Welcome to Korea

3 November 2013

I took the night flight from home to Korea. The flight duration was about 6.5 hours. On the plane, I sat on window seat and the seat next to me was empty. I forgot to pack tooth brush, tooth paste and skin cream on my cabin bag. Next time I have to remember it. Luckily, there are several toothbrush set inside the plane’s lavatory.

I spent most of the time during the flight to sleep. The service from Garuda Indonesia was great. When we boarded the plane, there were pillow and blanket on each seat. During the flight, we got a night pack (eye cover and a pair of socks), two glasses of juice, a bottle of mineral water and breakfast.

I woke up at around 4 AM and saw the sunrise….amazing….

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Due to heavy rain, the take off was delayed for 30 minutes thus, the arrival at Incheon was also 30 minutes late. The arrival schedule was 8.30 AM but it was around 9 AM when we arrived at Incheon.

The passengers took a shuttle train from the gate to arrival area. The shuttle door won’t open until the passengers inside the shuttle took of from the other side door.

At the immigration, they took out fore fingers prints from each hand and face photo. From there, I went to take my baggage and then I went to Olleh outlet in front of the arrival area exit door.

There are several outlets, I went to the one without queue and the officer said that they didn’t have data sim card. Then I went to another outlet, they also didn’t have data sim card. I said that it’s okay, I only need to make phone calls but when I took out my Galaxy Note II, they said that they didn’t have micro sim card…ugh…

The officer then told me to buy a sim card at the book store in front of the outlet. I went there, but the lady at the book store told me to go to another store downstairs. She gave me a map but I was hopeless with maps. So I went downstairs to the train terminal and found the store on the map from the book store lady by accident….hahaha…

I bought a sim card there for KRW 33k and got 1Gb data and 70 min call time.

Then I went to a convenient store to buy t-money card but they didn’t sell it. So I went to the train ticket vending machine. Thanks God there’s English menu on the machine. I bought the ticket to Seoul station for KRW 4550 – there’s 500 won deposit which can be returned at the destination station.

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The train to Seoul Station was rather empty that morning.  It was clean and well maintained. Each cart has big windows so for almost 1 hour, we can see various views along the way. Sometimes we saw the sea on each side, sometimes the train went underground and the first view of Seoul and Han River was breathtaking.

Arrived at Seoul Station, I walked to Metro line 1. At the exit gate from the AREX (Airport Express) train, there were machine where we inserted the single journey card and the machine would give the 500 Won deposit fee.

The metro station is outside the Seoul station, it was located at the other side of the station – about 300 m walk from the Arex area to the Metro station. The wind was cold but refreshing. Unlike the more modern Arex and Seoul station which have escalators, the metro station line 1-4 were older and most of the stairs to and from the train platform are brick stairs. There are escalators from the street level to the ticketing level but not to the train platform, so it’s quite an exercise to lift the luggage and bags.

Arrived at the metro station, I was considering buying t-money card from the vending machine but there were only daily pass and Seoul pass card. You can buy the regular card at convenient store but I decided to buy a single journey ticket from the machine again. It was only 1 station from Seoul station to City hall on metro line 1. The ticket is KRW 1150 + 500 won deposit.

On the train platform, as usual, there are two sides for each direction. Each metro station has a number beside their name. If you know the number, it was easier to figure it out which lane that you have to use. In Singapore, the direction was shown by the name of the last station on each side of the lane but here in Seoul, it shows the next station.

Probably due to lack of sleep – I only slept for 5 hours on the plane, at first I waited on one lane but something bothered me. So I forced my brain to work harder and realized I was waiting on the wrong lane and quickly moved to the right one. Phew.

Arrived at city hall station, I followed the direction given by the hotel. It was nearer to use exit 7 but the hotel told us to use exit 5 because there’a an escalator there. Outside on the street level, there was a big park in front of Seoul Plaza hotel and there was a big stage with tents at the side line of the park. There was a blood donation tent and a next to it was the free course for those who want to learn about giving a CPR. There were a lot teenagers attending that event.

The direction to the hotel given at the confirmation email was very good. I just followed it and I arrived safely at the hotel. It was around 11.40 AM. The check in time was 2 PM. so I just left my luggage and went searching for Myungje, my friend.

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