Korea Winter Trip Preparation and Day 1

The long awaited South Korea trip! Finally a chance to practice the language that I have been learning for the past few years~

My South Korea trip this time, 19th December 2013 to 4th January 2014, consists of visiting a few different cities over a span of 17 days. My itinerary is firstly a 3 days in Seoul, then I travelled down south to Gwangju for another 3 days, and after to Busan for 2 days, and Daegu for 3 days. After that, I headed back to Seoul to spend the last 5 days there.

Cities I visited during the trip. Just to help visualize where I actually was during the trip.

Cities I visited during the trip. Just to help visualize where I actually was during the trip.

ESSENTIALS

Before I start on my trip, I guess I should come up with this list of essentials for a Korea trip during the winter season. Not in any order of importance, here goes:

  • A good pair of shoes – to avoid slipping on snow or especially the sheet of ice that forms beneath
  • Thick pair of socks
  • Lip balm
  • Sufficient Clothing – which differs for each depending on your cold tolerance
  • Scarf and Gloves

And also importantly, if you are going to travel around a few cities within South Korea, try to keep your luggage light. Especially since there is a lack of elevators in some of the train stations in Korea, meaning you’ll have to carry your luggage up those stairs.

One of the many stairs. Took this only after I completed climbing it with my luggage.

One of the many stairs. Took this only after I completed climbing it with my luggage.

That said, there are still some elevators planted at some of the more frequented stations, like Haeundae at Busan.

Router or Sim Card?

Before my trip, I heard that there were some inconveniences about buying and using the EG sim card, so I went ahead and reserved a portable router that cost 8000W per day, including rental. Internet was fast and 500mb was much more than I could ever finish.

So I thought it was good, until my friend, who was going to leave Korea soon since his exchange was over, passed me his sim card which he had beforehand topped up 10,000 won for me. This 10,000 won worth of data, 1gb, lasted me till the last day of my trip, that was about 2 weeks. That is so much more worth it than the price I was paying for the portable router (they call it Egg), and it doesn’t require battery like the Egg does. The egg’s battery only lasts about 7 hours if a user is connected, and the charger they provide is a plug in charger, meaning no charging while on the move.

For all who are travelling to Korea, I suggest getting the EG Sim Card over the Eggs, which are pricier and less convenient. I can’t think of any reason to choose the Egg over the Sim card (if you do, please let me know in the comments below!) no matter the number of your party on the trip.

The only thing about using the Sim Card, is to first order it online and download the app that it requires. The app gets a little problematic at times, requiring a reboot of the phone before it can work. And also remember to order the correct size of sim card! If you are not sure which to order, the 2nd link below should help~

Hope the links below will be useful:

https://www.facebook.com/egsimcard

http://koreasimblog.blogspot.sg/

Otherwise, Day 1…

2013-12-19 16.31.38

Sunset at Shanghai Pudong International Airport

The return air ticket I got was from China Eastern Airlines(CEA), at 650 SGD. It included a 3 hours transit at Shanghai Pudong International Airport(SPIA). Before the trip, I’ve read quite a number of negative reviews of CEA and the transit at SPIA, yet when I was aboard, everything seemed well and comfortable enough. Maybe I’m easy to please 😀 There was even an individual entertainment system, from which I managed to catch a Korean movie I haven’t been able to back home.

However, the transit at SPIA was quite a mess! There were not many staff in sight, and the signs were rather poorly placed. I even tried asking a staff and was told to queue at the wrong line. Fortunately, I decided to bail the queue and ask someone else, another passenger in another line, about where I should be going or doing. Turns out the group I approached, was also a group of Singaporeans who were as lost as I was. So I tried again to ask this Chinese looking guy in front of us, in Chinese first, about where we should be queuing. He didn’t seem to understand, so I tried asking in English but it was in vain. Luckily a Caucasian-Asian couple in front of us heard my question and told us we were at the right queue! I finally saw the passport the guy in front of me was holding. He’s a Japanese.. Its no wonder he didn’t understand what I was asking.

So, if you are also transiting internationally at SPIA, what you have to do after you alight from your previous flight, is to follow the crowd until you come to this sign above that says “Transit Service”. Do not turn right and exit the area, just stay there and join the queue that leads to the “Transit Service”. It might be quite slow, so be patient. You will then be led through a maze like series of corridors and escalators with no one to guide you about. This little maze will end at a Security check, where I met a female security officer who wasn’t nice at all, who was shouting at us. After the security check, continue forward and take the escalator up to the above floor and look for the gate you’ll be boarding your next flight.

Yes, I know some of the Korean language, but this customs declaration form is too high level for me.

Yes, I know some of the Korean language, but this customs declaration form is too high level for me.

The flight toward Incheon Airport was much shorter, and most of the passengers on board were Koreans. All of the air stewardess talked to me in Korean, maybe because I look like~ 😛 I was also given these forms in Korean, which at first I thought was fun to be able to practice some of the Korean that I’ve learnt in class, until I found the customs declaration form too difficult for me, I had to ask for a change.

Chilli Sauce (gochujang), and not butter, with bread!

Chilli Sauce (gochujang), and not butter, with bread!

The food was fine and all, and the flight smooth. It was only that the queue at the Immigration section at the Incheon Airport was flooded. Took me about 45minutes of waiting before I managed to exit the place and grab my luggage. I collected the Egg ㅜ.ㅜ that I reserved, didn’t take long as there wasn’t a queue since it was already near 11pm.

After that, I tried looking for the AREX that will take me straight from the airport to Hongdae station, where my guesthouse is located at. I couldn’t find it… When I tried to ask, most didn’t know what AREX is. They label it as the airport train. The ticket costs 4500won and it took about 45mins.

The first snow I saw

The first snow I saw in Korea, near my guesthouse. Not a really pretty sight, but its a first~

I was quite drained by the time I checked into the guesthouse, so I headed right to sleep since I had to meet a friend quite early the next morning to visit the Suwon Hwaseong, which was a little out of Seoul~

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