KTOKL MUSLIM FAMTRIP (PART 2: GANGWON-DO, GYEONGGI-DO & SEOUL)
After spending 4 days in Jeju Island, we excitedly moved to our next destinations which are the Gangwon and Gyeonggi provinces and also Seoul. We were greeted by our tour guide, John Yoon and he first led us the Nami Island. After four days of having seafood, we were actually delighted to finally be served with halal meat ^^ We had the halal chicken here at the Dalkgalbi restaurant (spicy stir-fried chicken) right outside of Nami Island. You can visit the Hanok Dalkgabli Restaurant (opposite bungee jumping site) and request for halal meat if you want to try out the famous local chicken dish there!
We also visited Nami Island for quick tour and went for praying at the newly refurbished prayer’s room near the halal-certified Dong Moon Restaurant. It is so convenience to travel around Nami Island as there are several halal restaurants that you can visit for to dine in ^^
Then, we visited the unique French cultural village which has become famous due to the filming of ‘My Love from the Star’. It is such a romantic place to visit and you can imagine yourself like you are in one of the European towns. Petit France is also known as Little Prince Village as they have built the memorial hall for Saint-Exupery, the author of the celebrated French novel, Le Petit Prince. We totally had fun exploring the place and snapping photos at each of the inimitable building. Since our main concern is on Muslim visitors who need to perform their prayers on time, the manager of Petit France led us to one of their media room on the third floor of the building near the guesthouse area which can be easily transformed to prayer’s room! They have the washroom on the second floor so that Muslim visitors can take their wudhu’ there. The manager mentioned that they would be glad to transform the media room to prayer’s room if there is request from the Muslim visitors to perform their prayers there ^^
Right after that, we visited the Chuncheon Nangman (Romantic) Market in the city of Chuncheon. It is the oldest traditional market there formed almost 60 years ago so you easily find local products at much cheaper rate! (Side note: If you are traveling to Korea within this year, you may redeem the ‘Discover Korea Your Way’ coupon booklet at our Korea Plaza and we have the coupon worth 5,000 Won for the Chuncheon Nangman Market. We ended up the tour of day with a super spicy stir fry seafood dishes dinner at the seafood restaurant.
The next day, we visited the Hwaseong Fortress which is located at Suwon, in the Gyeonggi province. We were pretty much impressed with the great structure of the wall and the gate that were built back in the Joseon Dynasty. It is sad to see the some of the structure is ruined due to war and we were informed by our tour guide that they are still doing some repairing in order to preserve the structure. You can try out the Korean Traditional Archery activity there which is called ‘Gukgung’ at only 2,000 won ^^
We then visited the captivating Gwangmyeong Cave which is located at Gwangmyeong-si in Gyeonggi province as well. We were actually excited to visit the cave as we could not visit Manjanggul Cave back in Jeju Island due to some construction happened at the site that day. Gwangmyeong Cave is actually an abandoned mining site which later has been reconstructed in 2011 to be a tourist attraction spot. So many tourists flocked inside the chilly cave as was nice to venture since the weather outside was too heaty. You can see various attractions inside the cave like the LED lightings and an aquarium filled with water drawn from 200 meters from deep underground. They even have music art hall and free local wine tasting for visitors there.
After visiting the Gwangmyeong Cave in Gyeonggi-do, we continued our tour to Seoul and had lunch at Kervan which is a Turkish restaurant located at the Gangnam Underground Mall. We were lucky to try out various Turkish cuisines like kebab, kofte and kulbasti which tasted so heavenly and we could see a lot of Koreans were enjoying the exquisite dishes too ^^
SM TOWN@COEX was our next location to visit after the great lunch session. Filled with K-Pop fans and foreigners, we were just as excited as them to see our favourite idols’ photos like EXO and Girls’ Generation hanged everywhere in the building! We visited the café inside and tried out the idols’ favourite dessert and drink and also surveyed the SM merchandises at the souvenirs store.
Our last spot to visit of the day was the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) which is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, the DDP serve as a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings. Due to time constraint, we could not see Andy Warhol exhibition but instead we walked around the area and visited the free market outside the building selling handmade items. We finally witnessed the astounding 21,000 LED roses that were ‘planted’ at the building rooftop park. It was such an eye opener and fascinated to see how they could even diligently make the luminous rose garden.
Even though some of us have visited for a few times previously, none of us has visited the stunning Changdeokgung Palace before. The palace used to be the residence for the royalty families and it has been well preserved even though it has been destroyed during the war. We were somehow fascinated to see the interior of the palace has gotten Western influence during the last period of the ruling of royalty as we could see from the furniture and the chandelier inside the palace.