Saturday, October 16, 2010

Live from Korea!

Day 1: Getting to the city
Got off the Incheon Airport and got on a bus to the Myeong Dong bus terminal, the last stop (about 1 hour). Bus fare was 10,000 won. From the bus terminal, I took a taxi to Seoul Int'l Youth Hostel for the cost of 45,000 won. You can wave for the taxi anywhere on the street, but remember cars drive on the right side of the road. If lost, look for young Korean for help. Make your question short and easy so that they can answer just 'yes' or 'no'.

Day 2: Getting around the city with subway
woke up early to travel around Seoul using subway. I bought the T-Money card first at the subway station with the cost of 3,000 won (500 won discount given for if you buy at a mini-mart). Then I topped up the money using the machine. There are touch screen buttons when you can choose to operate the machine in English. I added 5,000 won into the T-Money card. Then I could go around Seoul by subway, each single trip cost 900 won. So after my first trip, my account became 4,100 won. You will see how much money you have left each time you enter the subway gate. The system is pretty much like Bangkok's BTS and MRT, so you can go anywhere in Seoul downtown in few minutes, but KTX here is more systematic. Went first for Isadong (much like Khawsan Road in BKK), then Dongdaemun (like Rachaprasong in BKK), Numdaemun (Sumpeng in BKK Chinatown), and Myeongdong (like Siam Square), where I had dinner. When dining alone look for the restaurant that serves single meal because some may charge you double and serve you two serves, especially BBQ restaurant. After this tiring day, I went for hot bath at the Yongsan Dragon Hill Jimjilban, next to the Songsan station, subway line 1. Then headed back by subway to the hostel for a good sleep, ready for the presentation the next day.

Day 3: KOTESOL Conference
Located at Sookmyung University, KOTESOL Conference this year has around one thousand participants from around the world. Had Sumkiebsa for lunch and Pork Galbi for dinner. When going to restaurant, check first if you could have your meal alone. You might have to pay for 2 when you come alone as most Korean restaurant prefer to serve group customers. Just ask them first before you go in. I had a big lunch today as I had to pay for 2. If you mind about this, it's good to have a street food.

Day 4: Presentation day
Did my presentation well today. Then attended other presentations till afternoon.

Day 5:
Checked out from Youth Hostel and headed to Seoul station to buy an unlimited 3-day train pass. The ticket cost 75,000 won. With this ticket I could go around in Korea with no further train costs, just have to go at the counter to book the seat in advance. From here, I took a train to Busan and arrived late afternoon, just enough time to walk around the Haeundae beach and enough time for a hot chocolate cup at a cafe nearby. To save the cost, I put lugguage in a locker at Busan subway station (2000 won) and slept at Haeundae Spa center for the cost of 8,000 won.

Day 6:
Train from Busan took about 2.30 hrs to get back to Seoul. Went for a walk along a meandering Cheonggyecheon Stream that run through the city. I started the walk from Gyeongbokgung Palace down to Myeongdong. Put lugguage in a locker at Seoul Station then slept at Dragon Hill Jimjilban.

Day 7:
Waked up 5:00 am and take subway to Seoul Station to get the lugguage and take a shuttle bus from there to Incheon Int'l Airport. The ride took 1 hr, but this time it costs 15,000 won for a non-stop direct route to the airport. Arrived the airport at 7:00, just in time before the take off at 9:35. Arrive Bangkok around 1:00pm.