Most Singaporeans would know by now that our PM was in South Korea for a vacation. He and his wife had been posting photos of places he went on his Facebook page. And I must say… they are really well-taken photos. And it seems that almost all his photos have very appropriate captions! I am sure a number of people have been tempted to go to South Korea for their vacation by looking at the photos that PM Lee took.
So here’s my attempt to summarise PM Lee’s itinerary in South Korea (all the photos are by PM Lee, taken off his Facebook page. Captions are paraphrased from PM Lee’s captions).
PM just arrived in Seoul. He went to Itaewon for dinner. Itaewon is a a shopping and entertainment district in Seoul.
If you are a fan of the characters from LINE, you can get the mascots from here:
I can’t figure out which hotel PM stayed on his first night inSeoul. But it sure had a great view:
I think PM then went to Mount Seorak National Park on the second day. He said this of his visit there:
“Enjoyed the tranquil winter scenery and peaks of Mount Seorak National Park. This vast area is home to many rare species of flora and fauna. There are numerous routes throughout the park to ramble around and experience its natural beauty. On Sunday we hiked along the river up the valley, vigorous but not too tough for us. Yesterday we took a cable car ride up the nearby peak…”
Along the hike, PM also saw this:
After all the hiking, he was rewarded with this spectacular view:
After all that hard work of hiking, it seems that PM had a great dinner.
PM then went to visit the demilitarised zone (DMZ). On the South Korean side of course…
PM then went for a long walk along the hills by the coast near Hwajinpo-gil. This is what he has to say of that place:
Hwajinpo has beautiful beaches and a serene lagoon. The hills are covered with pine forests which from time to time open up to vistas of the countryside. Compared to Sunday’s trek, this was quite hard work – my iPhone reported that I took 15,000 steps, and climbed the equivalent of 87 storeys!
Looks like a good work out if you asked me. But you do get rewarded with this view:
PM then “drove down along the coast to Gyeongju, in the south eastern part of Korea. Gyeongju is a scenic and historic area, which was the capital of the Silla dynasty.” But he didn’t just make a beeline for Gyeongju. He had a number of stops. Including one at Jukbyeon port in Uljin city. PM said:
“It is a busy fishing port, with a fish market where the catch is prepared and sold. This boat has a string of lights which are used for squid-fishing. The fishermen turn the lights on at night to attract the squid. (It reminded me of what my mother used to tell me – that as a child, her family would go out fishing on a moonless night with a light on a boat to attract the sotong.)”
Days 5 to 8
PM then spent the next five days in Gyeongju, ” a coastal city with many Buddhist relics and historical sites. This city is often referred to as a museum without walls.” He took a walk in the Donggung Palace, which was “constructed in the Silla dynasty, together with the beautiful Wolji Pond within the palace grounds.”
PM also visited “the Gyochon Traditional Village and its old hanok houses (traditional Korean homes). The village is very picturesque, with some families having stayed there for generations. While some houses have been converted into modern cafes and restaurants, all the hanok houses still retain their traditional exteriors.”
The house apparently now serves traditional Korean meals.
And there was more walking and more nature along the way:
PM even got a shot of a cute squirrel. But of course, he wouldn’t just comment about a squirrel. He added some interesting tidbit of legend. How he knows such things, one can only wonder…
He then did some (more!) hiking “at Namsan Mountain, walking through villages and climbing steep mountain paths to temples and shrines. Many Buddhist statues are carved from the living rock, and often the temple is built to house them. There are historical sites too, like tombs and ancestral halls that go back to the ancient Silla dynasty. Visited quite a few on a cycling tour – a good way to get around the city, which had many dedicated cycle paths.”
PM takes really nice photos:
This one is almost good enough to be a postcard:
And it seems that PM got to know a lot about ancient Korean history:
PM returned to Seoul on the last day of his vacation by high speed rail, where he feasted on different Korean food before coming home to Singapore.
And it seems like PM likes spicy food. Or at least the Korean ramen:
PM also tried some street food:
Home sweet home
Then it was back home to Singapore.
I think PM is one of the few people who can take a photo of the immigration part of Changi Airport and not get arrested. In any case, PM had this to say about Changi Airport:
“Happy to arrive at Changi Airport last night. (1) It felt good to be home. (2) I went into a men’s toilet, and found it spotlessly clean, plus it had a nappy changing station! (3) I used the automatic clearance at the CIQ, and my thumbprint worked! Congrats to Changi Airport staff!”
I wonder why PM seemed so surprised that his thumbprint worked. I suppose when he travels for work, he never had to clear customs.
So. There you have it. If you are planning on going to Korea for a winter holiday, you can try to follow PM’s itinerary. He went in from 12 Dec to 20 Dec. I think PM Lee can be a travel blogger after he retires from politics. Don’t you agree?
[Featured image: Image of three Korean ladies in the courtyard of house which now serves traditional Korean meals taken from PM’s Facebook page]
[P.S.: If anyone from PMO is reading this and finds any issue with me using PM’s photos and captions in my post, please let me know. I will take down the post immediately. Please don’t sue me. I don’t have money to fight law suits and pay damages. Much thanks.]