Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Thank You 2019

Grateful for...
  • vacation leaves, my job (aka my travel fund), and my team for not bugging me about work while I am on vacation.
  • travel buddies! I miss having company (most of my trips since 2016 were solo trips).
  • free snacks at Haozhan Hotel, our hotel in Taipei.
  • although it rained most of the time we were in Taiwan, the light rain never turned torrential.
  • Taipei foodtrip with friends! We stuffed ourselves at Mala Hotpot twice, and discovered some good local haunts too.
  • traveling in a group. When we missed the train to Ruifang (from Shifen), we decided to chip in for a taxi rather than wait for the next train, so we could get to Jiufen before dark.
  • free Taipei walking tours through Klook.
  • my friend for treating us to a daytrip to Sumilon Island.
  • catching the sunset at Iho Tewoo Beach in Jeju.
  • the ladies on the bus who were concerned my friend and I might get off at the wrong bus stop so she helped us figure out how to get back to Jeju City from Jeju Light Art Fest (which is not frequented by the local bus).
  • having company while waiting in a dark and lonely road in Jeju so late at night.
  • beautiful sunny days for Jeju Olle hikes around Udo Island and Gapado Island.
  • grey skies but no rain while we were at Osulloc Tea Fields (it only started to rain while we were waiting for the bus back to Jeju City).
  • my travel buddy for being game to do all the hikes on this trip—we did five: Geomun Oreum, Udo Island, Gapado Island, Gamcheon Village (we followed the entire walking route on the map so we could collect stamps!), and Igidae Coastal Walk.
  • JungIn and JeongHun for spending time with us (and for lunch!) on our last day in Busan.
  • my sister for letting me join their roadtrip to/foodtrip in Bacolod.
  • Cebu Pacific's schedule change to my Narita flights (I had booked it 10 months early and there was a change later in the year). Why am I grateful? Because I got to rebook it without any fees and to the weekend I originally planned (it wasn't on promo when I purchased the ticket).
  • a flight schedule that arrives at Narita International Airport when their post office is open. Why? I could have the rented pocket WiFi mailed there instead of the hostel, thus I could have my trusty Google Map to help me get to the hostel.
  • the lone customer at the stand-up noodle shop in Asakusa for helping me order from the machine which was in Japanese.
  • the noodle shop owner for squeezing out all the hidden Tagalog words from his brain when he found out I am from the Philippines.
  • Hiromi for picking me up at Takasaki Station, welcoming me to her home in Maebashi City, feeding me, taking me around Gunma, and driving me to Isesaki Station so I could catch a train to Tochigi. How can I ever repay you?
  • God for giving me analytical skills to figure out the detours in the Senjogahara Marshland trail maps (in Japanese) and for keeping me safe during my solo hike through bear country in Nikko.
  • having a pork bun handy when I missed my bus in the middle of nowhere and had to wait 30 minutes for the next one...I was getting hungry.
  • friends for joining 2/3 of my Kanto (Japan) trip and for setting their alarms at the appointed time (we started our days early).
  • my friend for booking our hostel in Asakusa (Oak Hostel Fuji), and in Odawara (Tipy Records Inn).
  • the chance to see the special exhibit of Van Gogh's works at the Ueno Royal Museum.
  • beautiful late afternoon sun when we visited Sengokuhara Pampas Grass Field.
  • awesome views of Owakudani below the Hakone Ropeway.
  • clear skies for a view of Mt Fuji from Komagatake.
  • stopping by Amazake Chaya: the amasake was indeed worth the stop!
  • my friend for letting us use her credit card at the last minute to secure our hostel booking at Hotel Own Tokyo Nippori when the system didn't accept mine. Wahhh!
  • my friend for letting us try the steamed (and expensive!) king crab she bought at Tsukiji Outer Market.
  • not getting drenched in the rain while we were in Hamarikyu Garden without an umbrella!
  • my friends for not complaining when I walked too fast.
  • the Keisei Nippori Station staff for letting me enter without a ticket so I could check in advance where the ticket exchange window was (I needed to exchange my voucher into an actual ticket first thing on the day I leave).
  • the person manning the ticket exchange for letting me get a Keisei Skyliner ticket six days in advance though the instructions I had read was that vouchers were to be exchanged for tickets only on the day of travel.
  • my friend for being game to rent costumes at Iyashi no Sato, and for being patient when we got on the wrong bus (well, it was the correct bus but in the wrong direction).
  • great weather for our Fuji-overload trip.
  • enjoyable ride on the chairlift to Mt Takao. Instead of taking the cable car down, we decided to take the chairlift again. It was that enjoyable!
  • Anju for meeting me for dinner despite her busy work schedule.
  • Yumiko for showing us around Kawagoe and for treating us to lunch.
  • my more than 7-year-old luggage for holding on until the last day (on the way to the airport, the rubber on one of the wheels peeled off).
  • discounted deals in Klook. I availed at least one activity for each of my three international trips this year.
  • Casa Gorordo Museum's free guided tour. (They had free guided tours every Sunday of October to celebrate the Museums and Galleries Month.)
  • Casa Gorordo Museum's interesting and free talks (with free snacks)! Was able to attend one about the excavations in Boljoon. The speaker sure had a knack to keep his audience hooked.
  • my sister for the Anjo World passes. I did not think I would enjoy it, but I did! And my nephew and niece had fun too!
  • Hannah for booking Emerald Suites CDO (really good location!) for a bunch of us.
  • my officemates for the laugh trip at Dahilayan Adventure Park and Dahilayan Forest Park.
  • leave credits to take the last two work days off. I finally had time to write some blog articles after more than a year in hiatus.
  • friends and readers for encouraging me to keep this blog alive.

Monday, December 30, 2019

What's in a (Business) Name? Ochenta y nueve

Bili ka na dito! Kasimura!
Spotted in Ihran Building in Liloan, Cebu

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Monday, December 23, 2019

GPSmyCity Giveaway: Happy Holidays!

The GPSmyCity team has gathered thousands of travel articles and city guides written by travelers like you and me and have put all these travel information in one app. With the GPSmyCity app installed on your smartphone, whether iOS or Android, you have the world on the palm of your hand.

The GPSmyCity app can be used offline, therefore, you can read the articles and use the guides without the need to be on roaming or renting a pocket WiFi or data SIM. You can go on a tour at your own pace. By accessing (for a minimal upgrade fee) the GPS-aided map, the places mentioned in the guide will be pinned on the map, tour routes will be displayed, and turn-by-turn directions between places will be provided. No need for paper maps!

I have been contributing articles in the GPSmyCity app and I am happy to announce for this holiday season, we are giving away FREE upgrades (to access its GPS-aided map) to two travel articles:
Please click on the link (or links) that interest you and try it out! (If you haven't already downloaded and installed the GPSmyCity app, it will prompt you to do so.)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Dahilayan Adventure Park and Dahilayan Forest Park

Forgive me for the few photos in this post—I did not plan to write about this Dahilayan trip and had purposely left my camera in Cebu, leaving me with just my four-year-old phone and its less than stellar camera. I had to grab some photos from friends.

Why, at the end of that Friday, did I decide to blog about Dahilayan? Because my friends and I had a ton of fun even if we only tried very few of the activities offered.

Rewind to around 10am on said Friday. A short walk from Emerald Suites CDO, my friends and I found the Magnum Express Terminal in Limketkai. We were disappointed to find that they only had one shuttle per day and it had already left at 845am (Php 249/way; the return trip is at 445pm)! We almost resigned ourselves to malling (eee-yuck!) had the Magnum Express staff not suggest we rent their 6-seater which would cost Php3000 roundtrip. We were six in the group and that was perfect—it would cost each of us Php500—about the same had we taken the shuttle roundtrip.

On the way to Dahilayan

It was a 1.5-hour drive to Dahilayan and because it was four of my friends' first time in Dahilayan, we made a quick stop at the giant pineapple for their mandatory tourist photo!


We arrived in Dahilayan Adventure Park with growling stomachs. Top priority? Lunch! It had started to rain lightly so we herded ourselves to their lodge called Pine Grove Mountain Lodge where there was a restaurant.

Photo by Diane Pacatang

By the time we finished lunch, the drizzle had transitioned to heavier rain and we were forced to sit it out and ponder what activities to spend our money on. One of my friends who was so excited to try the Drop Zone (Php500 single/Php750 tandem) was dismayed to find out she was strictly not allowed(!!!) to do any of the activities because of her recent root canal. She just watched (in envy?) two of our friends do all three ziplines (ZipAll Package Php600, includes the 840m, 320m, and 150m ziplines).

 320m zipline

840m zipline

Since no one was brave enough to try the Sky Jump (we did not see anyone try this out), nor were our wallets brave enough to try the Python Roller Zipride (it looked like a rollercoaster-ish zipline; would have been interesting, I think)....

The Sky Jump tower

...it was time to head next door to Dahilayan Forest Park (admission fee Php 130), where our target was to try the luge (two rounds of luge for Php600, includes hanging bridge and mini golf). Before the trip I had kept bugging them to try the luge with me. Thankfully they had prepared their nerves (well, the ladies' nerves) and wallets for it!

In order to get to the starting line of the luge, we had to don a helmet (with a hairnet under!) then cross the hanging bridge. My recently-root-canaled friend bravely stepped on the bridge, leading our group. A few steps across and then we came to a halt! She was not prepared for the shaking and swaying (I intentionally made the bridge shake and sway *evil laugh*) and had stooped and walked across very, very slowly...like a great grandpa.

Hanging bridge

I don't know how long it took us to cross that short bridge, but it seemed like a pretty long time! We were all shaking (from laughter) and coughing (from laughter) as we trudged toward the starting line of the luge.

We were told to hold down the handle bars to prevent the luge from moving forward as we settled our butt on a luge and to push the handlebars forward to release the brake (the farther you push it, the faster the luge goes). We zigzagged along the track and were soon at the finish line (we like speed!).

We piled into the shuttle to take us back to the starting line for round two.

At the finish line!

Round two was slow: another group was causing a traffic jam because they were taking selfies. The evil half of me wanted to ram into them but that might land me a punch in the nose. Patience, self, patience. We will all get to the finish line. And when we did get to the finish line, my friends and I wanted more! Alas, money was no more!

We skipped the mini golf—there was no time (we wanted to leave by 4pm to avoid the rush hour in CDO). There were other activities at the Forest Park, and before leaving the park, we checked out the classic cars outside the 50s Diner, and the picnic grounds.

 Classic cars outside the diner

Picnic Grounds (Photo by Diane Pacatang)

Right across the entrance/exit of the Forest Park, we found our rental van and inside it our slumbering driver. We were all buckled in and ready to head back to CDO by 3:59pm. Right on time.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Emerald Suites CDO

I found the perfect accommodation in Cagayan de Oro City for mall rats! Well, actually, it was my friend who chose Emerald Suites and what a good choice it was!

Emerald Suites, located on Jose Agudo Street, is flanked my malls: SM CDO Downtown Premier and Limketkai on the east; and Centrio and Gaisano City Mall on the west. Even if I'm not a mall rat, I found this really convenient because 1) malls have many restaurants; 2) airport shuttle terminals are a short walk away—LAX Shuttle in Centrio is just a 2-minute walk from Emerald Suites, and Magnum Express in Limketkai is an 8-minute walk from Emerald Suites; and 3) Magnum Express in Limketkai has a daily shuttle (8:45am) to Dahilayan (Bukidnon).

Photo from Booking.com

We stayed in a Superior Room (Php 1750 regular rate / Php 1480 promo rate). The room is good for two, with breakfast. Towels and soap are provided. The room has a TV, air conditioner, cabinet, dresser, phone, and a water container and two glasses. You can call the reception and ask them to fill the water container for you. (Tip: Have your room cleaned daily and they will change the towel.)

Superior Room (Photo from Emerald Suites CDO facebook page)

The Superior Room can accommodate up to four persons—an extra bed (double or single) costs Php300 per night. (If you want to sleep like sardines on the bed, you only have to pay Php150 per extra person.) But the extra bed fee does not include breakfast nor towels. Extra breakfast is Php180, and extra towel is Php50 (per day).

The room we stayed in did not have a mat (minus points) outside the bathroom but did have a pair of mismatched rubber slippers. (The other Superior Room some friends were staying in had a mat.) The shower had a heater (plus points).

There were only two power outlets in the room and it was located near the door and dresser (minus points if there are three to four people staying in the room—I am sure each one has at least one gadget to recharge every day.)

Breakfast is served from 7am to 10am at the ground floor (this area is open during breakfast hours only). There are four breakfast options and the menu is changed daily (plus points).

The reception is on the second floor, and rooms are on floors two to four. A warning for those who can't pack light: There is no elevator.

You can book a seat on the LAX Shuttle (Php199) at the reception and the van will pick you up (plus points) at Emerald Suites CDO half an hour before the shuttle schedule (the LAX shuttle to Laguindingan Airport runs every hour). The ride from CDO to Laguindingan Airport takes 50 minutes to an hour.

Emerald Suites
Jose Agudo St.
Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental, Philippines
(088) 880 7745 / 0922 849 6450 / 0917 316 8949
facebook page: Emerald Suites CDO

Book Emerald Suites CDO through Booking.com

Monday, December 9, 2019

Anjo World

I took my nephew and my niece (both are 10 years old) to Anjo World, a small amusement park in Minglanilla, a municipality about 15 kilometers south of Cebu City. Considering we lived in the north, it was a long way for us to go. And with Cebu's notorious traffic, was it even worth the time?

The drive there wasn't bad at all—it was a Sunday! Haha! We arrived at Anjo World a little before 5pm and had expected there'd be a lot of people, but, nope, the queue for tickets (Php600 weekend unlimited pass; Php 800 with Snow World entry) was short! (Tip: Have the kids' height measured first before buying tickets. The rides have a height restriction and there are some rides that will require kids below a certain height to be accompanied by an adult.)

Of the dozen rides in Anjo World, the first one the kids wanted to get on was the Viking. It looked harmless! I remember enjoying this ride when I was younger but the last time I rode on one (was it at Enchanted Kingdom in Laguna?), I sat at the end of the ship, and I felt my knees throughout the ride. I vowed never to go on one again! (Yes, I am old!) The kids sat in the middle of the ship—the area with the less queasy effect on the tummy—and even then, my niece couldn't help but ask herself "Tell me again why I rode this?!"

The next one they dared try was the Space Shuttle. This one goes around in circles and because I am prone to motion sickness, this and other rides that rapidly go in circles (five out of the dozen rides in Anjo World) are off my list! Best not to make a fool of myself, yes?

Space Shuttle before take off

I steeled myself for the Tower Drop (the look of this ride scared the kids and they gave it a pass). I had been on a similar one (takes you to the highest point and suddenly drops you) some 15 years ago and had enjoyed the free fall feeling. But the Tower Drop was different: this one revolves around the tower and drops, repeating a couple of times throughout the ride. On the way up I couldn't help but laugh, but at the sudden drop, I'd scream like a girl. Repeat laugh-and-scream countless times.

I encouraged the kids to try Mr. Toad, a shorter and non-revolving version of the Tower Drop. We got strapped in, and my niece, seeing the lady beside her without a seatbelt, exclaimed in alarm "She doesn't have a seatbelt!" Which was alright since there was a bar to keep the riders in place. Mr. Toad's drops were short, sudden, and successive, much like a frog hopping. My nephew did not like the feeling at all and had closed his eyes and was quiet throughout the ride. He was about to turn as green as a toad.

All the four rides we had just tried either had no or just a very short queue, but the next one, the London Taxi (bumper cars), we had to wait in line for about 30 minutes. There are 10 cars and each turn takes about five minutes. We tremendously enjoyed ramming into all the cars as hard as we could!

London Taxi (Bumper Cars)

The Pharaoh, a spinning coaster (the seats spin as it goes along the rail), looked interesting. And it seems everyone else thought it interesting too—the queue was too long (only four could ride at a time)! Instead of wasting our time waiting in line, the kids just tried their luck at the game booths (each game costs a minimum of 5 tokens at Php10 per token). There were five (or was it six?) games but I could only remember three: a game where you had to toss a ring around a colored bottle, another where you had to topple some tin cans with a small hand sack, and another where you had to make the ball bounce off a board and into a basket.

Our stomachs were begging us to have dinner (there are snack and souvenir shops inside Anjo World, and a food court outside), but the kids wanted to go on the Bumper Boats. It looked boring: the boats were too slow. But the surprise there was the water pistol attached to each boat. My nephew gleefully aimed his water pistol at the strangers who came within range. One little girl got soaked!

Bumper Boats

The last one we got on was the Anjo Eye, a 9-minute ride in an air-conditioned crystal cabin with background music and a bit of narration. A slow and relaxing ride to end our day in Anjo World!

Looking down from Anjo Eye

I do not regret skipping Mr. Cup, Golden Carousel, Boomerang, and Hip Hop. But I do regret not taking a lot of photos: I was too busy enjoying the day to even think of taking out my phone!

GOOD NEWS! Up to December 31, 2019, Anjo World has a 3-Ride Pass available for only Php180. If I have the chance to go back, I would opt for this 3-Ride Pass and just go on the Tower Drop three times (or maybe the Tower Drop, London Taxi, and, if I gather enough pluck, the Pharaoh!).

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Casa Gorordo Museum and Yap Sandiego Ancestral House

October is Museums and Galleries Month in the Philippines, and what's a better way to celebrate than to visit historical houses (now museums) all within walking distance in Cebu's Parian district.

35 Eduardo Aboitiz Street, Cebu City
Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm
Admission fee Php120 (Php80 for 12 yrs old and below)
facebook page: Casa Gorordo Museum

Casa Gorordo Museum is a well preserved Spanish Colonial house (with its size, it's more of a mansion!) that was built in the 1850s.

What I like about Casa Gorordo Museum is its guided tour. The tour starts at the ground floor with a digital presentation about the history and importance of the area (Parian), moving on to glimpses of old Cebu through photographs and soundbites of daily life, and photos of well-known Cebuanos, and a short video presentation before moving on to the second floor.

On the second floor are bedrooms, sala, a suitor's corner, prayer room, library, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, and a very spacious balcony.

The tour takes you to different parts of the house and each part of the house's function, even the subtle ones, is explained. For example, the slightly elevated landing between the ground floor and the second floor is where guests wait or rest for the owners to meet them, because not all visitors may be allowed to go up to the second floor of the house. On the second floor, by the stairwell is the suitor's corner which is a well-lit area with a door to the master's bedroom (don't do anything fishy, Dad is watching!). Along the hallway, one will notice the beautiful carvings that subtly divides the formal sala from the upper landing, or the upper landing from the common area, etc.

Formal Sala

Master's Bedroom

If you are interested in talks about history and culture, follow Casa Gorordo Museum's facebook page to get updates on their CGM Talk schedules.

155 Lopez Jaena corner Mabini Street, Cebu City
Daily 9am to 6pm
Admission fee Php50

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is estimated to have been built between 1675 to 1700. It was home for the Sandiegos up until 10 years ago. Now they continue to live in it on weekends. Like Filipino houses from the Spanish Colonial Period, this too is a Bahay na Bato (house of stone) made up of coral stones and wood.

If I remember my history lessons right, a Bahay na Bato's ground floor serves as a storage area, which explains the exposed flooring on the ground floor. Now that the house serves as a museum, they have placed some of the family's collection of antiques, religious icons, and old wooden furniture in this space.

Before going up to the second floor guests are provided with cloth shoe covers. This is to protect the wooden floor. On the second floor is the main dwelling place and it is where you can find the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bedroom. The second floor, too, is filled with the family's antique collection.

The bedroom on the second floor


A portrait of the current owners

There is a small garden off to the side of the house where we heard beautiful music emanating from a harp played by a man and from a ukulele played by a little boy.

A cozy nook in the garden

Museo Parian sa Sugbo
26 Zulueta Street, Cebu City

We went to Museo Parian sa Sugbo—also known as the Jesuit House because it was the residence of a Jesuit official in the 1700s (the house has a plaque bearing the year 1730)—just around the corner from the Yap Sandiego Ancestral House, but it was closed on a Sunday.


This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Monday, September 30, 2019

What's in a (Business) Name? Ochenta y seis

This is for chomping, not chatting.
Spotted in Talamban Times Square, Cebu City

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Friday, August 30, 2019

What's in a (Business) Name? Ochenta y cinco

K-Pop is for music, K-Bop is for food?
Spotted in Talamban Times Square, Cebu City

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

What's in a (Business) Name? Ochenta y cuatro

She sings and sews!
Spotted along the road to Paradise Village, Cebu City

For more amusing business names, please visit Go Random.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Friday, June 21, 2019

Where and What We Ate in Busan

Here's all the good stuff my friend and I ate in the few days we were in Busan. 

Several branches across South Korea

KyoChon Chicken has many branches in Korea. The KyoChon Chicken restaurant we ate at was near Busan Staton, near our guesthouse.

We ordered the KyoChon Original (18,000 krw)—a whole chicken cut into more than 20 pieces, deep fried, and smothered with sauce (garlic and soy flavor). For just two people, it was a huge serving! In Korea, fried chicken is usually paired with alcohol, nothing more. Being Filipinos, we needed rice with our fried chicken. KyoChon does not serve rice, but the server had the brilliant idea of buying from a nearby convenience store and charging us 2,000 krw per serving of rice.

I could not believe what big eaters my friend and I were—we finished all the chicken! And the rice, too!

("Bornga" on Google Maps)
3F Busan Theater, 36 BIFF Gwangjang-ro, Jung-gu, Busan

We discovered 본가 The Born while we were strolling around BIFF. It was the poster advertising their menu that pulled us to the third floor of the same building as BIFF Theater.

My friend ordered 갈비탕 Galbitang (11,000 krw), which is beef rib soup. I ordered 차돌된장찌개 Chadol Doenjang (6,000 krw), which is soy bean paste stew served with bibimbap. This was a very very satisfying dinner.

Galbitang (top left), banchan or side dishes served on small white dishes,
and Chadol Doenjang with bibimbap (bottom)

Several branches across South Korea

Another lucky find was Premium Jjimdak, a restaurant serving jjimdak or braised chicken. We ordered a small Boneless Andong Jjimdak (18,000 krw) topped with cheese (3,000 krw). Their jjimdak is available in three sizes: small, medium, and large. Andong Jjimdak is a variety of jjimdak which originated from the city of Andong. As with all Korean restaurants, they also serve side dishes (salad, and pickled radish and cucumber). I am not crazy over cheese, but this was really good. The cheese was not overwhelming and it went well with the spicy Andong Jjimdak. I long to eat this again when I go back to Korea.

There are many branches of Premium Jjimdak in South Korea. The branch we visited is located near KyungSung University Station in Busan. It is on the second floor, above Etude House.

주전자 Jujeonja
37-9 Bupyeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Busan

On our last day in Busan, my Korean friend asked me what we wanted to eat for lunch, and I suggested samgyupsal. She brought us to Jujeonja in Jung-gu district and ordered samgyupsal and bibimbap. What is unique about their bibimbap is that it is served in a tin lunchbox, and to mix the bibimbap you just have to shake the lunchbox (with its lid on, of course!). One can never go wrong with samgyupsal and bibimbap!

Waffle Khan
1-1 Gwangbok-ro 55beon-gil, Changseondong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Busan

Waffle Khan offers crunchy waffle sandwiches with many different fillings to choose from: apple, strawberry, blueberry, chocolate, cinnamon caramel, cinnamon almond, cream cheese, custard, kaya, mango, Nutella banana, Nutella kiwi, Nutella strawberry, ice cream, granola, etc. I really wanted to try all the flavors, but we had just had lunch, and my stomach only allowed me one waffle. I chose their bestseller: apple. So very yummy! Waffle Khan is the king of waffles!

Paris Baguette—the ubiquitous bakery in South Korea—has so many good breads and pastries. There was never a visit in Korea where I did not go to Paris Baguette to buy something. On my last visit, I was pleasantly surprised to find an ice cream sandwich. It was no ordinary ice cream sandwich, it was a sinfully delicious macaron ice cream sandwich!

Dunkin Donuts

Yes, Dunkin Donuts is everywhere in the world. Yes, we have Dunkin Donuts in Cebu. No, we do not have their oh-so-soft blueberry bagels with real blueberries. This, Dunkin Donuts' blueberry bagel, is one of the things I look forward to eating whenever I am in Korea.

This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube
Art and Nature in Seogwipo City
Jeju Olle: Udo Island
Jeju Olle: Gapado Island
Busan Accommodation: One Way Guesthouse
Where and What We Ate in Busan (you're here!)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Busan Accommodation: One Way Guesthouse

For my fourth visit to Busan, I stayed at One Way Guesthouse in Dong-gu (Dong District), near Busan Station. (I have always stayed in Jung-gu (Jung District) in the past.)

12-5 Jungang-daero 196 beon-gil, Dong-gu, 48821 Busan
Telephone Number: +82 (51) 462 2500

Location. One Way Guesthouse is just a few steps from exit 4/6 of Busan Station. There is a convenience store right across the guesthouse and there are many restaurants nearby.

Room. We booked a double room with ensuite toilet and shower. (We would have preferred a twin room with two single beds, but their twin room only had bunk beds.) The room had a TV, air conditioner, small table, mirror, slippers, four power outlets (Type C/F), two hangers, and a towel bar. Shampoo, soap, hair dryer, and towels (hand towel size, which is usual in Korean hostels/guesthouses) were provided. The towel could be exchanged for a fresh one daily at the reception. Room entry is keyless—no keys to worry about, just don't forget your PIN!

Breakfast. We included breakfast when we booked the room. Breakfast—served starting at 8am—was a plate of salad, toast, jam, butter, sunny side up egg, fruit, and cup of tea or coffee. I liked that it had salad and fruit, but it was the same every day.

Price. The double room with ensuite toilet and shower only cost us 120000 krw (Php 5760) for 3 nights. That's Php 960 per person per night, and it already included breakfast.

Common Area. In the basement of One Way Guesthouse is the common area. They have a pool table and darts. There is also a kitchen where you can cook your own food.

Staff. The staff are friendly and can speak English well.

Luggage Storage. Free luggage storage is one of the services I look out for especially if my flight arrives too early for check-in or leaves too late after checkout. One Way Guesthouse allows guests to leave their luggage at the common area.

Heads up!
  • We booked our room through booking.com and the 300 krw tax was not included in the price quoted in the booking confirmation.
  • One Way Guesthouse has no elevator, which can be a problem if you have large/heavy bags and your room is on the 4th floor!
  • The toilet in our room had a certain smell and it wasn't pleasant!

Monday, June 17, 2019

Jeju Olle: Gapado Island

Jeju Olle is a series of trails that goes around Jeju Island plus trails around some surrounding islands—a total of 26 trails. If you hiked all 26 trails, then you would have traveled on foot 425 kilometers! Since I did not have the time (and, surely, not the energy) to do all 26 trails, I just picked two. And these two are trails that are not on Jeju Island but trails that go around two of its nearby islands: Udo Island and Gapado Island.

I picked Gapado Island (Jeju Olle Route 10-1) for two reasons. One, it's a short and very easy hike. The total distance of the trail is just 4.2 kilometers and can be done in an hour or two. Two, because it was the perfect time (April) to see the island's beautiful barley fields.

Getting to Gapado Island. From Jeju City, we took Bus 255 to Moseulpo Harbor (1.5 hours, 1150 krw). Moseulpo Harbor is the stop for Unjinhang Port where we will be taking a ferry to Gapado Island. At the port, we filled out a passenger report form, presented the form and our passports at the ticket counter and bought roundtrip tickets for Gapado Island (13100 krw, roundtrip). The ferry to Gapado Island runs every hour from 9am to 12 noon, then resumes at 2pm, 3pm, and 350pm (last trip). The return tip to Moseulpo Harbor is every hour from 920am to 1220pm, then 220pm, 320pm, and 410pm (last trip). The journey takes just 10 minutes. Heads up! There are two destinations: Gapado and Marado. Make sure you buy a ticket for Gapado.

Bus 255 schedule

Ferry to Gapado Island

Inside the ferry. Unlike the ferry to Udo Island, this one has seats.

Hiking around Gapado Island. There are bikes for rent (5000 krw) when you arrive at the port in Gapado. But it's such a small island that, in my opinion, walking would be the best choice. At the port, there were cafes, restaurants, and a few houses. We walked west following the coastal road as suggested by the trail map on the Jeju Olle website.

The trail is marked by blue and red ribbons, or blue and orange arrows (follow the orange arrows if you are following the trail in the reverse direction), or Ganse, which are horse-shaped trail markers (the head points in the direction of the route).

Trail markers

This Ganse informs the visitor that from this point one can see Marado Island

Marado Island in the distance

It was a sunny spring day with a light sea breeze blowing in, which made the coastal walk a very pleasant one. We saw some people sitting on the rocks by the sea and just enjoying their coffee and each other's company. The houses, I noticed, were small, one-storey buildings...most of them painted in the same color. Low walls made of stones separated the houses.

Hmmm...a slide at the port in Gapado?

Enjoying their coffee by the sea

The dwellings were small one-storey buildings mostly of the same color scheme

After a few minutes of walking along the coast, we could see a windmill and then the turnoff for the trail going inland.

The turnoff led to a vista of beautiful barley fields with the tall windmills (there were two) and blue sky creating a lovely backdrop. Not only that, it was a stunning walk through fields of barley and fields of canola flowers.

Fields of barley

Midway along the trail, we found stone statues and a yurt. I wondered what a yurt was doing in the middle of Gapado Island. It was actually not a dwelling place, for inside was nothing but ribbons with messages written on them by visitors. 

A yurt in Gapado?

So many ribbons with handwritten messages

I had to leave my mark, too.

Canola fields

We took our time walking this section of the trail, breathing in the fresh air and taking in 360 degrees of awesome nature. It was such a beautiful sight! But soon we had walked two-thirds of the trail and reached the east side of the island. The last third of the trail was to follow a concrete a road due south along the rocky coastline.

The trail ended at another port on the south of the island. Jeju Olle 10-1? check!

The port on the south of the island marks the end of Jeju Olle 10-1

But our hike did not end where the hiking trail ended. Of course, we had to go back to our starting point since we had to catch the ferry back to Jeju Island!

Jeju and Busan, April 2019
Jeju Accommodation: Jeju R Hotel & Guesthouse
Traveling Around Jeju by Bus Plus KakaoMap (2019)
Eats from Jeju City Restaurants I Can't Read the Names Of
Jeju City Lights: Iho Tewoo Beach and Jeju Light Art Festa
Geomun Oreum and Manjanggul Lava Tube
Art and Nature in Seogwipo City
Jeju Olle: Udo Island
Jeju Olle: Gapado Island (you're here!)
Busan Accommodation: One Way Guesthouse
Where and What We Ate in Busan