El Nido island hopping tour

Small Lagoon. Miniloc Island, El Nido, Philippines.

Small Lagoon. Miniloc Island. El Nido, Philippines.

When you visit El Nido, you have to do an island hopping tour. Ceddy found a great one through El Nido Boutique & Artcafe. We did a private tour where we saw, kayaked, and swam around three different lagoons and a beautiful beach.

Ceddy & me kayaking.

Ceddy & me kayaking.

I’m terrible at kayaking or rowing any sort of boat, but Ceddy was able to compensate for my lack of kayaking skills.

Ceddy & me swimming in a cave.

Ceddy & me swimming in a cave.

We even got to swim in a cave.

Big Lagoon. Miniloc Island. El Nido, Philippines.

Big Lagoon. Miniloc Island. El Nido, Philippines.

 

Ceddy & me jumping from a random platform in the middle of the water.

Ceddy & me jumping from a random platform in the middle of the water.

 

Coral & fish.

Coral & fish.

 

Simizu Island. El Nido, Philippines.

Simizu Island. El Nido, Philippines.

We had lunch on Simizu Island. Our guides grilled out & we had fish, pork kebabs, pineapple, rice, & salad. We couldn’t bring the camera onto the beach because the waves would’ve knocked it out of the kayak & into the water.

El Nido, Philippines.

El Nido, Philippines.

Advertisements

El Nido – a tropical getaway

El Nido, Philippines.

El Nido, Philippines.

After it snowed in Seoul, Ceddy and I escaped the cold and went to El Nido, which is in the southern part of the Philippines called Palawan.

El Nido, Philippines.

El Nido, Philippines.

El Nido, Philippines.

El Nido, Philippines.

We arrived mid-afternoon and enjoyed drinks by the beach before dinner at El Nido Corner Restaurant.

Lapu-lapu fish (grouper).

Lapu-lapu fish (grouper).

Watermelon & rice.

Watermelon & rice.

Shrimps gambas & salad.

Shrimps gambas & salad.

We found El Nido Corner Restaurant while walking along the beach. Ceddy and I shared lapu-lapu, shrimps gambas, salad, rice, and watermelon. Those dishes and the other seafood we tried while in El Nido were the freshest we had on our trip.

El Nido, Philippines.

El Nido, Philippines.

The view from the patio was lovely, too.

North Seoul Tower

North Seoul Tower. Seoul, South Korea.

North Seoul Tower. Seoul, South Korea.

After a delicious dinner at Jung Sik Dang, Ceddy and I headed to North Seoul Tower.  The observation deck has awesome views of the city.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

We rode on the cable car, which took us up Namsan Mountain.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

View from the cable car.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Pathway up to the tower.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Christmas display in the courtyard.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Closeup of North Seoul Tower.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

We rode an elevator up to the observation deck.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul at night.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Jung Sik Dang – an amazing contemporary Korean restaurant

On our last night in Seoul, Ceddy and I ventured to Gangnam to try an amazing contemporary Korean restaurant called Jung Sik Dang.

Seoul, South Korea.

Jung Sik Dang.

There were only five tables inside the upscale restaurant.

Fancy table setting.

Fancy table setting.

The table settings were fancy and changed for each of the many courses.

Fried chicken, rice ball, & tofu.

Fried chicken, rice ball, & tofu.

Before appetizers, we had three amuse bouches.

Bread & butter.

Bread & butter.

There was also fresh baked bread & butter.

Clam soup with zucchini.

Clam soup with zucchini.

As well as clam soup.

Salad course.

Salad course.

Fried oysters in squid ink.

Fried oysters in squid ink.

Appetizers.

Deconstructed bibimbap.

Deconstructed bibimbap.

Pork belly over rice with a spicy broth.

Pork belly over rice with a spicy broth.

Bulgogi tartare with crispy rice.

Bulgogi tartare with crispy rice.

First courses.

Pan-seared cod with spicy vegetables.

Pan-seared cod with spicy vegetables.

Poached cod with cheese, corn, & spicy peppers.

Poached cod with cheese, corn, & spicy peppers.

Second courses.

Ginseng duck with cabbage.

Ginseng duck with cabbage.

Beef with vegetables.

Beef with vegetables.

Third courses.

Coconut smoothie with kiwi.

Coconut smoothie with kiwi.

Pre-dessert.

Coconut mousse & passion fruit mousse.

Coconut mousse & passion fruit mousse.

Chocolate hazelnut pots with roasted cocoa, honey, & edible flowers.

Chocolate hazelnut pots with roasted cocoa, honey, & edible flowers.

Desserts.

Chrysanthemum tea.

Chrysanthemum tea.

Sesame tea.

Sesame tea.

Teas.

DSC03264

Green tea muffin, toffee caramel, orange peel with chocolate & peanuts.

Tea course.

Ceddy & me outside the restaurant.

Ceddy & me outside the restaurant.

We thoroughly enjoyed the food & ambiance at Jung Sik Dang.

The best Christmas present I received.

The best Christmas present I received was that Ceddy came home a week and a half early.

While it was great to spend time with Raf and Brie for a few days, I limited interacting with our parents because of the drama they always bring. As kids (and out of habit as adults), my siblings and I learned to tiptoe around our volatile parents for fear of setting off one of their infamous fights. Historically, holidays have brought out the worst in their behavior. This year, I made it clear that I was there for my siblings and would make separate plans with my siblings if they continued to be horrible to me, so they behaved themselves (for the most part).

Yesterday, I felt bereft.

This year, the only holiday I looked forward to was Thanksgiving since I spent it with Ceddy. For the past couple of years, we haven’t gotten to spend Christmas together. I didn’t care as much about not getting to spend New Year’s Eve together last year, since going out in Atlanta on New Year’s Eve can be a logistical nightmare. Still, I couldn’t help but miss him even more than on a regular day.

As I assisted in preparing dinner, I got a couple texts from Ceddy. He was home. He wished me a merry Christmas and sent me a photo of his luggage in our living room. After hugging my siblings, I raced home. Though he got me cool souvenirs from his other travels, getting to snuggle together was my favorite gift.

Seoul City Hall

Seoul City Hall. Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul City Hall. Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul City Hall was one of my favorite sights. Aside from housing the administrative offices for the city, Seoul City Hall also had art and history exhibits. It also had a bookstore and other resources for Seoul residents.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

The indoor vertical garden was amazing. It was installed to create humidity and better air quality within the building.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

There were paper “citizens” hanging from the walls inside.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

The sculptures of snails moving slowly over time was one of the coolest sections.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Though, the sculptures of kids flying on different animals were great, too.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

This exhibit showed the history of Seoul Plaza.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Upstairs, there was a “sky hall” exhibit with a timeline of the other Seoul City Halls.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

Downstairs, there was an information desk, tourist pamphlets, and other resources.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

There were various photography, audio, and sculpture exhibits, as well.

Seoul, South Korea.

Seoul, South Korea.

If you want to learn more about Seoul’s history and enjoy wandering museums, you should definitely check out Seoul City Hall. (Another bonus: admission is free!)