Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wintery Korea- Day 4

The night before, we had booked into a ski resort- Konjinam Resort.

Opened in 2008, it is owned by one of the most well-known Korean company- LG. It is only 40 minutes away from Seoul, which makes it a great get-away option (especially if you are on a F&E tour). And yet, whilst I was there, it didn't feel crowded at all. In fact, there was a rather cozy feel about it. I've since found out that the resort imposes the maximum occupancy rule. What this means is that, there are no more than 7,000 skiers per day on the slop. No wonder it didn't have a 'busy' feel to it.

What I liked about the resort was actually the landscaping...I love how it didn't just feel like a ski resort. You could be in a spa resort or a romantic resort... don't you agree?

The room has a kitchenette and is spacious enough to accomodate 3-4 person quite easily without feeling cramped.

The kitchenette is great for nights when you have had enough of trying out the over 90,000 bottles of wine and just want that cup of instant noodles (there is a convenienvce store within the resort- LG25). Hehe!

*Quirky note: This resort does not provided bath towels. There are hand towels and if you ask for it, you can get bath towels BUT it is not part of the room amenities and you have to ask for it. Weird.

That morning, a few of us decided not to go skiing and instead try out the spa at the resort.

Spa la Spa has various various treatments and programmes to try. But if you are not keen, you can just take up the Family Spa package, which would allow you to use the indoor and outdoor pools.

I must admit, I was absolutely bowled over with the outdoor pool. Why? Can you imagine swimming outdoors in the middle of winter, amongst snowy mountains in the background? It ranks as one of the most memorable aspect during this whole trip for me.

There is also a Sahara Room (with hot stones and twinkling lights for effect) and a Hay Room (it really, really was full of hay. I felt like a horse lying in there but must admit it smelt rather nice) next to the indoor pool. Great for relaxation.

*Quirky note: You have to rent practically everything from the spa, including towel!!! By this, I mean the big, fluffy beach/ bath towels you often find in most hotel pools. Rental cost? Kr2,000won

Would I go back again? Yes! It has such a nice feel plus the food was pretty good too. hehe!

And then, it was off to lunch. And we were going to try one of Korea's most well known delicacy- Ginseng chicken!

Now, there are ginseng chicken and there are ginseng chicken. Some don't have the right taste, some- the chicken is not quite tender enough and some- well, you wonder where the ginseng is.

I'm very glad to say that the 삼계탕/ ginseng chicken we had passed with flying marks. Korean ginseng can be cultivated or it can be wild. Obviously, wild ginseng is very rare, much superior in taste and medicinal value and of course, very expensive.

The many bottles of ginseng....

ChonDoekBong Sansam Samgetang/ 천덕보 산삼 삼계탕 uses ginseng from the mountains (according to their namecard). Now, I have absolutely no idea if this means they are wild, or the shop itself plants them in the wild. If you can read Korean well, then click on the hyperlink to their website. But no matter what, ths chicken was delicious!

Almost all gone. *Burp*

The very pretty 'garden' at the restaurant.

*Quirky note: You are also offered a very small but potent ginseng wine. Drink at your own risk.

After this very full lunch, we headed back to Seoul for some skin care.

Frankly, I thought it would be done by one of those Korean cosmetic brand company, so you imagine my surprise when we ended up here:

Nu Plastic Surgery is located at Chungdam-dong, Gangnam-gu (yeah, that very hip and cool area). Many people do associate cosmetic surgery with Korea (including me). With the advance of Hallyu, people began wondering...does every woman and man in Korea have large eyes, double eye-lids, high nose bridge etc? It is pretty much a fact that cosmetic surgery is no big deal in Korea. I think they see it as enhancing one's look and many of these surgeries can be done under an hour- just enough time during lunch for a quick perk-me-up. And there are no ends to the rumours about which artistes had gone under the knife.

Anyway, back to the story. Cosmetic surgery is increasingly gaining popularity outside Korea and these Korean surgeons have managed to gain quite a reputation for themselves for quick, skillful work at affordable price. But with so many to choose from, how do you differenciate the quack from the professional? Well, I guess you can start with a list from Korea Tourism Organisation. It is not exhaustive and you can definitely shop around but it's a start. Nu Plastic Surgery is listed in there.

Of course, we couldn't try any of the cosmtic surgeries offered (I would have loved to try the lipo suction. ^^) but we did get to try their facial and we were all offered free botox! Seriously! But only one person in our group and the guide tried it. Hmmm.. I must write and see how's the effect like. Me? I very kiasee...I didn't want to go home looking too different. hahahaha!

Btw, if you are aiming to do a nose job (like my friend), be prepare to spend about a week there as they need to do a follow-up. But the whole procedure itself should take no more than 3 hours (I think). Good luck to those who are going to try it out.

The director of Nu Plastic Sugery.

And after this exciting segment, we were off to tamer pleasure.

Lotte World has the world's largest indoor theme park. It has an outdoor section too but I think most people try the indoor theme park. I have yet to check out the outdoor section depiste having been there about 3 times. Just as Nami Island is best remembered for 'Winter Sonata', Lotte World is best remembered for 'Stairways to Heaven'.

We were there on a Friday afternoon and the place was packed. So I think be prepared to wait a little for rides if you intend to go there during winter. Then again, you will not be subject to the elements of nature unlike a outdoor theme park.

Take a ride on their monorail and get an overview of the whole place.

Everyone sing with me..'bogoshipta..bogoshipta'.

Now the best part of Lotte World? They have a big shopping mall and a huge department store and supermarket to boot. So I went off shopping. hehe!

They were having winter sale!!! Argghhh! So many things to look at, so little time. And people, if you ever have the time, do check out the supermarket. I took a quick pick. There was a counter with a variety freshly-made kimchi plus some other food stuff I would have loved to examine further. If you don't have the time to go all the way down to Jamsil for Lotte World and you can also check out the Lotte Department Store in downtown Seoul. No amusement park but it offers 12 floors of pure shopping.

After so many days of good food, to be frank, all of us were feeling like little stuffed piggies But they had saved the best for last.

Jin jin bara serves hansik/ 한식, which is traditional Korean fare.

Real traditional Korean fare consists of many , many side dishes and just one main dish- rice. The portions are not huge as there were not meant to be filling. But hor...after about the 14th dish, I pretty much give up liao. At the last count, there were at least 20 dishes, including the main dish of rice and deseert. Please go with a very, very empty stomach. And definitely with a group of friends. This should not be attempted alone.

The hotel we were staying for the night was Hotel Courtyard Marriott, a fairly new hotel and part of the new landmark that conists of 2 huge shopping malls- Times Square and Shinsegae. It is also the nearest hotel to the airport and minutes away from the nearest subway station. Pretty conveninient if you don't are there for an overnigher and don't really want to stay at the airport hotels. However, do not attempt to travel across the han river via car on a Friday night coz the traffic jam is horrendous. It took us over an hour just to get there.

Can't comment much about the hotel except it seemed nice enough. You can't go much wrong with the Marriott brand. I would have like a little more time to check out the shopping malls. I think there's a Kyobo bookshop in one of the mall.

This post has been published simultaneously on Seoul Rhythms

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