I just got back from a wonderful holiday in Seoul, taking advantage of AirAsia’s low fare. Initially I thought that I should do a daily blog update using Reon’s laptop, but it wasn’t a good idea as we tend to walk a lot everyday and by the time I got back to the hotel I was quite tired and wanted nothing more than to sleep. Here’s a breakdown on where we went, starting with Day 1.
We took AirAsia’s early morning flight to Seoul, and I do mean early! It was a 1 o’clock morning flight, and everyone got together at Kelvin’s house for his brother to drive us to the airport. It was also the first time I really got to play with my travel camera, the Fujifilm XF1. Being the typical photographer (or guy with camera), I chose not to read the manual but instead fiddled around with all the controls, which turned out to be quite intuitive. The only thing you need to know about this camera is that you need to pull and turn the lens to switch on the camera.
I think none of us really slept during the flight. We were all quite excited about our first visit to Seoul (with the exception of Shinchan) – land of K-Pop and Gangnam Style!
We all decided to have a quick breakfast before taking the bus to our hotel. A simple breakfast at Dunkin Donuts cost me KRW 5000++, which converts roughly to MYR 15.00. Luckily Shinchan advised to prepare a budget of MYR 100.00 per day for food and transport.
While eating my breakfast I took out the Fujifilm XF1 camera to play around a bit more, looking through it’s functions and different settings. It has a macro mode which I used to take a simple snap of my coffee cup, and some cool filter settings such as the Velvia film simulation filter, which I used to add extra “pop” to the picture of the transport info board. The camera has a sweet max aperture of f1.8 at it’s wide angle end, and goes up to f4.9 at the tele end of the zoom. I settled for the Aperture priority mode and just left the ISO setting at ISO 400 as my general setting. Exposure compensation can be easily accessed on the dial wheel with a simply click on top of the wheel.
Our bus ride into the city cost us KRW 10,000 per person. It stops along Jong-ro Road, and from there it took us about 10 minutes to walk to our hotel, Central Tourist Hotel. The hotel is quite strategically placed for public transport purposes, as it is nearby the Jongno 3-ga subway station.
After checking in our luggage at the hotel we took the train to the Gyeongbokgung station, which is just under Gyeongbokgung Palace, our first place to visit.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is huge! Entrance fee is KRW 10,000 per person. There is a daily costumed parade show that starts around noon. Walking around the palace I can’t help myself from feeling very impressed on how the relevant authorities managed to keep the palace in such a good condition. Some structures have nettings on top to prevent roof tiles and other parts from falling, but they blend in quite well and can’t be seen from far. If you’re here in a group it’s best to stay with the group because it is quite easy to get separated. There’s free WiFi near where the tickets are purchased, so that’s always a good place to meet up or wait for others.
Next to the palace is the National Folk Museum of Korea. In this museum visitors can read and view Korean history & culture in the form of various exhibits. I switched the ISO settings to ISO 1600 on the camera as lighting in here is quite poor. The results I got was pretty impressive, though metering tend to be a bit off. I adjusted the settings to be -2/3 or -1 for more accurate exposure inside the museum.
By this time both Reon and myself were separated from Shinchan and Kelvin, and since none of us were on a roaming plan, we decided to move on to the King Sejong statue right across the road. after 2 hours of walking in the palace. It was rather windy and with the overcast sky above us, the pictures came out rather dull. We had a quick lunch at a KFC outlet and took a half hour walk towards Bukchon Hanok Village, where the houses still maintain the old Korean architectural style.
I think we walked for over 5 hours on our first day in Seoul, and due to the nice pleasant weather (at least for me), I was able to walk without breaking a sweat or feeling any tiredness. My extra energy could also be due to the fact that I was carrying the light Fujifilm XF1 instead of my usual DSLR camera bag which was left behind in the hotel.
We regrouped back at the hotel and took a short rest. The guys decided to walk to Myeong-dong for SNSD’s guest appearance at some store opening, but due to tight security we ended up with no pictures at all. And so it was that we had a late Korean BBQ dinner at one of the restaurants in Myeong-dong, waiting eagerly for the next day of our holiday in Seoul to come, where we will travel over to Kintex for the first day of Seoul Motor Show 2013.
Note: All pictures are shot with the Fujifilm XF1 except for pictures of the camera itself, which was shot using HTC One X.
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