Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Uniqueness of Jongno Tower | Seoul, South Korea

This 33-story office is located near the Jonggak Metro Station and famous ancient Bosin-gak bell at Jongno, Seoul. Designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, this building was built in 1999 with the height of 132m. The uniqueness of Jongno Tower is its floating oval area above seven stories of empty spaces with an impressive city views restaurants on the top floor. How the New York based firm Rafael Viñoly Architects got the project by winning a contest held in 1994 to redesign and finish pre-existing 17 stories of steel frame and concrete floor slabs. Jongro Tower received a gold award for Architectural design by the Seoul metropolitan city back in 2000. 

The idea that Rafael Viñoly Architects has was to design a mixed-use facility which includes offices, entertainment, and F&B the top, making it a city landmark. If you noticed there’s a duplex kinda restaurant that looks as if it floats above the city giving it 360-degree views of Seoul. Top Cloud is the restaurant located on the 33rd floor of the Jongno Tower. It also offers buffet package that serves European/Korean mix dishes, with  live jazz band in the evening. I must say, they succeeded in making Jongno Tower a landmark.

Jongno Tower is owned by Samsung Securities and the shopping area in the basement is called Millennium Plaza hence it is also know as Samsung-Jongro Building. Beneath the Jongno Tower (the basement) connects to Seoul's largest bookstores "Bandi and Luni's", books available in Korea and English.

What makes the building more unique it has the largest Starbucks store sits between two of the Tower’s floors covering over 1,000 square meters (11,000 square feet). This is the place where all walks of life regardless of generation and interest gather to dine, shop, work and chill. The Starbucks Jongno Tower outlet features a ‘Grand Bar’ bar on the second floor thus making it the largest stand-alone bar in South Korea.

You can get to Jongno Tower by subway train, just take the Line 1 and exit Jonggak Station. What are you waiting for, hop on the train and let’s head to Jongno Tower.

Top Cloud Restaurant
1-1 Jongno2-ga
110-789, Seoul
South Korea
Phone : 02-2230–3000
Website :

Opening Hours
Mon – Sun : 12.00pm – 2.30pm, 6.00pm – 10.00pm
12.00pm – 2.00pm, 6.00pm – 8.30pm
Live Jazz
Sun – Fri : 7.00pm –  11.00pm
Sat : 6.00pm – 10.00pm

Buffet (10% VAT excluded)
Lunch : Adult ₩35,000, Child ₩24,000

#ImagineYourKorea #KTOSuperstarFriends

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Dadaepo Beach : Nature Photography & Instagrammable Spot

The excitement when Malaysia’s KPoppers and KDrama fans heard that Air Asia is flying to Busan. I mean Air Asia flies to Seoul, Busan and Jeju is a great welcome not just for the ‘K’ fans but to travelers too (ni cerita sebelum pandemic lah of course).

So, you smart guys probably know by now that I will share my story on Busan and nature (will try to do a listicle on ‘Things To Do in Busan’ as well, nanti-nanti kot lah). Many would have knew that there are many beaches in Busan such as Songdo Beach, Gwangalli Beach and the famous Haeundae Beach. Let’s story mory on Dadaepo Beach, shall we!

Located only 8km from Busan town area in Saha District, Dadaepo Beach is popular among the locals as it is pretty much kid friendly due to the shallow, wide and long beach makes it suitable for kids to run around, for family to have picnic by the beach, kite flying time, nature photography and dating #eh. Many might have not known that Dadaepo Beach has won the 8th Korean Landscape Architectural Award from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in the green park category. Oh! I found out that the popular drama - The King: Eternal Monarch was shot here too. The delta where Nakdong River and the South Sea meet is an amazing place especially at sunrise and sunset.

Boardwalk! I absolutely love walkway! The Gouni Ecological Trail is a must experience when you are here, approximately 50,000 trees were planted on the sand beach, walking path and lawn for restoration project. The 650meter boardwalk rose slightly higher from the mud flat beach and it is best enjoyed during sunset. Before you start imagining that the sand here is the likes of Cenang Beach or those in Redang Island, well… the answer is no, Dadaepo Beach is basically a mud flat. Worry not, some say it is good for skin.

This boardwalk is unique in the sense that they built cool looking gazebos and each one looks different. The 2 floor gazebo gives you an aerial view of the beach and street, I thought that’s pretty cool.

This boardwalk is unique in the sense that they built cool looking gazebos and each one looks different. The 2 floor gazebo gives you an aerial view of the beach and street, I thought that’s pretty cool.

The great thing is that the amenities here is well equipped, there’s obviously parking spaces, shower/changing room, drinking fountain and foot-washing station. They even have basketball court and beach soccer field, how cool is that.

You can also catch the Dadaepo Sunset Fountain of Dream’s Musical Show, said to be the largest dancing fountains in the world. The "Fountain of Dream" operates from April to October.

There’s plenty of things to see and experience in Busan, I shall cover other areas in my future post.

How to get there
- From Busan Station, take Bus number 2 or 98, or
- From Busan Station, take the Busan Metro Line 1 (towards Dadaepo Beach) and get off at Sinpyeong Station, or
- From Busan Station, take Busan Metro Line 1 (towards Dadaepo Beach) then get off at Dadaepo Station and take Exit 2

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Grandeur of Gyeongbokgung Palace

Built in 1395 and situated at the foot of Ungbong Peak of Mount Baegaksan in south of SeoulSouth Korea. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon dynasty. Not only that. Gyeongbokgung Palace was also served as the principal palace until 1592. History stated that it was burnt down during the Japanese invasions. It was a sad moment as for the next 300 years it was in ruins up until King Gojong father’s era - Heungseon Daewongun; in 1865 it was finally being restored and rebuild. 

Gyeongbokgung Palace means the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven" and used to housed around 500 buildings within its complex. Due to the vastness of the area, I would highly suggest for you to wear a good and comfy walk shoes and allocate ample time (this is of course if you are into historical sites, architecture and heritage). Changing of the guard ceremony commences that usually takes place twice a day should not be missed hence give yourself a full day or so… And try to avoid weekend.

The great thing is that the palace offers and interpretation service/tour that departs from Heungnyemun Gate Information Center. The language options are English, Japanese and Chinese for the duration of 1hr 30mins approximately. Details of the timing is stated at the end of this post.

If time is not on your side, I would suggest that you visit this 4 places within Gyeongbokgung Palace Complex. Do bear in mind that the compound is huge so planning and strategizing the buildings/places is best done prior the trip.

1. Geunjeongjeon Hall (Imperial Throne Room)
The prestigious Imperial Throne Room has a courtyard surrounding it. On the banister, stood sculptures of animals representing prestige and bravery. The Imperial Throne Room is the highlight of the palace complex as this where the king meets important and notable visitors back in those days. Geunjeongjeon basically meant the "diligent governance hall".

2. Gyeonghoeru Pavilion
Sits on a beautiful and calm small lake is where the king frequently hosted royal events. An interesting fact, the pavilion appeared on the ₩10,000 note and not only that, it is registered as the National Treasure on 1985.

3. Hyangwonjeong Pavilion
An iconic building located in Gyeongbokgung Palace and what makes it unique is that it is equipped with an ondol heating systems, and that the smoke travelled along the sides instead of the middle. The famous Chwihyanggyo Bridge connects the ‘mainland’ to the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion ‘island’. Like other buildings, Hyangwonjeong is translated as ‘pavilion of far-reaching fragrance’ meanwhile Chwihyanggyo means ‘bridge intoxicated with fragrance’. How apt, right?

4. Geoncheonggung Residence
Geoncheonggung Residence is built by King Gojong in 1873 and his majesty Gojong resided from 1888 onwards. History stated that King Gojong’s wife Empress Myeongseong was assassinated by the Japanese agents here. Saddened by this occurrence the king left the palace in January 1896. This was the beginning of the Japanese occupation.

The Geoncheonggung Residence was later torn down by the Japanese in 1909, and was revived and reconstructed to its former design. Persimmon tree was planted in the rear garden in the memory of King Gojong and Queen Myeongseong.

1. One activity that you might be interested (I know many girls would love this) is that you can rent and wear a beautiful Hanbok trandtional dress at any Hanbok rental shops nearby, and you are able to get a FREE ADMISSION to the palace. I highly encourage you guys to consider this, it’ll be so much fun.
2. There’s a Guard Changing Ceremony or also known as Wanggung Sumunjang that was first re-enacted in 1996 and since then has become one of the favourite must watch performance at Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is happening at 10.00am and 2.00pm daily. However, do take note that it is temporarily closed due to COVID-19
3. Other interesting activities are as below :
   - Gwanghwamun Gate Guard on Duty Ceremony at 11.00am and 1.00pm
   - Royal Guard Costume Experience (before and after the Changing of the Royal Guard Ceremony)
   - Gatekeeper Military Training at 9.30am, 1.30pm (running time 15 min.)
4. Public transportation to Gyeongbokgung Palace
   - 2 options either take the Seoul Subway to Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 5) or Gwanghwamun Station (Exit 2).
   - For the Gyeongbokgung Station (Exit 5), it is connected to the palace. This is the nearest station to the palace.
   - For Gwanghwamun Station (Exit 2), it takes approximately 8 minutes on foot.

So this is my 4 must visit places/building in the Gyeongbokgung Palace complex. Hope the info and tips are of great help for you to plan a trip once the pandemic is over. Do remember to give ample time when visiting the palace, you’ll never regret it.

Gyeongbokgung Palace
161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
South Korea

Operating Hours*
Nov – Feb : 9.00am -  5.00pm
Mar – May : 9.00am – 6.00pm
June – Aug : 9.00am – 6.30pm
Sept – Oct : 9.00am – 6.00pm
*Closed for visitations every Tuesday

Entrance Fee
Adult : ₩3000
Child ₩1500

Guard Changing Ceremony
10.00am and 2.00pm daily

Interpretation Services
Depart : Heungnyemun Gate Information Center
Duration: 1hour 30min
Tour Schedule
English : 11.00am, 1.30pm, 13.30pm
Japanese : 10.00am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm
Chinese : 10.30am, 1.00pm, 3:00pm

Friday, July 2, 2021

Jeju | 6 Unique Delicacies

This time around I would like to introduce Jeju delicacies – seafood based of course and all are fish dish, no moving baby octopus so don’t you worry. Hehhehee…

Just like Malaysia, South Korea delicacies are segmented of differentiated by location, natural resources, local customs and historical events. This segmentation translated in their custom, lifestyle and delicacy till current times.
Jeju being an island has a impacted in their daily diet and as paddy is not conducive to be farmed here due to lack of fresh water hence grainy crops such as buckwheat, millet and barley is consumed more here. Seafood mixed with grains can easily be seen here such as japgokbap, salted fish and soup dishes is also a great favourite.

Let’s get started shall we…

Jeonbokjuk (Abalone Rice Porridge)
As mentioned in my earlier post on haenyeo (woman divers) diving for abalone in Jeju, it comes as no surprise that abalone is one of the famous and must try dish in Jeju. Apparently, the dark murky porridge colour is due to them cooking and using the abalone internal organs thus the yellowish colour. But do not be fooled by the colour as the taste is said to be amazing.
I’ve also read it somewhere stating that if you are in Jeju, you’ll find that every coastal village has a Haenyeo House serving jeonbokjuk where the abalone is freshly caught by the haenyeo.

Galchi Jorim (Spicy Braised Silver Cutlassfish)
I found out that Jeju is popular for Galchi Jorim, galchi is basically cutlassfish and jorim means braised dish (sautéed or seared lightly and then stewed slowly in a covered pot), regardless whether its vegetables, meats, seafood, or tofu. Cutlassfishes or hairtail fish looks like eel with fang like teeth. Jeju’s cutlassfish is known for its silver white with shining silver body and it is popular among the locals as it is easy to cook ie. Minimal effort is removing its head, tail and internal organs. I can totally understand and relate to this.

The Galchi Jorim soup is often as simple as cutlassfish, pumpkin, cabbage, zucchini and/or radish in a spicy and sweet sauce. Like most East Asian countries, soup dishes pairs well with…. RICE. Oh yah! #FoodTips, for a sweeter taste cutlassfish, October and November is the month to fish. Perhaps to sample them too.

Galchi Guk (Cutlassfishes or hairtail Soup)
Galchi Guk is also best cooked served as clear soup, and that Galchi pumpkin soup served only in Jeju. Often recommended for those with hangover. 

Haemul Ttukbaegi (Seafood Stew in a Hot Pot)
Seafood-based hot pot is one of the delicacy in Jeju as well. Using doenjang (fermented soybean paste) boiled together with seafood such as shrimp, clams, and any shellfish.

Mulheo (Watery sashimi)
Usually taken during in August (the hottest month) as Mulhoe is served as a cold soup with hoe ie. raw fish. Known as the seafood in water and the one in Jeju is unique because it includes sea cucumber, abalone, turban shell and/or damselfish.

What makes Jeju’s Mulhoe different from the rest is that it uses uncooked doenjang and swindari vinegar. I learnt that Swindari vinegar is made from fermented barley rice, leaving an acidic after taste. Now, you can also try okdom (red horsehead) mulhoe and jeonbok (abalone) mulhoe when visiting Jeju.

Gosh! This kinda makes me feel hungry (googling how to make Korea-style soup).

#ImagineYourKorea #KTOSuperstarFriends

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