Korea is always full of energy. As spring approaches, the colours of the historical Palace and European architecture shine through. Let me, Joannabelle, explore with you the history of Korea, while staying in a modern and artistic five-star hotel.
Becoming a Noble
Korean television dramas are becoming increasingly popular in Asia in recent years. This has inspired many to try on the traditional Korean costume – Hanbok – when they visit historical sites in the country. Many rental stores have opened up around the area of Bukchon Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung Palace for tourists to have a taste of the old imperial life. In particular, the store Hanboknam is famous for its high-quality collection, the variety of props and hair-styling service.
The upper ruling class in the Joseon Dynasty was known as Yangban and Bukchon Hanok Village was their home. The well-preserved traditional buildings with tiled roofs make Bukchon the most iconic village of its kind in Seoul. The tranquil alleys and traditional stone walls form a strong contrast against the bustling city scene. Walking around the village in Hanbok is almost like a time-travelling experience.
The proximity of Bukchon to Gyeongbokgung Palace makes it convenient for government officials to commute to the palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is often compared to the Forbidden City in China. Built by King Taejo in 1395, it is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces constructed by the Joseon dynasty. Pavillions Gyeonghoeru and Hyangwonjeong are particularly well preserved. Every day, a ceremony re-enacts the scene of changing royal guards in the olden days, giving visitors a taste of history.
韓式泡菜、石鍋拌飯、韓式烤肉、人蔘雞湯 —— 各種各樣的美食總讓人欲罷不能。另一款指定必吃的料理，那定是醬蟹，因其他料理在世界各地均可品嘗，惟獨最正宗最新鮮的醬蟹，只有置身韓國專享。
Michelin-starred Soy-sauce Crab
Alongside kimchi, bibimbap, Korean barbeque and ginseng chicken soup, Ganjang-gejang is another must-try dish. Ganjang-gejang means raw crabs marinated in soy sauce and only in Korea can one find the most authentic ones.
A good place to try the dish is Keunkiwajip, a one-Michelin-starred restaurant in Samcheong-dong. Converted from a traditional house, the restaurant of over 40 years old is decorated with a retrospective touch. A typical way of eating Ganjang-gejang is to put rice in the top shell and mix it with the roe. The practice has earned the dish another name—“rice thief”. The restaurant uses fresh crabs caught near Yeonpyeongdo and marinates them in a homemade sauce for a week before serving. There is a slight sweetness in the savory crab roe and it is best enjoyed with rice and seaweed. For those who are not used to raw seafood, grilled eel is another popular dish at Keunkiwajip. Set meals with pork belly or ginseng rib steak soup are also available.
World’s Largest Indoor Theme Park
As temperature rises in April, plants come into bloom across Korea. Cherry blossoms are particularly pretty at this time. My favourite place to appreciate cherry blossoms is Seokchon Lake Park. Not only does it have over 1,000 cherry blossom trees, it also neighbours the world’s biggest indoor amusement park – Lotte World.
Lotte World is an iconic landmark in Korea. The European architecture makes it look like a fairy tale town. Many television dramas and shows were filmed here. In particular, the carousel and ice rink featured in “Stairway to Heaven” have become popular photo spots among fanatics. Adventure is a major theme of the park, with attractions spanning multiple floors. The outside Magic Island sitting over the Seokchon Lake further extends the thrill. With also a shopping centre, folk museum, ice rink, hotel and department store, there is always something for everyone in a long day out.
Why limit the experience in Seoul? Gyeonggi Province is one to two hours from the capital by car and is home to many famous Korean drama scenes. Petit France is particularly well-known for scenes in “My Love from the Star”, “Secret Garden” and “Running Man”. It is a haven for Korean drama fans to recreate the romantic shots.
Petit France is the only French theme park in Korea. Built around the concepts of “flowers, stars and the Little Prince”, it receives over 1 million visitors every year. Colourful French-style buildings greet visitors upon entry. Further in the park is an amphitheatre where marionette performances are staged. Exhibitions are also held in the houses, where music from a 200-year-old music box can be heard and manuscripts of The Little Prince can be read. The park is also a great place to learn about French culture.
百樂達斯城度假村距離仁川國際機場僅5分鐘車程，佔地面積33萬平方米，共設有711間客房，其中僅設1間的豪華泳池別墅套房最適合追求私穩的您，房內設有私人泳池，並坐落於清幽僻靜之地，讓您可在獨立空間內享受專屬的休息時光。在度假村內，還可享受文化藝術的“藝術娛樂”空間，3,000件藝術品遍布整個度假村，且每件都是大師之作，如達米恩．赫斯特的《Golden Legend》、草間彌生的《Great Gigantic Pumpkin》、Kaws的《Together》和傑夫．坤斯的《Gazing Ball》等，相信您定能感受到非同凡響的藝術體驗。
Paradise City is my favourite hotel in Korea. Located next to Incheon International Airport, the hotel has a convention centre, spa, club and a shopping arcade providing Korean-style experience. It is the first integrated resort in Northeast Asia and doubles up as a fast-growing entertainment destination in the Seoul Capital Area. The relaxing atmosphere can be felt as soon as one enters the lobby. It is time to indulge.
Paradise City is only a 5-minute drive from Incheon International Airport and covers an area of 330,000 sq. m. It has 711 guest rooms, of which the only one luxury pool villa suite is suitable for privacy-aware people as it is located in a tranquil place with a private pool. With facilities infused with diverse artistic values and around 3,000 pieces of artwork covering the entire resort like patchwork, Paradise City provides Art-tainment contents. You can find master artworks such as Damien Hirst “Golden Legend”, Kusama Yayoi “Great Gigantic Pumpkin”, Kaws “Together” and Jeff Koons “Gazing Ball”.
There are also luxurious spas for guests seeking a more rejuvenating experience. Opened last September, the spa CIMER has combined European sentimentality with the restful environment of Korean jjimjilbang spa culture for a modern reinterpretation. It spans over an area of 13,000 sq. m. and consists of indoor and outdoor facilities that can accommodate up to 2,000 people at the same time. The weekend pool parties at the Aqua Club are high-energy affairs.
The most impressive facility at CIMER is the infinity pool on the third floor. The sunset view over West Coast is truly indulgent. Stepping indoor, the Water Plaza gives an energizing feel with its LED media art and pool-party theme. Its design was inspired by San Marco Plaza of Italy. It also features European-inspired Cave Spa, where the high ceiling and dim light create a secluded space to practice self-caring. Different themes and rooms of different temperatures can be found in the sauna spa zone. In the Salt Room, visitors can revitalize their skin with the finest-quality salt, whereas Amethyst Room offers a great space to relax amid the marvellous crystal.
There is no lack of choice in terms of dining at Paradise City, whether one prefers Michelin-starred restaurants or trendy bars. Imperial Treasure is the first fine-dining restaurant serving traditional Cantonese cuisine in Korea. The chain’s restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai have received multiple awards, with the Shanghai one bestowed two Michelin stars. Apart from the fragrant tea and delicate dim sum, Peking duck is a must-order dish there. The duck is raised in a free-range farm and prepared with a royal recipe passed down from the Qing dynasty. The crispy skin wraps around the juicy meat. What a gastronomic treat.
旅程尾聲，何不聽一首爵士樂令身心進一步釋放？到以現場音樂為主題的樂碧點一杯特色雞尾酒可謂最好不過，其中兩款雞尾酒深得我心。以韓國白酒HWAYO Soju 41配以蘋果汁和葡萄柚糖漿的Golden Fortune，不但容易入口，更有“ 祝您獲得更多運氣和財富”的意思，誰不喜歡？另一杯名為Marry Me的雞尾酒，則最適合男士們向女生獻上，因這杯以鮮花花束製作的雞尾酒，就如真的為情人送上鮮花一樣，且有著女士最愛的水蜜桃味，陳香幽雅，聽說曾經有客人以此酒求婚，浪漫至極！
Unique Music Lounge
For a perfect ending to the trip, go down to live music lounge RUBIK for some jazz music and special cocktails. One of my go-to drinks is Golden Fortune, made with Korean rice wine HWAYO Soju 41, apple juice and grapefruit syrup. It is easy to drink and I also like its auspicious name. Another drink that I recommend is Marry Me, best ordered by a man to a woman. The cocktail is made with fresh flowers and has a peachy flavour that appeals to feminine appetites. It is said that a customer proposed with this drink. How romantic!
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