Friday, May 8, 2015

8 May 15 – Day 8 (Myeongdong, Incheon International Airport)

We woke up slightly later since not much was planned for the day, given that we had a flight to catch in the late afternoon. Since the check-out time was 11am so suggested to SWT that we check-out on the way out in the morning so won’t have to rush back to do check-out. Went out after 9am, left the luggage in the room beside the reception counter and walked around Myeongdong area. Popped into a minimart and I bought more seaweed and a cheap bottle of green tea powder. Headed back about 11+am because SWT’s Iphone blackout suddenly and could not be switched on. Back at K-pop II, she opened her luggage to take out the cable to try charging the phone using the computer in front of the reception counter. Nothing happened. So used the computer to google for a solution and found one that worked. While she was meddling with her phone, I took out my luggage to keep my purchases. After she was done and kept her cable back, we sat around with our luggage at the side before finally moving off to take the airport limousine bus near Sejong Hotel. We managed to catch the 12:10pm bus and paid W9,000 instead of the usual W10,000 per person because we printed out the discount voucher from Asiana website.

Reached Incheon International Airport before 1pm and went to do self-check-in with the help of a ground staff. As SWT had to do the tax-refund on her foot peeling masks purchase, she could not check-in her carton box. Went to the counter next to row J to get the stamp from the custom officer and then headed back to Asiana counter to check-in her carton box. Then went through the immigration counter and went to find the place where SWT was supposed to get her tax-refund cash back. Finally she got her cash and while walking to look for my lunch, we saw the parade of the Royal Family and tourists were taking photos. We took photos and managed to get a photo taken with the Royal Family too before going up to the foodcourt where I had my lunch close to 3pm. After done eating, walked around the shops near the boarding gate but got nothing. Sat to wait for time to board at 3:50pm and the plane took off at 4:40pm.

Thought: This whole 9D8N trip to Busan and Seoul with SWT was not as good as I had expected it to be. I had planned a lot of food to try and was counting on her to help share the food; unfortunately, she fell sick from day 3. Maybe I am used to solo traveling, traveling with another companion on DIY trips seem kind of restricted because I cannot rearrange the itinerary as I deem fit or do things at my own pace. Go where I like, see what I like, eat what I like, when I like.

This is my first trip to Busan and my impression is that it is not as tourist-friendly as Seoul. Perhaps I had only visited a very limited area in Busan hence I had the impression that it is not as developed as Seoul. However, because Busan is near the sea, therefore it seems like there are a lot of tourists’ sights near the sea. The locals there speak mainly Korean but they were really very helpful, young and old. One thing for sure though, the seafood was seriously fresh and great! It was really regrettable that I did not get to spend more time in Busan. Will I go back again? Definitely yes! And I will make sure that I fly there direct and spend the entire trip in Busan.

Comparatively, like I said before, Seoul is not difficult to walk on own. However, I was not as prepared as I was back in 2012 and I did not polish up my already limited Korean vocabulary. So whenever the locals speak, the words sound familiar yet I could not recall the meaning of some words. As shops in Seoul cater more and more to the Chinese, most of the locals speak fairly good Mandarin. When they see Asian with relatively fair skin, they start talking in Mandarin. In order to differentiate ourselves, SWT insisted on using English, unless she really needs to buy something and needs the other party to understand her. Perhaps I was influenced by her, I felt uncomfortable using my very limited Korean vocabulary. Back in 2012, I remembered saying “Gamsahamnida” on a few occasions which made the sellers very happy.

Back then in 2012, Wi-Fi connections are plenty in a lot of areas and I was able to whatsapp little big sis every now and then. I could even connect to Olleh network without registering with them. But this time round, most of the Wi-Fi connections require registration. The bonus for this trip was that we happened to be in Seoul during the Korean Royal Palace Culture Festival week hence were able to participate in some of the activities. Will I go back to Seoul again? Maybe… but most likely to cover the suburbs and doing day trips to the outskirt.

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