I still have my holiday mode on. 😀
I’m gonna write my Korea post in a series because it would probably be too long to write in one blog post only.
I went to Korea from SG on my own via AirAsia with transit to Kuala Lumpur. It was a red-eye flight so I slept the duration of the 6.5 hrs flt from KL to Incheon. This is the longest flight I have ever been in, given the frequency of me riding a plane, it’s always been a less than 4 hrs flight. I arrived at ICN around 8:20 am local time (1 hr advance) and my family arrived in the evening of the same day, thus I had a lot of time to myself.
First things first, I had my money exchanged in the airport, just enough to buy the necessary things such as my T Money card and food. I got better rates when I changed the rest of my money in Insadong later that afternoon. I was initially going to take the airport limousine bus to my hostel but I missed the timing and I can’t stand staying outside while waiting for the bus, plus I was more confident in riding the subway since I researched more on it.
Public transportation in Korea is awesome! Probably the most complex subway system I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience, more massive than Hong Kong’s MTR system. How I wish this could be possible in the Philippines. Anyways, being the DIY people we are, we certainly made use of this mode of transport the entire time. T Money is like a Prepaid Card that can be used for different transportation modes, such as the subways, buses and taxi. They charge the fare based on the distance covered, so it’s important to tap out the card upon exiting any of the said transport mode, similar to the EZ link card in Singapore. The card itself is worth 3000 Won, and you can top-up from 1000 won to 90000 won. It’s very easy to use, and very effective in such a massive subway system as this.
Guesthouse Korea was the hostel where we stayed for 5 nights. My sisters, who already visited Korea once before also stayed in the same hostel. Don’t expect luxury, being just a hostel, they provide a decent sleeping area, beds with a pillow and blanket, and the floor is heated during winter. They also provide breakfast (bread, jam and coffee), but you have to wash the dishes on your own. Just don’t forget to bring your own bath towel because they don’t provide one. For 100,000 won (approx S$120, Php 4200) per person for 5 nights it’s not such a bad deal. It is convenient via 2 subway stations, Anguk Station (Subway Line 3) and Jongno 3-ga Station (Subway Lines 1, 3 and 5) and one of the Five Grand Palaces – Changdeokgung Palace – is a short distance away from the hostel. Insadong, a famous street selling various souvenir items, is also nearby, only a 10-minute walk away from the hostel.
Prior to the trip, me and my sister have been monitoring the weather in Korea. We were kinda excited about winter and we wanted to experience snow. Having lived in a tropical country all my life I have no idea of the extent of how cold it will be, the coldest place I’ve been to before this trip was Genting Highlands, which was a bit comparable to Baguio. Due to my sister’s insistence, I purchased Heattech undergarments from Uniqlo, and I even bought winter gloves only thinking I probably won’t be needing it but just in case. Boy was I unprepared. While in the airport I was confident that I can take it, until the door opened and I got a taste of the wind coming in. Haha. I remember calling my sister and telling her it was super cold and she told me to change clothes while I was still in the airport. I put on my heattech clothes, but it still wasn’t enough. Looong story short, I still made it through the whole subway ride to Seoul and then Seoul to the hostel. I checked in and rested for a while (the cold made it more tiring) and thought of my next course of action. By that time I was starving so I had to find a place to eat already. I asked the receptionist/owner of the hostel on how to go to Insadong. I was still a bit hesitant to try local food so I ended up eating in a cafe. I had a lot of plans for my first day alone in Seoul, but I wasn’t able to do it all, haha. Blame it on the weather. So I spent the rest of the afternoon in Insadong, and was able to buy some souvenir items. The highlight of the afternoon was, it snowed! As in real snow falling from the sky! People around me got crazy excited, well including myself, hehe. 😀
After spending the whole afternoon in Insadong, I decided to return to the hostel and rest for a while. My sister asked the hostel to fetch them from the airport and I asked the hostel owner if I could tag along. When we got back to the hostel, we settled the check-in fees, let the parentals settle in their room and went around the block to look for food. That proved to be a futile attempt, since all the shops and restaurants are closed and so we just bought some tidbits from GS25, a famous 24hr convenience store in Korea. We discussed the itinerary for the next day and with that we finally slept.