Saturday, December 29, 2012

End-of-Year Winter Holiday in South Korea in December 2012 ~ Section 3

Welcome to the third section of my end-of-year winter vacation in South Korea in December 2012. There will be mainly four focus topics that will be covered in this section of the report. They shall mainly be watching a Nanta Performance show at the Myeongdong Theatre, our first day trip to Busan via the Korea Train Express (KTX) high-speed train trip, shopping around the Myeongdong shopping street at night and marine creature day at the Hyundai Department Store COEX.

Part 1 ~ The Nanta Performance in Myeongdong Theatre


On the morning of Wednesday (26 December), which was Boxing Day just after Christmas Day, we woke up relatively late at around ten o' clock after having a well-earned sleep the previous night. Whipping something up in the kitchen for myself to eat, we all had a nice, hot shower and changed into our day's attire to start off the day. H
aving our necessary belongings for the day prepared, we left our hotel suite at around 11.45 a.m..

According to my parents, we had plans to head to the Myeongdong Theatre at the Myeongdong shopping district as they were planning to bring us to view a supposed comedy theatre cuisine show, known as Nanta, which was said by most locals to be the best number one performance in South Korea. Though they have not heard of the show, they wanted to take us to view the show so that we could see what comedy cuisine theatre performances are like.

Taking the elevator down to the main hotel lobby, we promptly arranged for a cab to transport us to the Myeongdong shopping district. Soon enough, a black-liveried taxi arrived at the entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 12.05 p.m.. Boarding the taxi, we told the taxi driver to take us to the Myeongdong Theatre located in the Myeongdong shopping district. Soon, we left for a journey time of 10 minutes to the Myeongdong shopping district.


The view of my room shortly after waking up

The area of Jongno-gu, Seoul from my room on a bright Boxing Day afternoon

The main hotel lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong on a bright Boxing Day afternoon

The drop-off area outside the entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong

Passing by several tall skyscrapers of Seoul

Crossing a bridge over the Cheonggyecheon stream

Driving along the roads of Jung-gu, Seoul on a sunny Boxing Day winter's morning

Driving along a relatively narrow road near the Myeongdong shopping district

Approaching an alley of restaurants near the Myeongdong shopping district

After a short 10-minute taxi ride from the Fraser Suites Insadong, we finally arrived in the restaurant-filled area of the Myeongdong shopping district at 12.15 p.m.. Paying of our taxi fare, we took our belongings and looked around the district. Feeling rather hungry, we decided to have lunch first before the Nanta show at the Myeongdong Theatre. 
With that, we then looked through the alley of restaurants to see what good things were there to eat.

Looking through the restaurants from the shopping district, we stumbled upon an Italian Restaurant by the name of Spannew. Since we were feeling hungry already, we entered the restaurant and promptly requested a table for the four of us. Soon enough, a waitress ushered us into the restaurant, and brought us to a table located on the upper level of the restaurant.

Leaving us with the menus and glasses of water, we decided to review the food and beverage menus before placing our main meal orders for lunch. Having a good review through the food and beverage menus, a waitress came by to our table to take down our meal orders for lunch. We ordered several items that seemed to suit our tastes, such as pizzas and pastas. That afternoon, we had a sumptuous Italian lunch at Spannew.


The Teenie Weenie department store building in the Myeongdong shopping district

The exterior view of the Myeongdong Theatre

The shopping area and restaurants near the Myeongdong shopping district

The logo of the Spannew Italian Restaurant above the restaurant entrance

The entrance to the Spannew Italian Restaurant

A building of restaurants located near the Spannew Italian Restaurant

The cover page for Spannew Italian Restaurant

Reviewing the food and beverage menu of Spannew Italian Restaurant

The upper level interior of the Spannew Italian Restaurant

My first plate of spaghetti alla carbonara on the table

A platter of salad on our dining table

A nice mouthwatering platter of salami pizza

A large platter of cheese pizza on the table

My second plate of spaghetti alla carbonara on the table

The upper level interior of the Spannew Italian Restaurant during lunch hours

After having lunch at Spannew Italian Restaurant, the clock was finally showing 1.15 p.m.. Knowing that the Nanta show at the Myeongdong Theatre would commence in 45 minutes' time, we paid up our bill and left the restaurant for the Myeongdong Theatre. 
Upon arriving at the Myeongdong Theatre at 1.25 p.m., we went to the ticket office and secured our tickets. We then went up to the theatre concourse where we had some hot beverages before the show.

Once we were ushered into the theatre concert room at 1.45 p.m., ¼ of an hour before the show began, we settled down. The show then began at two o' clock on the dot, and lasted for approximately 1 hour 40 minutes. Everyone, except me, was amused at the comical acts put up by the performers in the show, since I didn't think that it was funny and special. Personally, I found the show rather boring instead of entertaining.


The main entrance to the Myeongdong Theatre near the Myeongdong shopping district

The advertisement logo of Nanta at the main entrance to the Myeongdong Theatre

Some of the many shops located just across the Myeongdong Theatre

The waiting concourse in the Myeongdong Theatre

After spending approximately 1 hour 40 minutes of watching the rather boring Nanta, the show was finally finished at 3.40 p.m.. Exiting the cinema room and feeling that there was nothing better to do after this timing, we decided to head back to the Fraser Suites Insadong. With that, we walked back downstairs to the main entrance to the theatre and exited the Myeongdong Theatre.


Upon leaving the theatre, we headed to a taxi stand located near the entrance to the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center. As soon as we had hailed the nearest taxi available, we finally left the Myeongdong shopping district at 3.55 p.m. for a short afternoon journey time of just 10 minutes to the Fraser Suites Insadong located in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul
.


Finally outside the Myeongdong Theatre after the not-so-funny Nanta show

A lineup of many shops near the Myeongdong Theatre in the Myeongdong shopping district

Walking by a row of shops towards a taxi stand located beside the entrance to the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center

Waiting for a taxi by a taxi stand located beside the entrance to the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center

The entrance to the Myeongdong shopping district near a taxi stand located beside the entrance to the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center

Finally on the crowded roads of Jung-gu near Myeongdong

Finally in the Jongno-gu area near the Jongno Tower

Driving along a relatively busy road of Jongno-gu

A police car in front us in Jongno-gu

Finally on the roads of Jongno-gu near the Fraser Suites Insadong

Finally approaching the Fraser Suites Insadong

The main hotel lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong on a late Boxing Day winter afternoon

My room arranged neatly in the afternoon after we returned

The evening view of Jongno-gu, Seoul on a Boxing Day winter's day

More tall infrastructure of Jongno-gu, Seoul during sunset on Boxing Day

The view of my room at night before dinnertime

The night view of Jongno-gu from my room

After a short 10-minute taxi ride from the Myeongdong shopping district located in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, we finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 4.05 p.m.. Claiming our belongings, we paid our taxi fare, and thanked the taxi driver for his services. Entering the hotel and took the elevator back up to our hotel room on the tenth floor, arriving back by 4.20 p.m.. As there was nothing else better to do for the entire afternoon, we were left to our own personal devices to keep us company.

Upon having dinner in the dining area, we had a shower and changed up for the night. My parents then reminded us not to stay up too late as the next morning, we would be embarking on a high-speed train journey to the city of Busan via the high-speed Korea Train Express (KTX). The hotel had also arranged for our reservations to depart from Seoul Station at 9.45 a.m. the next morning. With that, by around midnight, we all turned in for a well-earned good night's rest.

Part 2 ~ The Korea Train Express (KTX) Journey to Busan


The next morning, which was Thursday (27 December), we woke up at around 7.15 a.m. after receiving some wake-up notifications from my parents. Knowing that we would be embarking on a high-speed rail travel on the high-speed Korea Train Express (KTX) to Busan, we had a shower and changed up into our attires to start the day right. 
Upon preparing our necessary belongings for the day, the clock was already showing 8.10 a.m..

Noticing that we had yet to have anything to eat, my parents allowed us to go down to the hotel buffet restaurant for a quick breakfast. They then reminded us to meet them in the hotel lobby at 8.30 a.m. sharp, since they had arranged for a taxi to take us to Seoul Station at that time. Without wasting any time, we went down to the second floor buffet restaurant. My brother had some eggs and ham, while I just had a simple bowl of corn soup with croutons.


The view of our living room suite during an early winter morning

Checking our living room before heading down to the main lobby

A simple bowl of corn soup with croutons for myself

The interior of the second floor buffet restaurant in the Fraser Suites Insadong

After a quick 
¼-hour breakfast break in the second floor buffet restaurant, the clock was finally showing 8.25 a.m.. Knowing that our pre-arranged taxi would be arriving at our hotel's main entrance in five minutes' time, both my younger brother and I grabbed our belongings and immediately took the elevator down to the ground floor to meet our parents.


Once we had arrived at the lobby, my parents checked to see whether we had everything we need for the day. Soon enough, a black-liveried taxi finally arrived at the main entrance of the hotel at 8.30 a.m.. Boarding the taxi and informing the driver to transport us to Seoul Station, we finally departed the Fraser Suites Insadong at 8.35 a.m. for a short ¼-hour journey to Seoul Station
.


The main hotel lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong shortly before the taxi to Seoul Station arrived

The crowded roads of Jongno-gu near our hotel

Travelling between Jongno-gu and Jung-gu of Seoul

Driving along the busy morning roads of Jung-gu near Seoul Station

About to cross the underground roadway near Seoul Station

After a
¼-hour taxi ride from the Fraser Suites Insadong, we finally arrived at Seoul Station at 8.50 a.m.. Paying our fare, we grabbed our belongings and went up to the station concourse, and to the Korea Train Express (KTX) ticket office to make our seat reservations. For the in-bound journey to Busan, we would catch the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 bound for Busan, which would depart Seoul Station at 9.45 a.m., and arrive at the Busan terminal station at 11.58 a.m..


Upon making our seat reservations, we went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 bound for Busan would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 bound for Busan would depart at 9.45 a.m. from Track No. 10. Since it was still too early to head down to the platform, we decided to buy some breakfast from MacDonald's nearby, as well as some coffee from a cafeteria nearby.


Seoul Station (Hangul: 서울역; Hanja: 서울驛) is a major railway station serving the metropolitan city of Seoul, South Korea. It is located in Jung-gu, Seoul and serves the Gyeongui Line, the Korea Train Express (KTX) trains bound for Daejeon, Busan and Masan as well as the Incheon International Airport Railroad (A'REX). However, KTX services bound for Gwangju and Mokpo generally start from Yongsan Station located in neighbouring Yongsan-gu, Seoul.


The Korea Train Express (KTX) (Hangul: 한국고속철도; Hanja: 韓國高速鐵道) is the main high-speed railway system operating in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Operated by Korail, the system commenced service on 1 April 2004, linking the major cities of Seoul and Busan. Newer lines serving the cities of Mokpo and Gwangju were gradually opened in the years following the railway's opening, with the Gyeongbu High-speed Railway opened on 1 November 2010.


The line will also connect to Incheon International Airport via the A'REX Line from 30 June 2014. The KTX mainly uses 20-car KTX-I EMUs, which are based directly on the SNCF TGV Réseau used on TGV services in France. These can reach to a maximum top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). From fiscal year 2009, 10-car KTX-II (a.k.a. KTX-Sancheon) EMUs were introduced on these services with a top speed of 305 km/h (190 mph)
.


The exterior view of Seoul Station on a bright winter's morning

The relatively crowded station concourse of Seoul Station on a bright winter's morning

The Korea Train Express (KTX) ticket office in the station concourse at Seoul Station

The station concourse of Seoul Station on a bright winter's morning

A large Christmas Tree in the station concourse of Seoul Station on a bright winter's morning

A lineup of ticket machines and shops in the station concourse of Seoul Station on a bright winter's morning

The overview of the station platforms of Seoul Station on a bright winter's morning

The stairway linking between the station concourse and platforms at Seoul Station

A lineup of passengers about to head down to the platforms for their trains

After purchasing some fast-food breakfast from McDonald's in the main station concourse, the clock was finally showing 9.15 a.m.. Knowing that the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 bound for Busan would depart from Track No. 10 in 
½ an hour's time, we took the elevator down to Tracks No. 9 and 10, only to find a 20-car Korea Train Express KTX-I EMU still waiting on the platform, with the two front cars at each end being the power cars.


To make up time, we boarded the train via Car No. 5, which was one of the First Class cars, and settled down into our assigned Seats No. 2B, 2C, 3B and 3C for the non-stop morning train journey of 2 hours 13 minutes to the metropolitan port city of Busan. More passengers began to board the train for their journeys to Busan as well. The whole First Class cabin on board the Korea Train Express KTX-I EMU unit was quite dimly lit.


At exactly 9.45 a.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 finally pulled out of Seoul Station. We were then on our way for a non-stop journey time of 2 hours 13 minutes towards the metropolitan port city of Busan. On board the First Class cabins of the KTX-I trains, no power outlets are available on board, unlike the Green Car (first class) coaches on the modern N700 Series Shinkansen trains that operate on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines in Japan.


Busan (Hangul: 부산광역시; Hanja: 釜山廣域市) is a major metropolitan port city located in the southeastern region of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). With a population of about 3½ million today, it is the second-largest metropolis area after Seoul, the largest port city in South Korea and the fifth-busiest seaport in the world. The city is noted for housing the world's largest department store, Shinsegae Centum City, and the largest beach in South Korea, Haeundae.


The name plate of Seoul Station on the platform

The LED destination panel of the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 service bound for Busan

Track No. 10 of Seoul Station with the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 service bound for Busan waiting on the platform

The logo of Car No. 5 First Class carriage of the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 service bound for Busan

The front view of the First Class cabin on board the 20-car KTX-I EMU, operating on the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 service bound for Busan, during the boarding process at Seoul Station

The rear view of the First Class cabin on board the 20-car KTX-I EMU, operating on the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 service bound for Busan, during the boarding process at Seoul Station

A view of my seat, 3C, during the boarding process at Seoul Station

The First Class cabin with all the passengers on board before departing Seoul Station

Awaiting departure from Seoul Station

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 001 to Busan ~ Seoul (Depart) ~ Singil (Pass)

Bypassing Yeongdeungpo Station

Passing Sindorim Station

About to enter the tunnel towards Gwangmyeong Station

Passing through the centre of Gwangmyeong Station

Crossing the Gyeongbu High-speed Railway Bridge near a snow mountain after exiting the tunnel towards Gwangmyeong

Bypassing a snow-covered farming area by the city of Gwangmyeong

Some farm areas with little snow cover by the Gyeongbu High-speed Railway between the cities of Gwangmyeong and Cheonan

Bypassing an open plateau near the city of Cheonan

Running through a snowy field between Gwangmyeong and Cheonan-asan Stations

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 001 to Busan ~ South Korea Landscape

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 001 to Busan ~ Passing Cheonan−Asan Station

Bypassing some open snow fields between the cities of Cheonan and Daejeon

Bypassing a railway yard near Osong Station

A freight train resting on a siding by the depot near Osong Station

Bypassing Osong Station

Bypassing an open field covered in snow between Osong and Daejeon Stations

About to bypass some factories in the city of Daejeon

Travelling in a high-speed railway tunnel between Osong and Daejeon Station

Passing by some industrial buildings and shopping malls in the city of Daejeon

Bypassing some housing apartments in the city of Daejeon

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 001 to Busan ~ Passing Daejeon Station

Bypassing a snowy hilly area in the city of Daejeon

Bypassing a mountain area on the Gyeongbu Line between Daejeon and Dongdaegu Stations

Bypassing some snowy plateaus between the city of Daejeon and Okcheon County

About to bypass some housing apartments near Okcheon Station

Bypassing Okcheon Station

Bypassing a snowy farming area between the cities of Daejeon and Gimcheon

Passing by some open fields between the cities of Gimcheon and Gumi

Bypassing some rural settlements in the city of Gumi

Passing some open plateaus near the city of Daegu

Bypassing Daegu Station

Passing through Dongdaegu Station

Several railway diversions near Dongdaegu Station

Bypassing a farming area in the city of Daegu

Bypassing some open plateaus between the cities of Daegu and Gyeongju

Crossing a viaduct on the Gyeongbu High-speed Railway between the cities of Daegu and Gyeongju

Passing through Singyeongju Station

Bypassing some mountain areas between the cities of Gyeongju and Ulsan

Crossing a viaduct near some open fields between the cities of Gyeongju and Ulsan

Bypassing a crisp dry field in the city of Ulsan

Bypassing Ulsan Station

The rear view of the First Class cabin of the 20-car KTX-I EMU, operating on the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 001 service bound for Busan, between Ulsan and the Busan terminal stations

Finally entering the city of Busan

Several Korea Train Express KTX-I trains parked at Busan Station

Finally arriving at the Busan terminal station

After a morning journey time of 2 hours 20 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of the downtown Seoul metropolitan area, we finally arrived at the Busan terminal station at 12.05 p.m. on Track No. 11, approximately seven minutes behind schedule. With none of our belongings left behind on board, we alighted the train and went to a tourist information counter to get a city map of Busan.


Upon getting a map of the city of Busan from the tourist information counter in the station concourse, we walked out to the Busan Station square and decided where to go to first. Before heading to Busan, I had advanced research about the Shinsegae Department Store in Centum City Busan and found out that it is located in Haeundae-gu, Busan and is the largest department store in the world.

With that, we decided upon going to Shinsegae Centum City as our very first destination in the port metropolitan city of Busan. We then proceeded to the nearest taxi stand located just outside Busan Station to hail a cab to Shinsegae Centum City. Upon hailing the nearest cab, we finally departed Busan Station at 12.30 p.m. for a 40-minute journey towards Shinsegae Centum City located in downtown Haeundae-gu, Busan.

Busan Station (Hangul: 부산역; Hanja: 釜山驛) is a major railway station serving the metropolitan port city of Busan located in Dong-gu, Busan, South Korea. The station serves as the main railway station serving the metropolitan port city of Busan, and serves as the southern terminus for the Gyeongbu Line, the most important railway line in the country, Korea Train Express (KTX) high-speed rail services from Seoul and the Busan Subway Line 1.


The station underwent a major renovation process between 2001 and 2003, in preparation for the Korea Train Express (KTX), which was opened for revenue service on 1 April 2004. This allowed Busan to be linked with Seoul under three hours via high-speed rail at reduced travel costs. As of 1 December 2012, there are five island platforms with one side platform, with Tracks No. 10 to 13 being used for terminating Korea Train Express (KTX) services only.

Shinsegae Centum City (신세계센텀시티) is a large shopping mall and major multi-project urban development area located in Haeundae-gu, Busan, South Korea. It is notable for housing the large Shinsegae Department Store, and for being the largest department store in the world. The mall is located in the former location of Busan's former airport, Suyeong Airport, and is accessible from Centum City Station located on Busan Subway Line 2.


Tracks No. 10 and 11 of Busan Station serving only the arriving Korea Train Express (KTX) trains from Seoul terminating at Busan

The station concourse leading to the platforms of Busan Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Lots of travellers waiting to board the trains in the main station concourse of Busan Station

The main station concourse of Busan Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The town square outside the main entrance of Busan Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The massive main entrance to Busan Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Travelling along a narrow road near Busan Station

Travelling along a Busan highway towards Centum City in Haeundae-gu from Busan Station

About to cross underneath a hill through an expressway tunnel in Busan

Driving between two tunnels along the Busan highway

Crossing a flyover bridge towards Haeundae-gu, Busan

Three housing apartments located in Haeundae-gu, Busan just in front of us

Travelling in the district of Haeundae-gu near Shinsegae Centum City Busan

Bypassing Lotte Department Store Busan

Finally approaching Shinsegae Centum City Busan

After a 40-minute journey via taxi from Busan Station, we finally arrived at one of the main entrances towards Shinsegae Centum City at 1.10 p.m.. Having all our possessions with us, we paid our taxi fare and entered the really massive shopping mall. In the mall, there were lots of retail shops selling expensive and luxurious items such as handbags, clothes and footwear.


Feeling rather hungry after our morning Korea Train Express (KTX) high-speed train ride from Seoul, we decided to have lunch first before commencing our shopping trip in Shinsegae Centum City Busan. With that, we proceeded to the nearest elevator lobby and took an elevator all the way up to the topmost 14th level, where all the restaurants were located. Upon reaching the top floor, we looked around to see what were the best restaurants to eat at for lunch
.


One of the main entrances towards Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The first floor of the Shinsegae Centum City Busan selling bags and other expensive items

Some of the various shops on different levels in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The outside seating area of Macaroni Grill in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

An open area located on the top floor of Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The fourteenth floor of Shinsegae Centum City Busan, where a majority of the restaurants are located

After looking through the various restaurants available on the top floor of the Shinsegae Centum City Busan, we finally managed to stumble upon a western steak restaurant called Macaroni Grill. At the main entrance to Macaroni Grill, we requested a table for the four of us and within a few minutes, we were ushered to a table by the window just near the open-air concourse in the restaurant itself.


With the food and beverage menus distributed to us at our table, we made our reviews before placing our orders for lunch. After having a good review through the food and beverage menus, a waitress finally came by to our table to take down our lunch orders. We ordered several of the meat, pasta and side dishes that seemed to be that of our likings from the menu. Soon, we had a rather filling lunch at Macaroni Grill in Shinsegae Centum City Busan.


Beside Macaroni Grill was a local Korean restaurant, which mainly specialises in pufferfish, known as bok-eo (복어) by the Koreans. This dish is very popular in Korean port cities, such as Busan and Incheon. Despite its poisonous nature, many Japanese today are also very fond of eating pufferfish, of which they have a local dish for it known as fugu (フグ).


This fish is very famous in the city of Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, as well as in many parts of Japan and has long been a delicacy in Japanese cuisine. However, the preparation of pufferfish is strictly controlled by law worldwide and sales of fish belonging to this genus is strictly disallowed by law in the European Union. 
Due to the fish's poisonous nature, the price for a pufferfish meal can be very expensive.

In traditional Japanese cuisine, a typical pufferfish meal runs a total of eight courses, and only specially-licensed expert chefs are allowed to deal with the fish. It typically takes between three to seven years to learn how to prepare a pufferfish dish, and there are lethal consequences should the fish be prepared incorrectly. Among all the body parts in a pufferfish, none is more poisonous than the liver.


The main entrance to Macaroni Grill in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The entrance to the local pufferfish restaurant located just across Macaroni Grill in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The interior of Macaroni Grill in Shinsegae Centum City Busan during lunch hours

Reviewing the food and beverage menu of Macaroni Grill in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

A black pastry bowl containing garlic bread and croissants

A platter of roasted scallops with green leaves

Two bowls of pumpkin soup with croutons for my parents

A platter of salad to be shared among us

A platter of tomato spaghetti for my mum

A platter of spaghetti with seafood for my dad

A platter of prime rib eye steak with vegetables, potatoes, mushrooms and red wine sauce

A platter of grilled sirloin steak with vegetables, mushrooms and red wine sauce

A platter of lobster thermidor for my parents to share

A plate of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate and caramel sauces to round off this meal

The logo located above the entrance to the local pufferfish restaurant

Some pufferfish swimming in a fish tank outside the local pufferfish restaurant

After having a filling lunch at Macaroni Grill, we were finally stuffed to the brim. Paying up our bill, we decided to do some shopping around Shinsegae Centum City Busan. Through the various shops on the various floors, we looked through certain shops selling coats and footwear. Through this shopping trip, I saw how large Shinsegae Centum City was. Soon, we decided that we were feeling a bit hungry again and wanted to have tea at a cafeteria.


Taking the escalator all the way down towards the first floor, we walked past several shops and stumbled upon a French cafeteria known as Payard. This small French cafeteria mainly specialises in pastries and cakes, as well as hot drinks. While at Payard, I had a simple plate of Chocolate Louvre Cake and a cup of hot chocolate. It was a good way to warm myself up during such cold and harsh winter seasons like this.


Several shops selling clothing and footwear in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

Looking up towards the upper levels of Shinsegae Centum City Busan

A massive Christmas Tree stretching as high as a few upper levels in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

A line up of luxury clothes and bags shops on the first floor of Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The logo of Payard Cafeteria in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

The main entrance to Payard Cafeteria in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

Several pastry items on display at the main counter in Payard Cafeteria

My dessert: Chocolate Louvre Cake and a nice warm mug of hot chocolate

The interior view of Payard Cafeteria in Shinsegae Centum City Busan

After spending the afternoon for 4¼ hours of shopping at Shinsegae Centum City Busan, the clock was finally showing 5.25 p.m.. Knowing that there was nothing much left to do around the massive shopping mall, we decided to head back to Busan Station, in preparation for our return Korea Train Express (KTX) high-speed journey towards Seoul. Having all our belongings with us, we went outside the mall via the same way we came through.


We then hailed a cab for the short road journey back to Busan Station as the sun was beginning to set. Soon enough, by 5.30 p.m., we finally departed the relatively lively compound of Shinsegae Centum City Busan for a short evening road journey time of just ½ an hour to Busan Station located in the vicinity of Dong-gu, Busan, though my mum and I started to feel a bit of carsickness along the way.


Outside Shinsegae Centum City Busan before hailing a cab back to Busan Station

Finally on the roads of Haeundae-gu, Busan as we begin our journey back to Busan Station

Travelling through the busy roads of Haeundae-gu, Busan during sunset

About to bypass a convention centre in Haeundae-gu, Busan

Travelling beneath a highway bridge in Haeundae-gu, Busan

Climbing the road towards the Gwangan Bridge

The financial district of the metropolitan city of Busan in Haeundae-gu, Busan

Approaching the Gwangan Bridge between Haeundae-gu and Suyeong-gu, Busan

The view of the metropolitan port city of Busan as seen from the Gwangan Bridge

Crossing the Gwangan Bridge between Haeundae-gu and Suyeong-gu, Busan

Crossing the inland sea towards Suyeong-gu, Busan

Passing a Mega Mart Department Store in Suyeong-gu, Busan

Driving through the busy roads of Suyeong-gu, Busan

Approaching a tunnel that links between Suyeong-gu and Dong-gu, Busan

Driving ahead of some construction areas in Busan

Travelling through the roads of Dong-gu, Busan as we approach Busan Station

Finally outside Busan Station again

After a short ½-hour taxi ride from Shinsegae Centum City Busan, we finally arrived back at Busan Station at six o' clock. Paying our taxi fare to the driver, we went into the station concourse. For the return journey back to Seoul, we would be taking the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin, which would depart Busan Station at 7.30 p.m., and arrive at Seoul Station at 10.13 p.m..


Since we still had 1½ hours before our train back to Seoul, we decided to have dinner first before heading to the main station concourse to purchase our return First Class tickets back to Seoul. Having a good look at the various restaurants available on the first level of the station, we managed to stumble upon a small Japanese restaurant called Storyway Cafeteria. We then entered the cafeteria and requested a table for the four of us.

With the main menus placed at our table, we made our reviews before placing our main meal orders for dinner. After having a quick review through the food and beverage menus, a waitress came by to our table to take down our dinner orders. We ordered some of the local food items that might suite our tastes and preferences. That night, we had a filling dinner in preparation for the high-speed Korea Train Express (KTX) train return trip back to Seoul.


A large car parking area outside Busan Station at night

A lineup of restaurants and cafeterias located in the first floor concourse of Busan Station

One of the main station exits located in the first floor concourse of Busan Station

The town square outside the main entrance of Busan Station at night

The massive main entrance to Busan Station at night

The exterior of Storyway Cafeteria on the first floor of Busan Station

The display menu of Storyway Cafeteria in Busan Station

The interior of Storyway Cafeteria on the first floor of Busan Station

A nice warm bowl of chashu ramen noodles for my mum

A ramen noodle curry soup bowl for my dad

A deep-fried prawn set for my younger brother

A mouthwatering tonkatsu meal set for myself

The exterior of Storyway Cafeteria after we had finished dinner

The departure information board in the first floor concourse of Busan Station showing the many train departures bound for the cities of Goyang and Seoul

A lineup of restaurants and cafeterias in the first floor concourse of Busan Station

The Korea Train Express (KTX) ticketing office in the main station concourse of Busan Station

Inside the main station concourse of Busan Station in the evening

Three Christmas trees on display in the main station concourse of Busan Station

The relatively empty station concourse leading to the platforms in Busan Station

The passageway in the station concourse of Seoul Station leading to Tracks No. 5 to 13

After having dinner at Storyway Cafeteria, the clock was finally showing seven o' clock. Given that the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin via Seoul would be scheduled to depart in ½ an hour's time, we paid our dinner bill and left the restaurant with our belongings before taking the escalator back up to the station concourse, also checking to see which platform the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin via Seoul would depart from.

According to the departure informaton screens located in the station's first floor concourse, the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin via Seoul would depart at 7.30 p.m. from Track No. 6. Reaching the second floor station concourse at 7.05 p.m., we promptly headed to the Korea Train Express (KTX) ticket office to purchase our First Class high-speed tickets in preparation for the return early evening return trip back to the Seoul metropolitan area.

We then took the escalator down to Tracks No. 5 and 6 at 7.10 p.m., only to notice a 20-car Korea Train Express KTX-I train was waiting as the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin via Seoul on Track No. 6. Without wasting anymore time, we quickly boarded the train through Car No. 4, which was one of the First Class cars, and settled down into our assigned Seats No. 8B, 8C, 9B and 9C for the early evening return trip of 2 hours 43 minutes back to the lively hustle and bustle of the downtown Seoul metropolitan area.

Like the previous in-bound trip to Busan, the entire First Class cabin was quite dimly-lit throughout the whole trip back to Seoul. Once the clock struck exactly 7.30 p.m. sharp, all the train doors closed, and the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 finally pulled out of Busan Station for an evening journey time of 3 hours 12 minutes to Haengsin Station located in the city of Goyang. We were then on our way for an evening return journey time of 2 hours 43 minutes to the hustle and bustle of the downtown Seoul metropolitan area.


Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Busan Station in the evening

About to board the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin via Seoul on Track No. 6 at Busan Station

The logo of Car No. 4 First Class carriage of the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 service bound for Haengsin via Seoul

The front view of the interior of the First Class cabin on board the 20-car KTX-I EMU, operating on the Korea Train Express (KTX) No. 174 bound for Haengsin via Seoul, during the boarding process at Busan Station

A view of my seat, 8C, during boarding at Busan Station

The First Class cabin with all the passengers on board before departing Busan Station

Awaiting departure from Busan Station

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 174 to Haengsin ~ Departure From Busan Station Scene

The First Class cabin view between Busan and Singyeongju

Travelling between the cities of Busan and Gyeongju at night

Passing through Ulsan Station

The night view between the cities of Ulsan and Gyeongju

The KTX-I overhead information screen indicating that the train will soon make a brief stop at Singyeongju Station

Making a brief stop at Singyeongju Station

Travelling between the cities of Gyeongju and Daegu at night

The KTX-I overhead information screen indicating that the train will soon make a brief stop at Dongdaegu Station

Arriving at Dongdaegu Station

Running through the cities of Gimcheon and Gumi at night

Arriving at Daejeon Station at night

Passing by some suburbs of Daejeon at night

Stopping briefly at Osong Station

Travelling between Osong and Cheonan−Asan Stations at night

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 174 to Haengsin ~ Pass Cheonan−Asan Station

Running through the city of Cheonan at night

Approaching the city of Gwangmyeong at night

Korea Train Express ~ KTX No. 174 to Haengsin ~ Arrival At Gwangmyeong Station

Making a brief stop at Gwangmyeong Station

Bypassing Geumcheon-gu Office Station

Passing through Sindorim Station

Bypassing Yeongdeungpo Station

Passing through Noryangjin Station

Crossing the Han River at night

Passing through Yongsan Station

The KTX Seating information map near the door area

Finally arriving back at Seoul Station

After an early evening return trip of 2 hours 43 minutes from the metropolitan port city of Busan, we finally arrived back at Seoul Station at 10.13 p.m. on Track No. 13. Having all our personal belongings with us, we alighted the train and took the escalator back up to the main concourse. By this time, as it was already late night, many shops and restaurants in the station concourse were starting to close for the night
As for us, the only thing left to do was to get a taxi back to the Fraser Suites Insadong.

With that, we went out of Seoul Station via the same way we came through earlier that morning and found the nearest taxi stand. Soon enough, we finally arrived at the cab stand outside the station at 10.25 p.m., hailing the nearest taxi to the Fraser Suites Insadong. Upon departing Seoul Station at 10.30 p.m., the cab driver was in a grouchy mood and started ranting at us without reason, obviously thinking that we boarded his cab at the incorrect place, though that place at Seoul Station was one of the taxi stands.

Finding out that the driver was very cranky and rude, we were revolted at such insolent behaviour that we alighted the taxi, and ranted back at the taxi driver for his insolenceI was shocked and disgusted to the point that I couldn't even speak, as I had never experienced such rude taxi drivers in South Korea before. He was even ruder than one of the Japanese taxi drivers in Japan, which we had encountered many years ago.

From the alternative taxi stand, which was located on the other side of Seoul Station, we hailed another taxi. This time, the cab driver was much more polite and offered to take us back to the Fraser Suites Insadong located in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul. Graciously, we accepted his offer and as soon as we were on board with our belongings, we were finally on our way back to the Fraser Suites Insadong located in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul.


Tracks No. 13 and 14 at Seoul Station during the late night hours

The station concourse leading downwards to the platforms of Seoul Station late at night

A large Christmas Tree in the station concourse of Seoul Station at night

The station concourse of Seoul Station at night with some passengers continuing their journeys home to their hometowns

The main ticketing concourse of Seoul Station at night

The exterior view of Seoul Station late at night

Finally departing the vicinity of Seoul Station

Driving around the vicinity of Jung-gu, Seoul near Seoul Station

Bypassing the headquarters of Korail near Seoul Station

Several office buildings in Jung-gu, Seoul near Seoul Station

A railroad crossing near Seoul Station in Jung-gu, Seoul

The busy roads of Jung-gu and Jongno-gu, Seoul late at night

Bypassing an old palace gate in downtown Seoul

Approaching the Fraser Suites Insadong in Jongno-gu at night

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong

After a short taxi journey from Seoul Station for approximately 20 minutes, we finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 10.50 p.m.. Checking to see that we had our belongings with us, we paid our taxi fare and went into the main hotel lobby. There, we took the elevator back up to the tenth floor, where our room suite No. 1001 was located, arriving back there just before eleven o' clock.


Upon arrival back into our room suite, we had a nice hot shower and changed up before settling in for the night. For the rest of the entire night, we were left with nothing much better to do other than to our own personal devices before finally turning in at around past one o' clock late that night. In summary, there is nothing much to say about my Korea Train Express (KTX) journey to Busan, other than the train we took was rather old and outdated.

This has managed to perk me up only to a small extent, and I would give it just three stars out of five. However, no matter what happens, I am quite confident that my high-speed Shinkansen railway trips in Japan, especially on the Tokaido & Sanyo Shinkansen lines are and will be better than the Korea Train Express (KTX) in the near future, especially when I come to Japan in June 2013 for my 18th birthday and in my subsequent Japan travels.

Part 3 ~ Night Explorations Around the Myeongdong Shopping District


The next day, which was Friday (28 December), we all woke up late at around 11.15 a.m. after a nice well-earned good night's sleep. Since there was nothing much to do on this day, we decided to stay in the hotel room to rest for the entire afternoon. 
At one point that afternoon, my dad brought my brother and I to a local barber shop for a haircut, in preparation for the beginning of the new school year in 2013.

Personally, I think that the Korean haircut style doesn't beat the local hair salon in my own neighbourhood back at home, which gives me a very well-done hair style. After that, we spent some time exploring around Jongno-gu, Seoul near our hotel. On the streets of Jongno-gu, there were lots of people selling local crafts and souvenirs, as well as street vendors selling different types of local exotic foods. Upon ending our explorations, we simply had the time of our lives for the entire day.


The view of downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul from my hotel room on a cloudy winter's afternoon

The view of my bedroom on a cloudy winter's afternoon

The view of downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul from my hotel room during a winter sunset

The overall view of our room suite living room from the kitchen area at night

The view of the kitchen area in our room suite No. 1001

The view of our living room suite in Room No. 1001 at night

After spending the entire afternoon having the time of our lives in our room suite, the clock was finally showing 7.15 p.m.. Feeling very hungry already, we decided to go to the famous barbecued grilled beef large intestine restaurant, Hwaruyohaeng for dinner, where we had eaten at for lunch on our first day when we arrived in South Korea.


Having all our necessary belongings with us, we left our room suite by 7.20 p.m. and took the elevator all the way down to the main lobby of our hotel. As usual, we requested for the hotel receptionist to arrange for a cab to take us towards the Sejong Hotel located near the Myeongdong Shopping District in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul. 
Soon enough, a black cab finally pulled up at the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 7.30 p.m..

This was the cab that we had arranged to take towards the Sejong Hotel near the Myeongdong Shopping District in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul. Having our possessions with us, we boarded the cab for the short hop to the Myeongdong Shopping District. Soon enough, we finally left the Fraser Suites Insadong for a short five-minute hop to the Sejong Hotel by the lively and busy Myeongdong Shopping District located in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul.


The main hotel lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong at night

The night view of Jongno-gu, Seoul near the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at night

The exterior view of the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at night

The exterior view of the main building of the Fraser Suites Insadong at night

A Fraser Suites shuttle bus located just outside the Fraser Suites Insadong at night

A 7-Eleven convenience store located just across the Fraser Suites Insadong

Crossing underneath the arcade building near our hotel at night

The busy road crossing in Jongno-gu at night

Travelling through the busy roads and financial districts of Seoul at night

Travelling through the roads of Seoul at night near the Sejong Hotel and Myeongdong Shopping District

Finally arriving at the entrance to the Sejong Hotel

The taxi stand located just beside the Sejong Hotel shortly after we had arrived

After a short five-minute taxi ride from the Fraser Suites Insadong in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul, we finally arrived at the entrance to the Sejong Hotel at 7.35 p.m.. Making sure that we had every part of our possessions with us, we paid our taxi fare and alighted the taxi. We then walked along the short icy alley to the busy and lively Myeongdong Shopping District in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, filled with shoppers late at night.


Given that we were feeling hungry for some barbecue, we looked around for a good barbecue restaurant to eat at for dinner. Soon enough, we finally arrived at Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant by 7.40 p.m.. Entering the restaurant, the owner was very familiar with us, and gave us a table by the entrance to the restaurant. With the main dining menus provided for us, we had a look through them before placing our main barbecue meal orders for dinner.


After having a good review through the menus, the waitress finally came down to our table to take down our meal orders. We ordered the usual famous beef large intestines and several beef and pork cuts that would accompany the main dinner course. That night, once again, I was somewhat perked up with the huge beef large intestine feast at Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the lively Myeongdong shopping district
.


The busy roads of Jung-gu just outside the Myeongdong Shopping District at night

The entrance to Myeongdong Station serving Seoul Subway Line 4

The view of the Myeongdong Shopping District being lively and busy at night

Several restaurants and shops around the Myeongdong Shopping District at night

The entrance to Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant

Another local barbecue restaurant located adjacent to Hwaruyohaeng

The portable charcoal griller being placed underneath the smoke chute in Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant

The interior of Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant during dinner hours

Reviewing the food and beverage menu of Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant

Our first platter of marinated beef galbi on our dining table ready to be grilled

Our first plate of the famous ox large intestines ready to be cooked

Some of the beef short ribs being cooked on the metal barbecue griller

Our first platter of the beef tongue ready to be cooked

The marinated pork galbi along with some beef galbi bone cuts being grilled on the charcoal griller

The first round of beef intestines cooking goo-ily on the barbecue griller on the other table

Several pieces of beef tongue being grilled on the charcoal griller

Some of the beef intestines bubbling goo-ily on the barbecue griller and two pieces of beef tongue being grilled

Our second plate of the famous ox large intestines ready to be cooked

Our second platter of the beef short ribs ready to be grilled

More beef short ribs being cooked on the metal barbecue griller

More of beef intestines cooking goo-ily on the barbecue griller on the other table

Our second platter of the beef tongue ready to be cooked

More pieces of beef tongue being grilled on the charcoal griller

More beef intestines bubbling goo-ily on the barbecue griller

Our last platter of the famous grilled beef large intestines and marinated pork galbi ready to be cooked

The marinated pork galbi and beef intestines being grilled on the charcoal griller

The interior view of Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant just before we left

After having a sumptuous and filling barbecue dinner feast at Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant, the clock was finally showing nine o' clock. Given that we were feeling stuffed to the brim already, we paid up our dinner bill and left the restaurant to spend some time exploring the Myeongdong Shopping District. While exploring the Myeongdong Shopping District late that night, we looked at some shops selling footwear and bags
among the busy late night shoppers.

Soon enough, the clock was ultimately showing 9.35 p.m.. Given that we were beginning to feel tired already, we headed to the nearest cab stand to get a cab to the Fraser Suites Insadong in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul. Once we were on board, we finally departed the lively and busy Myeongdong shopping district for a short late night cab trip of not more than just five minutes back to the Fraser Suites Insadong in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul.


The entrance to Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant at night

Several shops located close to Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in Myeongdong

Several restaurants and mini-shops around the Myeongdong Shopping District

Several shops and cafeteria blocks in the Myeongdong Shopping District at night

The exterior view of Nature Republic Department Store in the Myeongdong Shopping District at night

Finally arriving at a cab stand located just near Myeongdong Station

Finally commencing our short journey back to the Fraser Suites Insadong at night

Travelling through the busy roads of Jung-gu, Seoul at night

Driving along a secluded alley road in Jongno-gu, Seoul near the Fraser Suites Insadong

Outside the road area near the Fraser Suites Insadong

Finally outside the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong

After a short late night cab ride from of not more than five minutes from the busy and lively Myeongdong Shopping District located in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, we finally arrived back at the front main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 9.45 p.m.. Checking to see that we had every single part of our possessions with us, we paid our cab fare and went into the hotel lobby just before the clock struck 9.50 p.m..


Upon entering the main hotel lobby, we then took the elevator back up to our Room Suite No. 1001 located on the tenth floor, arriving back there just before the clock struck ten o' clock. Having a nice, hot shower and changing into our pyjamas for the night, we were simply left to our own devices to play around with for the remainder of the night. Soon enough, betwen one and two o' clock later that night, we finally turned in for a well-earned good night's rest.


Part 4 ~ Spending The Last Day At Hyundai Department Store COEX


The next day, which was Saturday (29 December), everyone woke up relatively late at around 11.30 a.m., which was just ½ an hour before noon, after having a well-earned good night's long sleep. Much to my delight, since this would be our final day, I knew that we would be heading home to Singapore the next day. With that, we had a nice, hot shower and changed up into our attire for the day before whipping up something to eat in the kitchen.


Upon preparing our necessary belongings for the day, we spent part of the early afternoon in our room with our own personal devices to play around with. Soon enough, the clock was finally showing 4.20 p.m.. Having our belongings ready for the day, we decided to go shopping at the Hyundai Department Store COEX. Taking the elevator down to the main hotel lobby, we arranged for a taxi to take us to the Hyundai Department Store COEX. While waiting for the taxi, we sorted out our belongings in the hotel lobby.


The view of downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul on a bitterly cold winter's day with a bit of snowfall

The view of my bedroom shortly after all of us were up

The view of our living room suite on a cold winter's afternoon

The main hotel lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong on a bitterly cold winter's afternoon

The entrance to the underground car parking area of the Fraser Suites Insadong

A Fraser Suites shuttle bus located just outside the Fraser Suites Insadong on a bitterly cold winter's afternoon

After spending approximately ten minutes of waiting in the hotel lobby, a black Korean taxi finally pulled up at the main entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 4.35 p.m.. Having our personal belongings with us, we loaded some of them into the boot of the cab, and climbed on board for the journey towards the Hyundai Department Store COEX.


Once everything was loaded into the cab, we finally left the compound of the Fraser Suites Insadong for the Hyundai Department Store COEX at 4.40 p.m.. The entire road journey between the Fraser Suites Insadong and the Hyundai Department Store COEX took approximately no more than just 35 minutes. The weather looked more rainy than snowy throughout the journey
.


The black taxi that would soon take us to the Hyundai Department Store COEX

Travelling on the busy roads of Jongno-gu, Seoul on a rainy winter's afternoon

Climbing up the road towards Namsan Tunnel

Bypassing the Han Suites Serviced Residences again

Driving along the roadbridge shortly after exiting the Namsan Tunnel

The crowded roads of Namsan Hill towards the Han River direction

Crossing the Banpo Bridge over the Han River

The view of the Han River as seen from the Banpo Bridge on a rainy winter's afternoon in Seoul

Crossing the Banpo Bridge towards Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Passing through the financial districts of Gangnam-gu, Seoul

The busy roads of Gangnam-gu, Seoul on a rainy winter's afternoon

Travelling across the roads of Gangnam-gu, Seoul near some restaurant districts

A busy road junction in Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Travelling on the busy roads of Gangnam-gu, Seoul near COEX Mall

Finally arriving at the Hyundai Department Store COEX

After a short 35-minute cab ride from the Fraser Suites Insadong, we finally arrived at the entrance to the Hyundai Department Store COEX Mall at 5.15 p.m.. Having all our possessions with us, we paid our cab fare and alighted the taxi before going into the convention centre. Soon enough, we went into the convention centre, where we walked through several passageways that led to COEX Mall.


At the same time, we decided to go around the COEX Aquarium first. The walk from the convention centre to the mall itself took 25 minutes. After a short 25-minute walk from COEX convention centre, we finally arrived at the entrance to COEX Aquarium at 5.40 p.m.. As this was our very first destination within the Hyundai Department Store COEX, we went to the main ticket office to purchase our tickets for the one-day visit to the COEX Aquarium. Upon purchasing our one-day tickets, we entered the aquarium to begin our tour around it.

Our first stop in the COEX Aquarium would be the marshes and swamps area, where we saw several animals that inhabit these places, such as beavers and otters. After looking at the marshes and swamps section of the COEX Aquarium, we knew that there was still much to see around the aquarium. Knowing that there would be some sea creatures on display, we decided to head over to the marine sea creatures section of the aquarium. At the aquarium itself, we saw a variety of sea birds, fish and mammals like moray eels and sharks.


The entrance to the COEX exhibition centre

The taxi stand outside the main entrance to the COEX exhibition centre

The interior of the hallway COEX exhibition centre

Gazing up at the upper levels at the COEX exhibition centre

The interior of the COEX exhibition centre towards the Hyundai Department Store COEX

The entrance to the COEX Aquarium in the Hyundai Department Store COEX

Several blue tangs and a pufferfish swimming in a tank near the main entrance to the COEX Aquarium

Going up the escalator towards the marshes and swamps section of the COEX Aquarium

The signboard for several fish that can be found in marshes and swamps

Several carps swimming in their enclosure in the COEX Aquarium

A school of skygager fish swimming in their tank

A passageway that leads to more swamp and marsh animal enclosures in the COEX Aquarium

Several small carp swimming in a small enclosed pond in the aquarium

An enclosure with some fruit bats hanging from a tree branch

An enclosure with some squirrel monkeys

Three giant arapaimas swimming in their tank in the COEX Aquarium

Several fire eels and some small schools of fish swimming in their enclosure in the COEX Aquarium

An electric eel swimming in its tank in the COEX Aquarium

Several freshwater fish swimming around their tank in the COEX Aquarium

Several visitors in a swamp-like area viewing fish in the COEX Aquarium

Several albino giant gourami swimming in their tank enclosure

Two short-clawed otters resting in their enclosure in the COEX Aquarium

An Eurasian beaver swimming in its enclosure

A tiger shark swimming with other schools of fish in a large tank in the aquarium

More schools of fish in a large tank in the aquarium

Several blue tangs and yellow tangs swimming in a fish enclosure in the aquarium

A ciliated threadfish swimming in its enclosure in the COEX Aquarium

Different schools of large and small fish in another large tank in the aquarium

A large tank containing coral anemones

A moray eel lying lazily in its enclosure

Two pufferfishes swimming about in their tank

A single pufferfish swimming in its tank in the aquarium. Note that despite its poisonous nature, pufferfish is considered a delicacy in certain Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, and only specially licensed expert chefs are allowed to deal with the fish

A relatively dark visitor observation deck in the COEX Aquarium

A large pomfret swimming about in a large fish tank in COEX Aquarium

A shark swimming about in a large fish tank

A large grouper swimming in its enclosure

A manatee observation deck in the COEX Aquarium

Two manatees swimming about in their large enclosure surrounded by other small schools of fish

Walking through another visitor observation deck in the COEX Aquarium

Large schools of fish swimming by the visitor observation deck in the COEX Aquarium

Going through a large glass observation tunnel in the COEX Aquarium

Several schools of fish swimming about in a large fish tank in the aquarium tunnel

A large nurse shark swimming in a large tank in the COEX Aquarium

Three sharks swimming in a large tank in the COEX Aquarium

A spider crab swimming in its enclosure

Several penguins in their enclosure in the aquarium

Several moorish idols swimming in a fish tank in the aquarium

Finally ending our visit to the COEX Aquarium

After spending an hour of watching the sea creatures in COEX Aquarium, the clock was finally showing 6.40 p.m.. Feeling hungry already, we ended our tour around the aquarium, and went up to the exit, eventually ending up where we had arrived earlier. 
With that, we went to the nearest elevator lobby and took the elevator all the way up from the first basement level to the tenth floor, where most of the restaurants were located.

Upon looking through the various restaurants located, we managed to stumble upon a Chinese restaurant, known as Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight. Arriving at the restaurant, we requested a table for the four of us and were ushered to a table. With the food and beverage menus provided, we made a good review before placing our orders for dinner. I was happy it had been a while after not having some local Chinese food.

Having a good review through the menus, a waitress came by to our table to take down our orders for dinner. We ordered some items off the menu that appeared to be that of our likings, such as sautéed sliced beef, dim sum and pork ribs in sauce. That night, we had a very sumptuous and filling Chinese dinner at Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight, which perked me up a bit since we were having some proper local food. For the COEX Aquarium, it was nothing very special either.


The first basement floor Hyundai Department Store COEX

Some of the underground shopping areas at Hyundai Department Store COEX

The basement entrance to Hyundai Department Store in COEX Mall

The tenth floor of Hyundai Department Store COEX, where a majority of the restaurants are located

The entrance to Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight at Hyundai Department Store COEX

The logo of Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight at Hyundai Department Store COEX above the entrance

The interior of Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight at Hyundai Department Store COEX

Reviewing the food and beverage menu of Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight at Hyundai Department Store COEX

The cover page for the food and beverage menu of Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight at Hyundai Department Store COEX

A platter of steamed spinach to be shared among us

Some dim sum dumplings to be shared among my parents

A platter of sautéed sliced beef with mixed vegetables to be shared among us

A mouthwatering platter of fried rice for my brother

A platter of marinated pork ribs decorated in sweet sauce

The interior of Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight at Hyundai Department Store COEX during dinner hours

After spending the entire early evening shopping at the Hyundai Department Store COEX, the clock was finally showing 8.35 p.m.. Feeling that it was time for late evening tea and cakes, we decided to head to the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX, where we heard that the lobby lounge may serve some beverages and desserts. With that moment, we paid up our dinner bill and left the Crystal Jade Shanghai Delight for the nearest elevator lobby.


Upon reaching there, we took the elevator down towards the first basement again, and walked along a passageway that led to the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX, arriving there at 8.45 p.m.. Once we were in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX, we went up towards the lobby lounge of the hotel. Upon securing a seat and a table, we were given the food and beverage menus, and decided to look through them before making our orders for late night dessert and drinks.

After having a good review through the food and beverage menus, a waitress finally came by to our table to take down our drink and dessert orders. We ordered several cups of hot drinks, such as hot cocoa, and a Valhrona warm chocolate cake for myself. That evening, we had a relaxing dessert and drink time in the lobby lounge of the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX
before we headed back to the Fraser Suites Insadong.


The elevator lobby on the tenth floor of Hyundai Department Store COEX

The night view of downtown Seoul the tenth floor of Hyundai Department Store COEX

The staircase towards the main hotel lobby in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

The overall view of the passageway towards COEX Mall from the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

The overall interior of the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Looking up at the main staircase towards the upper floors in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Several people having some night life in the lobby lounge of the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

The cover page for the food and beverage menu of the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Reviewing the food and beverage menu of the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Two mugs of mouthwatering hot cocoa for my brother and I

My main dessert: Valhrona warm chocolate cake

A nice glass of Bailey's Irish Cream for myself

A very clear view of the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

A large miniature gingerbread house in the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

A large artificial tree with Christmas decorations in the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

The interior of the lobby lounge in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX with a piano for mood lighting

The passageway towards the elevator lobby in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Several Christmas decorations in the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

After having some nice dessert and some hot and alcoholic beverages in the lobby lounge of the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX, the clock was finally showing 9.45 p.m.. Given that we were feeling rather exhausted already, we decided that there was nothing much left to do for the remainder of the night other than to head back to the Fraser Suites Insadong in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul, for a well-earned good night's rest.


With that, we headed out to the main entrance to the hotel and hailed a cab down, which arrived at the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX at 9.50 p.m.. Without wasting anymore time, we boarded the cab and finally left the hotel compound by 9.55 p.m.. The entire late night trip from the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX back to the Fraser Suites Insadong took not more than approximately 20 minutes
.


The main taxi stand located outside the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Finally departing the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Driving along the roads of Gangnam-gu, Seoul near the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX

Driving along the roadside near the Han River at night

A railroad bridge that stretches over the Han River at night

Turning towards the Banpo Bridge across the Han River

Crossing the Banpo Bridge across the Han River at night

The view of the Han River while crossing the Banpo Bridge at night

Travelling along a road towards the Namsan Tunnel

Travelling through the Namsan Tunnel under the Namsan Hill

Approaching a toll gate outside the Namsan Tunnel

The view of the Han Suites Serviced Residences as we are about to pass it

Driving between the roads of Jung-gu and Jongno-gu, Seoul

Driving along a secluded road in Jongno-gu, Seoul near the Fraser Suites Insadong

Finally arriving back at the rear entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong

After a short 20-minute taxi ride from the InterContinental Hotel Seoul COEX, we finally arrived back at the rear entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 10.15 p.m.. Having paid our taxi fare, we claimed our belongings and alighted the taxi before entering our hotel. Upon entering the hotel, we took the elevator all the way back up to our room suite on the tenth floor, arriving back there by 10.20 p.m..


Already feeling very tired, we had a shower and changed up before having our own personal devices to keep us company for the rest of the night. At the same time, we also did some packing of our baggage in preparation for the return journey back home to Singapore the next day. Finally, we all turned in by an hour or two past midnight for a well-earned good night's sleep.

This officially brings the third section of my winter vacation in South Korea in December 2012 to a formal close. The fourth and final section of the report will be published with the highest quality pictures and videos, but requires a certain amount of time and effort to do so.

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