Coco In Korea

I Teach. I Live. I Travel

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Sunchang & Damyang

Posted by cocoinkorea on November 14, 2010

This past weekend I went to Sunchang (Jeollabuk-Do Province) and Damyang (Jeollanam-Do Province) to view the beautiful nature and see the wonderful sights that Korea has to offer in the fall.

(Me enjoying the changing of the leaves at Mt. Gangcheon)

The first stop on the trip was to Mt. Gangcheon, where we saw the leaves changing colors. There was a beautiful array of leaves that varied from green to orange to a bright red. Mt. Gangcheon is a very popular mountain where hundreds of people flock to in order to view the scenery. When one first enters the park, there is a beautiful natural waterfall called Byungpung. It is one of the many waterfalls that can be found on the mountain and it is absolutely breathtaking. Walking a little further into the mountain, one can view the Suspension Bridge, which hangs at 50m above the ground. I did not make the trek up the mountain, but I ended my journey at the Suspension Bridge, which is about a 30-40 minute walk into the mountain. 

(Me in the bamboo)

The next stop on the trip was to the Bamboo Forest in Damyang. This was my first trip to a forest filled with bamboo trees. The air surrounding me in the forest was cool and refreshing. The bamboo trees towered high into the sky shading me from all sunlight. The ground was cool and damp. It was a nice place to take a walk and enjoy the beauty of nature. 

(Dinner.. Yum)

The night finished off with a lovely traditional Korean meal… yum 🙂

Photo Credits: Lara The Photographer

Posted in Bamboo Forest, Damyang, Mt. Gangcheon, Sunchang | Leave a Comment »

Beijing, China

Posted by cocoinkorea on August 21, 2010

*Note: I will try to keep this post as short as possible; although, I don’t know how well that will work out….


(Flight to China)

This past week, I boarded a plane to China with a Korean tour group. I was the only foreigner with the group, and it made for a VERY interesting experience. Our flight left Sunday morning from Seoul headed towards Tianjin, a city located two hours outside of Beijing. As soon as we landed, we met our tour guide and boarded our bus headed towards Beijing. Two hours later, we got off and headed for the restaurant, and man was I happy. The food was DELICIOUS and I was beginning to like China a lot.

(My first REAL Chinese meal in Beijing)

After lunch was over, we headed to Tiantan Park (Temple of Heaven), which was located around the corner from the restaurant. The trip started off perfectly fine. As soon as we entered the park, I went to look at the board written in English. I couldn’t have been there for more than one minute when I turned around and noticed that my tour group had disappeared. Yes. Disappeared. Now you may be thinking to yourself, ‘What did you do? Were you afraid?’ ~ Well my friend and I wandered around aimlessly around for about an hour and a half looking for our tour group. Our first place in China and we had already lost our tour group. Yes, I was a little worried. We ran into a few other Korean tour groups, but we could not find ours. Hundreds of people were in the park, which seemed to stretch on FOREVER. Luckily, my friend remembered that she had the number of the group guide in her purse. She located a phone, gave him a call and we were reunited with our group. Even though the group did not stop touring, one old Korean woman was extremely angry and started shouting at us when we returned. I of course had no clue what she was saying, so I asked my friend. What I was told is that the woman said we need to pay more attention and that we should be spanked. Come on, are you serious? Can you imagine this old Korean woman trying to spank me? If she even laid a finger on me, I would have had the embassy on speed dial… yeah old woman, bring it.

(Me and my friend at Tiantan Park)

After we left Tiantan Park, we headed to Wangfujing, a huge shopping area in Beijing. There were many international stores there, as well as some smaller Chinese stores with cheap goods. Around the corner from the main shopping area was a block of interesting and scary looking foods.
(Weird and interesting foods at Wangfujing)

After dinner, we headed to a place for a foot massage. Before our room was set up for a foot massage, we were ushered into a back room of the massage house. I felt like I was in Chinatown in NYC; there were so many knockoff designer bags in that room, I could not believe my eyes, and they were GREAT quality. However, no one in my tour group was interested in buying fake goods, so we headed to the main room to get our foot massage. The guy massaging my feet spoke no English, but he got a good laugh out of my wincing and screaming in pain as he cracked all of the bones in my foot. Well, at least he learned a new English word when he was done, “ouch”.

(Getting a foot massage)

After the day was over, I headed to my hotel room and fell straight asleep; I was exhausted and my feet were in pain.


5:45 am – time to wake up and start another long day. At 7:30 am, we all loaded onto the bus and headed towards the Great Wall. The Great Wall was one of the steepest set of stairs that I have ever been on in my life. I was constantly afraid that I was going to tumble down the stairs. On my way up, the sun was so hot and so bright, I could barely see. I was so tired I only climbed for about thirty minutes and then I turned around and headed back down. I was so happy, I had finally made it to The Great Wall of China!

(The Great Wall of China)

After lunch and a tea exhibition, we went to the Ming Tombs. It was a little bit boring but somewhat historical (this is what I gathered from my Korean tour guide although I had no clue of what he was saying).

(Me in front of the Ming Tombs)


After a trip to a latex store, we headed to Yiheyuan (Summer Palace). Yiheyuan was BEAUTIFUL! The pictures I took of the place do not capture it’s beauty. When I walked past the first gate, I was not expecting what I was going to see. A little farther and past the second gate, I saw the most beautiful sight ever: literally, a city hidden behind walls. There were beautiful weeping willows, and large flowers, old Chinese buildings, and a HUGE lake with a lot of boats.
(Pictures at Yiheyuan)

The next stop on the tour was the Chinese circus. The circus in China is more like an acrobatic/magic show and there are no animals. Unfortunately I was not allowed to take pictures but I snuck in the one below:

(Chinese circus)

What a long day that was; after dinner, I went straight home and fell right asleep. China was starting to exhaust me.


(Rickshaw Riding)

Tuesday morning began with a rickshaw ride through a traditional Chinese village with the oldest traditional Chinese house in Beijing. The house, although not extravagant

(Center Yard at the Traditional House)

After we left the house, we took a short tour of the city, where I bought some wonderful smelling Jasmine Tea. We then headed to the  Forbidden City, which was ridiculously crowded but beautiful. I literally felt like a celebrity/sideshow when I stepped onto the property. Not only was I getting stared at, but people were snapping pictures of me and trying to take pictures with me. It would have been fine if it were like five or six people, but it was EVERY Chinese person in there. Literally thousands of stares. I felt a mix of emotions and I could not decide whether to feel more offended that people were pointing and staring, or happy that people were interested. After about an hour, I made the mistake of taking a picture with a child in a large group of Chinese children. The next thing I know, I had a long line of kids that all wanted to take a picture with me. It got a little creepy when the adults wanted to jump in and take pictures with me as well. I suppose the Chinese never really see Black people so when they can take a picture with one, they jump at the opportunity. I guess I was the token Black person for the day.

(At the Forbidden City – Bottom Picture: People starting to line up)

After we left the Forbidden City, we headed across the street to Tiananmen Square, the sight of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, where between 2,000 – 10,000 people were killed (depending on the news source you rely on.)

(Tiananmen Square)

After leaving Tiananmen Square, we headed to a shopping area near Tiananmen square, where there were not only international stores, but there were also many back alleys with street vendors with whom you could haggle prices and get a discount on many different types of goods.

(Shopping Area near Tiananmen Square)

The next stop was a Chinese medicinal shop, where I was told I was in good health. It was funny getting my diagnosis. I was told to stick out my tongue and the Chinese doctor felt for my pulse. After a few minutes, he told me nothing was wrong with me. This diagnosis was told by him in Chinese to his Korean nurse, who told my Korean friend who then translated it for me in English. I don’t know if it was the language barrier or if I am truly that healthy, but I was the only one in the room who did not have some kind of health problem. Even the nine year old Korean boy had something.

The next stop on the trip was to a pearl store where we watched pearls being removed from a clam and we were given a large discount on Chinese pearls, so I bought some pink ones at a nice discount.

(Pearls just removed from a clam)

After we left the pearl factory, we went across the street to the Olympic Park, which was the sight of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Our tour group said we were short on time, so I did not have a chance to enter the actual Olympic stadium, but I stood outside and haggled with a souvenir seller and purchased an item for ¥55, which he was trying to sell to me for ¥85 (Originally $12.50 -> Purchased for $8.10.. Pretty good discount if I should say so myself).

(At Olympic Park with my newly haggled items… Only $8.10 for all this? Yeah, that’s right)
After feeling pretty happy with myself for my haggling skills, we headed to the Blue Zoo aquarium. There were many beautiful and exotic fish in the aquarium and I even got up close to some small sharks (who I was protected from by glass.) When exiting the aquarium, I played a scratch off game and I won a large traditional Chinese scroll, which unfortunately I lost in the Seoul airport when I headed back home 😦

(Fish at the Blue Zoo Aquarium)

… Well that concluded my adventures in Beijing. On Wednesday,  headed back to the airport and flew back to Korea!

Posted in Beijing, Blue Zoo, Chinese Food, Foot Massage, Forbidden City, Great Wall, Knockoffs, Ming Tombs, Olympic Park, Rickshaw, Tiananmen Square, Tianjin, Tiantan Park, Tourism, Wangfujing, Yiheyuan | 2 Comments »

Daejeon & Busan

Posted by cocoinkorea on August 3, 2010

I have been slacking off on the posting because I have been SOOO busy with summer camp and I haven’t been home on the weekends because I have been traveling. The past two weekends I went to Daejeon and Busan, respectively.


I decided to spend my 24th birthday weekend in Daejeon (대전), which is located thirty minutes southwest of Cheongju. I heard of this great restaurant called Ali Baba’s Treasure by doing an internet search for restaurants in Daejeon. I ordered lamb, which was moderately priced and BEYOND delicious. The service was a little slow, and we waited about an hour and a half for our meals because it was severely understaffed, but the wait was well worth the joy I experienced when I ate my food. My friends and I all ordered different dishes and everyone LOVED their food. I would HIGHLY recommend this place, but do not go on an empty stomach because there will be a little bit of a wait. Below is the information for the restaurant:

Ali Baba’s Treasure 
Restaurant & Bar – International Fine Cuisine – American Owned
Open Monday to Sunday from 6:00 pm to 3:00 am
Located in Gung-dong down the street from Santa Clause across from Shisha House 2F
T: 010-3221-9959

I then noraebanged and partied at Club J-Rock, which is located at the Jungangno stop on the subway. There is also a cheap but clean love motel around the corner from Club J-Rock that I stayed at. If you exit J-Rock and head left, you will see a lit up street with a lot of bars and restaurants about two blocks in front of you.  On that street, turn right and the motel is located above a noraebang on the 5th floor, you can’t miss it. Rooms run for 50,000 won/night and if you split a room with someone, the price is very affordable. (See picture below)

(The motel is located across from these heads – If you see them, you are in the right place)


I absolutely love any reason to get out and travel. I went to Busan (부산) for my friends 25th birthday. Since I came to Korea, I knew I had to go to Busan and visit the famous Haeundae Beach (해운대해수욕장), which is the most famous beach in South Korea, which attracts millions of people to its shore every year.

(At Haeundae Beach)

How to get to Haeundae Beach: (Subway in Busan)

Take Subway Line 2 to Haeundae station. Go upstairs at Exit 3 or Exit 5. Walk straight about 10 minutes and you will arrive at the beach.

If you want to stay in one of the many motels by the beach, it is best to book early during the summer season or you could be paying between 100,000 – 300,000 won per night (compared to off season when rooms begin at about 40,000 – 60,000 won/night).

(At Centum City in Busan)

While in Busan, I also went to Centum City (센텀시티), which has a 14-floor department store called Shinsegae (신세계), a huge food court with international foods, an ice-skating rink, restaurants, and a cinema, among many other things. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Centum City is the largest shopping complex in the world.

I went ice-skating at the rink, which is located on the fourth floor. The price is 10,000 won for entry and skate rental, 1000 won for gloves and 500 won for a locker, so a grand total of 11,500 won for an afternoon of fun.

Directions to Centum City:

Happy Traveling!

Posted in Ali-Baba's Treasure, Busan, Centum City, Daejeon, 대전, 부산, Haeundae Beach, 센텀시티, 신세계, 해운대해수욕장, J-Rock | 2 Comments »

Weekend In Daegu

Posted by cocoinkorea on July 4, 2010

I spent my July 4th weekend in Daegu, South Korea which is about two hours southeast of my home in Cheongju. On Saturday I went zip lining with Greg in ROK, and my friends Christina and Theresa at Herb Hillz. We took the King Kong course, which we were told was going to be ‘easy’ but later found out that it was one of the most difficult. I was very surprised at how extremely fun zip lining is… and I was also surprised at the fact that I was extremely fearless as I swung so far off of the ground in the air. 

(At Herb Hillz in Daegu)
 Sunday I spent July 4th at army base Camp Walker. The day was mainly geared towards children with a lot of games and face painting for them. Hoobastank was scheduled to perform but I had to leave early to catch my bus back to my city… no 4-day weekend for me because I work for the Korean Government. *Tear*

(At Camp Walker for July 4th)

Everyone enjoy your July 4th Weekend!!

Posted in Camp Walker, Daegu, Herb Hillz, July 4th, Zip Lining | 1 Comment »

Sangdang Sanseong (상당 산성)

Posted by cocoinkorea on June 6, 2010

Yesterday I went with Mountaineer Mike to Sangdang Sanseong (Mountain Fortress), which is located 4km outside of Cheongju. The buses run very infrequently so if you are planning a trip to the fortress, taking a taxi is the best option; it only costs ₩ 7,000 from down Cheongju. 

I had read other blog posts about how the hike around the fortress is not a leisurely stroll, and I should have read the warnings. Going there in a dress and Converse sneakers was not the best idea. The fortress, which will take you a few hours to walk around is literally climbing up and sliding down a VERY steep mountain side. Me, not being a sneaker wearer, thought that my Converse would suffice for the trip. Bad idea. I came to find out that Converse have very little traction and I thought on many occasions that I was going to slide down the mountain and fall off. Luckily I didn’t.

The climb up is a serious climb so make sure to stop at the rest areas and take a break every once in a while, and definitely bring water with you. At the bottom of the fortress, there are tons of little restaurants so you can definitely find something to eat there. For lunch, we settled on a little restaurant and had some delicious bibimbap. 

At Gate 3 of the fortress (the one you always see in the pictures – below), there is a large open field where you can find many families spending time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. It is a very relaxing spot to go if you are not into the whole mountain climbing thing. 

(Gate 3 at 상당 산성 with the large open field)

Posted in 상당 산성, Sangdang Sanseong | 1 Comment »