Autumn is Here

Next to spring (봄 – bom yes that same name of 2NE1 lead vocal), autumn is my next favorite season in Korea.  Autumn is 가울 (gaeul) in Korean and if you have watched Boys Over Flowers you might have known this as the name of Jandi’s best friend.  The weather starts to get cooler in autumn and this is the perfect time to walk around and enjoy the beauty of Korea.

Autumn in Nami

This year I will get to experience autumn once more and hopefully to see more of the wonderful colors of the season.  When maple leaves changes color from green to yellow to orange or red this called 단풍 물들다 (danpung muldeulda).  Picture above is taken from Nami Island in September of 2015.  Korea Tourism Organization says peak of the changing of colors happens this October.

Autumn is also called fall for the simple reason that this is the season where the leaves of trees start to fall off.  This is described as 낙엽 (nakyeop) or falling of leaves. By winter time, the trees would have lost its leaves.

seoraksan

During fall, Koreans love to go on hiking and Seoraksan is one of the best destinations of the season.  This place, which can be reached by 3 hour bus ride from Seoul, is filled with locals and tourist.  It offers various hiking trail with different levels of difficulty.

I am too excited to experience autumn once more and hoping to see the beautiful Garusogil lined up with trees in yellow or red.

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The Charm of Spring

It has been my fourth spring in Korea and I am still loving it.  I am mesmerized by the beauty of cherry blossoms and the cool weather that goes along with the surroundings. Just like how the first snow can be romantic, looking at cherry blossoms while the wind gently let the petals fall brings the same lovely feeling.

Cherry blossoms has started in Nami when we visited April 9.  It was a Saturday but it was not so crowded compared to April 2015 visit when it was so jam packed that the queue to take the ferry reached the line of pine trees.  That day was a perfect day to enjoy Nami.  No matter how many times you have been to Nami you will always be enchanted by its beauty.

Nami

A closer look at those beautiful cherry blossoms.  I guess all the trees will be in full bloom by April 12 or 13.

Cherry Blossoms

There are so many places to check for cherry blossoms when in Seoul and the National Assembly road parallel to the Han River is a good place to enjoy it within the city. From experience, the full blossoms in this area happens somewhere between April 12-15.  We visited April 11 and some trees are yet to bloom, nevertheless about 60% of trees are in bloom.  Strolling around while having some street food made me forget the time.

National Assembly

By this time, I guess cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Yeouido.  Enjoying the cool breeze of Han river at the Hangang Park while having some picnic would be something worth doing.

The queen of all the cherry blossoms in Korea is right at Jinhae in the province of Gyeongsangnam-do. The Cherry Blossoms in this town happens between April 1-10.  This year we visited on the last day.  The cherry blossoms is almost over.  There were still a lot but it was not as full as when I visited March 31 of 2014.  You can spot the difference below.

Yeojwacheon

Yeojwacheon April 2016

Yeojwacheon March 2014

Yeojwacheon March 2014

I realized that taking the earliest KTX from Seoul to Masan is the fastest and most convenient way to visit Jinhae for a day tour.  Last time we took the bus from Seoul Nambu terminal.  The bus was comfortable but taking the train cuts the travel time but at least an hour.  From Masan, taking a cab was no problem at all going to Jinhae.  It just cost 15,000KRW.  The KTX is more expensive than bus but time is more important for us who were just spending day in Jinhae.

Gyeonghwa

Visit to Jinhae is not complete without checking out the Gyeonghwa station.  The railroad is lined with trees that almost turned the place pink.  This is an old station its no longer operating, the government left one of the old KORAIL train in display.

Petals

A lot of people were taking video on this place, the wind is blowing and it was creating something like ‘petal rain’.  I can almost see my self visiting this place in the next Spring time.  I am yet to see another autumn to replace spring as the best season to enjoy South Korea.

벚꽃 (beokkott) means cherry blossoms in Korea.

진해의 벚꽃 아름다운이에요

Spring! Spring! Spring!

I am officially a fan of 봄 (bom)! Not just the lead vocal of the very famous Korean girl group 2NE1 박봄 (Park Bom)  but the season itself.  A lot of K-Pop fans would probably know that 봄 means spring in Korea.  This year I am fortunate enough to travel again to South Korea.  It is my 6th time to visit South Korea and March 2014 marks my 3rd time to experience spring.

What makes me more excited now is that I will be traveling down to 진해 (Jinhae), a small town in the province of 경상남도 (Gyeongsangnamdo).  Just a bit of information on naming places in Korea,  도 (do) is province in Korean. In the name 경상남도, 남 (nam) means south and so Gyeongsangnamdo is Province of South Gyeongsang.  If there is south, the likelihood of having a north version is almost always there and north is 북 (buk).  With that, North Province of Gyeongsang would be– 경상북도 (Gyeongsangbukdo) where the booming city of 대구 (Daegu) is located.

The town of Jinhae is where the biggest cherry blossom festival is held every year.  For this year, the festival is happening from April 1-10, 2014.  Based from the research I made, this is one of the most sought after festival in Korea.  Now I realize what my long lost language exchange partner had been talking about.  He was so proud of their province Gyeongsangnamdo, he mentioned that the biggest cherry blossom happens in their place. The traffic can be very heavy during this period but the good thing is the KTX makes a special direct route to Jinhae during festival period.  We will be a day earlier from the festival  and hopefully we see the cherry trees in almost its full bloom.

The weather forecast kept on changing for the past weeks but as of today, the forecast during our stay shows a no rain during our period of stay.  According to the people I talked to last year when we visited Jeju, cherry blossoms disappears as soon as it rains.  This is why experiencing cherry blossom would be a bit tricky if you are a foreigner like me who will need to book in advance to travel to Korea.  The cherry blossom festival is usually announced within the month of March which is relatively near the actual date of the festival. The spring festivals is announced by the Korean Tourism through their website.  During spring there are several other places in Korea that is worth a visit.

Spring here I come!

Addresses in South Korea

While looking at the comments and answering them, I thought of making this post.  Are you planning to send a letter or a package to someone in South Korea?  Chances are with the difference in writing system, it may be a challenge even to write address in Korea.  However, based on experience, addresses written in Alphabet normally reaches the recipient.

First and foremost, addresses in Korean are written in reverse order as what most of us maybe used to.  Just to give an example a typical address (mock address) would be  2F Burgundy Building 77 Buendia St. Barangay Bel-air Makati City 1226.  The way this will be written in Korea would be 1226 Makati City, Barangay Bel-air  Buendia St. 77 Burgundy Building 2F.

When I was planning my first visit to South Korea in 2008, i was looking for a specific address in Gangnam I wrote it down so I can show it to the taxi driver.  While reading about locating places in Korea I realized how big this country and to be more specific, Seoul.  They say some places maybe hard to find because streets are not usually marked.  One friend even told me that finding a small building within Seoul is like looking for a needle in a hay sack.

If you have seen at least a Seoul City map which you normally get from hotels and in the airport you might be surprised to see names of places and these are some of the things that are worth knowing:

  • 시 (shi) is City such that 서울시 means Seoul City
  • 도 (-do) is province such that 절라북도 (Jeollabukdo) means Jeollabuk province or
  • 구 (-gu) is a ward and is typically written in small letter hyphenated after the place name such as 강남구 (Gangnam-gu)
  • 동(-dong) is a neighborhood within a ward such as 청담동 (Cheongdam-dong)
  • 층 (cheung) is floor number
  • 호 (ho) is suite or apartment number

Streets are called 길 (gil) for smaller streets and for bigger ones its 로 (-ro), be careful though with 로 as depending on the preceding name of the street this may be romanized as -no like the case of my favorite place to stay in Seoul 종로 (Jongro but is actually romanized as Jongno).  Likewise big streets are sometimes divided into 가 (-ga).  Again, like the case of Jongno which is a long street, it is divided into 5-ga. The number 5 is pronounced using the Sino Korean number such that is is O-ga, so 3-ga would be pronounced as Sam-ga.

Here is an example of an address in South Korea which I have been familiar with since this is my choice hotel when in Seoul.

  • 주소: 110-420 서울특벌시 종로구 관수동 122 돌로스 호텔.
  • Address: 110-420 Seoul Teukbyeolshi Jongno-gu Gwansu-dong 122 Doulos Hotel

The above address is translated this way – Doulos Hotel 122 Gwansu Neighborhood Jongno District (ward) 110-420 Seoul Special City South Korea.

When sending parcel or letter outside of South Korea it is very important that you write South Korea after the address. Also, the address should not be translated, only romanized