Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ( 教养孩童，使他走当行的道，就是到老他也不偏离。) – Proverbs 22:6
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. ( 孩子们，我们爱人，不要只在言语和舌头上，总要在行动和真诚上表现出来。) – 1 John 3:18
Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteous and honor. ( 追求公义与慈爱的，必得着生命、公义和荣耀。）– Proverbs 21:21
Be strong and courageous. ( 当刚强壮胆！) – Joshua 1:9
Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. ( 要快快地听，慢慢地说，慢慢地动怒。) – James 1:19
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ( 爱是凡事包容，凡事相信，凡事盼望，凡事忍耐。) – 1 Corinthians 13:7
A joyful heart is good medicine. ( 喜乐的心乃是良药。) – Proverbs 17:22
Do everything in love. ( 凡你们所做的都要凭爱心，而做。) – 1 Corinthians 16:14
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. ( 事情的终局强如事情的起头；存心忍耐的，胜过居心骄傲的。) – Ecclesiastes 7:8
Endurance produces character, and character produces hope. ( 忍耐产生毅力，毅力产生盼望。) – Romans 5:4
Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ( 不要为明天忧虑，因为明天自有明天的忧虑，一天的难处一天当就够了。) – Matthew 6:34
Honor your father and your mother. ( 要孝敬父母。) – Exodus 20:12
Last August, my wife and I started to plan for our annual family holidays at the end of the year. We visited the Natas Fair. Initially, we set our sight on visiting Japan. At the last moment, we were attracted to the 8-day tour itinerary of “Korea Winter Wonderland, Nanta and Jeju” offered by ASA Holidays scheduled from 30 November – 7 December 2012. We decided to extend our holidays in Korea after the tour to spend 3 days free-and-easy in Seoul.
I will share about the fun-packed experience I had with my family during the 8 days tour in my next blog… so stay tuned. In this blog, I would like to blog about my stay in BoA guesthouse, and introduce this accommodation to anyone who is planning to visit Seoul for a free-and-easy holiday.
It was my daughter who found BoA guesthouse through the Internet. We confirmed our booking for 2 rooms (1 twin and 1 triple room) for 7 – 10 December 2012. The room rates were very affordable at 80,000 KRW and 100,000 KRW per room per day respectively. In total, we spent less than SGD 600.00 on accommodation for 3 days.
Opened in early 2012, BoA guesthouse is a new accommodation facility conveniently located in the popular Hongdae (Hongik University) district of Seoul (click on MAP for direction). It is easily accessible from the Gimpo and Incheon International airports, and a less than 10 minutes walk from Hongik University Station (Subway Line 2, Airport Railroad) through Exit 4.
There are convenience stores, bakery, restaurants, cafes, shops and clubs along the road up and in the immediate vicinity of the guesthouse.
The staff were friendly and spoke good English. They provided wonderful customer service throughout our stay in the guesthouse. Simply, they will make your stay easy and memorable.
Each room has a private bathroom. Simple amenities in the room includes a dressing table, refrigerator, television, free wired/wireless Internet access, hair drier, hair conditioner, body shampoo, toothpaste, tissue and slippers. Towels are available for pick-up and exchange at the reception. The bed is comfortable. The room is clean. However, there is no daily room service, so we have to make sure we keep the room tidy ourselves. This is perfectly acceptable to me and my family.
There is a laundry room. You can use the washing machines for free. You pay for the dryer only. There are common toilets and shower rooms where all guests can use throughout the day.
There are several desktop computers, Web cams and a printer in the Internet room where guests can use for free. You can also make free international calls. The Internet room shares the common space as the kitchen.
Simple breakfast is provided free from 7:00 am – 10:00 am. You can have bread, eggs with jam, cereals, milk and tea/coffee… unlimited supply. Breakfast is self-service, you have to toast the bread, fry/boil the eggs, make the drinks, etc, yourself, and to wash up and clean your table after you finished your food.
There are table and chairs and a swing at the rooftop of the guesthouse where you could relax. During this holiday trip, heavy snow rained down in Seoul in 32 years. It was so cold on the rooftop. The temperature averaged about -10 degC.
From BoA guesthouse, you can visit to major tourist spots in Seoul with ease and very quickly, such as Insa-dong, Myeong-dong, NSeoul Tower, Jim-Jil-Bang, Hello Kitty Cafe, Lotte World, Doota, etc. Hongdae flea market is within walking distance too at Exit 9 of Hongik University Station.
Our family holiday in Korea came to an end on 10 December 2012. We booked an airport taxi through BoA guesthouse for 65,000 KRW. We left at about 12 noon for Incheon International Airport.
Another 3 photos before I end my blog…
Bye South Korea, Boa Kim and all staff at BoA guesthouse. We look to meet you again. We’ll be back!
Our Holiday in North Vietnam (Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay and Ninh Binh), 6 – 12 October 2012
1. The Itinerary
We booked our holiday through Saigon Tourist. It costed us S$560 per person for this 7 days 6 nights tour. This all-in amount covered all meals, all entrance tickets to tour sites, accommodation, transport, and train tickets. Together with a return air ticket of S$300 from Tiger Airways, each of us spent S$860 for this holiday… “pee ka lao yu”.
2. Day 1: 6 October 2012
Arriving at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.
Dinner at Pho Bien Seafood Restaurant before overnight on train to Sapa.
After dinner and while waiting for the bus to bring us to the Hanoi Train Station…
3. Day 2: 7 October 2012
350km north-west from Hanoi, Sapa, the capital of Sapa district in Lào Cai Province, lies at the attitude of 1600m. With the temperature ranging from the lowest of -1 degree C to the highest of 29 degree C, Sapa’s climate is moderate and drizzly in summer while chill and foggy in winter.
Sapa (or Chapa – the “sandy place”) first appeared in Vietnam national map in the late 1880s when the French disembarked in highland Tonkin. The first permanent French civilian resident arrived in Sapa in 1909, and by 1920, there were a number of villas being built in this area by prosperous professionals. Going through many ups and downs, Sapa is now a prominent holiday destination in Vietnam.
After about 10 hours of bumpy and noisy overnight train journey, we finally arrived at Lào Cai Railway Station at about 6:00 am.
Our tour guide finally shows his face… Dai Thang speaks fluently in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. His service was excellent. He took good care of us.
After breakfast, we set out in the bus for about an hour for the Cat Cat Village, which is nested in a beautiful valley about 3km from Sapa town. This village is within easy walking distance from any hotel in downtown Sapa.
Cat Cat Village was formed in the 19th century by the gathering of some families belonging to some ethnic groups living in mountainous ares of northern Vietnam, especially Black H’Mong. They lived next to each other along the mountain side and cultivated surrounding their home. Rice and corn were grown in terraced fields, while traditional handicrafts such as twisting flax and weaving fabric have been well-kept. Through times, this village has transferred to one appealing feature of Sapa’s tourism.
From the village entrance, simply follow the relatively well-paved main path that leads further downhill until you come to the steps that descend to the Tien Sa Waterfall. To get back out to the entrance, you can either back track (not recommended) or take the path to the right of the bridge (on the left is the waterfall) and follow it. The trek is a looped path so as long as you walk where the road is well-trodden, you won’t get lost. This trek offers a glimpse into the daily life of local ethnic people and a variety of changing sceneries.
We were told that “pulling wife” is a unique custom of the people living in Cat Cat. A man can ask his friends to lure a girl he likes to his house and keeps her there for three days. During this time, if the girl agrees to become his wife, a wedding will be held. However, the girl can happily go home after three days if she does not like him.
Traditional houses in the village have three rooms with three doors and covered with po mu wood roof. In the house there are three columns that stand in round or square stones. The walls are made from sawn timber and the main door is always closed and only opens when people in the house organize important events. The altar, inlaid floor containing food, places for sleeping, kitchen and receiving guests are indispensable parts of the houses.
We trekked pass the bamboo forest and finally descended to the most scenic part of the village, the Tien Sa Waterfall which flows from Hoang Lien Son mountain range. It was really beautiful to see the raging water dropping to the huge boulders and flowing to what seemed to be a small patch of dense jungle.
With the waterfall behind us, we took a long and winding road back up the valley.
After about 3 hours of trekking and a well-deserved lunch at a cafe in Sapa town, we walked tiredly to our hotel, about 100m away. At last, we will be able to enjoy the much-needed shower after 2 days.
Two hours later…
Sapa district is the home of a great diversity of ethnic people, including five main groups of H’Mong, Tay, Zay and Xa Pho. They do not live in the town but in hamlets scattered on the valleys throughout the district.
An ancient church, Sapa Church is also named Stone Church or Rosary Church. It is located just outside the entrance of our hotel right in the centre of Sapa town. It was built by the French in the early 20th century.
Finally, dinner time…
4. Day 3: 8 October 2012
After breakfast and by 8:30 am, we were all gathered at the entrance to our hotel ready to climb the Ham Rong Mountain.
Legend has it that in the distance past, all animals lived together in a chaotic environment. One day, the Jade Emperor gave an order that every species of animal had to find for them an area to live. Having heard the order, they scrambled for a place to reside.
The three brothers of dragon who were living in a large lake hurriedly ran to the east but could not find any place; they then ran to the west. The two older brothers ran faster and came to the destination first. The youngest brother ran slower and strayed into the crowds of lions, tigers and big cats. Fearing that these animals would attack it, the dragon opened its mouth to defense itself.
At that time, the order of Jade Emperor was no longer available, so the three dragons petrified. The two older dragons, which were waiting for their brother, face Lao Cai City, and the youngest one raising its head and opening mouth faces the Hoang Lien Mountain Range. So the mountain is named Ham Rong (Jaw of Dragon).
I will stop here…
In my next blog, I will share with you about our journey up the Ham Rong Mountain: Holiday in North Vietnam (Part 2: Sapa)