Seoul, Korea 101

Annyeong haseyo!

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I'm back from my week-long break in chilly Seoul, Korea! With the temperature ranging from 5-12 degrees celsius, I spent most of my stay wrapped in my comfy fluffy jacket, gloves and thermal wear to keep me warm.  My friends Richard and Irene were right..thermal eventually becomes your best friend as the temperature drops and as the icy cold wind hits your face. Armed with my daily dose of vitamin C and a new pair of comfy rubber shoes, I joined The Food Club as we visited the various sites around Seoul and ate to our hearts content!

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Oh I just love Korean barbeque, Bibimbap and Kimbap! I had them almost every single day! The highlight of our stay was that we were able to catch the full bloom of the cherry blossom trees. So pretty and breath-taking indeed.

Before I go on and on about our trip, I'd like to open this Korea travel series with some basis Korea 101! The Food Club was able to grab a good deal with Cebu Pacific when it had its seat sale back in September last year. Our ticket amount to a little over Php 5,000 each with luggage allowance and our chosen seats too. Not bad as a normal airfare to Korea can cost you more than Php. 10,000. Note though that flights from Manila to Incheon via Cebu Pacific is normally during the midnight or at ungodly hours of the morning so be ready for a red eye flight. This worked for us as we wanted to fully maximize our trip. Luckily, I was still able to nap for a few hours during the flight.

Prior to our trip, we prepared our Korean Visa and made sure to pack in some thermal wears, thick warm jackets and the right footwear. I've been monitoring the weather weeks prior to our flight to keep everyone informed. I got to admit, my boots failed me on the second day of the trip thus giving me a perfect reason to buy a new pair of rubber shoes. *yay!*

As we arrived at the beautiful Incheon International Airport, the first thing we did was to exchange our dollars ($) into won (W). I always like changing my money at the airport as I find the rates to be fair and safe. After which, we headed to search for a place to eat. Sadly, food at the airport wasn't so satisfying. Well, good enough to fill our tummies given that most of us had little to zero sleep.

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There are various ways on how to get to the city from the airport. You can take the subway which has a stop right at the airport, there are taxis which can cost you quite a fortune or like us, we took the Airport Limousine Bus for only W10,000 per head (W8,000 for kids). Not bad as we get to sit comfortably for an hour and if you lucky, the bus will stop right in front of your hotel.

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For us, we stopped at the hotel nearest to Skypark Myeongdong 1, our home away from home for the next 6 days. The walk was short so we all didn't mind.

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When booking for your hotel, try to check which Airport Limousine Bus number you should take to get to your chosen hotel. Otherwise, click here to check the grid. The Incheon International Airport is located outside of Seoul thus the trip will take a little more than an hour without traffic.

Going around Seoul

We had a full itinerary which entails going from one place to another. For most parts of our trip, our group took the subway. If you think Hong Kong or Singapore have complicated subway systems, wait till you see Seoul's subway lines. I personally haven't familiarized myself with the stations even after staying for a week as there are just too many stations! Luckily, the guys in our group have superb sense of direction thus I just happily tagged along.

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For those who would like to take the subway too, I highly recommend that you avail of the T Money. This is a prepaid card wherein you can load credits that will allow you to swipe as you take the subway, bus or even when you buy items at 7-11. It's very convenient and the best part is you get a special discounted rate whenever you use the T Money. No need to collect coins or to fret when you do not have enough. Simply load up, swipe and go!

The T Money is worth W3,000 which is non-refundable but you can use the card again and again every time you get to visit Korea. The credits begins at W1,000 up to W50,000.
Reloading is simple!

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First, look for the Advanced Card Recharger machine which is located in ALL subway stations.

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Second, place your card on the slot and press the amount of load that you would like to put into your card.

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Third, insert your money.
Fourth, your card will immediately be reloaded with credits and wait for the signal to remove your card from the machine.

Easy as 1-2-3-4! :)

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Our trip was stress-free and fun! I surely had a great time bonding with everyone and the food was simply amazing! Let me tell you more about my trip in my succeeding entries.

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