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By this Author: seaskimmer

S. Korea: A Financial Account (Week 2)

D9 Fri, Danyang

Take the subway to the bus station.

19w for bus from Busan to Yeongju. 4.5w bus to Danyang.

From the bus station we went to a hostel we'd searched on the Internet. Cross the road and turn left to go up the hill, turn right at the 2nd or 3rd small road. Apparently it's usually 30 for 2 beds, but it happened to be the first day of the annual azalea festival so it was jacked up to 50. Just a place to sleep, no kitchen but comes with private toilet.

Went to gosu caves, that was a lot of fun. A very wet drippy cave with some squeezy pathways. You can pay slightly more for a round trip but it's fine to just do one route, it's probably similar, and it's not inconvenient to go out halfway.

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After that we went paragliding! Later we found out that the shop was along the riverside. But we got the person from the tourist information center near the bridge to book for us. 90w for 20min plus gopro video. (apparently 10w discount cos the guy called for us).

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The shop
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View from the bridge

They picked us up from the tourist info center and drove up to the astronomical center thing at the top of the mountain. The jump was a lot easier than I thought (hyperventilating when I got strapped in) because it wasn't really a jump; the parachute lifted me up first. Amazing view, and they did this downward spiral thing that was super fun. Landed near the river and the shop where we paid and they transferred the video for us (make sure you have a phone or memory card of some sort)

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Then we got invited for dinner! Yay! The paragliding people have dinner together and that day the girls cooked and the guys washed up. We had Korean porridge and soup. Yayy. And then one of the girls (she was actually just visiting) brought us around the festival booths! So nice. There was a concert too with 2 famous Korean stars amid random ones.

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D10 Sat, Danyang

The next day we went up to Seobaeksan. Wanted to do it like these people but realised they started their trek in yeongju and A didn't really want to back track.

https://klimbingkoreanmountains.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/sobaeksan-national-park-%EC%86%8C%EB%B0%B1%EC%82%B0/

We missed the bus to cheongdong caves so we shared a cab with an old couple (total 8.2w). Took about 3h to hike up, it was quite terrible because we were in sneakers and Nike running shoes but the trail was really uneven and rocky and steep.

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Also, it happened to be the only 17 degree rainy day in a week of 31 degree sunny weather. Close to the top it got very cold, rainy, foggy and very very windy. I was dying in my goretex jacket and shorts, and A wasn't much better in her running tights and cotton hoodie. At the top we tried to go to down a different way but we got bad directions, and were so miserable we just decided to go down the way we'd come up. Just wanted to get off the mountain.

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Halfway down it got sunny and clear. We were so mad because it felt like a wasted trip. Up there it was so foggy, maybe 10m visibility so there had been no reward! And out weak knees were hurting on the way down and I weakly sprained my ankle too. Blegh.

Remember to bring sufficient food and water up. There are water points along the way but food... That cold day there were people eating hot ramen up there. So jealous. We had cold bread and kimbap.

Took a local bus back to Danyang. Rested that evening.

Here is the bus schedule in case it's useful:
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Cheongdong caves is the information sign on the top left, with the 6.8km route. We wanted to return by the parallel route on the right (4.6km) but instead retraced our steps. (The map look so shitty because it was in my pocket the entire trek, and it was so rainy and windy)

D11 Sun, Seoul

The next day we took a bus to Seoul (forgot price), settled into the cheapest hostel in Seoul (10w/night) Nomad House Itaewon, and struck out to buy souvenirs for friends and family. Went to Ihwa Mural Village to take photos. Splurged on expensive ginseng chicken soup + rice dinner (15w/person) at Tosokchon. No queue, lucky, but inside was quite full.

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The hostel was slightly inaccessible because it's in a really hilly place and you need to huff and puff up those slopes to get back (or out). Nonetheless the owner speaks perfect English (and good Spanish too) and is really nice and helpful, and flexible about arrangements. And it's cheap and relatively clean. Good place. There's also a beautiful lookout point near the hostel, at a temple. Sunsets great from there.

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D12 Mon, Seoul

3.9w for a bulgogi burger set meal at KFC, special price. Went to the express bus terminal again to shop. Lotte World for food to bring back (found a 20 pack of seaweed for 5w, bought some sweet local biscuits for 2w each). Gwangjang for dinner. 8w for tanghoon and bibimbap (not really enough for 3 people but we were broke).

D13 Tue, Seoul

We pretty much spent the whole day in the hostel, packing and watching TV shows on our phones. I went out to the convenience store on a breakfast run (1w for kimbap), but we had ramen for lunch.

We then got up all our stuff and headed over to the hongdae jimjilban. I think exit 9 from hongik uni, walk straight down about 300m. It's housed in marigold hotel, the small door on the left of the main one.

Entrance plus overnight stay on a week night costs 10w. The lady graciously let us leave our huge bags at the counter, but obviously showed they were unwelcome.

Walked outside in hongdae, got some street food, souvenirs. Dinner at reggae chicken, 28w for 2 portions of chicken, we were really full and had to take away some for supper.

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Back to the jimjilban. In the baths you can get a massage and/or a scrub. Back scrub costs 10w with cheaper options. Massages range from 35w to 85w.

In the sleeping section there is some kind of food shop but we didn't check the price. Note that it's really warm in the sleeping area! Not like you can do much about it. I slept on the floor (eschewing the mat) and put a cold water bottle on my tummy, but that's just me. (my friends were mostly okay)

Water coolers available, both hot and cold water. Both bath and sleeping levels.

D14 Wed, Seoul

We got kicked out at 1030am when we were still lazing around the sleeping area. Paid our 1w fine each (for staying more than 12h) and promised again to return for our bags.

Eventually had lunch at a bbq place, paid 18.7w for three portions of pork belly and a bowl of rice (1w as usual). Yummy.

DSC00080.jpg For some reason our bbq always catches fire, even the one at Jeju.

Wasted time in various cafés with aircon and wifi and charging points. Finally it was 5pm and we got our bags and took the express train to incheon airport. Supposedly it cost 4.45w but I think it took less than that out of the card.

Found a comfortable place to sleep and charge phones. Bought some stuff with the remaining money. Slept.

D15 Thu, KL

Morning flight by airasia to KL. Bought Laneige creams for friends at duty free, a few bucks cheaper.

The very initial idea was to hang around KL a few days and eat, but that had dwindled to just a single meal by the middle of the trip. By Thursday everyone just wanted to be home, so we booked a direct bus to SG from the airport (KLIA2). 60myr. 2h frequency with star mart. Hung around and charged phones.

Spent RM3+ on kaya bread (6 pieces as per usual) and about RM8 each on burgers (no meal) and a single pack of fries. We had RM0.15 left. Yup. Not even enough to go to the toilet on the way back lol. The guy was a slow driver so although we left at 5.45pm, we only got back at 12.

Posted by seaskimmer 20:56 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

S. Korea: A Financial Account (Week 1)

Total cost for 2 weeks: SGD$1.2k

Route: Singapore, KL, Muuido myeon, Seoul, Jeungdo myeon, Jeju, Busan, Danyang, Seoul, KL, Singapore
Flight tickets: SGD$340 round trip from KLIA2 to Incheon
Accommodation: KRW 150,000, not including an overnight ferry from Jeju to Busan, and one night in airport

D0 Wed, KL
Night bus to KL (19 sgd), arrived in KL Sentral about 2am. Waited in McDonald's til 3am, boarded bus at Puduraya (short walk in dark near homeless people) to KLIA 2 (12 myr)

D1 Thu, Incheon/Muuido island
Morning flight with airasia (round trip 340 sgd) to Incheon.

[from here on all Korean Won excludes the thousand. Ie. 1,000 krw will be written as 1 won]

Buy sim cards with data from convenience store (1gb 34.9w, lasts max 2 weeks). Comes in 2 sizes, the small sim and the micro sim, but they also sell adaptors cheap. Also comes in 500mb.

Also buy t-money card for 2w, top up with 10w

Took bus to Jamjinnaru ferry terminal, take ferry (3w), take local bus to hanagae beach, pay entrance fee (2w). Rent beach Hut (30w per night, with 10w deposit fee on top of that).

Bus taking is very uncertain, make sure you pronounce the name correctly when you ask the nearest random waiting person and the bus driver.

Beach hut does not include shower facilities (probably have to pay for that, it was locked) but there are sinks and toilets. Lovely because the area was very empty (off-season), but slightly cold. Huts fit max 4 people with 4 blankets/floor coverings, heated floors but the thermostat is quite wonky. 1 charging point (another taken by the heater).

One or two grocery stores nearby but go early before they close. Restaurants sell affordable food (ramyun) but if you want to splurge and try something out-there then go with the seafood hot pot (40w for 3 to be pretty full). (Be wary if you're not used to seafood, especially large moving snails. This was a tough meal to swallow)

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D2 Fri, Seoul

Went the same way back to the airport and took an express train direct to hongik university station. Stayed at whitetail backpacker and hostel, a long but pretty and green walk in. Breakfast is good, bread with spreads, cereal, fried egg, sausages. Cheap too, 6 bed dorm for 15w.

Went to Gyeongbok Palace (3w). Worth going just for some cultural activity.

At night we went to the playground at hongik uni, where we were lucky enough to watch a dance battle between numerous groups of young Korean dancers. Interesting that many dancers were in multiple numbers! They weren't fantastic but it was very fun to be part of it.

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D3 Sat, Seoul

Lots of shopping this day. First was far away flea market (unless you like searching through junk, don't bother), then hongdae area (good).

We climbed Ansan (from yonsei uni then out by ehwa). Took us about 1h to go up, and 45min down because we detoured. Totally worth it, the view is amazing and free! You get photos of namsan tower too, if you want it.

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Had the famous bingsu which was pretty yummy (about 7 each)

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Shopped at ehwa then (good too) and finally beer and chicken (and soju) at the moon and stars brand. We travelled for it, then realised there was an outlet near our hostel. Chicken was yummy. 33w for 1 portion of chicken (sharing), 2 bottles of beer, 1 bottle soju.

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D4 Sun, Seoul

There was a once-a-month flea market on the street right outside the hostel! It was so much fun and lots of things to buy.

Myeongdong then to buy makeup and stuff. Gogung lunch (28w for 2 portions) and some pork rib stew with potato for 25w (sharing portion).

Went to Han river to watch the fountain and lights from the bridge.

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D5 Mon, Jeungdo Myeon

21.9w for bus to jido in the morning (bought the night before) from Seoul express bus terminal (take exit 8 from the subway station, go up the stairs at big shinsegae sign on the left, look for the 3 big ball statues and enter from there)

1.5w for bus directly to jeungdo myeon (over the bridge).

Had no accom planned, met a old Korean woman on the bus, she indicated (with some Korean phrases on our part) that her daughter owns a minbak. We got a place for 50w.

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Took a cab (7w) to the salt farm, didn't pay for the tour but explored on our own, had a lot of fun for free. Bought some salted ice cream, comes in 'flavours' which are really just flavoured sprinkles on top of the standard ice cream. Really yummy. 2w.

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Very difficult to get around the island honestly. There's no written bus schedule anywhere, we had to ask the semi-english speaking receptionists at the salt farm for help. Recommended to find accom near the salt farm.

The minbak people lent us their bikes, so two of us cycled to the mud flats near the famous bridge (any mud flats are fine though) and went in to play. You'll sink to your ankles or mid shins, and will probably get a few cuts from crabs or shell fish in the mud (we disagreed on which it was but hey, we saw crabs around, and why would there be shell fish in mud). But it was SO MUCH FUN waddling around in it. Highly recommended. Of course you're likely destroying homes.... But whatever right.

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Ramyun for dinner because we were poor. Mosquitoes there are vicious and numerous so watch out, especially after dark.

D6 Tue, Jeju

Got a free ride from jeungdo myeon to jido. And a free energy drink.

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7.1w for bus to Mokpo from Jido. Taxi from Jido bus terminal to ferry terminal (6.4w by meter). Ferry to jeju 3.7w.

Cab to seogwipo 30w (supposedly by meter it wouldve been 33, and bus ticket per person is 10w)

Stayed at jeju hiking Inn, cheapest hostel there (15w, private rooms only). Gross kitchen available. Good access. Walkable to 2 waterfalls.

D7 Wed, Jeju

3.3w for bus to Seongsan, go to past bus station and ask for Seongsan. 1w for entry. Nice view, lots of people, lots of stairs.

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Then to jeongbang waterfall, the only waterfall in Asia that empties into the sea! Free admission. Beware the masses of sea roaches on the rocks below though. Walked back to hostel. Nice walk, about half an hour.

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Ate black pork. Lots of reviews on the net, we chose this one cos it was near our place, but there were a few others just opposite and they're probably similar.

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http://chasing320.com/2014/04/13/korea-jeju-black-pork/

D8 Thu, Jeju

31.4w cab to jeju ferry terminal (by meter).

Booked an overnight ferry to Busan (47w for lowest class). They might tell you it's too early to book (supposedly opens an hour before boarding), but you can do so at the office, the door on the right of the stairs on 1st level. Go in and then it's probably the 3rd door or something, ask for the company name from the information counter.

Large storage in the station costs 2w, only accepts 500-value coins.

Went to see llama light houses at Iho-dong. We took a bus to the stop from the terminal then walked all the way through the small town/village to the beach. Then went the opposite way back.

The ferry was nicer than expected. I thought we'd be sleeping on some big open floor, jostling for sleeping space with a bunch of fellow hobos. But no, it was very humane, there were little open rooms and sleeping mats, blankets and pillows. Like traditional Koreans must have slept. Hygiene doubtful but whatever. There's a charging station on the 5th floor near the exits.

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Posted by seaskimmer 11:27 Archived in South Korea Comments (0)

Slovenia

the best end possible

I got to Zagreb at about 6am, broke and freakishly hungry. Wandered around the station trying to find something to buy with less than 1 kuna LOL. Eventually I gave up and bought 2 disgusting choco banana things for breakfast. Had 20 cents left over. But the bananas were so bad that I only ate one, and even that I had to force down so I could get some sugar into me at least. Blegh. It hadn't been a good night, so I sat on the station bench, hugged my bag, and tried to sleep. I had about an hour or two before my bus out to Ljubljana.

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Ljubljana

The day dawned bright and fair. Okay, I mean it was hot as usual. I walked from the bus station all the way to my hostel, which I had trouble finding because it was inside some apartment thing. But my bunk was nice enough. I went out to catch the tour, S hadn't wanted to since they'd already walked around. Sadly it's been a while so I don't remember a whole lot about the history of Slovenia.

Ljubljana is a gorgeous city though, having an amazing mix of the old and new. Everything felt rather upbeat and cool, maybe because it's a uni town. Compared to Split, which is filled with the old and middle aged, and so has a charm of its own. But yeah, Ljub has both cobbled and bitumen roads, and has old buildings next to modern glass-and-steel kinds. Dragons, long, sleek, arched, and spiny, daydream in the sun. Eclectic statues and modern artwork adorn the many bridges.

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One thing I really liked was this museum thing that we ended at. Unfortunately I can't remember the name, but it's a art nouveau building with 'colonial' columns and arches. (I'm sure about the art nouveau, but please don't quote me on the columns) The tour guide said that they usually have free movie screenings, and wanted to show us the inside of the building, but it was closed for renovation. He was honestly really disappointed that it was closed. Since I liked the exterior so much, I can only imagine how much I missed by not getting to see the interior!

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Walked back to the city center to have lunch. Was going to try a local place, but was distracted by the international food fair at the square! Wanted to eat everything. EVERYTHING. But I had the double limitation of money and stomach. Unfortunately. I bought a cheese dumpling (there were other flavours too) and a plate of creole food. There was lots of amazing food around though, like this stew, and a meaty orange goulash. There was Chinese food too, haha, but I ain't got time fo dat. (money, actually).

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Met S and A briefly to have a chat, but then decided not to spend the day together haha since we had a completely different itinerary for the day. So we just agreed on a time and place to meet the next day. They'd decided to go get the car that evening from the airport, and spend the night in the car to save on money. Then they'd pick me up the next morning near the bus station. With that, we split up.

Walked up to the castle. Nice walk, not even too tiring. Most of the castle is free to explore, with only a few paying sections like the art gallery. Again, it's lovely old architecture that's been updated in modern times. Wouldn't I love to live there! I spent quite a while in the museum, which was interesting, but I was soooo tired that I had a bit of a headache and I couldn't concentrate. So I left :/

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Bought a durum Doener at a nearby shop and ate in the hostel haha. I also got a strawberry yoghurt! yayyy. And that night I met two Singaporeans! They were in my bunk, a guy and a girl. Pretty cool, it was nice to hear singlish again hahahahaha. Slept early that day, was so tired.

Bovec: Rafting

The next morning I woke up pretty early to get picked up by S and A, but I think I got my bearings wrong or something because I was in the wrong place. And by the time we left we were like 15 min late. And then it took longer to reach there than expected! So we were late, and the rafting people were a bit fed up haha. But oh well we made it.

And enjoyed the ride on the way. It's so beautiful! Slovenia is so mountainous too. I was so mistaken, geography fail, cos I thought it was some corner of the alps, but of course it's the Balkans!

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Despite being very late and having a few calls and texts from the rafting people, and also them having to bounce us to the equipment shed and then to the raft point, we managed to get there before the rest of the group got annoyed enough to leave us.

The rafting itself was alright, it was boring in fact! And my first time rafting too. But but but but but, some big buts here, because the view was absolutely tremendously beautiful.

Even half a year later I'm breath taken with the memory of it. That bright blue sky with warm bright sunshine, that icy fresh sharp blue green of the water, the white complementary sand and gravel. Breathtaken with the way at certain points the water would get almost pastel with chalkiness. The way the water numbs your limbs after a minute in it, and the way you feel absolutely alive once you're back in the raft with your life blood coursing through your veins. The warm pull of your muscles on the paddles, and droplets and laughter and sun on your friends' faces.

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Bovec: Trekking

After rafting, we took a few obligatory photos in our full wetsuits. On the short trip back to the shop, the trekking guides told us about this short trek up to a waterfall that we could try. You could either go a slightly easier way that didn't go to the top, but in which the waterfall looks nice, or a slightly harder way which led you to the pool near the top, but from which you couldn't see the rest of the waterfall at all. It was on the way, so they pointed it out as we passed by. It was a toss up between that and Bled for us. For me it was okay because I could still go to Bled the next day, but it was unlikely that they would be staying any longer in Slovenia.

Eventually we just decided to do it. We drove over, parked, and found the little marked trail. And then we started on what was supposed to be a half-hour walk. LIES. Or they were just a million time fitter than we were. The trail was really twisty and not very well marked; we lost it a few times and rejoined it but only by scrambling up some scary unstable turf. The terrain was mostly dirt trails winding up the steep hill, and the rest of the time it was on bare rock, literally on the hillside. S, who is really afraid of heights, had a really tough time. We were all also super tired, like exhausted because it was really steep. We wanted to give up so many times, but luckily the terrain kind of hid the top from our view, so it always felt like just a bit more.

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S wouldn't cross a really scary part that hung over a sheer drop. So we left her at a little grassy open area to catch her breath. We went on, passing some people along the way who swore it was only another 15min. We hung on to that so hard, cos we'd already been hiking for an hour. When we finally got there, we were a bit disappointed. It was a pool indeed, but the bottom didn't look safe to step into. There were also spiderwebs all around which was gross. And when we tried to go in, it was absolutely freezing. At least 10 or 15 degrees C colder than the river water. He climbed in but got out 20s later because he froze up. Not very safe. I stuck my legs in long enough for a photo, and by then I could feel the pain of the cold.

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We climbed back down, which was scarier, naturally, and he went to comfort her because she was still feeling shaky. Got back on level ground, clambered around the river bed of the beautifully blue water. Photos, had some bananas and refilled our bottles from the river.

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We thought we had enough time to return the car to the airport at 5pm, so we stopped along the way at a random restaurant. As it turns out, it was tripadvisor-certified haha. We ordered, but before the drinks could come, we realised we didn't have enough time so we ran out and drove like mad to the airport. Got there on time, starving, and had a lame sandwich from the airport place.

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Took the bus back to Ljubljana, had an Indian dinner (because they're vegetarian) which was really good. Then I said goodbye to this good friend and roommate of mine, and took my leave. Will I ever see her again?

Bled

I woke up the next day very sad. My last full day in Europe! But at least I would end it doing something cooler than most people would do. I caught a bus to Bled, and on the way made friends with a Slovenian girl. That was really cool. I was almost hoping to spend the day with her, but she was going to spend the day with her friends so okay la, I'll have my last day alone )':

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I took a walk around the beautiful lake, rationing my time since I had the whole day. And anything worth doing here besides the lake was too far away.

Went up to the castle, explored as much of it as I could without actually going inside and paying. So I went around it on small trails. Took some nice photos.

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Then I stripped off my tank top, and stuffed it into the huge army ziplock I'd brought from SG specifically for this purpose. I checked that everything was waterproofed, and then I slung my stringbag across both shoulders, and began my swim to the island. The first 10min were excruciating. I was exhausted because I was trying to keep the bag 'secure' on my back. Later I realised I could just hook one shoulder-string in one arm and then swim that way, with the bag bobbing in the water behind me.

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Got up on the deck, gasping. Lay on that hot wood for a while to dry off. Put on a long-sleeved shirt, and wanted to go up the bell tower. Heard you could ring the bell for luck. But found out I had to pay and was like ahhhh whatever. Bought more hazelnut ice cream and enjoyed that summer sunshine. I felt like I was in paradise. A slightly lonely paradise, but a paradise nonetheless.

I swam back, this time much more comfortably. But as I got off the deck, I cut myself on some wood splinter. I had no choice so I swam back with it bleeding and flapping open. Which is probably why it got a little infected lol. Oh well, I bear the scar of a good time. A reminder of my time on exchange haha.

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Looked for somewhere to have lunch. Decided on this expensive looking restaurant. Got myself some amazing fish with a great live band playing in the background. Chilled. Got wifi. Told the guy who told me about swimming on the lake that I'd just done it, and asked about the famous cake.

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Walked over to get cake and lemonade. Went to the dock and lay on the wood for a few hours, thinking, feeling sad, watching the sunset.

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Caught my bus back to Ljubljana, and would you know it, the same Slovenian girl is on the same bus! What a coincidence! Talked more until she got off at her hometown of Kranj. It was a good conversation, but I can't remember a thing because it's been more than half a year. Dropped off back at Ljub. Tried to eat at a nice place I saw while walking around a few days before, but it was closed. So I had another lame dinner of a pizza or something. Good pizza though.

That night I packed with a heavy heart. The dream was going to end. Real life was about to start again. I was going to have to face things I'd been trying to avoid for a while. No more travelling like mad. Sigh.

The Journey Home

That morning I took the bus to the airport, and then the flight to Frankfurt. I got to Frankfurt at about 1, and took direct bus to Darmstadt HBF. I'd arranged to meet E about an hour after that, so while waiting, I went to buy a jar of Ovomaltine for a good friend of mine. He complained that it was really expensive in SG, so I told him I'd buy him a cheap one from Germany haha.

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"We love dreamers"

At the appointed time, I went down to the bus stop to meet E. And there she was! I went with her to her place to collect my crazy heavy luggage. She was such a dear, she helped me to pull it along because I had my heavy backpack as well. And then we had an early dinner at an Italian place she recommended. It was good talking with her again, suddenly now I miss her! I wonder how she's doing.

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I got on the bus back to Frankfurt Airport feeling even sadder. Noooo why am I leavinggggg. At the airport I frantically repacked my luggage so that I could put the Ovomaltine in it. Haha this weird scene is something that so many exchangers have done! And my luggage is so packed that I stereotypically had to sit on it. I paid 100 eur for the extra weight too. Oh well. That done, I felt much easier. No need to lug that fear-inducing weight around.

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At the gate I just moped around. On the plane of course I had a new goal, which is to watch as many movies as possible haha. I think I managed almost 4.

I landed in SG on 5 Aug 4pm. I won't be forgetting that in a long time. While my family waited for me at the arrival gates, I went alcohol shopping at duty free haha. And then I was in their arms again, and it didn't feel so bad to be back.

Posted by seaskimmer 08:12 Archived in Slovenia Tagged waterfalls mountains friend church trek river island beautiful family castle hike rafting frankfurt slovenia bled nicepeople bovec Comments (0)

Bali

The beautiful bold beachy Bali

I know I haven't even finished my SEP blogs... err coming up soon?

Itinerary overview:

Day 1
- Arrive evening
- have dinner

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Day 2
- Early rafting on Ayung river (Payung coy. US$40)
- stuck in jam due to rain-floods, and only got back at 5 plus, went shopping

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Day 3
- Legian to surf/tan (haggled IDR300 for 2+1h lesson)
- lunch at local place
- walked all the way to Potatohead at the far end of Seminyak for dinner, cab back

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Day 4
- Ubud day trip, Panama bus at 10am
- cab to Penestan, walk to Campahan and to Ubud city, down main street plus Monkey forest
- 1.5h full body massage (a bit too soft but very relaxing, IDR80)
- early dinner and rest

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Day 5
- 1.30am bus pick up for Gunung Batur (volcano) climb (~US$40 with Bali Eco)
- ~4am actual climbing began
- 6.30am sun begins to rise, most people 5min from the peak
- 1-2h to see volcano hollow, climb to highest point, play with monkeys, eat breakfast (boiled eggs, plain bread, fruits, tea)

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- walk back + bus ride (incl. send other people back to their hotels): 11.30am
- 12.30pm driver picks us up (Patur coy. IDR720 for the day)
- Padang padang was small and rocky, too hot, too many staring men, left after 0.5h and after I climbed the rock heh

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- Jimbaran was beautiful and big but the sea completely filled with floating rubbish
- Chilled in the sun, read, seafood dinner (not really worth it, it wasn't that great)
- Watched sunset, birthed the idea of the Space Shuttle Playlist

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- 1.5h Full body massage (different place, much stronger, less relaxing, IDR110)
- Reggae bar with a cold Bintang

Day 6
- unable to wake at 5.30am for last beach time
- Caught cab to airport
- Last IDR spending at the bookstore
- Counting money, converting currencies
- Goodbye Bali

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Thoughts
I really liked Bali overall, to the point that I'm actually seriously considering returning one day! That's saying a lot, coming from me. There is a lot to do there, much more than can be done in 4 full days. I still want to surf, and you can go diving and explore hidden beaches, and the nature reserve-ish area as well... Much much more! Other islands like Lombok can be enjoyed, and a much bigger mountain to climb (worth 1 or 2 days). And of course, a lot more laying on the beach and sun-burning/-tanning and reading of books.

The people are overall really nice and gentle, and quite helpful too even though mostly the English isn't very good (some broken malay helps at this point). I did particularly HATE how the Jalan Legian men hawk their wares though. Absolutely detested, I wanted to punch them. When you walk past they would call you stuff like sexy, darling, beautiful, and if you ignore them they curse at you in Indo, if you politely say no they might continue trying to get you to buy stuff. Honestly the worst part about Bali for me.

I learnt a bit more about haggling, both from a skill as well as a moral point of view. I learnt to bring the first price down way low, past what I think is fair, because generally the price is below what I think is a low price lol. And also to be able to take a stand, say this is my final price. If they think they can go down to it they will the second you turn away, if not they will continue to persuade you hard.

Morally, there is the question of how low do you want to go? Yes, in many cases they can afford to go lower, and it isn't necessarily a loss for them. Is it a scale between compassion and weakness? Or are those two things separate affairs? Why should it be considered softness, weakness, if you aren't able to bend the person to your will? I sort of get it if you're picture the guy as a hard sly wily bloodthirsty greedy merchant, because then it seems strong and smart that you see though his schemes. But I guess most people are just trying to make a living, and yes they are trying to get the highest price as possible, and are haggling without evil personal intent the same way I am. In that case I'll push it to what I think is fair ie. sometimes it could go lower but it's already very cheap for me so nevermind.

I travelled with P and T, and their SMU/Habitat friend J. It was quite interesting travelling with one new person, and I guess occasionally feeling like an outsider? Sometimes she was in that position, it couldn't be helped, but it was nice to sort of see my prejudice and stereotyping fade away a little bit. Like we were discussing, girls like me and P tend to hold a little grudge against girls who fit into the 'perfect SG girl' mold, like J (we discussed this in front of her). But it's great cos J isn't really like that, she's still really nice and all, not a pretty bitch or anything. lol. I think I need to continue to learn to be open minded and not form pre-conceived notions of people before really knowing them. Easier said than done.

So, I've returned from Bali sunburnt and happy (I've always wanted to say that), with a ton of cleaning to do (especially because of the impending renovation) and a lot of small climbing things that I really don't want to do, and my interim report (!) and my Last Respite to-do list, including lots of books. Nonetheless I've spent the past 2 days binging on Fun Run 2 ever since K gave me his 32GB SD card. I'm only 600 points away to my Rasta headdress!

Posted by seaskimmer 06:35 Archived in Indonesia Tagged beer bali beach trek hike rafting outdoors massage Comments (0)

Seaside Haven

for the entire world

sunny

As I said, I spent the evening on the bus to Split, Croatia, from Zagreb, Croatia. I mentioned that there was a stop in the middle of nowhere where my passport was stamped twice; I found the photo!

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It was a long bus ride. From 6pm to 11 or something like that, I mentioned that in the last post. What I forgot to mention was how breathtaking coastal Croatia is at night. Everytime we passed a city, there would be a multitude of pinpricks of light. Where swaths of blackness lay, rested the mythical waters of the Adriatic. And before that, at sunset, the swirling clouds were like blue ink mixed with a yellow water-colour sky. Breathtaking.

I checked in that night, slept. The next morning I woke up and had a measly (free) breakfast of not-nice cereal. Then, if I'm not wrong, I waited a long time for the Korean girl to be finally ready to head out (an hour or something) and then it turns out we weren't even going the same way. Anyway, we arranged to meet at a restaurant for lunch. Meanwhile, I walked over to the north entrance to Marjan, the big hill on the West side of Split.

Marjan

The receptionist had recommended me to rent a bike from the small stall at the north entrance rather than the one in the city center. Avoiding tourist traps 101. Unfortunately, the wind had picked up and the sky had turned this really ominous grey. There on the coast of the Adriatic, who knows what kind of havoc a storm could cause? The bicycle renter didn't want to rent me a bike :( I was really really sad. I tried to persuade him to rent me one for just an hour or something but he gave a firm no and sad me was sad. So, determined to explore Marjan, I set off on a long arduous hike up the hill in SLIPPERS.

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The north entrance actually makes you go a big round in a coastal path, which obviously I'd been prepared to do if I'd had a bike. But in slippers and on foot it was terrible, I got a blister really quickly. And it wouldn't have made sense to backtrack and try to enter by the middle gate, so I sucked it up and went.

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It was nonetheless a really beautiful walk. Just imagine the Adriatic Sea, vast and blue and glittering brightly below a patchy grey and blue sky. Picture the sun, alternately shining in full glory, and backlighting a line of clouds. Feel the salty breeze rushing past your skin and hear it roaring through the trees. Listen to the innumerable invisible cicadas croaking out their songs. Look longingly at the craggy creamy cliffs and wish you had the time, company, and equipment to get on them! Feel your feet begin to ache, and the sweat on your skin dry into a sticky sheen. Worry about the little droplets that are coming down, but push on for the summit anyway!

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It took about 2+ hours to get up top. Along the way, I went down to a little rocky outcrop to dip my feet in the cool water. Later on, I found a little house somewhere up there, built into the rock, and a bit higher up was St Jerome's already. I could have tried to go higher, up to the scientific observatory, but I was so tired, and the rain was still threatening to arrive (it was all bark, no bite, really), and I was running out of time. So I went back down.

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Got to Fife, a place most people recommend but warn about the crowds. Korean girl was late, but I met this guy from my hostel there, so I went in first with him. We were seated next to a bunch of English speaking dudes, so in total that was 1 NZ, 1 US, 1 Canada, 1 Brit, 1 SG lol. Korean girl came later. I ordered sea bass and white wine :) yumz, splurgeee only. Food was alright, but it wasn't fantastic. It was just relatively cheap.

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Then we split (hehehehe) and I went to explore the city!

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HISTORY LESSON yayyyyy <3

4th century BC
Split exists as a Greek colony.

2nd century BC
Romans go crazy with the conquering, establish the Province of Dalmatia (area along the east coast of the Adriatic). Nearby city of Salona is capital, so obviously it is bigger and more important than Split, which doesn't even really appear in records much after Salona booms.

3rd century AD [the only important bit if you don't like history]
Diocletian came to power. As an emperor he brought about much needed stability through many military and economic reforms. He was also the first emperor to establish a tetrarchy (here, 2 Ps plus 2 VPs). He had lots of wars (as befits a Roman emperor) and pushed for one of the most major Christian persecutions of the Roman period. Towards the end of his life/reign, he built a huge (for that time) palace at Split, displacing lots of people in the process. Many strategic reasons exist for the location (safe, good for escape, near Salona, etc) but a museum in Split puts forward the idea that he just wanted a really pretty place to retire to (amen to that, brother). So he did retire there eventually, being the first Roman emperor to abdicate the throne.

And read this dramatic account from wiki: He lived on for three more years, spending his days in his palace gardens. He saw his tetrarchic system fail, torn by the selfish ambitions of his successors. He heard of Maximian's (ex-co-ruler) third claim to the throne, his forced suicide, his damnatio memoriae. In his own palace, statues and portraits of his former companion emperor were torn down and destroyed. Deep in despair and illness, Diocletian may have committed suicide. He died on 3 December 311.

6th century AD
The coastal region of what we now know as Croatia spent the next few centuries changing hands from the Romans to the Ostrogoths to the Romans to the Goths and finally back to the Romans again.

7th century AD
BUT then the crazy Avars come running down, conquering everything left right center. They settle somewhere nice and a bit further away, but their allies, south Slavs called the Croats (yes, names are starting to make sense now), went right on down to the coast. The Salonitans fled Salona and lived on the islands off the mainland. They were so spunky that they would raid the coast, and the Croats were actually afraid to go to the sea! Eventually they surged back, and took Diocletian's palace (a good fortress), with the eventually-unfulfilled aim of retaking Salona. The Croats obviously tried to attack, but the emperor of the time intervened and forced them to live peacefully together.

8th century AD
The Roman empire had long ago split into the east and west portions, so under Byzantine rule, Split became part of the Duchy of the Croats. A distinct Dalmatian language had formed.

10th to 15th centuries AD
Split was again passed like a hot potato (except that everyone wanted the potato) between mainly Byzantine, Venice, and Hungary.

It started off with Split surrendering to Venice to stop the mad naval stuggle between some crazy Croats and Venice for rule over Split. Rome rules again, so Byzantine got Split for about 65 years (after just 20 years of Venetian rule). Rome kind of crumbles at the turn of the millennium so power returns to the Venetians.

That begins close to 300 years of struggle between Venice and Hungary, ending in 1420. I won't go into the details; let's just say that Hungary had higher possession but still managed to lose the game.

16th to 18th centuries AD
That began 377 years of Venetian flourishing. Split was now a big important port and trading city. Culture and the arts boomed. Nonetheless, apart from the aristocracy, illiteracy was rampant.

19th and 20th centuries
I'm not very interested in modern history. There's a whole bunch of stuff about Napolean, Austria, and Yugoslavia, if you're interested. Political lines are drawn and redrawn so many times during this period, with many grand-sounding names of combined kingdoms.

END OF LESSON

The City

Diocletian's palace was built in a rectangle, with high walls surrounding it. Two perpendicular main roads split the complex into four quadrants, each with its own function. As the city expanded, stuff was built outside the fortress walls. As such, Split now is rather sprawling, but with a clear rectangular section highly visible on any map.

Using my map, I just went around and checked out all the places of interest. I walked down pretty much all of those narrow once-white pathways, the stones so well-trod by emperor's horses, and ancient mariners, and tourists, that it was almost completely flat and smooth. The buildings stretched up several stories above, usually leaving the people below in a cool semi-darkness. It was deathly crowded though, it wasn't easy getting anywhere with crowds in those narrow passageways.

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Then I had dinner in this place recommended by TN, Trattoria Bajamonte. Had clam and mussel pasta. :) Then I went to the Peristil and waited for Korean girl. It's this main square, an entrance to Diocletian's palace apparently. There are steps on all four sides, which turns into seating at night. A bar at one of the sides hosts live music there every night, so people always go down to enjoy. And it was really nice, this guy played some chill music, and a few people got up to dance. Korean girl said the previous night was pretty crazy, like a proper dance floor! Bought some fruits at the closing market on the way back.

Hvar

The next morning I was up early so I could get to Hvar, one of the islands off Split. Took a pretty expensive boat out. (140 kn) But no choice, that was the only way to get there. Had to go early to get tickets because they sell fast. So after I bought my ticket I sat out in the sun and read for a while (I don't remember what I was reading at the time). Then I freaked out cos I couldn't find the boat, but yeah I did in the end.

Hvar was a cleaner, less gritty version of Split. The flat area near the docks and promenade was wide and filled with sunshine. The same white stone, relieved of the age-old dirt of cramped Split, shone brightly like a warm, tropical Gondor. The middle area had low buildings crowded on the steep upslope, with narrow staircases leading up to the top. And at the top, a castle!

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I was feeling very poor at that point. I was saving for a good dinner, so I ended up having only like 50 kuna or something for the day. And I wanted to buy this gorgeous postcard and a stamp too. I walked up and down the docks like 3 or 4 times, looking for the cheapest thing to eat lolol. Ended up with 2 slices of pizza for 15 kuna each. Which is actually expensive, at 3 sgd per slice. And bought my postcard, and now I have a postcard from Hvar itself, not even from Split :)

So I walked up to the castle, but was too poor to pay the entrance fee lol. Which wasn't even that much. But okay, I sat outside, enjoyed the amazing view for 2 hours or something haha. And read. For the life of me I can't remember what it was. Then was pizza lunch.

And I caught the 3pm boat back.

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Goodbye Split

Spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the more modern area of Split, east of the palace. Walked through residential area, saw the entrance to a naval museum (it was closed). Pretty houses on winding roads. Same white stone and green blinds. I should live here, green is soo my colour haha. Attempted to find the place with 'nice graffiti', according the use-it map. Spent ages, but ended up with a bunch of extremely unimpressive scrawling. Ugh. Lame. Shouldn't have bothered.

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Had dinner at that other place. It was more of a family atmosphere. There were cute one-seaters at the bar, which was decorated with gorgeous blue swirls. Ordered mussel risotto, then read and sipped white wine while waiting. (oh, I remember! sea biscuit) It was pretty good, the mussels were great but the risotto was a little undercooked. Had a short chat with the Japanese girl sitting next to me. She was on a similar trip but in the opposite direction. Almost all travellers in eastern Europe were just doing eastern Europe. So everyone has a similar route haha, but with minor changes.

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Headed back to the hostel to shower, and read and rest up while waiting for my 10pm bus. By right wasn't supposed to shower there since I'd checked out already, but the receptionist was quite nice haha. Then went to the Peristil again to enjoy the music, with my huge bag and all haha. This night had more lively music, so there were more dancers dancing under those yellow lights.

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I got to the bus station a little early. But the bus was late, and everyone was freaking out. Eventually it came, but like 45 min late or something. But we were on our way.

I was quite upset that I'd booked a night bus into Spit and a night bus out haha. I never got to see the beautiful Croatian mountains :/ oh well, I saved a lot of time haha.

Split was amazing. Perfect village life, like something out of a fairytale! So chill, so pretty. Just way. too. many. people. Worst time to go. Spoilt it a bit. But it was still nice.

Posted by seaskimmer 18:23 Archived in Croatia Tagged history croatia split Comments (0)

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