Monday, 7 December 2015

Visit Korea Special VIP Tour [Day 1-1]

Visit Korea Special Invitation VIP Tour | by Meheartseoul
Total of 14 members of Visit Korea VIP Special Invitation Tour arrived in Incheon Airport on 18 Nov 2015. I think participants from South East Asia Team arrived first, as most of our flights landed in Incheon around 4:00 - 7:00 am. However, Jas Eonni flight from Malaysia was delayed for 2 hours. 

It took 6 hours direct flight from Singapore to Korea. Korean Air really know how to pamper their passengers. They provided small pillow, blanket, sandal for more comfortable flight. Meal and snacks were served. They have 3 options of menu for meal, and of course there's no problem if you need vegetarian or Halal food if you let them know earlier. 

Reached the airport at 5:30am, I was so surprised to see super long queues at immigration regardless they have many counters open for visitors, which citizens were separated on other queues. This proved that Korea is one of the top and popular travel destination.

While queuing, Nazza from Thailand also arrived and in the queue. I went behind so we can queue together. I'd no problem recognized her as I saw her photos. We also created Kakao group chat of 6 members (Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippine and Japan) before this VIP Tour. 

After cleared immigration and collected our luggage, we walked to waiting area opposite Starbuck to look for Lucky, as she's the first one to arrive in the airport.

Banana Milk |
Bought banana milk (바나나우유) and cheese bread for my breakfast.

Best K-Smile Queen |
Glad to see that there were 2 officers at Tourist Information counter, as I need to get some
information on my trip to Korea with my family after this VIP Tour.

I was served by pretty and nice officer, 김유진. She's very helpful and did his best to source for all the information I needed. She even helped me to jot down which bus to take, where to alight and transfer. She gave me map, discount coupon for Lotte World, and travel guide Korea booklet. Not only that, she tried to contact Buyeo office because she's unable to book the tour for me. But Buyeo office not yet open as it's still early.

She served me and others visitors and locals professionally and not rejecting anyone that need help although she's still assisting me. I only found out that she's actually serving in Japanese language when I asked her permission to take photo as I wanted to nominate her as Best “K-Smile Queen." which was also our third mission (promote K-smile Campaign by introducing friendly locals we meet during the tour). She was shy and said that she didn't speak good English, but I told her that actually he has very good command in English. The most importantly, she served with heart.

Suddenly Tere walked to me, and only then I found out that they'd been waiting for me, as they will arrange transportation for Jas eonni separately. I'm so sorry for waiting... 김 언니, 정말 미안해요~!

  Wefie with Kim eonni, our pretty tour guide from Hana Tour
before leaving Incheon airport. (Photo credit: Tere)

KTO is super generous to allocate one person in this spacious double-bed room 
at  CenterMark Hotel which is located at the heart of Insadong.  

Appreciate much that KTO decided to let us rest in the hotel while waiting for Japan group to arrive, because I was dead tired as I didn't have proper sleep for few nights. Added that I couldn't really sleep in the plane because of turbulence, baby crying and people talking. 

Late autumn foliage at Center Mark Hotel |
 Though in the same hotel, but this time round I saw autumn foliage and 
mountain view from my room at 11th floor instead of Jongno Tower.

I stayed here for 2 nights before, therefore I'm quite familiar with this hotel. So without further ado, I quickly jumped on the bed after set alarm to wake me up in 30 minutes. After that I'd warm shower to refresh myself before gathering again at the lobby. Please click my previous post for more information about this hotel.

Korean people always want people to eat well. It's common to hear people asking someone "밥먹었어요?" (Did you eat?) as a greeting. So, when come to food, KTO really pampered and fed us well!

Hansik Buffet at Hongdae |
Our first meal was Hansik Buffet at Hongdae,
and English Team busy taking photos instead of food 
(read it as we don't know where to start because of the spread) :P
Tasteful exotic Korean sentiment interior design. |
 And I'm pretty much amazed by the tasteful exotic Korean sentiment interior design.

I think this restaurant is an art piece in itself. They're using Jukbuin (Bamboo Wife) as lamp decoration. They also use Jangdokdae / Onggi (장독대 / 옹기) as water fountain and pots for plants. The other part of the dining hall looks like pavilion to me. If you notice, main dish table is giant Korean bowl.

Philosophy of Hansik (Korean Food) |
It reminded me about my Korean Tea Ceremony's Teacher in Seongyojang
 when I saw 5 colors (red, green, yellow and black and white) beans and Bibimbap counter.

She told our family that Philosophy of Hansik (Korean Food) was based on Ying-Yang and the five elements (earth, water, wood, metal and fire) concept. Korean food culture believes that food and medicine originate from the same root, therefore, there is no better medicine than food. That's one of the reasons I love Korean food because it's balance and healthy!
  Bibim Naengmyeon (비빔 냉면 = Korean spicy cold noodles)  |
 Bibim Naengmyeon (비빔 냉면 = Korean spicy cold noodles) 
and other dishes for my lunch.

Wanna try my yummy DIY PatTteok (Patjuk + colorful Tteok)?
The Sweet Pumpkin Sikhye was so refreshing.

Here are some of the spreads that our team had for lunch:
Bibimbap, Pork ribs, Fried chicken, Tempura, Kimchi,...

Add: 서울특별시 마포구 양화로 153 토로스타워 3층
 Weekday: Lunch (KRW 12,900) | Dinner / Weekend / Holiday (KRW 19,900).

Korean Salad Buffet and Shabu Shabu Buffet with endless refill are very popular in Korea. Check out this related posts below:

 D'maris (드마리스뷔페) | | Vera Lee 
All That Barbecue (올댓바베큐 )  |
(Closed, now it's 해류뭄해리).

To be continued...

This trip is made possible by VisitKorea organised by Korea  Tourism Organization. 

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