back?

Okay guys – i just got back from Seoul, like for the 4th time in 4 years.

Maybe i am motivated to blog again.

Maybe not?

Haha – still contemplating but who knows? I might just write about it.

Stay tune, if you’re still there. 🙂

Cheers.

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Seoul Day Five [Changdeokgung Palace, Sanmotoongee Cafe, Ehwa’s Women’s Univ]

March 31st, 2013

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Heading up to city of Busan for one day, was part of the itinerary for this trip. But due to weather conditions, our destinations are always decided on that morning itself, everyday.

And somehow, going to Busan was also part of the “see how then decide..” plan. The thing is, we didn’t even secure any train tickets to Busan before reaching Seoul. So the previous night before this, I went online (Yay! to Inside backpackers for having working PC in the room itself!) We decided to just book the train tickets via the web. (More of Korail on my Busan entry, okay!) So anyway, we started the day a little early just so we could head out to Seoul Station to get our Korail tickets.

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Once that was done, off we went to Anguk Station to head down to Changdeokgung Palace. 

How to get there: 
Anguk (Line 3) Exit 3, 5 mins walk.
FYI: English tour guide available, 1030, 1400. Palace opens at 1000. Secret Garden Eng tour, will be 1130, 1430.

Before entering the Palace, we spotted something delicious!

Eomok! Yum yum! Especially on a very cold weather like this! Just a tip, we actually saw a lot of Koreans do this, especially at these kind of street vendors. “Eat first, then pay.” So basically you can just eat as much as you want first, once you’re done then you pay. While eating, we had a very, short conversation with the Halmoeni. (grandmother in EngIt was short, cause after asking the basic questions to us, like where are we from, etc… she started using chi-ma-lo-gy Korea Language to us. LOL.. We had a hard time, figuring out what she wanted to say!

Anyhoot, back to our Palace adventure!

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Sadly, we didn’t managed to spot any Cherry Blossoms! So sad! Ultimately, it was still winter there! But it’s okay, we had one more place to go, for our last “chance” to spot any Cherry Blossoms~

After visiting Palace was done, and since we’re near Insa-dong. My sister asked that we head down to Samcheongdong, again. Since it was nearby, we walked all the way. It was a Sunday, so the place was a little more crowded than the last time we came here..

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And then we found a Halmoeni selling these:

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It’s called a “Bbopgi“. It’s basically a caramel candy. Really nice and sweet. Meant to be share, cause it’s really sweet to be eaten alone. Haha.

Once shopping was done here. We headed over to Buam-Dong. To visit Coffee Prince drama film set. “Sanmontogee Cafe“.

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Picture above: Bus stop, before the scary bus ride. Hahaha. I am making it sound like its dangerous to take the local bus there. It’s not. JUST DON’T STAND. SIT IF HAVE SEATS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. DO NOT STAND!! 

LOL. =p

How to get there:
Head over to Gyeongbukgung Subway (Line 3), Exit 3. Upon exit, walk straight towards the local bus stop about 100m for bus number 7022 or 1020 (Green bus only). Alight at Buam-dong community center. The announcements of bus stops, (in the bus) would be in Korean but if you pass by a line of shops after going down the hills, then you should be in the right direction..

Here’s a map on how to walk uphill from their official website:

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// Credit : http://sanmotoonge.co.kr/

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After alighting the bus, we spotted a convenience store that sells Old-skool ice creams. We decided to buy, to eat while walking uphill, in the cold weather. Yeah, we’re awesome like that. pfffffftt, not!

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And so, we’re heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrreeeeeeeeeeee!!! My feels, I tell you. I was darn happy, to be on the same place that Gong Yoo oppa, once did. hurrhurrrr….. ❤ ❤

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Ice creams in hand!

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Awesome view, isn’t it? So preeeettteehhh! But again, since it’s a Sunday. It was a little too crowded. We had to hover around before finally getting ourselves a table.

Anyway, just a head’s up. Although the view is superbly beautiful over here, please take note that the drinks and desserts sold here, are a little costly. But then again, we shared among the 3 of us, so it was still pretty fine! ^^

Now more pictures of the whole House (that has turned into cafe now!). There are loads of pictures and props from the Coffee Prince drama.

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How to head back: Just hop to the opposite bus stop that you’d alighted earlier. Take the same bus, alight at the “Gyeongbukgung Subway bus stop. You should be fine, after seeing the Subway! 🙂

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And then, we spent the rest of the evening shopping and wandering around, Ehwa’s Women’s University!

How to get there: Ewha Women’s University Station Subway (Line 2), Exits # 2 & 3. 5 mins walk from Subway.

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We did nothing, but shopped more over here! And we finally managed to get our hands on this superbly delicious and spicy deobokki! (We were very cautious about other stalls, that also sells Soondaes..) This particular stall sells, ONLY deobokk. We stumbled upon it while walking around. So I dont have any specific guide on how to find it.

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And after that, we decided to wrap Day Five and head home! So, keutt~

Till then, I owe you the rest of my adventures in Seoul, in the next few days! In-sya-Allah!

Love, Love,

Leejah! ❤

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Seoul Day Four [Yeouido, Jamsil]

March 30th, 2013

Waking up on a Saturday morning, in Seoul… that feeling. I missed it. U_U

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Anyway, we started the day heading out to Looks Optical at Hyehwa-dong. Bought two boxes of Define Lens at 40,000 won, after the sales discount. Original price was 45,000 won. (In Singapore it’s about $55 per box!) And I was really thinking of getting myself a new spectacle.. But nothing caught my eyes, yet. Then we head out to Mango Six Cafe that was just nearby and ordered some morning coffee… and … and… Patbingsu. Yes, Mango-bingsu, to be exact. I’m sure the staffs there was astonished at our weird taste, esp so early in the morning!

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After that very cold, “breakfast”, we head out to the subway station to go to our first destination of the day, the KBS Building. We took the subway, head to Yeouido Exit 3. KBS Building is located approx about 20 mins of walking from there.

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We were lost while walking around to look for the KBS Building. As it’s not visible upon exiting the subway. But, the good thing is that, there’s a huge park nearby where lots of people was cycling, jogging, skating around. I think it’s called the Yeouido Park. So we went to the Information Booth to inquire, and the customer officer was nice enough to tell us that, KBS Buliding was just about 5 mins away from the park.

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It took us another 10-15 mins to figure the entrance of the building. Haha. (I should have noticed all these early signs, of us getting lost that day!!) But we eventually found it!

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The infamous staircase in front the building!

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The open concept of KBS Radio, and the benches where fans usually gathered.. (that day, opseo!)

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Then we head up to venture the KBS Tour which was free.

Tour Details: The KBS tour starts from the main hall on the second floor and continues onto the fourth and fifth floors. In addition to the small museum, radio drama studio, sound effect instruments, 9 o’clock news corner, hologram corner, 3D movie experience hall and chroma key corner, visitors have the chance to observe the TV production process and radio programming process through a window that looks out into the broadcasting studio.

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Eric Mun Oppa got vandalised, WAE! =(

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Their filming set..

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Once we’re done. We wanted to head out to Han River. And trust me. We got, so, so, so, lost that I didn’t want to think about anything else anymore. Haha. It was a pretty miserable day, to me. All the itinerary on that day, just, got crushed like paper. Y_Y

Anyway, we still, managed to be at Han River, eventually! (Of course we did. The River is soooooooo big!) Haha! But our plan to go cycling, didnt come true since we could not find the Rental Kiosk. So sad, right? LOL..

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Prolly the ONLY Han River picture I have inside my album. It was too cold that day, I kept my DSLR in my bag cause I was too busy trying to keep my hands warm. LOL.. Oh Han River, you so owe me a date! I am so returning to this place, next time!!!

So after just walking aimlessly around Han River and still couldn’t locate the Bike Rental Kiosk. We decided to seek refuge at a nearby cafe. It started to drizzle at the moment too.. So it was depressingly, cold-er. U_U

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As I’d mentioned earlier, most of our itinerary for that day, was already in the rubbish bin.. Haha. Our initial plan was to take the “Hangang Cruise” to head out to Jamsil Station. But, as we were already that lost. We just decide not to look for the Cruise Terminal, either.

So we walked back to the Subway, and head up to Jamsil – Lotte World. Where we spend a good amount of hours just looking around the mall. Never felt so good, being indoor. Where it was a lot warmer. Haha.

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Headed back to Hyehwa, then Home! That summed up our Day Four. See I told you, it was a disastrous day out! LOL.. Okay, Okay, Day Five entry coming up soon!

Till then!

Love, love,

Leejah. ❤

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Montigo Resort – Batam

Annyeong! Instead of the usual posts about my previous trip to Seoul. I’d decided to blog about my stay at Montigo Resorts at Batam last October this time. (I know, it’s a late entry!) But, as usual, I got a lot of friends asking me about the resort! So here goes my review!

I only found out about this small little of piece of heaven, like 4 days before the booked date itself! I was having dinner date with a girl friend of mine few days before and I was telling her that I’ve been wanting to go for a getaway either in KL or Batam. So she just decided to show me some pictures of this very, beautiful Montigo Resorts, “located just 30 mins away from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal“. And, I was in love, I tell you. That very night, I did my own Google-ing. And the very next day, I was trying my very best to convince my best friend to stay over the weekend. I didn’t need to try so hard though. She bought all the reasons, I gave her. So, yay!

We booked the chalet, within the next few hours. Literally, 3 days before. The next day upon getting our confirmation email from Montigo Resorts, we booked our Ferry Tickets.

5th October 2013, Saturday.

I remembered only getting like 3-4 hours of sleep only on this day. Just because I had to work till late the previous night. And I only did packing, for our 2 days 1 night only on that very same night. And so because of that, we missed our 8am Ferry, just because I think this wasn’t clear when I went blog hopping.

Some may know about this. But I think since I didn’t know, I think I should share this info (for those dummies like me……)

Please take note that Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal IS NOT NEAR Tanah Merah MRT Station, at all. At least, not like how Harbor Front MRT is to Harbor Front Ferry Terminal. You gotta cab down to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal if you’re from Tanah Merah MRT. This was the mistake, we did. Planned to meet at Tanah Merah MRT just, 20 mins before our departing time. Of course we were late. We reached like, few mins after 8am. So we weren’t allowed in, cause we were supposed to check in, strictly 10-15 mins before the departing time. But the good thing is, we could exchange our Ferry tickets for the next ride out.

Anyway, Montigo Resort is near Nongsa Ferry Terminal. Which is just about 20-30 mins away from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. And the resort provide land transport from Nongsa Terminal (only) which is just about 5 mins away. Thus, we see the need to head down to Tanah Merah instead of HarborFront.

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After a little difficulty over at the immigration desk, we were finally on our way to the Resort and upon reaching, we were greeted with this very beautiful view of the resort!

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Upon arriving, we were served iced drinks and cold towels! The staffs there was very friendly and accommodating. For checking in, they asked for our passports and confirmation email and then we just have to wait while they do all the paper works for us.

Just to add, we reached the resort around 9am (batam time) and they allowed early check in. (But this might change, do check again with their staffs first!) I also think since they allowed early check in, might as well take the opportunity to spend more time there, since it’s just a weekend getaway!

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Once our rooms are ready, we were whisked away to our resort in a buggy car!

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And then….. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, okay!

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(I apologized for this very messy room bed picture, above.)

The whole resort has 3 storeys altogether. The 1st floor is where the indoor pool + living room are. The 2nd floor is where the master and standard bedrooms are. And the 3rd floor is where the open rooftop patio is. As you can tell I took pictures of the first and the third floor and totally, forgotten about the bedrooms floor. (Thus the very messy bedroom picture above!) Over excited, I guessed!

After settling down, it was already 950am (batam time). We found out that there’s a free shuttle bus service from the resort to Nagoya Shopping Mall at 10am (to) and 4pm (back). By then, we were just so excited to jump into the pool and not care about anything else. So thinking about coming back to the resort, only by 6pm, we thought that it was not really worth it. But we wanted to head down to Nagoya Mall to get food since we don’t feel like ordering room service. So we decided to call taxi with the help of their staff to fetch us to and fro from the Resort to the Mall, on our own timing. We paid 400,000 rupiah for a round trip. (200,000 rupiah for ONE trip) Which was pretty fine for me, since it wasn’t the normal cab that they called. It was a comfortable SUV car with a very friendly driver.

After about an hour journey to the Mall, (yes, include the traffic jams please!) we were off to get our brunch and dinner. About an another hour or so, we called up the Uncle driver to send us back to the resort.

And so we spend the rest of the afternoon and evening, by the pool and eating. There’s Wifi, WII and Apple speaker box (which we fully utilized!). For WII games, they provided only 1 set of game. So for you WII fans out there, bring along your own DVD games so that you can play!

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While soaking in the very nice ambiance, bestie lit up two “candles” on the doughnuts we bought earlier, and sang Happy Birthday to me. My first, by the pool, ever. LOL~

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And soon, the evening skies came to greet us, before waving the sun goodbye. It was one of those moments, where you just sit there, stare and look at the beautiful scene without having any sorts of conversation. Except for the repetitions sentences of, “it’s, really beautiful.”

Now I get why people like watching the sun settling or, see the sun rises. ^_^

After washing up, Bestie was trying her hands on the WII games.

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We should have bring along more games! We were abit bored after playing the same game, for a while!

Desserts in between! =)

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Then, bestie decided to surprise me with a REAL birthday cake, with the help of the Resort’s staff! So sweeet of them! ❤

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After that, we ended up heading up to the rooftop patio, to chill and have our desserts before we called the night.

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I think I had the most comfortable sleep ever, that night! The bed was so comfortable! ^^

Our morning view!

From the standard bedroom: Image

From the Master Bedroom: Image

Cooked our breakfast; leftover Indo Mie, fried chicken, etc…
Breakfast View:
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Before we checked out; cam-whoring, of course…

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While waiting for the staff to finish with our Checking Out procedure.
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Spot Singapore!
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And then, the staffs helped us called a cab. Then we’re off to Batam Centre, to have our lunch!

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We wanted to have our lunch at A&W. But we were so upset that their Waffles with Ice Cream, Curly Fries, Root Beer Float, was allllllllll sold out! =( So upsetting! We ended up just eating whatever, before heading to get Nasi Ayam Penyet (yum! yum!) and then, rushing to catch our Ferry home!

Overall, my experienced with Montigo Resorts was top notch! I love it there. And I am, most probably would return there again, just for a getaway! =)

Till then,

Leejah! ❤

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The Know How, prior to your trip!

Okay I am finally blogging about my trip! So where should I start? There are too many things to begin with! Like how this trip was postponed way back from Dec 2012 till the confirmed dates were set to end March 2013 – April 2013, how CHEAPPP our flight tickets was and how we stumbled onto a super cool town called Hyehwa-dong, etc… So let’s start with “THE KNOW HOW” before you plan for your trip!

We didn’t follow any tour groups for our FIRST trip to Korea and it saved us a lot on costs. Here are some tips, especially for those who are travelling for the first time and if you’re thinking of going on a backpacking trip.

1) Flights.
I know there are a lot of cheap flights via transit e.g. Cathay Pacific, AirAsia, Scoot. However, I spent $698, not inclusive of travel insurance, for my direct flight to Seoul. Singapore Airlines (SQ) will always have promo flights to certain destinations. So keep your eyes glued to their website, like a hawk, as to not miss out on any GOOD deals!

Here’s the link to SQ’s website: http://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/special-offers/

To add on, SQ has in-flight entertainment. Thus, Scoot and Air Asia was a no-no for me. I’ll die of boredom if I were to spend aimlessly doing nothing for six hours, I think. Just so you know, I don’t own an iPad so that’s prolly the reason why it was a no-no for me. Heee~

2) Accommodation.
Book a guesthouse or home stay for your stay in Seoul. Don’t waste your money on hotels! Trust me! There are a lot of good, comfy and cheap guesthouses/home stays in Seoul, Korea. Look out for them at the following websites:

As for us, we got a recommendation from our friend’s friends. They stayed with Inside Backpackers before and they were telling us how good and comfy the place was. At the same time also, we were contemplating with a lot of other guesthouses. So I decided to look out for more reviews, and researched more about the place before confirming our stay with them. The more I researched about it, I found out that this place is being loved and has been receiving a lot of good reviews by backpackers all over the world. Plus it is located on LINE 4 (more about their subway later), which was a bonus point! So we decided to go ahead with it. Who knew that upon making our bookings, we received a 5% discount! How cool is that?

Here is the link to the super awesome guest house we stayed at for 11 days!
http://insideseoulhostel.com/
Alternatively, you can checkout their FB page: https://www.facebook.com/InsideHostels

For privacy purposes, we chose Deluxe room which was located just 3-4 mins walk from the main building. If you don’t mind sharing the same toilet or kitchen space, you can book their Budget or Standard rooms which are located at the Main Building. The hosts and staffs were super friendly! The thing I like about them is that Min and Mia (the lovely married couple who opened Inside Backpackers) are travelers themselves! So I guess it’s only appropriate that ultimately they know what their guests need. Also, they do provide services such as pre-booking of musical tickets, discounted ticket prices to Everland, etc.. Henceforth, I would HIGHLY recommend you to stay over at this place! 

3) Subway.
I’m not gonna attach the map of Seoul or something like that. Haha!! However, here are some tips on choosing your guesthouse. If you’re a shopaholic, you’ll surely get (confirmed one!) addicted to shopping haven such as Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, etc.. There is also a possibility that you’ll not head over only once. Haha!! Thus, choose a guesthouse that are closer to the subway, especially if they are on the same subway LINE as your other (possible) frequent places.

For e.g., we stayed at Hyehwa-dong which is located near subway LINE 4. It was just easier for us to head over to Myeongdong and Dongdaemun as it was only 4 stops away WITHOUT any transfers. Just for your info, their Subway Line Transfer is not like heading from City Hall to Raffles Place station. It’s like walking from Dhoby Ghaut Red Line – to Dhoby Ghaut Purple Line; with loads of staircases involved. I kid you not! So please save the hassles and choose area of stay wisely. Unless, of course, you don’t mind walking up those staircases, each time you’re on the subway. (I guess that’s why majority of the Koreans are slim!)

4) Research, research!
Everybody asked me the same thing when I got back from my trip. “How did you manage to go here and there?”, “Where to find halal food?”, etc..

My answer is simple; “Research.” No, really. RESEARCH. I think right after our flight was confirmed, we spent almost 3-4 months of researching. My humble advise is not to follow details found on only one blog. There are prolly a lot of other blogs that went to where you intend to go to. Have some assurance. Instead of just looking out for ONE direction on how to go about, have at least 2-3 other options so that there are alternative routes if you were to ever get lost. (But hey! Getting lost is the fun part for trips, no?)

5) Maps.
Head over to your nearest KTO Building to get maps (loads of them), booklets, and/or pamphlets. From my previous trip, the staffs were willing to help whenever you need any inquiries about your trip.

Here’s Singapore KTO’s address:
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/OO/OO_EN_13_5.jsp
Or you can visit their Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Koreatourismorganizationsingaporeoffice

6) Halal Food.
Yes, a must know for all muslims/muslimah backpackers! Here’s my answer: RESEARCH. Haha!! Okay lah, THAT and this blogger prolly is a savior to all of us.

This is the blogger whom we all should thanked:
http://www.muslimbackpackerseoul.com/

They have a long list on where one can get their halal fixes in Seoul/South Korea, cravings for Halal meats included.

7) Culture and Language.
I think it’s only appropriate for you to understand their culture and language before travelling. I made my younger sister (who traveled with me!) learn basic Korean language within a span of 4 months and it was worth the try.

Yes, there’s English everywhere; Tourist Information Centre too. I’ve always love the idea of “fitting in” when I’m travelling. Also, let me tell you something. If you try to speak their language, discounts and free services will greet you along. Okay, I don’t guarantee 100% you WILL get freebies but there were few instances where we conversed in simple Korean sentences to the salesperson or ahjumma, and poof! A free gift was given in return. Chinjah! ^^

Also, how can I forget how everyone greets one another there? Walking into a 7-11 in Seoul was never the same like how it is in Singapore. Open the door and you’ll hear “Annyeonghasaeyo~”

…… I am pretty much in love with all these kind souls in Seoul. ❤ ❤

Okay, so what else? Am I missing anything out? I promise that the next entry will solely be on my trip!

Love, Love.
Leejah.

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First Entry! ^^

Salam & Annyeonghasaeyo!

I didn’t think I’ll be doing this but a few group of friends and acquaintances have been asking me to, which indirectly gave me the drive to blog about my Seoul Trip. It’ll also be a platform for me to direct anyone who has been asking about it – on what to eat, what to do, how to go here and there and so forth.

So stay tune as I try to recall my trip, which happened 6 months ago!

기다려주세요 !!

Love, Love,
Leejah.

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