Annyeong Haseyo: Seoul, South Korea

(Long Overdue post series)
(October 2013)
(Disclaimer: Photo heavy blog entry)

Korean culture was close to my roots since there were a lot of Koreans in the Philippines.  I've had
a Korean classmate in my Anthropology class and I was once supposed to teach Koreans as well.  KPOP seemed to be a trend as well in my home country.  Teenagers went gaga to Korean groups and Koreanovelas for a few years already. 

My ICN (Incheon Airport) flight was my chance to experience Korean Culture in its motherland.  It was such an exciting 2 legs trip for me because it would be my first time to eat "authentic" korean food and a side trip to a palace which I only see on telenovelas. 

We stayed in a hotel which was near the popular Gangnam District.  I, together with another Filipina crew went straight to Gangnam after we arrived at the hotel. We had dinner first before we proceed to our goal for the night: make-up/skin care stuff shopping.  We were delighted to see the word SALE flashing on almost every make up stores. Korean beauty products were really popular because of its quality.  I've read a lot of good reviews of Korean-made BB creams and even other products such as eyebrow make-up, mascara, facial masks etc. Seoul was indeed a shopping haven for all the "kikays" around the globe. I bought a few beauty products: Missha M Cover BB Cream, Etude Eyebrow Pencil, Etude Shockara, Missha Cologne, Holika Holika Green Tea Facial Cream Cleanser, Tony Moly Milk Lotion.  Wish I had the time to make a review of Etude's Eyebrow Drawing Pencil which was my favorite among my finds. 

Come the next day, I met my friend and we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace (one of the 5 palaces and was built during the beginning of Chosun Dynasty). It was (according to my friend) the location of Korean dramas Secret Garden and Moon Embracing the Sun and Dae Jang Geum.

 When my friend and I went inside, I felt like I was a character in a Korean drama, minus the hanbok of course. Let me share with you the photos I had on my palace visit:

Main Hall

Gyonghoeru Pavilion, venue for formal events and banquets
You could also change into hanbok and have your picture taken in Gyeongbokgung Palace but due to the Changing of Guards Ceremony, the former would not be possible for all visitors. The ceremony was like a scene in Korean Dramas, (never thought I could see it personally). I might not able to wear their traditional costume but it was fine since, at least, I was able to watch the ceremony. 

My friend and I also had a quick visit to the museum which was beside the palace.  It was good to look at everything inside but if you don't know how to speak Korean, you wouldn't understand every single description of the items inside as there was no English translation. 

Aside from knowing the country's heritage, the thing about paying a museum tour was experiencing the richness of every culture by just looking at objects displayed inside.  I might not able to understand every description but at least I knew that everything there played a significant role in Korea's history. 

My Korea flight was "BITIN" or short for me. I haven't explored a lot of shops along Gangnam District, a lot more food to try and I have yet to see Hello Kitty Cafe and etc. I just hope to be given another flight to Kimchi Land very soon! Needless to say, every trip is worthwhile when you go out and learn from the things you experience.  Kamsahamnida Korea!


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Land Down Under: Sydney, Australia

(Long overdue post  part 1)
(September-October 2013)

Most of my colleagues say that newbies usually get flights to land down under because we still don't have US Visa (which was a requirement to operate US and Canada flights). True enough, I get Australia flights every month and I won't complain. It may be an ultra long range flight (it sometimes turns me OFF), but the destination was worth the flight duration.  

On the last part of my first month and on my second month of flying, the only Australian destination I got was SYDNEY (located in New South Wales). It was one of the most popular cities of Australia. Two of the famous landmarks you could find there were the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Good thing that our hotel was just in the heart of the central business district (CBD). Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge was just a few minutes walk from where we stayed.  Finding a place to eat and shop for food (in case you want to bring home some goodies), souvenirs and etc was never a problem - there were plenty of shops, restaurants, fast food chains/and or food courts, and convenience stores around the CBD.  

Let me share with you some of the things I did in Sydney (on those few times I've been there):

1.  Visited Bondi Beach

It was just a spontaneous trip to a beach..well at least for me. I was invited by another crew to join her and her friends on their Bondi Beach Visit. We paid 10 aud (that's a roundtrip fare) for our bus tickets.

According to Bondi Village website, "Bondi" or "Boondi" is an aboriginal word meaning "water breaking over rocks" or "noise of water breaking over rocks." The Australian Museum records that Bondi means "place where a flight of nullas took place." When we got there, I observed that the water was literally breaking over the rocks. It was an ideal place for surfers since giant waves were frequent from time to time.

In all honesty, I was never a beach lover, but I won't say NO for a walk in a picture-perfect beach like Bondi.

2. Of course, who wouldn't have his or her picture taken near Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House

3. More landmarks photo op:

a. Royal Botanic Gardens

b. St. Mary's Cathedral

c. Customs House

4. (Mini) Grocery Shopping at Woolworths and "Kikay" finds at Priceline

There's (only) a single thing that turns me off about traveling to Sydney - the long flight time. Like any other situation, there were times that it's really not the work that makes you tired, it's the travel time.
Nevertheless, I liked walking around Sydney CBD.The fact that our hotel was situated in the city made things easy for me. I did not notice the long walks, and sometimes the chilly air.

If you really have the budget to spend, Sydney would be a good idea for shopping (window or literally shopping). If in case you just want to explore or have fun, you could take the ferry (at the Circular Quay) going to Taronga Zoo or Darling Harbour. 

I am thankful for the perks of my job as it makes me discover a lot of things. It may be an understatement though but I couldn't think of any other thought to express my feelings about the things I am getting now. There's always a pursuit of learning when you travel. Walking around (by yourself) in a foreign place makes the traveling more exciting, plus, it makes you exercise independence.

As Mark Twain would say: 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


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