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Margaret River Escape

To say that life has been a roller coaster recently would be an understatement.

There’s been so many ups and downs, I’m thoroughly exhausted from it all. I’ve laughed and cried so hard and so often that I couldn’t breathe properly at all. In the past 7 months of 2015, I’ve loved and lost more than I have throughout the combined past few years of my life. I’ve suffered great emotional trauma, and many long nights slowly turn into days as I lie wide awake in bed questioning who I am and what I’m doing with my life. While I’m still licking my wounds, I thought it would be a pleasant change to share some really fond memories on my blog from June 2015.

It was a completely impromptu trip to Perth. No matter how many times I visit this place, no trip ever feels or is the same. I booked my flight at 1pm and got on the plane at 5pm.

No prior planning, I just #YOLO-ed all the way and put full faith in the spontaneity of my friends. I happened to have some friends going to Perth at the same time, which worked out wonderfully. It was the first time I hopped on a plane not knowing what I’d end up doing in the other country. I have friends and family in Perth which made me a lot less anxious, but I’d love to do the same thing again some day in a country where I know absolutely no one!

Food, such glorious food!
Good food ALWAYS makes my day. I got to stay with my friend Jarrett and his amazingly hospitable family for a couple of days and they treated me so well. We ate more than our stomachs could handle every day and here’s just a few of the dishes we devoured.

And then there was this epic 3d2n road trip down to Margaret River which I took with my incredible friends Charles and Sarah. I love these two to the moon and back! The four of us rented an apartment literally in the middle of the woods (surrounded by wild kangaroos!) and it was the true meaning of road trippin’ in the Australian outback.

The holiday home we had for 3 days couldn’t be any more quaint and lovely.

We slapped steaks and sausages on the outdoor grill and had meats and wine in our backyard every night. We cooked up a STORM. Our landlady was an angel, she brought us nice berries, orange juice, freshly baked bread (which was to die for).

We drove for hours on the endless roads everyday, taking in the vast greenery and singing along to every song we knew that came on Spotify. Looking at horses, sheep, cows and other various animals on the side of the road. We did everything right – visited cheese / chocolate factories, animal farms, hedge maze, wineries, then ended our nights in the best way I can think of – shrieking with laughter over board games, listening to chill music while randomly talking about life and getting real buzzed. Hanging around positive and like-minded people can do so many good things for your broken soul. I was lapping up every single second of it. It was one of those, “I’m going to remember this even when I’m 50″ moments.

Some of my best memories from 2015.

When I couldn’t love myself, I was blessed enough to be surrounded by kind people who loved me and showed me that there is always still a reason to smile no matter how shitty you’re feeling.

Thank you so much.

xoxo,
Jess

Proud to be an Olympus PEN ambassador!

I have some pretty exciting news to share with you guys: I’ve recently been made an Olympus PEN ambassador!

Alongside my blogger buddies Yina Goh and Evonnz, we will be proudly representing Olympus for the next whole year, showing you the type of pictures you can take with Olympus cameras and how we incorporate our Olympus cameras into our everyday lives and blogging duties!

I couldn’t be more pleased about this ambassadorship and arrangement because I’ve been a religious Olympus fan for the past couple of years, thanks to Yina. Ever since she introduced me to the Olympus PEN E-PL5 (the camera she was using back then), I’ve never used another camera brand for my blog and Instagram posts since. I fell in love with Olympus cameras because of how reliable they are.

You can always trust the image quality to be amazing, and the user interface easy to navigate. It’s a very no-frills kind of brand, right up my alley. I don’t need cameras to be gimmicky, I just need them to work perfectly well for what they’re built for, and I feel that Olympus understands that very well. It is classic yet modern.

Functionality at its best.

So here are some of my favourite features of the Olympus PEN E-PL7 Camera that I’ve had pleasure of playing with recently:

1. I’ve never encountered any other camera that has a flip-down screen so it’s super convenient to take selfies with this feature on the Olympus camera! Also, with the powerful 3-Axis Image Stabilisation, I realised that it takes me a lesser time to capture an Instagram-worthy selfie as the photos turn out super clear!

2. I can edit the photos instantly! I love how it has Instagram-like features whilst producing great quality photos. I was playing around with the 14 live-preview art filters that was really fun.

3. With the Olympus PEN EPL-7’s Wi-Fi function, I can sync the camera directly to my phone via the Olympus Image Share smartphone application for instant sharing. I no longer need to transfer photos to my laptop first. Instead, I can directly edit my photos on my phone and share my photos within minutes!

Olympus has recently launched My PEN, My Style – the new PEN E-PL7 online customisation service screaming bold patterns and colours that lets you bring out the fun and style in shooting as functionality meets fashion!

Available exclusively online at https://www.shopatolympus.com.sg/mypenmystyle.html, you can now flaunt your personality and flair by dressing your E-PL7 to match your individual style!

You can choose different strap patterns, bright coloured camera skins, various camera body colours and lens selection according to your own personal style and flair. I had so much fun customising my own “shiberty” camera at https://www.shopatolympus.com.sg/mypenmystyle.html. You can preview your final customised PEN E-PL7 on the website before making the purchase.

You can also incorporate the PEN E-PL7 camera in your fashion getup with a wide selection of colourful and exciting strap options from the likes of floral prints to patterned shapes and a handy assortment of premium leather camera bags from American brand Jill-E, and chic, colourful Cath Kidston pouches to keep your camera well protected from dusts or scratches!

Everyone has a different shooting style. So pick from 4 different types of lenses to suit your preference. Be it for #OOTD shots or to capture a fun day out with the girlfriends, My PEN, My Style has the perfect lens for you.

My customized PEN E-PL7 would look something like this! I love my pinks and floral prints, and this customized set suits my feminine “cupcake girl” side perfectly.

I chose to use the M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.8 lens because I am a true blue #foodie!

Not only does it let me take my food images up close, but, it creates a soft defocusing effect which brings out the finer details in my photos. Also, I don’t have to worry about dimly lit areas as this lens has got it covered!

I brought the PEN E-PL7 with me on my recent trip to Japan, and here’s some captures of the yummy food I had during my holiday taken with the camera!

Shooting was such a breeze thanks to the quick shutter speed and smart functions.

Even in low-lighting conditions, my images remain relatively sharp and the auto focus & shutter speed of the PEN E-PL7 always astounds me! The white balance of the pictures were also effortless to achieve as the settings are easily adjustable while shooting.

It’s a lightweight camera that is great for all sorts of lifestyle purposes I may need it for – selfie-taking, scenery shots, foodie captures and the list goes on! My favorite part about this camera is how compact and functional it is without being too costly or heavy to lug around. I know a lot of girls (like myself) can’t stand lugging around a heavy or bulky camera on a daily basis, but this would fit into your everyday handbag just fine!

Furthermore, once you’ve customized your very own unique PEN E-PL7 to represent your style, carrying it around on your neck would be a sort of fashion statement and accessory!

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at the tantalizing food shots and customization possibilities I’ve shared in this post.  Stay tuned to this blog for further updates about my photographic journey with Olympus in future posts to come!

xoxo,
Jess

The Open House, Bali

For my 22nd birthday last month, we escaped to Bali where we spent a few blissful days basking in the sun, chasing after dolphins and watching sunsets on the beach – a much needed respite amid the madness that is known as the 3/4 year end rush.

I’ve been to Bali once before, 2 years ago with my family, however, I felt that the trip didn’t do any justice to what it could have been. I left Bali thinking it was overrated, with too many caucasians and too little things to do. Seemed like all they have is overly crowded beaches and cheap booze. How wrong I was! My family was not interested in doing much except visiting the typical tourist places and eating a lot, so the itinerary was not terribly interesting. I’m really glad I decided to give it a second shot and explore further on my own, because I fell in love with what I discovered. Bali is such an amazing destination! It has everything I love – beautiful beaches and sunsets, good cheap food, scenic sights to photograph, adrenaline-filled activities, and a ridiculous amount of varied accommodation with different budgets to take your pick from.

This time around, we chose The Open House to be our home in Bali for 3 nights, and it was an absolutely awesome decision!

Upon arrival, we were greeted by an ice cream truck at the entrance, two delicious welcome drinks and we were immediately won over by the rustic charm the whole place exudes. I love the wooden furniture and fixtures that are found everywhere in hotel – that’s how I know I’m in Bali! Checking in was a breeze with the efficient and friendly staff, and we couldn’t wait to check out our room!

The Open House offers 17 suites distributed in two floors, and while it’s not a large establishment, I believe that’s the beauty of it! I’m not a fan of staying in large hotels with too many people and squeezing with the crowds, waiting an hour just to check in and facing a sea of people during breakfast buffets in the morning. Not my idea of relaxation.

Our room was adequately spacious with a large balcony where you can enjoy your quiet cup of morning coffee with a view of palm trees and their swimming pool! The wooden fixtures are typical of Bali, and the colonial tiles on the floor are a cute little touch. If I could use one word to describe The Open House, it would be “zen”. Whatever worries you have, you’ll realize you’d left it at their doorstep. We had a hard time getting out of the marshmallowy king sized bed every morning. An iPod dock, LCD TV, beach bag (which proved to be extremely handy for us) and complimentary wi-fi are other thoughtful perks you can enjoy. It’s not glitzy or glamorous, but it succeeds tremendously in what it aims to be, which is comfortable and intimate – being the perfect opportunity to catch up with your thoughts and life itself. We felt right at home straight away.

I could spend all day bumming around with my favorite book and a fresh mango juice in hand in perfect contentment. I’m a fan of their minimalist decor. Sometimes, less is more.

Breakfasts at The Open House are peaceful affairs. The guests here are mindful and considerate, and I’m glad to report there wasn’t any shrieking kids to disrupt my peace during my stay. While they do cater to families, I’d recommend this down to earth accommodation more for couples and friends who want somewhere nice to stay in Bali without forking out too much, and if you don’t mind that there isn’t additional facilities such as a gym, etc. Instead of a breakfast buffet, The Open House offers an ala carte menu which is cooked to your request, and there’s a decent selection to provide you a heart breakfast when you wake up.

Next to the pool, there is a lounge area for you to read, do your work, sit and chat or even enjoy a full body massage on the beds provided! An outsourced masseuse will come directly to your room or to the massage area when you make an appointment, so you don’t have to leave the hotel to experience massage bliss. We were so tempted to try the massage next to the pool because the rates were so competitive, but we couldn’t squeeze any more time out of our schedule, which was spent exploring different parts of Bali!

If you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to leave your gorgeous hotel to eat (who could blame you?), the in house restaurant is worth a try! I especially enjoyed the burger, mango juice and home made coconut ice cream (not pictured here). There’s a good selection of local, international and western fare to cater to different tastes.

Or else, you could take a short walk to Jimbaran beach, a gorgeous white sand swimming beach, which is essentially your backyard because it’s just one minute away – and indulge in one of their many seafood restaurants scattered across the beach and have a romantic candlelit dinner! Jimbaran is a great location because it’s rather serene, close to the local life and touristy enough without feeling over commercialized.

The fact that The Open House is literally next to this gorgeous beach is probably my utmost favorite factor about it. The sunsets here are to die for, and the array of BBQed seafood is value for money. Nothing beats dining with a sunset view, listening to the waves gently wash onto shore, sand in your feet, beer in your hand.. The moment the sun descends from the sky, it’s painted in all sorts of orange and red hues which make for perfect Bali silhouette pics! I have never seen sunsets more gorgeous than this. Sunset watching is probably one of my favoritest things to do in the world – there is no simpler pleasure. You can also sit back and watch planes landing nearby from the beach because it’s only 20 minutes from the airport. I love how this beach attracts both locals and tourists to its beauty. When the sun starts to set, you’ll see local families running from the shore into the shallow waters helping their fishermen hubbies and daddies pull in their colorful fishing boats with fresh catches of the day, which I found heartwarming.

Bali must have magical healing powers – just one night there and I already felt anew. The island has this effect on you – once you’ve been there before, you’ll want to go back again. I can finally understand why this Indonesian island is loved by people worldwide – its raw, cultural beauty that’s so welcoming towards foreigners, is easy to get used to. With so many hotels to choose from in Bali, I hope my review on The Open House gives you better insight on whether it’s suitable for your travelings needs!

• The Open House •
Website: http://theopenhousebali.com
Address: Jalan Pemelisan Agung No. 25, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia 80361
Email: info@theopenhousebali.com
Phone: +62 (361) 709 160

I’d like to give special thanks to the kind people at The Open House for making my stay with them so wonderful! Overall, I could not fault the place at all. Warm and sincere service, nice food, fantastic location, comfortable spacious rooms, great ambience – you’ll definitely want to be back after staying here once. Exclusively for readers of this blog, you can quote “Shiberty” when making a booking with them for a special welcome gift that will be prepared just for you!

Would I recommend staying at The Open House in Bali? Most definitely.

xoxo,
Jess

Seoul Highlights, Part 1

In continuation from my previous Busan Highlights post done in collaboration with Korea Tourism Organization, here’s the second installation: highlights from my trip to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, pride and joy!

My dream is to travel the world (don’t we all wish the same thing?), and I’m glad I could check Seoul off my bucket list in 2014. Spontaneous and impromptu trips are the best in the sense that you never saw it coming, so every experience is an adventure. Seoul is the world’s third largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million people. My impression of Seoul is a modern city with a traditional charm, fast-paced and bustling. Around every corner, something exciting is happening. The girls all have amazing hair. The place is so massive, a mere short few days here did not even allow me to scratch the surface of the abundance it has to offer, however I did get some unique activities done and also made it a point to check out some of the most famous landmarks!

Here are some of the awesome places I managed to visit while I was in Seoul, hopefully you guys will find this itinerary useful when you plan a trip there, too!

 

• Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자) •

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, the DDP will serve as a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.

We were there to check out the exhibition of a super popular K-Drama series that will have some of you going crazy over!

“You Who Came from the Stars” / “My Lover From The Star” is about an alien who landed on Earth in the Joseon Dynasty and, 400 years later, falls in love with a top actress in the modern era. To those who don’t know about this show prior to this paragraph, you must be thinking… what the heck?

That was my first thought too! I can’t say I am a fan of the series because, to be honest I’ve not even watched a single episode of it yet, but I plan to give it a go once I can spare some free time! It must be so insanely popular for a good reason, right? Despite not having seen the show before, it was still fun walking around, looking at sets from the show! Cheon Song Yi’s bedroom is gorgeous. You’ll definitely wanna check this place out if you like this TV series, and be transported right into a pretty fantasy world where aliens come from the stars to romance you!

Directions to Dongdaemun Design Plaza: Get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 1. Upon exiting, walk straight for about 5 min.

 

• Klive (K-Pop Hologram Performance Hall) •

Klive is a new place visitors can watch the biggest stars of K-Pop in hologram performances anytime – it’s one of Seoul’s newer attractions, having just opened on the 9th floor of Lotte FITIN in Eulgi-ro on January 17, 2014. You don’t actually get to see any of the stars in person of course, it’s all basically very fancy hologram effects, which was actually highly entertaining and more interesting than it sounds! Knowing not a single verse to any K-Pop song, I still enjoyed myself as the hologram performance was interactive and funny. When in Korea, do as the Koreans do!

What they lack in physical presence, they make up for with actual talented dancers to complement the crazy cool hologram effects during the show and a whole bunch of exclusive merchandise you can’t find anywhere else! I think a hologram concert is a good idea – just saying that if Taylor Swift ever had one in some part of the world I could visit some day, I’d undoubtedly pay money to see it too. The next best thing to seeing her in the flesh! It’s conveniently located in a huge shopping mall, so when your legs need a rest from all that intense retail therapy, you could stop by here for an hour.

Directions to Klive: Get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 11 or 12)

 

 

• Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥마을) •

If you get off at Chungmuro Subway Station, you’ll find yourself in front of Namsangol Hanok Village (traditional Korean village) where we get a glimpse into what life in the olden days in South Korea might’ve been like. This cultural heritage site is unexpectedly situated in the middle of the city’s tall buildings.

This village has five restored traditional Korean houses and a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule, which make it a perfect spot to take a walk. It was high summer season when I was in Korea so it was extremely warm, but during autumn, what a joy taking a stroll around here would be! A great place for photo opportunities.

These houses were rebuilt after the traditional houses of Joseon Dynasty and belong to those of various social classes, ranking from peasants to the king. The furniture in the house is situated to help guests understand the daily life of the past.

Directions to Namsangol Hanok Village: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), Exit 4. Walk along Hanongmaeul-gil street for 5 minutes.

 
• Dongdaemun Market (동대문시장) •

Ever since its opening in 1905, Dongdaemun Market has been one of the major markets in Korea. Specializing in wholesale clothing, the market has grown large, having more than 20 shopping malls. A full range of fashion items that cover head to toe, are found in Dongdaemun Market at inexpensive prices.

Just name it and you shall find it! While we were there, we were surprised to come across peaceful (but loud) protestors roaming the streets in an orderly manner. Anyone knows what they’re protesting about?

We spent a few hours browsing through the endless amount of retail shops and I snagged some good deals for myself! We gave the wholesaler’s section of Dongdaemun a miss since we were tourists. They have so many things for you to look at and buy in the area, I could’ve spent a whole day and night shopping to my heart’s content if I didn’t have other things on my itinerary!

While some people may compare the pricing to Bangkok (another place famed for cheap shopping) saying it’s not as affordable, I would also like to add that the quality of some items in Dongdaemun are better than what you’d find in Bangkok, the price you pay just depends on what and where you buy, and whether you’re good at bargaining. I also happen to LOVE Korean fashion, and this place was sheer paradise!

Directions to Dongdaemun Market: Hop onboard Seoul Subway Line 2 Dongdaemun Stadium Station, or Line 1 or 4 Dongdaemun Station.

 

 

• Samsung Innovation Musem (삼성이노베이션뮤지엄) •

Samsung Electronics marked its 45th anniversary by opening the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon, South Korea. “The Samsung Innovation Museum brings together some of the true historical masterpieces of electronics innovation,” said CEO Kwon Oh-hyun at the opening event.

These inventions laid the technological foundation that allowed us to develop and refine products that enhance lives today. The museum gives visitors an opportunity to see where we’ve come from and also see where Samsung draws inspiration from to continue to create category defining products.

The museum features 150 inventions and products from Samsung as well as individuals and companies that have no ties with the Korean company –– an acknowledgement of its competitors.

I wasn’t hopping excited when I heard a museum was going to be on our to-do list, they generally aren’t my thing, but I was beyond blown away by how stunning the Samsung Innovation Museum was. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip as it was awe-inspiring and unlike any place I’ve been to before in my life.

The displays are engaging, the information provided useful and thought-provoking – I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked touring this place. I walked around with a smile on my face the whole time, struck with child-like wonder. Tech geeks, curious children and people who have a thirst for knowledge or respect for innovation would have the best time here. It’s still so new and clean, felt like we were the first guests to ever enter! The whole time, all I could think of is how much Sam would have loved to be there with me.

Credit for source of information extracted here.

Directions to Samsung Innovation Museum: Please visit their website for detailed instructions.

This South Korea trip has brought about many “firsts” for me, and it’s been nothing short of an eye-opening experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first and second posts about it. I can’t wait to share the rest of my itinerary and pictures with you guys! The third installation and final post of my Busan + Seoul experience with Korea Tourism Organization will be coming your way soon, so stay tuned, and stay gold!

xoxo,
Jess

Busan Highlights

As much as I’d like to believe that I’m well-traveled… I suppose I am really not, compared to a lot of other people who have the privilege to jet set around the world. I’m working to change that fact in the near future, of course. I’ve written a fair bit about the places I HAVE been to, but there’s way too many different places that await my exploring around the world, and I’m getting impatient!

List of countries I’ve toured thus far only include: USA, Philippines, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and umm.. yeah, I think that’s pretty much it. I’m absolutely dying to visit Europe, Japan and Maldives. Thanks to Korea Tourism Organization Singapore, I’ve got one more cool place to add to my “been there, done that” list…. which is… South Korea!!!! DAEBAK!!! Annyeonghaseyoooo! I had the amazing opportunity to visit the vibrant cities of Busan and Seoul, & share with you guys my itinerary for the trip. I did a frantic happy dance and yelped in excitement when I received the news that I’d be doing this travel assignment. While not exactly a full on travel blogger, I do love to discover, snap, share and live a fulfilling life so hopefully I’ll be posting more travelogues in the next year to come!

First off, before our flight at Changi Airport, we went to get ourselves a portable wireless device that would enable us to have wifi anytime, anywhere while in Korea! It caps at 500MB per day, and works for as long as you rent it for. Along with a prepaid SIM card, we were able to update social media sites whenever we wanted… it felt so good to stay connected to home 24/7, even though I was halfway across the world! The best part is that you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously, so if you’re on a tight budget I guess everyone could share one on a group trip. Get yours at Changi Recommends Counter @ Changi Terminal 2.

We flew Asiana Airlines directly to Incheon airport, and while full of turbulence (no thanks to weather conditions), it was a relatively comfortable ride. The air stewardesses were all good looking in a typical fair-skinned, doe-eyed Korean way, and I had my first Korean meal onboard – bibimbap! Delicious, as far as plane food goes. After a 6 hour red-eye flight, I was delirious to arrive at Incheon airport. I was immediately blown away by how modern and high-tech everything was! I thought Singapore was crazy about staying up to date with technology, but I think the Koreans have surely one-upped us on this. Wifi is everywhere, alongside state of the art gadgets and infrastructure.

The cute girl you see above was my traveling partner for the week, Gwen, who’s here representing TheSmartLocal.com! Located a short walk from the arrival gates, we bought our tickets to board the KTX (Korea Train Express) ride to Busan, which takes 4 hours +.. and thus began another epic journey. When we finally arrived at Busan, the weather was beautiful – warm, not too humid, sunny and absolutely welcoming!

According to Wikepedia,
“With over 3.6 million people, Busan is South Korea’s second largest city and largest seaport. Busan is known for its beaches, hot springs, nature reserves and events such as the city’s renowned international film festival held each fall. Busan is a good destination for those seeking a more laid back atmosphere than Seoul. Located at the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, Busan’s important port gives the city an international flair, with sailors from around the world trooping through and a growing number of tourists.”

I present to you: the highlights of our 2 days in Busan!

 

• Shinsegae Centum City (신세계 센텀시티) •

A true shopaholic’s heaven – it is, impressively, the world’s largest department store. Someone like my mother would go crazy here. It’s so huge, in fact, that we were rather daunted just by the sheer size of it when we walked in. The row of shops seemed never ending. I didn’t know where to start taking photos amid throngs of shoppers everywhere, so I settled for visually appealing shots at the food basement, which we headed straight for because we were starving travelers. Even the food court area offered tons of delights! We couldn’t resist a strawberry nutella crepe with vanilla ice cream and a cheesecake slice.. it was to die for. I heard that Spaland is one of the mall’s most popular attractions, being great value for money and a must-do if you don’t mind getting naked in front of everyone. Regretfully, we were too exhausted on our first day there and weren’t feeling up to it, so after some half hearted browsing of the mall, we headed back to the hotel early to catch up on much needed rest. I wish we’d gone back another day to check out the mall properly, but our days were packed with activities. You have to check this place out if you visit Busan!

Directions to Shinsegae Centum City: From Busan Station, take subway to Centum City Station (Busan Subway line #2)

 

• Oryukdo Skywalk (부산 오륙도 스카이워크) •

The Oryukdo Skywalk can be found at Oryukdo Seungdumal, on the southernmost point of Igidae Park’s coastal walking path. It’s a U-shaped glass walkway that spans 9 meters toward the sea, making it seem as if visitors are floating over the ocean because of the transparent panels you’re walking on. You’ll even have to put on special shoes before you enter the area so as not to damage the glass.

I am terrified of heights, so I was stuck dead in my footsteps for awhile, before I plucked up the courage to walk towards the edge of the path, clinging onto the railing and trying not to look down at seemingly impending doom as much as possible (even though that’s the whole point!) It didn’t take long for me to forget about my phobia and worries. The view of the Oryukdo Islands, the costal line and with the cool ocean breeze blowing in my hair… was breathtaking. A picture perfect postcard moment straight from the movies! I stood there for quite some time, taking it all in, feeling extremely grateful for all that I had in my life at that moment. Busan is such a photo worthy place, and this has to be the best spot of them all. My top recommended spot for you to visit in Busan because you’ll get unforgettable photos to remember your trip by!

Directions to Oryukdo Skywalk: Take local bus No. 27, 131 and get off at the last stop at the back gate of Oryukdo SK View Apartment.

 

• Jagalchi Fish Market (자갈치시장) •

The Jagalchi Market is Korea’s largest seafood market. After the Korean War, the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the women who sell here are called ‘Jagalchi Ajumma,’ ‘ajumma’ meaning middle-aged or married women. This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit, you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market. Even these days you can see women selling mackerel, sea squirts (ascidians) and whale meat (!!!) on wooden boxes along the road. Every year in October the Jagalchi Cultural Tourism Festival is held, and it is easy to visit because of the convenient transportation provided by the subway. The Jagalchi Market is where you can see the lifestyle of the indigenous Busan natives.

It really tickled my toes to see an octopus escape out of an ahjumma’s bucket onto the floor… and her furiously grabbing it and shoving it back where it belongs! The type of sashimi found in Korea is significantly different from the usual Japanese favorites. No salmon, tuna or sea urchin here. There were many sea creatures I have never even seen in documentaries before that had my eyes bulging at the very sight of them. How fascinating to think that people eat such vastly different foods around the world. What’s native to them, is 100% alien to me. There’s lots to see, smell and eat around here. The Jagalchi Market is by far the most bustling market I’ve been to – a great place to absorb the lively atmosphere and feel like a local as you weave through their rows and rows of stalls with ahjummas offering assorted, bewildering and strange seafood, dried goods, cooked food and more! There’s even an aquarium section where you’re guaranteed the freshest catch. It’s full of life – your seafood is literally still swimming in tanks and buckets and can be prepared for you on the spot… I would’ve loved to try the famous live Korean octopus (that wiggles out of your plate and sucks onto your throat as you eat it) but I’d just recovered from food poisoning barely a day before, and I wasn’t about to take any chances.

Directions to Jagalchi Market: Jagalchi Station (Busan subway line 1), Exit 10. Turn right onto Jagalchi 3(sam)-gil Street. Walk for 5min, then turn left to arrive at Jagalchi Market.

 

• Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (해동 용궁사) •

When you visit a country that is as culturally rich as Korea, you HAVE to visit at least one of their well-known temples. Most temples in Korea are located in the mountains, but Haedong Yonggungsa Temple is situated on the coast of the north-eastern portion of Busan. This superb find of a tourist spot and temple offers visitors the rare find of a temple along the shore line. Statues of the twelve zodiac animals greeted us at the entrance. The main sanctuary of the temple was reconstructed in 1970 with careful attention paid to the colors that were traditionally used in such structures. Other special sites at the temple are the 108 stairs and stone lanterns lining the rocky landscape. After going down the 108 steps (which we also had to climb back up…), you’ll be delighted to discover the stunning sight of the temple next to the sea. It was absolutely worth the cab ride here! By the way, cabs in Busan are affordable compared to the rates we pay in Singapore, and most importantly… making your getting around to your destinations extremely convenient. I wouldn’t recommend cabbing in Seoul, though, since the traffic there is much more congested.

Many people often come to this spot on New Year’s Day to make a wish for the new year as they watch the sun come up. April is an especially beautiful time of year with cherry blossoms in full bloom. The birth of Buddha is also celebrated in April (following the lunar calendar) and offers a spectacular night view as the temple area is aglow with electrically lit lanterns. Oh, I have to return to Korea during Spring… Imagine this place in Spring, during sunset. Jesus. Or in this case.. Buddha?

Directions to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple: Haeundae Station (Busan Subway Line 2), Exit 7. Take Bus 181 and get off at Yonggungsa Temple (용궁사)

 

• Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장) •

Probably the most famous beach in the country, Haeundae Beach is 1.5 km long, 30~50m wide, and spans an area of 58,400㎡.

The entire stretch of beach area is littered with countless similarly themed large umbrellas to shade the funny Koreans who seem to like the beach, yet not the sun that comes with it. The sand of this beach comes from Chuncheon Stream and shells that have been naturally eroded by the wind over time. Swimming seems to be an immensely popular activity with the locals there, but we decided to just stroll along the beach and people-watch instead of taking a dip as I would rather enter the waters of a secluded white sand beach in a tropical climate, far away from any tall buildings or city.

There’s a lot of cafes, street stalls and food shops around the Haeundae area for you to retreat to afterwards, so we settled for lunch at a small eatery just a two minute walk from the beach. BBQ-ed pork belly, a green onion pancake, finished off with honeycomb ice cream… which is THE best thing since sliced bread. You’ll never look at soft serve ice cream the same way again, because it’s not just soft serve, it’s heaven in a milky cup (or cone). You need to buy some Softree and take it along with you to Haeundae Beach!

Directions to Haeundae Beach: From Busan station, walk 172m straight & take bus 1003, get off at Haeundae Beach stop and walk 169m to Haeundae Beach.

 

• Gwangandaegyo Bridge (부산 광안대교) & City Night Lights •

It is the largest bridge over the ocean in Korea, and a significant landmark in Busan. It’s pretty cool to be driving on in the day time.

But you should see it with a panoramic view from Geumjeongsan Mountain (금정산). Wow. I wish my loved ones were there to witness it with me. Equipped with artistic light, the bridge showcases splendid light that changes every day and every season. The nickname for the bridge is “diamond bridge” for the way it sparkles when the sun goes down! Busan lights up like a christmas tree in the evening, sporting neon signage and dazzling colorful light displays in every corner of the city. It’s nothing like I’ve seen before! There’s a daily tour bus that takes you around to the best spots in town to look at the lights, but we decided to hire a taxi to go straight up the mountain instead, so we could enjoy this view in privacy!

Directions: Take a cab to Geumjeongsan Mountain. Forget about public transport for this one, finding your way around in the dark at an isolated place will not be easy.

 

• Galbi / Kalbi Beef •

Although not exclusive to Busan, it was here that I tried one of the most delicious beef I’ve ever had – galbi beef, grilled over charcoal – absolutely divine!!!

It was melt in your mouth, puts a happy smile on your face and leaves you thinking about it for months afterwards kinda good. All kinds of wonderful. I’m salivating just thinking about it.. Probably my number one favorite thing about going to Korea was all the delicious Korean BBQ meats I had. Pork belly and beef…. I could have that everyday, coupled with my cold noodles!

With that, concludes my short and sweet time in Busan – a laid back and breezy start to our trip, and my first taste of what the slow life would be like if I were to live in South Korea as a local. I felt like it gave me a pretty accurate look into the life of the average person who didn’t live in Seoul, which is a lot more hectic than Busan for sure.

The landscape and environment is totally different between the two cities, and while both has its charms, Busan is more for the traveler who wants something out of the ordinary, someone who’s out to seek the cultural and quaint charms of a country that are hidden away in a coastal town. I’ll be continuing this travelogue with a Seoul edition soon, so more delicious Korea visuals wait for you then!

xoxo,
Jess
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