From Busan, we embarked on the K-Shuttle bus tour to explore the eastern part of the Korean peninsula, stopping over at Gyeongju and Andong to visit the culturally rich heritage sites. On the fourth day, we continued the next leg of the trip to Pyeongchang and Gangneung in Gangwon-do.

Pyeongchang

Here we arrived in Pyeongchang early in the morning.  Can you guess what this place is?

You are looking at the venue for Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – The Alpensia Resort. Also a tourist attraction, the ski resort will serve as the location of the Winter Olympics ski jumping events in 2018. We happened to see a few ski jumpers slide down the ramps while the crowd cheered on.

We took the monorail up to the observation deck (₩6000) at the tower and were awe-struck by the breathtaking panoramic view of the surroundings.

At the observation deck, there are many love locks as well!

Some of the many love locks and tags with undying love messages being attached to the cable at the deck.

And we were lucky to catch the ski jumpers going down the ramp and jump before landing as far as possible.

My legs felt like jelly as I watched the ski jumper slide down the steep ramp.

You know, Gangwon is famous for its sundubu, which is soft tofu. We had sundubu jeongol for lunch. It’s actually soft tofu hot pot that comes with different types of vegetables in spicy broth. Very appetizing indeed, especially if you like spicy food. K-Shuttle bus brought us to all the yummy Korean restaurants to get a taste of authentic local flavours.

Gangneung

Next, we travelled further up to Gangneung to get a feel of how it’s like to live like a high-ranked official of the late Joseon dynasty. With a history dating back to 300 years, Gangneung Seongyojang is an open-air museum – an upper class residence of ancient times still preserved in original forms. The national property was designated as one of Korea’s best traditional houses in the 20th century.

The residence is really huge with many rooms, gardens and courtyards. It’s like an ancient Korean drama setting. Definitely worth visiting if you want to see a good surviving example of a historic Korean architecture.

And play the seesaw that has no bolt and nut!

Mt Seorak

My favourite highlight of the trip was Mt Seorak (Seoraksan). It’s the highest mountain in Gangwon, the third highest in South Korea.

Part of the memorable experience was the 7-minute cable car ride up to Mt Seorak. The fog shrouding the mountains and trails made it seem celestial.

I was fascinated by the ever changing scenery of the mountains with sea of clouds. Doesn’t it look like a painting that has come alive?

A very picturesque view of the national park as seen from the observation deck at the cable car station. A sight to behold, it’s really beautiful and worth the trip.

Like a painting!

The cable car station at Mt Seorak.

At around 5:30pm, we had to depart for Seoul. It takes about 4-hour (including a rest stop break) to reach the city, the final stop of K-Shuttle bus route where we bid farewell to everyone.

Hang on… the trip had not ended yet. We still had 3 days to discover the soul in Seoul. Thanks to HanaTour (www.hanatour.com) for the hotel arrangement, we could luxuriate in comfort at CenterMark Hotel for the rest of the stay. For your info, HanaTour is a leading travel and tour operator listed in the Stock Exchange of South Korea and London Stock Exchange.

The year-old hotel is conveniently located near the shopping strip at Insadong and within minutes walk to Jonggak Subway Station. It also provides free shuttle service to Myeong-dong and Seoul Station.

Small yet cosy, my single room was well-appointed with modern furnishings and some cushy bedding to snooze in. The bathroom comes with a rain shower as well. (www.centermarkhotel.com)

The next morning, we joined the Korean DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) tour to take a peek into North Korea and walk through the third infiltration tunnel. Come back here soon for the update!

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*Special thanks to Korea Tourism Organization Singapore for making this trip possible.