August 3, 2011

Jeju, Korea (Day 2, 2 Aug)

In the blink of an eye, we are home! Just in time for my birthday too!

Yesterday was an intense round of back to back site visits, we had hired a taxi for the day to bring us around. The driver was friendly and spoke good English.

First up was a golftel recommended by a Korean colleague, called The Elysian. They had a scenic golf course and very nicely furnished villas for accommodation, unfortunately they don’t have enough rooms for us and their meeting rooms are also limited. If I played golf I would stay here, the villas are very affordable at about 250 SGD for 2 bedrooms.

Next we went to a place called The Spirited Garden, which is like a bonsai park. They’ve hosted outdoor dinners before but the space was a bit disappointing, not much of a view at night should we host a dinner there. I did see a grapefruit tree for the first time though!

En route to the east side of the island, we stopped at another golf course called Pinx but as time was limited, we didn’t linger and proceeded to the Haevichi Hotel. The ride took almost an hour and Germaine and Phil snoozed in the car, they can sleep anywhere!

It was a lovely property, I liked the newness of the rooms and meeting space, but it’s a little out of the way from any entertainment, being on the opposite end of Jeju though it’s closer to some main attractions.

We stayed for lunch in the name of ‘food-tasting’ and had a delicious meal, I loved my grilled skewers of prawns, vegetables and steak.

There was a folk village nearby that we visited but it was deemed unsuitable for a dinner venue, though many a Korean drama has been filmed there. Germaine and I were competing to see who could take nicer flower pictures!

We told the taxi driver we wanted to see a waterfall on the way back to Lotte and he took us to Jeongbang Waterfall which he said was the nicest of the ones in Jeju. Unfortunately the weather was gloomy and we were in a rush so we couldn’t really appreciate it.

There was an exhibition hall and courtyard nearby which we checked out, but the view was limited hence a no-go as a dinner venue.

We rushed back to the hotel to freshen up and check out, wish we had more time to cover more places but time was not on our side.

At the Jeju airport, I bought some Dunkin Donuts and souvenir chocolates and killed time at duty free, succumbing to a Longchamp Pliage bag in mauve. It was on sale at 40% and a colour and size I had been considering…only 61 USD! Since my birthday was approaching, I was in a spending mood but then, when am I ever not?

We took a Korean Air flight to Incheon, all of us had emergency exit seats so plenty of legroom. I was impressed by the service and the inflight magazines, wouldn’t be averse to taking Korean Air again.

Before the flight even took off, Germaine and Phil fell asleep!

At the Incheon airport, we had to wait for the SQ counters to open and Phil and I did online check-ins on the spot so we could skip the long queues. It didn’t make much difference in the end because after clearing immigration etc, we realised that most shops and restaurants had closed.

It was only 10 pm and we couldn’t find anything decent to eat or buy but eventually found a little food court, however Germs and I already dipped into my donut reserves!

I had a lukewarm tonkatsu ramen that came with a truckload of long towgays, I’m sure the store is ripping off the O’Brien’s logo.

With time to kill before our 12.20am flight, I went to the only duty free store that was open and decided to treat myself to some designer sunglasses, yet another birthday present to myself!

Got carried away trying to decide which one to buy and ended up with 3 pairs – 2 Loewe and 1 Fendi, I found them to be much cheaper than European prices, especially at 40-50% off.

My indecisiveness nearly made us miss our flight, by the time the salesgirl wrapped up the purchases, it was the final call for our gate. We ran to the gate only to find it had been moved, and had to run a little more. Germs and I ended up being the last 2 to board!

After the flight took off, I moved seats to the next cabin as Germs had informed me her row was empty. She and Phil had a surprise for me – cake and a Hello Kitty towel to usher in my 33rd birthday on the plane.

Unfortunately SQ didn’t allow candle-blowing, and neither could Phil persuade the crew to get the whole plane to sing for me but a stewardess was kind enough to bring over some plastic cups of champagne so I toasted Germaine at 4 am, somewhere over the South China Sea.

Happy birthday to me!

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