Friday, November 23, 2012

Asia Trip 2012 - china | thailand | SOUTH KOREA

<< Back to Bangkok, Thailand

Seoul, South Korea

With the limited time we had for this trip, our plan was to get on the plane at 1am from Bangkok and sleep through the flight to Seoul and then arrive at 8am for a full day of exploration.  Not a bad idea if you are a robot and do not require a good night's rest!

The flight was fine and we slept most of the way.  We found our hotel and luckily convinced the front desk to check us in early, way early.  The nice shower was much appreciated and we got changed for the day.  It was cold in Beijing, super HOT in Thailand, and now freezing in Seoul.  We walked around a lot and here's what we did.

Street shops right outside of our hotel

More stuff along the alleys

Food vendors galore

Many, many choices

We got something warm for our bellies

Emergency kits in the subway

Bukchon Hanok Village

We took the train to visit Bukchon Village, a historic neighborhood with traditional homes dating back 600 years ago!  Time well spent here, highly recommended! Great walk through the alleys and amazing views of the city.

From Bukchon, we walked to Insa-dong, a very modern district full of unique shops and cafes, and way too many coffee shops!

With all that steam, we had to try their dumplings!

More food stands

We got back to the hotel and crashed pretty hard.  My friend, Yekang, met us later that evening to take us out to a Korean BBQ dinner around Myeong-dong where we stayed.  It's been ten years since I've seen her so it was a nice surprise we got to spend time with her.

Our restaurant

Busy night life

It's all about the late night snacks

Namsan Tower

Another surprise was that Yekang took us to visit another friend of mine, Jason, at his home.  We spent a few hours catching up and hanging out with his family.  We all reminisced about the college years we spent together.  It was so amazing to be able to get in touch with Yekang and Jason and to actually visit them in South Korea.  We had a wonderful time and Yekang took us back later that night.

Hanging out at my friend's house

The next morning concludes our trip in Seoul as well as this entire trip including China and Thailand.  How time flies!

The ultimate corndogs!

We certainly packed our itinerary for this trip but had some of the best memories going from place to place and doing something different each time.  Beijing was better than expected and The Great Wall is now off my bucket list!  We will have to go back to Thailand to spend a little more time seeing family and eating more tasty dishes.  South Korea was refreshing and we will be back for sure! Time to go and plan more adventures!

In case you missed the other posts, here they are:

Asia Trip 2012 - CHINA
Asia Trip 2012 - THAILAND

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Asia Trip 2012 - china | THAILAND | south korea

<< Back to Beijing, China

Phuket, Thailand

We got to Phuket airport around 1:30am and my cousin was patiently waiting for us at the exit gate.  We haven't been in contact in over 20 years but because of Facebook, I reached out to say we were visiting and he was kind to help us out and show us around Phuket.  It took almost another hour to get to our hotel after driving in the pouring rain.  Finally, we found Artha Guesthouse and managed to sleep through all the liveliness at the 24 hour karaoke bars across the street.

We slept in and got to a late start that day.  The owners of Artha Guesthouse were amazing and more than accommodating.  Mally, the husband, stayed up for us when we checked in at 3am earlier.  His wife helped us find a scooter so we could zip around town.  It was fun and we rode everywhere and traffic was pretty scary at times, especially in the rain with basically a bicycle helmet on!

Filling up for gas!

I got a free fish foot spa!  Like getting tickled and zapped at the same time!
In the evening, we walked around downtown and took in all the craziness of the city.  We got in early after dinner and started packing up for our early morning trip for our 2 day liveaboard diving adventure!

A van picked us up in the early morning to get us to the port where we got on a speedboat to get to our liveaboard boat in the Similan Islands.  We went through South Siam Divers.

Similan Islands & Koh Bon

We boarded the liveaboard boat and within 30 minutes, we were suited up and underwater!  We did a total of 4 dives that day including a first night dive.  The water wasn't as clear as our dives at Aka Island but the most impressive things were the countless schools of fish and the massive boulders we got to swim through and around.

Our room with a view

Ready, set, dive!

On Koh Similan

We were hoping to see some mystical manta rays but had no luck this trip.  We did see a pretty big leopard shark but another group of divers got too close and scared it away.  The liveaboard was a flash with 7 dives in two days.  It was a great experience but with all the people on board and the number of divers, it can get a little hectic.  The crew did a great job of keeping things in order and of course the food was excellent!

Hanging out with the dive masters

Phuket, Thailand

After our 3 dives the next day, we left the liveaboard and got on the speedboat back to shore.  We checked back in to Artha Guesthouse and my cousin picked us up for dinner up in the hills.  Afterwards, we went out to his friend's lounge and had a fun night out.

My cousin's bike shop

We stopped by this shop for a famous roti snack

Old Town Phuket

It was our last morning in Phuket and I had to have some seafood before we left.  My cousin, Andy, joined us for the feast and the meal was too good to be true!

My favorite fruit, The Mangosteen!

Raw blue crab papaya salad

The best seafood in the world!

Time to go!

Bangkok, Thailand

We left Phuket after lunch and got to Bangkok in a little over an hour.  My family was waiting for our arrival and we had a quick meal at a cafe.  We later dropped by my friend Sam's startup company to see their setup.

Welcome to Bangkok

Azusa's favorite Thai snack, Khanom Khai Nok Krata

Launchpad, Sam's startup

We all went out to have dinner at a restaurant by the river.  Excellent food and great atmosphere.  Nice to enjoy good quality time with family and friends.

We finished dinner and Sam wanted to take us to a rooftop bar, famous for scenes from The Hangover II.  It was nice and breezy at the top, perfect for a hot Bangkok night.  Drinks of course were ridiculously $$$$.

Lebua Sky Bar

An awesome view from the top

The next day in Bangkok consisted of eating, street food sampling, a health spa, and more eating!

We had dinner at my Aunt's restaurant on the outskirts of Bangkok.  It was relaxing and located right on the lake/pond with a sunset view.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to stay long as our flight out was at 1am for our last stop: Korea!

Next time, I will be sure to spend a whole lot more time in Thailand but for now, we're off to South Korea!

Continue to South Korea >>