Auckland

This was what we can do when we arrived late evening in Auckland, left us only time to have a dinner and a small walk around town.

The Ferry Building

Built in 1912, this building serves as the centrepiece of harbour activities in Auckland and it is celebrating is 100th year this year, while a partial of it is being refurbished.

Harbourside seafood bar and grill

Located inside the Ferry Building with a nice harbour view but due to rainy cold weather, we are not allowed to sit outside. So, no harbour view to enjoy during dinner.

Location:
Ferry Building Level 1/99 Quay Street  Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Tel: +64 09 307 0556

Website:
http://www.harboursiderestaurant.co.nz/

Hours: 7 days from 11:30am. Continuous service all day.
Open Public Holidays, except Christmas Day.

The “peeping” view of the harbour from inside the restaurant

Bluff Oysters (1 dozen NZD50)
A well-known oyster of South of New Zealand, we thought we could try it, although it was no longer in season. *Fingers crossed* but … the freshness is better than Malaysia / Singapore but not as good as Sydney’s Fish Market.

Seafood Paella (NZD39.50)
A little spicy rice cooked with mussels, prawn, fish, etc. It’s a mexican-taste rice. The mussels are good, the others are just alright.

Seafood Linguini (Entree: NZD24; Main: NZD35)
It’s rather nice with tomato based pasta with mussels, prawns, fish and scallops. The mussels are most fresh among them.

On the month that we were there, they had a promotion of 2 course meal for NZD45 or 3 course meal for NZD55 with appetiser, main and dessert choices to choose from.

Crisp Fried Squid (one of the appetiser)
Yes, it’s crispy but I think the taste of the flour is less fragrant as compared to those typical fried calamari but not too bad.

Pan Fried Market Fish (one of the main)
We didn’t know what type of fish were served and waited for the surprise. It is a surprised when served. It’s a small little piece of fish (still don’t know the name) with not much taste. You would want to add on some sauce to increase your enjoyment of the fish. If you have a big appetite, this is definitely not enough for you.

Fish and chips (one of the main)
The fish is not as fresh as I expected it to be. It has a little “powdery” texture on the tongue. Still edible but not fantastic. I like the fries though. It’s “potato-ish” enough for me.

Pear & Walnut Pudding (one of the dessert)
The best dish served out of all our choices. It’s a sweet cake pudding topped with cooked pear, maple syrup and cream. It’s really good, not too sweet for my taste. You’ll love it if you have sweet tooth.

Viaduct Harbour

Less than 10 minutes slow walk to the right of the Ferry Building, was a commercial harbour many years ago but now resides many restaurants and residentials. It’s a very nice night view of Auckland.

For more info, visit http://www.viaduct.co.nz/

Skytower

A visible icon of Auckland at nearly everywhere you stand in Auckland city. With the height of 328m, you can have a great view of Auckland city at the top or gamble your night away at the Skycity Casino below.

For more info, visit http://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/Attractions/Skytower.html

ACCOMODATION: Bianco off Queen

About 10-20 minutes walk to the main attractions of Auckland, this is quite a comfortable and convenient service apartment to stay.

Location:
2 White Street  Auckland, 1010, New Zealand
Tel: +64 09 975 9500

Website:
http://www.vrhotels.co.nz/hotels/auckland-city/bianco-off-queen

Price range: ~NZD40-50 per person (includes free internet usage and breakfast – milk, yogurt, fruit, muffin, and muesli bar)

It’s cheaper to book through www.booking.com or check tripadvisor webpage for any offers before making any reservations.

Embarked at New Zealand

We arrived Christchurch and would need to take Air New Zealand to Auckland at about NZD90.

Air New Zealand was so advanced with all DIY check-in inclusive of boarding pass and luggage tag up to bag drop. Just follow the instructions or ask the Air NZ staffs nearby.

 

When you are in New Zealand, it’s important to visit brochure stands for catalogues or magazines for visitors, at airports, some of the attractions or hotels, as there would be introductions and most importantly, discount vouchers to use! Either that or visit the i-Site (visitor information centre) for these brochures with discount vouchers!

Can’t stop connecting to the outside world? Don’t wish to keep looking for wifi spot? You can consider getting a prepaid simcard at the airport or at town. We got it from Vodafone which has the widest coverage in New Zealand, whether it’s from direct 3G station or extended 3G signals, while there are 2 other operators. It’s NZD30 for 50 mins call, 5,000 test messages and 300MB data. It’s enough for my 12 days trip for facebook-ing, google mapping, checking information, and whatsapping. Alternatively, they have a package with 2GB data at NZD75. It comes in micro and regular simcard size!

If you’re not picking up your rental car from those famous car rental companies like Hertz, Budget, etc. (where their counters are easily spotted inside the airport), you may be asked to take a shuttle to their office located 5 minutes from the airport. You must check your confirmation letter to see where they said to take the shuttle or call the office or locate the below sign outside the airport and wait for 5-10 minutes.

Seoul, South Korea – Getting around

Travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul City

If it’s your first time to Seoul and wondering how to reach the city cheaply, you can take the airport bus. Find airport express bus counter after exiting from customs declaration and before getting out of the terminal. I took mine at KRW9,000, from Incheon Airport to Shinsegae Department Store (Times Square). The trip took around 1.5 hours with a rather slow and safe bus driver. 

Being in a country of foreign language, it’s important to know your location and destination. Remember to take picture of the bus information stand at the bus stop stated on your ticket. The bus will announce every next station that they are stopping but does not stop if no one rings the bell or stood up. With this picture, you can refer to the bus stop point to know how many station more to alight at your station. Don’t fall asleep unless you are certain that it’s a long trip!

You can leave your luggage at the bottom of the bus and you will be given a luggage number tag to identify your luggage. So you don’t need to worry about other people taking your luggage.

Subway travel card

If you want to travel the cute way, go to Family Mart to buy cute top-up travel card for KRW8,000 (non-refundable). It will not be expired and if not used, can be treated as souvenier or accessories. It’s sold as Hello Kitty, Rilakuma, and Angry Bird. It also contain a Swarovski’s cut crystal.

Otherwise, go for the traditional single journey card or day passes. We took the single journey pass which you can only buy from machines with KRW500 refundable deposit.

Getting around with taxi

If you’re carrying too much or legs too numbed from long walks, you may consider taking a taxi. The normal sedan taxi fare starts at KRW2,400 for first 2 kms and adds KRW100 for every subsequent 144 meters. You may first estimate the fare based on google map’s estimated km.

Generally, it’s around the same price as Singapore. If you have friends to share, why not?

Myeongdong 명동 (明洞)

This is a one of Seoul’s main shopping area. What best to shop here? Mainly facial products, cosmetics, and accessories. Most of the Korean facial product brands you need, you will get it from this place.

To get here by subway: Myeongdong Station (Line 4), Exit 6, Turn left.

You don’t need to worry if you can speak Chinese. Most salesgirls knows Chinese.

Note: Even if you enter to the 2 different shop of the same brand, you may get different promotions. Some shops give better promotion than others and you can negotiate for more free samples at some shops.

Dongdaemun 동대문 (东大門)

A place for clothes and accessories shopping. They are all in many floors of buildings, such as Doota, APM, and Migliore, all on the same road. It seems that Migliore’s prices are lower than the rest of the complexes. The prices that they quote can still be bargained lower by KRW2,000 to maybe half of the initial quoted price. I was warned, bargain only if you’re interested to buy. You won’t want their faces or Korean language to spoil your day.

To get here by subway: Dongdaemun History & Cultural Park (Line 2, 4, or 5), Exit 13 or 14.

General operating hours: 10:30 – 04:30 (yes, 04:30 a.m.) but varies among different complexes.

Gyeongbokgung Palace 

A royal palace located in north of Seoul, South Korea. One of the main attraction of Seoul. There is also a museum in the Palace that explains Seoul’s history.

To get here by subway: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3)

Looking around…

Insa-dong 인사동

This place is known as cultural street where you can see many shops selling antiques and artworks. Most of all are Korean souvenirs. You can also find traditional Korean food.

To get her by subway: Anguk Station (Line 3)

Cheonggyecheon 청계천

This is a man-made river of 8.4km long in Seoul city. It’s a place that you can sit down and relax a little water and green scenery in the middle of high rise office buildings.

You will pass by it if you walk from Insadong to Myeongdong.

Gangnam Underground Shopping Arcade (Gangnam jihasang-ga) 강남지하상가

One of the underground shopping. It’s newly refurbished with air-conditioned for comfortable shopping. Here they sell many of clothes (men, women, kids), shoes, to household items, garden items, etc. You can spend more than half a day here.

I prefer this place to Dongdaemun as the prices quote are already at a lower price with similar range of varieties. You will get your item at better price without the need to bargain alot.

To get here by subway: Express Bus Terminal Station (Line 3, 7 or 9)

Gwanghwamun 광화문 (光化門)

Gwanghwamun is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. This place also exhibits history of King Sejong, a King who created Korean language characters.

To get here by subway: Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5)

It’s free to walk around the square but you may also enter the King Sejong’s museum below his statue.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 – 22:30; Closed on Monday.

Admission fee: Free

On your way to the square, you will see this cute Haechi, a symbol of Seoul. You can buy its soft toys and souvenirs from the shop.

Utopia Spa 유토피아 스파 

A 24 hours spa place where you can massage, sauna, watch tv, do nothing, sleep, etc.

Location:
187-3 Guro-dong Guro-gu, Seoul
(Entrance at B1, just follow the sign) 

Tel: +82 2 839 6800

http://utopiaspa.co.kr/ (Korean only)

Subway: Guro Digital Complex Station (Line 2), Exit 2

Sangol Pancake Shop 산골 녹두파전

This shop not only sells pancake but also small snacks good with eat while drinking beer.

Location:
1124-58 Guro 3-dong, Seoul

Tel: +82 2  864 6800

Subway: Guro Digital Station (Line 2), Exit 2

 

Kimchi pancake (KRW13,000)
The kimchi pancake is not a spicy pancake but it’s very appetising. I think there is a pickled vegetables. No matter how full you are, you can definitely finish this!

Seochogol Korean BBQ Restaurant 서초골

A chain store of Korean BBQ. If you want to avoid your smelling clothe smell, go as early as 17:00 or 18:00.

Location:
1124-38 Guro 3-dong, Seoul

Tel: +82 2  837 1445
Hours: 10:00 – 01:00

Subway: Guro Digital Station (Line 2), Exit 2

The few dishes ordered…

Beef (KRW9,000)
Korean beef is delicious! Don’t over cook! It’s yummy wrapped with lettuce. ^_^

Pork Ribs (KRW24,000 for 2 pieces)
This is very good! I can’t stop having this!

 

All free and refillable!