do an online spree for Korean + Japanese cosmetics and fashion (delivery in Singapore and Japan only) since I'll be in Japan for 2 months. Do tell me your response and visit my blog often! Thanks for reading.