Thursday, 31 May 2012

10 April 2012 - Haewoojae Mr Toilet House (Suwon)

Any idea where is this place??
Answer : Mr Toilet House

Mr Toilet House, Haewoojae means a house to satisfy anxiety. Although my picture does not portrait anything that looks like a toilet but this building was modelled after the shape of a toilet. I learnt about this place last year and I didn't expect that I could see it in this trip to Suwon!!

I really admire the founder of this place. He was the late Sim Jae-duck who was also the founder and first president of the World Toilet Association (WTA). How many people would think of improving other's life through improving toilet hygiene?? 

In 2007, Mr Sim built and lived in this two-storey house designed in the shape of a toilet which he named Haewoojae (meaning a place where one can solve one’s worries).The Sims lived in it for two years until his death in 2009. His family then donated Haewoojae or Mr Toilet House to Suwon city, who turned it into an exhibit hall. Today, Haewoojae is a icon representing Korea’s toilet culture and work is ongoing to build a Toilet Culture Park around the house.
* Information from
You can check out the website

Suwon is said to has the most beautiful toilets in the world. I wasn't aware about this! If I had know it, I would definitely make a trip to their toilet even if I do not feel the need to!
We had only about 20 mins to check out the exhibit hall.  No time for us to explore the surroundings of The Toilet House. The places on the maps looked interesting but Jihye was not sure whether these places shown on the map were ready for visitors a not.

You can also be a toilet angel  ^^  

Interesting  ^^

In this modern world, people just want their toilet to be located as conveniently as possible.   

"The further a toilet is, the better" makes a lot of sense to me too because the sanitary system in the olden days was not as developed as now.

Looking at these pictures reminded me of the story that Jae told me about when he used to visit his late grandparents' hometown.

Mr Toilet  ^^

The surroundings of The Toilet House looked deserted.  That was why Jihye wasn't sure if those places reflected on the map were already built a not.  Anyway, we didn't have much time to explore.  If possible, I would love to be back again.   Mr Toilet House is a interesting place to check out.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

10 April 2012 - Getting to Suwon

I woke up early to catch the first KTX to Suwon. I could actually take the subway to Suwon but it will take 72mins to get to Suwon from Seoul and the fare will cost KRW1750. Whereas, travelling by KTX from Seoul to Suwon will take about 31mins at KRW8400. I do not mind to spend a little more money for the ticket so that I can sleep a little bit longer and spend more time with my friend. Anyway, I will have the "opportunities" to travel long distance using the subway in the next few days.

Metro Hotel provides a complimentary breakfast buffet.  It was a very simple spread but the food was nice.  Some online reviews expressed that the complimentary breakfast lacked variety and the food was almost the same everyday.  Well, I don't have a problem with that.  I was very contented  ^^

My second round!!  
I loved the fried rice so much  ^^
The miso soup was not bad.

I arrived 10 mins before the train departs.  

Yup!  I'm on the correct train.  The last stop was Busan.

Reached Suwon.  As usual, only tourists like me will take pictures of a subway station! Hahahaa..

Jihye has been urging me to visit her in Suwon.  Finally, I made it!  We agreed to meet at Suwon station at 9am but they were caught up in the traffic.  Well, I am ok to be the one waiting because my friends are usually the ones waiting for me most of the time!  Hahahaa...think my friends will go Zzz...zzzz....zzzz if they read this!  Jihye told me that her friend, MK from Malaysia was also in Suwon to visit her so we will check out Suwon together  ^^  

I saw this guy while waiting for Jihye and MK.  He was here before me.  I noticed him because of his posture and position.  I wondered if he's waiting for his girlfriend or somebody important.  He has been standing in this upright position without moving for at least 10 mins!

It did not take long for Jihye and MK to arrive.  I was very happy to see Jihye once again  ^^  The moment she saw me, she gave me this!  Omgg...I was so touched because Jihye's mother made this for me as breakfast. 정말 고맙습니다.  I am really curious about the plastic sheet she used to wrap this because it was very air tight.  One could instantly smell the aroma of the food when I unwrapped it.  
Jihye surprised me by telling me that we will check out Suwon by taking the city tour!!  Hahahaa...that's because Jihye has been away from Korea for many years, so she will tour around Suwon like a tourist with us for the day!
We walked out of the train station and saw the main road.  If I did not remember wrongly, we turned left and walked straight to reach the Tourist Information Centre.  Its less than 5 mins walk.

Saw this lady outside the Tourist Information Centre.
Guess what was this lady selling?
Looks like 猪肠粉 Chee Chong Fun aka Zhu Chang Fen from far!
Obviously its not.  I think she was selling 떡볶이 Tteokbokki

This is the Tourist Information Centre.
Facing the information centre, there's a carpark on your right. 
 The city tour bus will be at the carpark.

I think the city tour starts at 10am or 10.30am...I can't remember because whenever I am with my Korean friends, I become so relaxed that I forgot to note down anything! While waiting for the city tour bus, we walked around the place.  

I did not expect to see so many cars on the road.

There were many Koreans taking the city tour.  In fact, I think all of them are Koreans! 

Here comes our bus  ^^

My city tour pass ^^
I can't wait to see Hwaseong Fortress!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

9 April 2012 - Much ashamed of myself...Hur hur

I decided to take my jacket to the hotel laundry room for washing before going to the subway station. The laundry room was located on the 7th floor.  Yeah...just one jacket...I knew this is not being environmental friendly but I can only spare out one jacket to wash and I needed to have it wash.  

Coin exchange machine on the left and detergent machine on the right.

I thought there were two washing machines...You will know why I say this later on...

First of all, I must confess this was the first time in my whole life to use a washing machine.......

When I told Jihye and MK that I have never ever use a washing machine before, MK went "HUHHH!!!" and Jihye said, "Please enjoy this moment while you can!" Hahahaa...Ermm...Ya a bit ashamed of myself for making this confession! Hahahaa!!

I am very fortunate becos Mum does the washing for the whole family.  She always told me to learn but I never tried. If need to, I will only hand-wash my clothings but not machine wash.  I told Jihye that my mum will surely shake her head if she knew that her daughter finally know how to use a washing machine. Jihye said maybe my mum will want me to stay longer in Korea when she knew that I have learnt to use the washing machine!  

There was English instructions to use the washing machine but I also ask the laundry attendant how to use the washing machine..I did not have to use the entire packet of detergent. I kept the balance because I knew I will use the washing machine again!  Hahahaa...Yup!  You heard me right!

Its not expensive if you have more clothings of the same colour to wash.  It didn't occur to me that it will take quite a while to do the washing. I should have come here before I unpacked my luggage.  This shows that it was really my first time using a washing machine.... I still have 30 mins to go, what should I do while waiting?  

Kept myself occupied by taking pictures and going through the itineraries for the next few days...

The laundry attendant probably realised it was my first time using the washing machine based on all the silly questions that I have asked her....

I waited for about 42 mins to have a jacket washed. Really felt very guilty to waste so much water and electricity just for one jacket! Ermm...things didn't end here. My jacket will obviously be damped but I didn't see any clothes dryer around, except for one iron and one ironing board. No choice but to iron my jacket to make it dry, otherwise it would have an odour. I never thought I would spent my time washing and ironing a jacket on a holiday. 
I can finally step out the hotel after spending one hour in the laundry room. I took the subway from Euljiro 1(il)-ga station to Seoul station. Euljiro 1(il)-ga station was only 5 mins walk from Metro hotel.

This counter reminded me of my experience to buy the KR Pass in my previous trip. It was an unforgettable experience. Kinda phobia to approach the same counter again. I still went up to the same counter anyway but this time was to buy KTX ticket instead of KR pass.  I bought my KTX tickets for the return trips as well.  If you have read my post dated 6 November 2011, purchase of KR pass is not at these counters. 
I was relieved to be attended by a lady who can speak and understand English fairly well. I asked her what happened if I missed the train or if I wanted to change the timing after I purchased the ticket. She told me a penalty fee will be imposed if I wanted to change to a time later than my original departure time. I think it is also subject to seats availability.

Suddenly, I remembered I did not eat much for the whole day. No wonder I was very hungry and exhausted.  I needed food badly before I embarked on my shopping spree at Myeongdong!!

My dinner was the hot crispy chicken burger set at Lotteria. It was a new burger on their menu. Nope, it was not nice at all. I didn't know why the chicken was cold and there was a layer chicken skin which tasted soggy.  Not crispy at all.  Maybe this was the only one that failed their usual standard.  Well, I didn't finish the burger...

I asked the service crew if I could change my drink to mineral water. She nodded her head and told me to get my  water from this machine.  Hmmm...This is what I called trust and integrity. People can simply cheat and take more if they are not honest enough, isn't it??
It was not a satisfying dinner at all but I felt recharged. I spent the rest of the evening shopping for my facial products at Myeongdong and packing them into the box for postage on the following afternoon!

Monday, 28 May 2012

9 April 2012 - Home Sweet Home ^^

Reached Gimpo airport. I went to the post office at the airport to buy a box for packing the stuff that I'm going to buy and post back to Singapore.  Postage by EMS is not cheap but much cheaper than paying for excess baggage fees. Jihye told me Korea EMS is considered the cheapest among many countries. 
I learnt from online information that photography is prohibited at Gimpo airport. I wasn't sure whether it was allowed to take pictures at the bus bay but I quickly took a few snaps using my iphone.

*Picture captured by my iphone using Instagram.

I took bus no. 6001 to Metro Hotel.  Metro Hotel is 5 mins walk from Ibis Myeongdong, a hotel which I had stayed in my previous trip. There will be an uncle standing around at the bus bay to collect the bus fare. He can also guide you where to alight. I paid KRW7000 to this uncle. If you are going to stay at Metro Hotel, do not tell the uncle that you are going to Myeongdong although Metro Hotel is strategically located in Myeongdong. Do not tell the uncle you are going to Euljiro 1(il)-ga although that's the nearest subway station to Metro Hotel. Just tell the uncle you are going to Ibis Myeongdong. The red arrow in this picture is pointing to "Ibis Myeongdong". This will be the stop to alight. 

*Picture captured by my iphone using Instagram.

Bought the limousine bus at 1.40pm and reached the bus stop for Ibis Myeongdong at 2.27pm. Take note of this green ticket. You will need to use it to collect your luggage. No green ticket, no luggage to take. Why do I say so?? Cos I almost misplaced my green ticket and the bus driver insisted that I must have the hard copy. The bus driver was very unhappy with me and he grumbled a lot but I can't blame him. It was my fault. Thank goodess, it didn't took me long to find my ticket....Phew!!
Photograph of the ticket is not accepted!  Hahahaa...Lesson learnt!  Do not make the same mistake like me! Hahahaa..
It wasn't difficult for me to locate Metro Hotel because it was very near Ibis Myeongdong. I stayed at Ibis Myeongdong for 16 days in my previous trip so I can still remember the place fairly well ^^
As you alight at the bus stop and with your back facing the main road, turn to your left. Walk along the main road for about 2-3 mins and you will see an alley on your right, whereby "Miss Lee Cafe" will be on your far right. Walk into this alley. Walk for about 2 mins and you will see a big red signboard bearing the word,"Smoothie King" on your left. Metro Hotel is right beside "Smoothie King" or can I say they shared the same building??
Time taken to reach Metro Hotel from the limousine bus stop is about 5mins if you take the correct route.

My room for the next 10 days!  Wooohoooo!!  
I booked the Single Business room and felt the space was rather comfortable for me as a solo traveller  ^^

The reason why I chose Metro Hotel was due to its accessibility and friendly service.  Prior to making my room reservation, I sent quite a number of emails to make enquiry and their response was always prompt and friendly. Yeah...I go for service. On certain nights, I can hear people talking loudly along the streets but that's still ok for me cos usually I was too tired to bother about them..Hahahaa...
One of the best thing that I liked about my room was the temperature control system. Adjusting the room temperature is within my control. Unlike some hotels including 5 stars hotels, where the heater doesn't seems to be working or the air con is too strong. 

My cosy bed  ^^

After I'm done with taking pictures and unpacking my luggage, I took the subway to Seoul station to buy my KTX ticket to Suwon for the following day.  Yeah, I'm going to visit Jihye in Suwon  ^^  I don't think I need to buy the KTX tickets in advance but somehow I thought I'd better buy it in advance since I wanted the earliest train. I knew myself too well...I am always late so I don't want to be rushing to buy my ticket at the very last minute.  At the same time, I'm also going to exchange my e-ticket to Nonsan at the station counter!  Yes!  I am going to Nonsan on day 11 for the Nonsan Strawberry Festival.
I don't know why but I was very excited to take the subway in Seoul once again! It certainly felt like home sweet home!  Hahahaaaa....

Sunday, 27 May 2012

"4 Fingers" at Ion Orchard (Singapore)

I was at Ion Orchard  to check out Ed's artworks at Ion Art Gallery yesterday afternoon.  Whenever I past by "4 Fingers"at the basement, I will be very tempted to try their fried chicken. It was 3.15pm...should I or should I not...??? 

I did!!!  I saw there were seats available so I decided to go for it!!
Usually, the place will be packed with people cos its not a big place.
Order at the front counter and pick up your food here. 

My "dosirak"  Hur Hur

Ordered the soy garlic fried chicken drumsticks lunch box. I think its $8.95..can't remember the exact price though. Omgggg...I declared this is the best fried chicken I have ever eat in Singapore!!!   Followed by Kko Kko Nara.  I think "4 Fingers" does not origin from Korea but from US, and they cooked it in Korean style.  
The soy garlic fried chicken at "4 Fingers" has the perfect crunch and perfect taste!!  It does not have the crispy greasy feeling but crispy and tasty!  The rice was a bit hard and cold.  Forget about the rice, go for the fried chicken set!!  I will bring Kim Kim here next time  ^^ 

* "4 Fingers" is located at Ion Orchard basement near the foodcourt. 

9 April 2012 - Thank you Mr Son.

I checked out Elysee Motel at around 9.30am.  Mr Son happened to be at the reception and I passed him a small packet of durian candies which I had brought from Singapore. I prepared the small token with the intention of giving to the motel owner when I checked out.  I really didn't expect to receive such a big help from the motel owner, Mr Son in this trip. Really glad that I brought something from Singapore after all.  Durian is a favourite fruit for most Singaporeans but not many foreigners like it.  While Jae is fine with durian, Jihye told me she HATES durian!  Hahaha!  Yeah, its either you love it or you hate it.  I love durians but I don't eat it often since it contains high calories!  Mr Son told me he worked in Singapore many years ago.  I wondered if he had tried durian during his stay in Singapore!  The durian candies do not have a strong smell so I hope his kids will like it.

Mr Son : "Ah! You are checking out today. Where are you going now?" 
Me : "I'm heading to the airport limousine bus-stop."
Mr Son : "Do you know where's the bus stop?"
Me : "Oh ya." 

Guess what he said next?   

Mr Son : "Ok, you are going to take the scooter again."   
Me : "아!  괜찮아요!  My luggage is big and heavy. I can make my way to the bus stop."   
Mr Son : "Oh, that's ok.  No problem at all, just follow me."
Me :  "Are you sure?"
Mr Son : "Sure!  Just follow me." 

I followed Mr Son with my head full of question marks because I couldn't figure out how he could take my luggage on his scooter.  I shall leave it to your imagination how we took my luggage on Mr Son's scooter.  We saw the airport limousine bus approaching the airport limousine bus stop from across the road.  I told Mr Son its ok to miss this bus as I still have time for my flight but Mr Son did not want me to miss the bus.  He sped up and stopped in front of the limousine bus. He even help to carry my luggage onto the bus!  
No wonder Mr Son asked if I knew where's the airport limousine bus stop. It was not the same one where I have alighted on the day of arrival. The airport limousine bus stop heading for Gimhae airport was located opposite across the road.  
Mr Son had to quickly rode off after helping me with my luggage becos he couldn't park his scooter too long by the roadside.  Everything happened too fast, I didn't even had a chance to bid a proper good bye to Mr Son and his wife...I didn't have the chance to thank them properly.  Couldn't hold back my tears as I watched Mr Son's leaving on his scooter...Thank you Mr Son.  Thank you for everything.  

안녕 Busan...I hope to be back again one day.  Saw rows of full bloomed cherry blooms on the way to Gimhae airport.  Suddenly, I remembered that I didn't went back to Yongdusan Park to see the cherry blossom.  Told myself I will go back to check out the cherry blossoms again before I checked out the motel.  Well, its ok.  Busan has given me a lot of good memories to last me for a long time.
Board the bus at 9.50am. I was the only passenger on the limousine bus throughout the whole journey to the airport. The bus driver asked me whether I am going to the Domestic or International terminal.  It should be Domestic Terminal  ^^ 

Reached the Domestic Terminal at 10.50am.   Searching for the counter to check in.  

My air ticket to Seoul  ^^

I didn't had my breakfast yet, so I decided to buy a sandwich from here.
This place is next to the waiting area for gate 12.

My brunch.  Hot dog sandwich with mustard honey.
I love mustard and I like sour food but this was TOO SOUR!!